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Treatment for Diabetes in Cats

Diabetes is a condition that most often affects older or obese cats. Without proper treatment, it can be life-threatening. Here, our team in Snellville discusses the symptoms, treatment options and when to speak to an internal medicine vet for diabetes in cats.

What is diabetes in cats?

Diabetes mellitus can become an issue when your cat's body can no longer effectively produce or use the insulin created in the pancreas. When used effectively, insulin controls the flow of glucose (blood sugar) to cells throughout the body, providing energy to the rest of the body. Without the correct amount of insulin, the cells don’t receive glucose. Instead, the body uses protein cells and fat for energy. The unused glucose builds up in the bloodstream over time.

Types of Cat Diabetes

Similar to humans, cats can get one of the following two types of diabetes. 

Type I (Insulin-Dependent)

The body does not produce or release enough insulin.

Type II (Non-Insulin Dependent)

While the body may produce enough insulin, tissues or organs won't use insulin. They need more insulin than a healthy cat’s body would need to produce glucose properly. This type of diabetes is most common in overweight male cats over eight years old and those that eat a high-carbohydrate diet. They sometimes have an excessive appetite since their bodies cannot use the fuel in their food.

Cat Diabetes Signs & Symptoms

Because a diabetic cat’s body breaks down protein and fat instead of glucose, even cats with a healthy appetite and who regularly eat will lose weight. Cat's with untreated diabetes can display health complications and symptoms, such as:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Unhealthy coat and skin
  • Bacterial infections
  • Liver disease

Subtle Signs of Diabetes

  • Decrease in physical activity (inability/disinterested in jumping)
  • Walking flat on the backs of their hind legs (from nerve damage)

Treatment Options for Cats with Diabetes

A diagnosis of diabetes isn't ideal, but the good news is that it can be managed and treated. With the appropriate care, your cat can regain their quality of life and experience a successful outcome. It's important to note that diabetes can be life-threatening if not promptly treated.

The treatment method will depend on when the condition was diagnosed and how severe it is. As with most conditions, the sooner your cat receives treatment, the better the outcome. There are many different treatment options, and not all are ideal for each situation. Your vet will explain the options that will be suitable for your cat.

Treatment specifics

Diet: One simple change that can help manage your cat's diabetes is a change in diet. This can include a switch to a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, which usually accompanies a weight loss plan.

Oral medications: These medications are known as hypoglycemic agents and cause a decrease in blood sugar. While these are easy to administer, they aren't necessarily the best option. Always follow your vet's recommendations.

Insulin injections: Giving your cat a needle can sound scary, but it's quite easy and painless. Your vet will show you how to do so. Insulin must be given twice daily, approximately every 12 hours.

With the appropriate care, your cat can live a long, healthy life after a diabetes diagnosis. However, it is a big commitment, as you will need to administer insulin twice daily, make other diet changes, and bring your cat to the vet regularly to test their blood sugar.

Internal Medicine Veterinarians in Snellville

Veterinary internal medicine involves treating diseases and disorders of a pet's internal systems.

Our veterinarians bring extensive experience in diagnosing and treating challenging cases. We have various diagnostic tools and treatment methods available to diagnose your pet.

We can manage patients with multiple diseases or disorders and provide effective treatment alternatives for those who do not respond well to standard procedures.

If your pet needs a procedure or expertise we do not offer, we will refer you to an experienced veterinary internal medicine specialist in the Snellville area.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat showing symptoms associated with diabetes? Book an appointment with our Snellville vets today to get your feline friend feeling better again.

New Patients Welcome

Snellville Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Snellville companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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Contact (770) 972-3838