Managing the diabetic cat

Caring for diabetic cats

source: Feline Advisory Bureau Volume 39 (3) 2001
starts page 73, 4 pages long

Signs of diabetes in cats include, increased thirst, voracious appetite and weight loss, blood in urine, liver enlargement and poor coat condition, although not all signs will be present. Ketoacidosis is a complication of uncontrolled diabetes, which can result in collapse and coma. A cause of absolute insulin deficiency is the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin; a relative deficiency of insulin means that the pancreas still produces insulin, but the body cells do not respond to it properly. This may be due to obesity, the use of certain drugs such as corticosteroids or hormonal conditions. Diagnosis requires blood and urine tests and treatment involves addressing the underlying cause, dietary management, oral medication and insulin therapy. The condition may need to be stabilised and monitored within the veterinary hospital initially, and homecare requires a strict routine of insulin injections and the monitoring of glucose and ketone levels. Hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose) is a life threatening complication and requires rapid treatment in the form of food if the cat is able to eat, or the application of glucose powder/syrup to the gums if the cat is collapsed. Diabetic cats will need regular monitoring and long-term prognosis depends on the age of the cat and how easy the diabetes is to stabilise.