Cats with diabetes have high blood glucose levels. This is caused by a deficiency of insulin, which is secreted by the pancreas.
Under the influence of insulin the body takes glucose up from the blood and uses it as an energy source.
Diabetes mellitus is mostly seen in older cats and is more common in males than females. Obese cats and Burmese cats are more commonly affected.
Diabetic cats produce more urine and, to compensate for this, drink more. This may not be obvious if the cat goes outdoors and has access to pools of water. Some cats urinate outside the tray after being litter trained for years. Indoor cats saturate the litter rapidly.
Many cats lose weight despite an increase in appetite.
A history of drinking and urinating more, a good appetite and weight loss suggests diabetes. Your vet will test for high blood glucose and the presence of glucose in the urine. Stress may also cause a transient rise in glucose levels in cats so your cat may be admitted to hospital for a day for a series of blood glucose tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Untreated diabetes eventually causes loss of appetite and lethargy.
Cats with diabetes mellitus are treated with insulin injections. Weight loss in obese cats can sometimes lead to remission of the diabetes. Stopping drugs such as prednisolone may also resolve the condition.
Treatment for most cats involves a twice daily injection of insulin. They feel little pain because only a very fine needle is used. Usually insulin is given 12 hours apart at the same time as a meal.
Unlike diabetic humans or dogs diabetic cats require a low carbohydrate diet, high protein diet. Specially formulated diets such as Hills m/d are low in carbohydrate and high in protein and ideal for diabetic cats. Many small meals or grazing are fine as long as the cat is not overweight.