The symptoms of feline diabetes are very similar to the symptoms of diabetes in humans. The most common and obvious symptoms are excessive thirst, excessive urination, and lethargy. These are also symptoms of a thyroid problem, so you can’t diagnose this yourself.
High glucose levels take a toll on your cat’s systems. As with the human body, high glucose levels over a sustained period of time can wear on the kidneys, eyes, and the heart. To prevent complications, it’s important to keep your cat’s glucose levels within normal or near normal limits. If you suspect diabetes, take your cat to the veterinarian for a conclusive diagnosis. Blood tests will tell your veterinarian what is going on with your cat.
Once diagnosed, taking care of your pet is important. The care you implement will be needed long term. It’s important to realize this and to be consistent with your care. Mild cases of diabetes are sometimes controlled through a diet change. Once your cat begins a special diet, it’s important to have your cat’s glucose checked periodically to ensure that a change of diet is enough to make the difference. And, it’s important to eliminate the extra treats you are used to giving your cat. They will work against the positive changes you are trying to make through diet.
A change of diet may not be enough to keep your cat’s glucose within an acceptable range. Your veterinarian will probably prescribe insulin at this point. In most cases, your veterinarian will be able to determine the appropriate dose and frequency of insulin to give.
In some cases, cats with diabetes have glucose levels that can’t be regulated without testing. In those cases, the veterinarian may have you test your cat’s urine before you give the insulin. This will ensure you don’t give the insulin when the cat doesn’t need it. Your veterinarian will explain this procedure to you, if needed.
The most important points in caring for your cat with diabetes are:
- Take your cat to the veterinarian for a diagnosis.
- Be consistent with your cat’s diet. It’s important that they eat at the same time each day, just as people with diabetes do. And, it’s very important that you don’t load their diet with treats. Stick to the diet that the veterinarian recommends.
- Give insulin as prescribed by your veterinarian.
- Keep a liquid sugar product on hand in case your pet has a spell of low glucose. Often diabetics drink orange juice or pop a glucose tablet when their glucose level drops too low. In cats, the need is the same. When I had a diabetic cat, I kept a syringe (without a needle) on hand. When my cat would act weak as if his glucose level was too low, I would squirt some honey or syrup into his mouth. This didn’t happen frequently, but it’s good to be prepared.
The important point in caring for a cat with diabetes is to provide lots of loving care. Your pet will adapt to all the other changes as quickly as you do if you keep the love constant.