What is diabetes?
It is estimated that approximately 1 in 300 cats in the UK develops diabetes in their lifetime. Diabetes is typically a lifelong illness, which requires treatment to keep it under control. The condition results in extremely high blood sugar which causes symptoms of illness and, if left untreated, eventually death. Obese cats are more likely to suffer from diabetes.
Early symptoms include pets drinking a lot of water, lethargy, frequent urination and weight loss despite an increased appetite. Without treatment diabetes leads to anorexia, vomiting, dehydration, collapse, coma and ultimately death.
What causes diabetes?
Diabetes is caused by either the cat's pancreas producing insufficient amounts of the hormone insulin, or the pet's body cells not responding to insulin normally. Insulin's role is to lower blood glucose and, without it, blood sugar levels become dangerously high resulting in a range of problems.
If your cat is showing any of the symptoms of diabetes, contact your veterinary practice. They will be able to conduct some simple tests to confirm if your pet has the disease and, if so, will be able to give advice on treatment. Although the disease is incurable, long-term administration of once or twice daily insulin injections are generally effective at controlling the signs of disease, restoring a diabetic animal's quality of life and minimising the risk of diabetic complications. Unfortunately because of the type of diabetes which cats generally suffer from, tablets are not an effective option for treatment of diabetes.