Diabetes in cats

Do you know that, unfortunately, this endocrine disorder is increasingly common in domestic cats? Neutered males over 10 years of age 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 cat’s diet in order to reduce its weight. Let’s go there.

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 make proper use of glucose . 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.
  • The injured nerve cells will lead to weakness in the hind legs.
  • Their coat will be slightly shiny, dry, dull and even 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 it is detected early, it could heal just by restricting carbohydrate intake. Therefore, don’t underestimate any changes you notice 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 the level of sugar in the blood, or pancreatitis, which destroys insulin-producing cells, also play a role in its appearance.

The ingestion of steroid drugs is also a potential driver of this disease.

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 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 based on the cat’s reaction, 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 to death.


If you find yourself in this situation and your cat 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 gain a deeper understanding of this pathology, which is increasingly recurrent in cats due to the prevalence of obesity.



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