If your cat's been diagnosed with diabetes, don't despair. With careful management and regular insulin shots, Kitty can live a nearly normal life. Diabetes is fairly common in middle-aged and older cats. You'll get the hang of giving injections. It becomes part of your and Kitty's daily routine.
Diabetes mellitus in cats and other mammals occurs when the body can't produce or properly regulate insulin. This hormone, produced in the pancreas, regulates the amount of glucose going into the bloodstream to the body's cells. Without the right amount of insulin, your cat's body begins using other energy sources, such as stored proteins and fats. He'll have excessive sugar levels in his bloodstream. There are two types of diabetes mellitus, insulin-dependent and non-insulin dependent. The majority of affected cats are insulin-dependent, meaning they'll need daily insulin injections. Even the non-insulin-dependent cat often progresses to insulin dependence.
If your mature cat loses weight even though he still has a good appetite, or if he's drinking a lot of water and peeing a lot, suspect feline diabetes. He might drop weight even while constantly pestering you for food. Other symptoms include lack of energy, vomiting, urinary tract infections and a general unkempt look. Since obese cats are at higher risk for diabetes, if your fat cat loses weight without any dietary change or increased exercise, it might not be a good thing.
Your vet diagnoses Kitty through blood and urine tests, along with a physical examination. After figuring out the amount of insulin to start with, she'll monitor your cat regularly to make sure Kitty is receiving the correct dosage of insulin for her disease.
Treating feline diabetes is not a one-size-fits-all-cats routine. Much depends on the type of diabetes your cat has, the severity of the disease and the cat's response to prior treatments. Sometimes diabetes reverses itself, and your cat is effectively cured. Most cats require lifelong treatment, though, either oral medication or regular insulin injections. If your cat requires insulin injections once or twice a day, administer them on a regular schedule. Feeding should be on a regular schedule, too; if you previously free-fed your cat, that may have to change. Your vet can advise you on the right food for your diabetic cat and a injection schedule. If the idea of giving Kitty twice-daily subcutaneous injections intimidates you, don't worry. Pretty soon, it'll be just a normal part of life. Since Kitty usually gets fed right after an injection, you probably won't have to chase him around the house with a needle.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.