What is Diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus is an endocrine hormone disease that develops when the body is unable to regulate the amount of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream, which is done by insulin, a hormone that the pancreas produces. When sugar levels are high, insulin is released into the bloodstream which then directs cells to remove the sugar from the bloodstream and into cells to be stored or used for energy. There are two types of diabetes – Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes is where the body is unable to produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes is where the body becomes less responsive to the effects of insulin (also known as insulin resistant diabetes). Cats are more likely to have Type 2 diabetes.
Signs of Diabetes
- Increased thirst and urination
- Increased appetite with weight loss
- Weakness in the rear legs
How is Diabetes Diagnosed?
- Running a full blood panel (CBC/Chemistry/T4) and a Fructosamine Level (which measures the cat’s average glucose level over the past three weeks).
- Urinalysis (Especially if there is glucose in the urine)
How is Diabetes Treated?
Usually a first step after diagnosis is changing your cat’s diet to a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. If after several weeks on the proper diet your cat’s diabetic numbers (blood glucose, urine glucose and fructosamine) are still elevated, your cat will need to be put on medicine.
There are two different kinds of medicine that are used to treat diabetes – Glipizide and Insulin.
Glipizide is an oral tablet that the cat gets twice a day with a meal. It lowers blood sugar by causing the pancreas to produce insulin and helping the body use insulin efficiently. In some cats it helps to control the diabetes, in others it is not enough and those cats need to go on insulin.
Insulin is given as an injection to the cat twice a day with a meal. The insulin that we use at the Cat Hospital is Lantus (generic name Glargine) insulin. It is known as a long-acting insulin, since cats metabolize insulin rapidly.
No matter the treatment, remember that the goal of treating diabetes is to provide stable blood sugar levels. Once the diabetes is controlled, your cat will need periodic blood and urine rechecks to determine if the medication dosage needs to be adjusted.
It may take some time and multiple visits to the Cat Hospital to get the proper diabetes treatment for your cat, but diabetes can be controlled and your cat can live a long and healthy life.