Type Two Diabetes is a treatable, manageable condition in cats. With proper care, the diabetic cat can live a normal, healthy life. In fact, treatment may be easier, and cheaper, than you think. Type Two Diabetes occurs when a cat’s body either produces an insufficient amount of insulin, or is unable to absorb an adequate amount of insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. It is responsible for distributing glucose, a substance necessary to maintain energy for survival, to the bloodstream. This type of diabetes usually occurs in obese, older cats.
What is Type Two Diabetes?
How to Diagnose Feline Diabetes
The symptoms of Type Two Diabetes are not easily recognized early on. However, once the disease takes hold, the cat will become sluggish and weak. He will find familiar, if unusual, places to hide (such as the bathtub). He will drink more water than usual, and urinate excessively. Finally, he will lose muscle mass, resulting in unexplained weight loss, leaving his bones palpable to the touch under his skin. This is an example, by the way, of how petting cats is a great way to perform a cursory evaluation of a cat’s health.
Take him to the vet. Veterinarians have made great strides within the past few years on the subject of feline diabetes. They have even found that cats can recover from diabetes using human insulin, such as Lantus, combined with a strict diet plan.
The veterinarian will recommend the “Catkins” diet – food that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. He will also prescribe insulin, most likely of the human variety, and an oral medication, such as glipizide.
Most cats will require one shot (that’s right, the kind with a syringe) of insulin twice a day. The vet will determine the dosage, and often step it up, based upon how much glucose is in the cat’s urine. It may take several adjustments before the dosage is correctly determined. Simply pinch and lift a tent of skin around the cat’s abdomen, or along the sides of his chest, and inject the insulin in the middle of the tent. This is known as a subcutaneous injection – liquid injected in the layer of fat just below the skin. Placing test strips (provided by the vet) in the litter box will measure the glucose level. Shots usually are distributed twelve hours apart, to avoid hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemia occurs when the cat’s glucose level gets too high.
So, the goal is to inject enough insulin to distribute the cat’s glucose throughout his body sufficiently, without distributing too much. A perfect balance, simulating and assisting the excretions from the pancreas, is the desired effect.
Ironically, jabbing a cat with a needle is often easier than spreading its jaws open and cramming a pill down its throat. The old crush-it-up-in-his-food method is probably the most effective. This oral medication will work in conjunction with the insulin to stabilize the amount of glucose absorbed in the blood stream.
Type Two Diabetes is largely facilitated by obesity. The cat’s body is so big, the pancreas simply cannot distribute enough insulin to carry a sufficient amount of glucose throughout the entire body.
The veterinarian will suggest a new brand of food formulated to facilitate weight loss. The diet will work best if the cat is fed on regular intervals, rather than letting him graze. Weight loss will not only help the cat owner manage the cat’s diabetes, but may even lead to a lack of a need for insulin months or years later.
Prognosis: Don’t Give Up
There are proven, trusted methods to manage and improve the condition of the diabetic cat. His life can be saved and extended by following just a few steps. With determination and close consultation with a veterinarian, the cat stricken with Type Two Diabetes can live many more healthy, active, and happy years.