One of our least favorite diagnoses to make in cats is Type II diabetes. Feline diabetes is largely preventable and unnecessary. And, diabetes can be a real challenge to treat for many cat owners.
Fortunately, Type II diabetes in cats is also one of those diseases that benefits from early detection and treatment.
Why test your cat for diabetes?
1. Diagnosed Early, It May Be Reversible.
One of the most interesting aspects of feline diabetes is its potential reversibility or remission, especially when diagnosed in the earliest stages.
Research has shown up to 60% of cats will experience diabetic remission within the first few months of treatment.
Combining strict blood sugar regulation with precise insulin therapy, diet changes, and weight loss are a recipe for reversing diabetes in many cats. Some cats will remain diabetes-free for many months to years.
We recommend scheduling blood tests and a urinalysis for your adult cat at least once a year, twice a year for chubby kitties.
2. It’s More Than High Blood Sugar.
Many cat owners focus solely on blood sugar levels. Too often, we forget about the continuous and severe damage that high sugar levels (called hyperglycemia) cause throughout a cat’s body.
The longer diabetes goes untreated, the more potentially irreversible the damage may be. Prolonged high blood sugar levels cause painful diabetic neuropathy and weakness in diabetic cats’ hind legs. They can also contribute to chronic infections and loss of lean muscle mass.
Untreated diabetes can cause life-threatening emergency conditions such as hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver) and diabetic ketoacidosis, which require hospitalized care and may cause death.
3. Diabetes May Cause Inappropriate Urination.
Cats that urinate outside the litter box can do so for a variety of reasons, some medical and some behavioral.
Often, the first change owners notice in a diabetic cat is inappropriate urination. As blood sugars rise, the sugars start “spilling” into the urine as a cat’s body attempts to rid itself of the toxic sugar. This creates thirst and increased water consumption, which in turn creates excess urine.
Urinalysis is an important screening tool we use to help diagnose diabetes and differentiate it from other conditions that may cause a cat to miss the litter box.
4. The Risk of Excess Body Fat.
Fat cats are at a much higher risk of developing diabetes than lean cats. Diabetes is a disease commonly created in a cat’s food bowl.
If your cat is chubby or obese, have him screened for diabetes twice a year with blood and urine tests.
The great news is that when diagnosed early and weight loss programs are implemented, many cats will undergo diabetic remission.
5. Longer, Better Life.
The real reason to test your cat early and often for diabetes is to prolong a high quality of life.
The American Association of Feline Practitioners warns that the number of cats diagnosed with diabetes is increasing.
Don’t delay calling us if your cat is losing weight, having accidents in the house, has a change in eating habits (up or down), or unexpectedly loses weight.
You can reach Atlantic Veterinary Hospital by calling 206.323.4433.