Diabetes in cats

Diabetes in cats

Do you know that, unfortunately, this endocrine disorder is more and more common in domestic cats? Neutered males over 10 years old and over 7 kilos in weight are the main risk group for developing it.

We are going to explain the causes that originate it, how it manifests itself and what therapies exist depending on the progression of the disease. In the mildest cases, it is possible to overcome the ailment by introducing certain changes in the feline’s diet in order to reduce its weight. Do you want to know all the details? Let’s go there.

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Types of diabetes and their characteristics

As in humans, there are 2 variants of diabetes mellitus or sugar diabetes . Type 1 is caused by a poorly functioning pancreas that is unable to produce the necessary insulin .

Type 2 is the predominant type among cats and is characterized by the resistance that the animal’s cells develop to insulin, making it impossible to use glucose properly . In both cases, the result is similar: the cat’s body does not receive the energy it demands from glucose, having to resort to protein and fat reserves.

This surplus of sugar in the blood causes a triple harmful effect on the feline. Since the nerve, kidney and eye cells are the only ones that can metabolize glucose without the need for insulin, as you suppose, they are the first to show signs of weakness.

How to know if a kitten is diabetic?

The symptoms that should make you suspect that your cat is diabetic are the following:

  • Significant increase in the frequency of urination and thirst. They are a direct consequence of kidney damage. The kidneys strive to cleanse the blood of that excess sugar by increasing the volume of urine and, the consequent, feeling of thirst.
  • The inability to assimilate glucose causes an increase in appetite. However, carbohydrates will not provide you with the energy they should, so despite eating more than ever you will lose weight.
  • Injured nerve cells will lead to hind leg weakness.
  • Their fur will be not very shiny, dry, dull and even with dandruff.
  • Bad breath.
  • Vomiting
  • Vision loss or blurred vision are a direct consequence of deterioration of the blood vessels that supply the retina.

In this, as in other pathologies, an early diagnosis can change your pet’s life. If detected early, it could heal just by restricting carbohydrate intake . Therefore, do not underestimate any changes that you observe in their behavior.

Triggers for feline diabetes

Of all the factors involved in this feline condition, obesity is the most profound . Genetic predisposition, diseases such as Cushing’s syndrome, which inevitably raises blood sugar level, or pancreatitis, which destroys insulin-producing cells, also play a role in its appearance.

The intake of steroidal drugs is also a potential driver of this disease.

  • How to know if a cat is overweight?

Several tests are necessary for its diagnosis

It is proven that stressful situations produce a notable increase in blood sugar. Not surprisingly, this situation is called “transient hyperglycemia.” Therefore, for an accurate and profitable diagnosis, several blood and urine tests must always be performed .

It can even be positive that you take a urine sample at home, when the cat is relaxed in a familiar environment. There are strips designed to assess the presence of ketones in your urine. If they change color, they reveal ketoacidosis or the presence of ketones in the cat’s blood or urine, a complication that requires immediate medical attention.

The measurement of fructosamine in the blood is another complementary test that contributes to a more complete diagnosis. Its quantification as a result of the binding of albumin with glucose gives an idea of ​​the mean glucose in the blood. The hyperthyroidism lowered this average while stress elevates.

What is the treatment for a diabetic cat?

You should know that in type 1 diabetes insulin injections are necessary . In type 2, only in the most severe cases (when the damage is holistic or when the disease has not been treated for a long time). It should be remembered that diabetes reduces the ability of cells to reproduce. For this reason, the organism in its entirety is affected in the long run.

As a general rule, in type 2 diabetes, a drastic change in diet is usually enough to reverse the obesity and contain the symptoms of the disease.

Carbohydrate control

Almost all dry feed contains between 30% and 70% carbohydrates (sugars), unsustainable for a feline suffering from diabetes . If your pet is diabetic you should provide canned wet food or homemade food, prepared by you.


In this section we must mention insulin and glipizide, although the latter is only effective when there is no pancreatic damage. It is an oral hypoglycemic drug that works by stimulating the production of insulin from the pancreas . If it is not effective after a while, insulin should be used to control hyperglycemia.

Insulin is given by injection into the cat’s neck 1 or 2 times a day. It is advisable to always do it at the same times and requires adjusting the dose depending on the reaction of the cat, since not all respond the same.


This is a potentially dangerous complication that can occur during insulin treatment. The blood sugar level plummets causing weakness, apathy, drowsiness, loss of balance and coordination, seizures and even coma.

It can be caused by an excessive dose of insulin or because the animal does not eat enough . To prevent it, you should offer small amounts of food regularly throughout the day. This condition requires the prompt intervention of the veterinarian, since its failure to approach it can lead the cat to death.

If you are in this situation and your kitty is diabetic, give him something to eat or rub his gums with corn syrup while medical assistance arrives. We hope that we have helped to understand this pathology in greater depth, which is increasingly recurrent in cats due to the prevalence of obesity.


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