Approximately 1 in 400 cats is diagnosed with feline diabetes mellitus every year, making this disease a growing concern among veterinarians and pet owners alike. Like diabetes in humans, feline diabetes is preventable and treatable; you can manage it through proper care and medical attention.
What Is Feline Diabetes?
Feline diabetes mellitus is essentially the cat version of sugar diabetes. Not many studies have been conducted on the disease, but it is believed to develop mostly in cats that are fed diets high in carbohydrates and low in protein. Like in humans, the disease reduces the production of insulin by the cat's pancreas, which results in the animal's inability to utilize glucose. Since the body can't utilize glucose without insulin, the body's blood sugar skyrockets and the excess glucose is then eliminated from the body by the kidneys through frequent urination.
Preventing Diabetes in Cats
One of the most effective ways to prevent feline diabetes is to feed the cat a high-protein diet using quality canned cat food instead of dry food. Canned cat food has a much higher protein content than dry, and it is most like the cat's natural diet, which in the wild consists of mice and birds. Another benefit of feeding a cat canned cat food is that it contains a high quantity of water; this is also similar to the cat's natural diet, as in the wild a cat gets most of its water through its meal.
Feline Dietary Needs
A lot remains unknown about feline diabetes, but it's certain that cats are obligate carnivores. This means they are designed by nature to eat high-protein animal-based diets and very few carbohydrates. A feline's body chemistry is not made to break down high levels of carbohydrates, and that is what most inexpensive, commercially made dry cat food consists of. Therefore, when humans feed their cats most brands of dry cat food, they are feeding them carb-packed meals that the cats cannot effectively process.
Exercise for Felines
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Cats are not supposed to be lethargic couch potatoes. They need regular daily exercise in order to be as healthy as possible. Playing with the cat everyday helps prevent diabetes because the exercise will burn off excess calories and keep the cat's blood sugar levels balanced.
Signs and Symptoms of Feline Diabetes
One of the most common signs of diabetes in a cat is excessive thirst and frequent urination. Some cats may also develop an increased appetite as the disease progresses because their bodies cannot effectively utilize the fuel that their diets are providing. Lethargy and obesity are also signs that a cat may have diabetes.
Prevention Is Better Than Treatment
Taking steps to prevent diabetes in cats is easy and preferable over having to treat the cat for the disease. Simply feeding the cat a healthy diet of quality canned cat food and ensuring it receives adequate exercise will help keep the cat active, fit and diabetes-free.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Based in Atco, NJ, Dave Donovan has been a full-time writer for over five years. His articles are featured on hundreds of websites, and have landed him in two nationally published books "If I Had a Hammer: More Than 100 Easy Fixes and Weekend Projects" by Andrea Ridout and "How to Cheat at Home Repair" by Jeff Brendenberg.