Diabetes Mellitus is a complex and common endocrine disorder in cats. Its main cause
is either insufficient production of insulin by the pancreas (type I) or lack of a response by the
body's cell to insulin (type 2). Underutilization of glucose eventually leads to glucosuria
causing metabolic disturbances.
Older obese individuals are usually affected, males are more commonly afflicted than females.
Basic signs in cats:
Poor skin & coat
Diabetic neuropathy may cause cats to become progressively weaker in the rear legs.
A critical point is reach when they develop ketoacidosis, signs of which are loss of apetite
vomitting, diarrhea, lethargy, dehydration and breathing abnormalities. Without treatment the
condition is fatal.
Diagnosis is based on the cats clinical signs, laboratory test and the persisitent high amount of sugar
in the blood and urine.
Adequate control of diabetes can be acheived by either insulin injections or oral hypoglycemic
medication. Insulin injections are usually given once or twice a day. Each cat responds differently
to insulin so the dose should be tailored to each individual cat. The frequency of insulin shots are
usually based on a 24 hour blood glucose profile. The cat is usually hospitalized for this procedure.
The insulin dose could change from time to time, so it does need to be monitored.
Healthy diabetic cats can often be treated with hypoglycemic agent such as glipizide. This is
given orally once a day. Adverse side effects are vomitting, apetite loss, liver complications.
If there is no response after two months of oral therapy or if the cat becomes progressively
ill then insulin therapy needs to be started.
A diabetic cat can live for many years, however constant monitoring and good communication
between you and your veterinarian is of paramount importance.
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