Diabetes mellitus, or “sugar” diabetes, is a common disorder in cats, striking one in every 400. It is caused by the inability of the hormone insulin to properly balance blood sugar (glucose) levels.
Symptoms of diabetes in cats are similar to those in humans, including:
Your veterinarian can determine if your cat is diabetic by checking blood, urine and clinical signs.
Diabetes is definitely treatable and need not shorten an animal’s lifespan or life quality. However, diabetes is life-threatening if left alone. Untreated, the condition leads to increasingly weak legs in cats, and eventually malnutrition, ketoacidosis and death. Early diagnosis and treatment by a qualified veterinarian can not only help prevent nerve damage, but in some cases even lead to remission so that the cat no longer needs injected insulin.
Treatment generally entails giving insulin injections once or twice a day, though in a small number of cats, diabetes may be controlled through diet and oral medication.
Many cat owners are able to control their diabetic cat’s condition for years, and the animal leads a normal life. If you are willing to work closely with your veterinarian, you and your cat can have many happy years ahead.