Feline diabetes doesn't usually occur in kittens. However, if your little fuzzball has a family history of diabetes, he could develop it. A vet can test his blood to see if your kitten has diabetes and recommend specific things to do to keep his blood sugar under control.
Feline diabetes develops when your cat's body either can't produce enough insulin or can't use insulin correctly. Diabetes in cats is rare, and it tends to show up in adult cats far more often than in kittens. Males are more prone to feline diabetes than females, and overweight felines are most at risk. When kittens get diabetes, it is more likely to have a genetic cause. Lifestyle changes alone are unlikely to prevent or cure feline diabetes in kittenhood, although they can potentially prevent or treat adult feline diabetes.
The symptoms of feline diabetes are things that are often seen in normal kittens, so it can be difficult to diagnose the disease based on symptoms alone. Diabetic cats drink a lot of water, urinate a lot, become extremely hungry and develop weakness and fatigue. If the disease has progressed significantly, your kitten may start vomiting and become dehydrated.
A kitten with diabetes may need insulin shots to keep blood sugar levels steady. You'll have to inject him once or twice a day at home following the instructions given to you by his vet. Changing your kitten's diet may also keep his diabetes from getting worse. A diet high in grains can make feline diabetes worse, so you may need to feed your kitten a canned, meat-based food that is free of grain fillers. Oral medication for feline diabetes may be another option. Your vet will probably have you test your kitten's blood frequently to make sure his treatment regimen is working. As he grows, your kitten's treatment plan will likely be adjusted to suit his changing physiology.
As soon as you suspect that your kitten has feline diabetes, take him to a vet immediately. If your diabetic kitten goes untreated, he can develop permanent nerve damage. Dehydration caused by diabetes can also be extremely dangerous for a young kitten. If you accidentally give your diabetic kitten too much insulin, this can lead to hypoglycemia, a potentially deadly condition caused by extremely low blood sugar. A diabetic kitten who receives proper treatment can live out a normal lifespan and provide you with kitty cuddles and companionship for years to come.
Bridget Coila specializes in health, nutrition, pregnancy, pet and parenting topics. Her articles have appeared in Oxygen, American Fitness and on various websites. Coila has a Bachelor of Science in cell and molecular biology from the University of Cincinnati and more than 10 years of medical research experience.