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Can Your Cat Die From Diabetes?

Feline Diabetes: The Influence Of Diet

Feline Diabetes: The Influence Of Diet

Feline diabetes mellitus is similar to human type II diabetes, also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes. In these patients, the pancreas is able to produce insulin, though it is not enough to adequately control blood sugar. This may be due to damage from inflammation of the pancreas, overwork/exhaustion of the pancreas due to chronically elevated blood sugar and/or if the cells of the body have become somewhat resistant to insulin. Whatever the cause or causes, the end result is the insulin produced by the pancreas is no longer enough to control blood sugar.¹ Glucose is a sugar, so the terms blood glucose and blood sugar are used interchangeably. Certain disease states can contribute to or cause diabetes if they damage the pancreas or cause sustained increases in blood sugar. These conditions include pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas, hormonal diseases such as hyperthyroidism or hyperadrenocorticism, and persistent infection, such as that from chronic dental infection. Certain pharmaceutical drugs that cause increases in blood glucose, most notably steroids, may also contribute to diabetes in cats.² Lastly, obesity contributes to diabetes. Obesity in cats leads to peripheral insulin resistance. A substance called amyloid which interferes with pancreatic function has also been found to be present in the pancreas of obese cats.³ Certain breeds of cats seem more likely to develop diabetes, primarily Burmese cats. The more common reasons for obesity and peripheral insulin resistance in cats however, are quite simple. An inappropriately high-carbohydrate diet in a carnivorous species coupled with low physical activity.⁴ In order to understand how this occurs, we must try to understand the feline, their dietary needs, and what their bodies do not ne Continue reading >>

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes is an increasingly common disease in people and is being recognised more frequently in older pets. It is a serious disease that must be treated as the complications can kill your pet. However, treatment of most diabetics is straightforward and with treatment they can live normal, happy lives. For treatment to be successful you must be prepared to invest time and money in your pet's care. Diabetes is caused by a lack of insulin and diabetic cats require daily insulin injections to keep healthy. Early recognition of diabetes allows treatment to start before the disease causes serious damage. Your partner in caring for your pet should be your veterinary surgeon. Regular visits to a vet for routine health checks and preventative health care such as vaccination allow you and your pet to build a relationship with your vet and gives your vet a chance to recognise early signs of illness in your pet. If you are concerned that your pet is losing weight or is drinking more than usual then ask your vet for an appointment. Your questions answered What is diabetes? How do I know if my cat has diabetes? Why does my cat have diabetes? Can diabetes be treated? Will my cat need insulin? Why can't insulin be given as a tablet? What if I can't give my cat injections? Will my vet monitor my cat? Do cats with diabetes feel unwell? Continue reading >>

Why I'm Letting My Cat Die

Why I'm Letting My Cat Die

(Comments are now closed. Zoe is doing fine; a change in diet has done wonders. Thanks, everyone!) I just found out that my 13-year-old cat, Zoe, has diabetes. Zoe and I go way back; I adopted her from the Anti-Cruelty Society when she was 2 and she has been a constant presence. But now she's old. She is a cat. I'm not willing to spend thousands of dollars on medical care and I don't have the time or energy to give her a daily insulin shot and monitor her blood glucose level. The vet said she's not suffering, so I'm going to let nature take its course. After I confessed this at today's weekly Q staff meeting, my colleague Heidi Stevens nodded knowingly. "I hate my cat," she said. We all gasped. She added: "I took in my cat from a friend who found him at 4 weeks old, too young for a shelter to keep him, I was told. He was a cute kitten, but is a joyless, mean-spirited, weak-stomached 8-year-old cat now. "I've also developed an allergy to him, which makes my eyes swell and turn red. I find myself longing for the day when he's no longer with us, but I can't bring myself to take him to a shelter because I know no one would adopt him, and I couldn't live with myself knowing that I, in effect, ended his life. So I just go through life resenting him and his various messes." Do you have pet resentment? Or tips on how to give a cat hospice care? Kristine Timpert's quirky little book "If Babies Did Crunches" tries to sugarcoat an important message for adults: Beware of crunches. The not-just for-kids book stresses that if you really want to banish tummy flab or back pain, clean up your diet and mimic your child's natural play patterns, which includes squatting, pushing, pulling, balancing and lunging. One of the biggest mistakes new moms make, for example, is they start doing cru Continue reading >>

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes is an increasingly common disease in people and is being recognised more frequently in older pets. It is a serious disease that must be treated as the complications can kill your pet. However, treatment of most diabetics is straightforward and with treatment they can live normal, happy lives. For treatment to be successful you must be prepared to invest time and money in your pet's care. Diabetes is caused by a lack of insulin and diabetic cats require daily insulin injections to keep healthy. Early recognition of diabetes allows treatment to start before the disease causes serious damage. Your partner in caring for your pet should be your veterinary surgeon. Regular visits to a vet for routine health checks and preventative health care such as vaccination allow you and your pet to build a relationship with your vet and gives your vet a chance to recognise early signs of illness in your pet. If you are concerned that your pet is losing weight or is drinking more than usual then ask your vet for an appointment. Your questions answered What is diabetes? How do I know if my cat has diabetes? Why does my cat have diabetes? Can diabetes be treated? Will my cat need insulin? Why can't insulin be given as a tablet? What if I can't give my cat injections? Will my vet monitor my cat? Do cats with diabetes feel unwell? Continue reading >>

High Blood Sugar In Cats

High Blood Sugar In Cats

High blood sugar is caused by the body's inability to make its own insulin or use it effectively. When your cat eats he digests fats, proteins and carbohydrates for his body to use. Sugar, or glucose, is an important substance because it provides him with the energy he needs to live. His body should also produce insulin to regulate the flow of glucose. If he isn't producing insulin, his body will use other sources for energy and his blood sugar will be high. Keeping your cat healthy requires being in tune with his body. It is important to learn his behavior, so you will know if he isn't at his best. While most cats are generally healthy, some develop medical conditions similar to humans, including hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar. Diabetes mellitus is a condition that occurs in cats which is characterized by high blood sugar. Cats with high blood sugar will exhibit certain symptoms that will let you know something isn't right. Below is a list of the most common symptoms seen in cats with diabetes: Excessive thirst Increased urination Decreased appetite Weight loss Difference in gait (walking) Weakness Vomiting Depression Types There are two types of diabetes mellitus that can occur in cats and cause hyperglycemia: Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus Cats with this type of diabetes do not need daily doses of insulin to regulate their blood sugar. It is controlled with diet alone. Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus This form of diabetes requires daily insulin injections to control fluctuating blood sugar. Half of all cats diagnosed with high blood sugar will need insulin to stay healthy. While the exact cause of diabetes in cats is unknown, there are some factors veterinarians believe contribute to its development. Advancing Age Being overweight Pancreatitis Cushin Continue reading >>

Diabetes Mellitus In Cats

Diabetes Mellitus In Cats

What is diabetes mellitus? Diabetes mellitus is a disease caused by failure of the pancreas to produce adequate amounts of insulin or of the body to respond to the insulin that is produced. Why is insulin so important? The role of insulin is much like that of a gatekeeper: It stands at the surface of body cells and opens the door, allowing glucose to leave the blood stream and pass inside the cells. Glucose, or blood sugar, is a vital substance that provides much of the energy needed for life and it must work inside the cells. Without an adequate amount of insulin, glucose is unable to get into the cells. It accumulates in the blood, setting in motion a series of events which can ultimately prove fatal. When insulin is deficient, the cells become starved for a source of energy. In response to this, the body starts breaking down stores of fat and protein to use as alternative energy sources. This causes the cat to eat more, but ultimately results in weight loss. The body tries to eliminate the excess glucose by excreting it in the urine. However, glucose attracts water, so the urine glucose that is excreted also contains large quantities of the body's fluids. This causes the cat to produce a large amount of urine. To avoid dehydration, the cat drinks more and more water. Not all of these signs are readily seen in every diabetic cat, but we expect that you will have seen at least two of them. How is diabetes mellitus diagnosed? Because the four classical signs of diabetes are also present in other feline diseases, clinical signs alone are not sufficient to make a diagnosis. We also look for a high level of glucose in the blood stream and the presence of glucose in the urine using laboratory tests. The normal blood glucose level for cats is 80 to 120 mg/dL, while diabetic Continue reading >>

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes is an increasingly common disease in people and is being recognised more frequently in older pets. It is a serious disease that must be treated as the complications can kill your pet. However, treatment of most diabetics is straightforward and with treatment they can live normal, happy lives. For treatment to be successful you must be prepared to invest time and money in your pet's care. Diabetes is caused by a lack of insulin and diabetic cats require daily insulin injections to keep healthy. Early recognition of diabetes allows treatment to start before the disease causes serious damage. Your partner in caring for your pet should be your veterinary surgeon. Regular visits to a vet for routine health checks and preventative health care such as vaccination allow you and your pet to build a relationship with your vet and gives your vet a chance to recognise early signs of illness in your pet. If you are concerned that your pet is losing weight or is drinking more than usual then ask your vet for an appointment. Your questions answered What is diabetes? How do I know if my cat has diabetes? Why does my cat have diabetes? Can diabetes be treated? Will my cat need insulin? Why can't insulin be given as a tablet? What if I can't give my cat injections? Will my vet monitor my cat? Do cats with diabetes feel unwell? Continue reading >>

Feline Diabetes

Feline Diabetes

Definition: Diabetes mellitus is an endocrine disease in which the blood sugar level rises because of failure of insulin to control it. This occurs either because the pancreas has lost its ability to manufacture insulin (known as Type I diabetes) or that mechanisms of insulin release and tissue responsiveness are dysfunctional (Type II diabetes). Without proper insulin regulation, the body is unable to transport glucose (a simple sugar obtained from digested food) into cells. Because glucose remains trapped in the bloodstream, the tissues of the body are deprived of the energy needed to function normally. Risk factors: In many cases, the cause for why a cat has developed diabetes cannot be determined. However, it is known that obesity predisposes cats for Type II diabetes. Other causes or factors include: damage to the pancreas caused by inflammation, infection, immune mediated disease, tumors, genetic predisposition, and exposure to certain drugs. Cats receiving steroids are also predisposed to diabetes. Symptoms: The most common symptoms of diabetes are weight loss (often with a healthy appetite), excessive water consumption and excessive urine output. Because so much urine is being produced, some diabetic cats will urinate in unusual places (i.e., outside of the litter box). Owners may notice that litter has suddenly begun to stick to their cat’s paws because of the excess volume of urine being produced. Some cats will also show weakness, lethargy, vomiting, abnormal gait, poor grooming habits and changes in behavior. Diagnosis: Physical examination may show poor body condition, dehydration, jaundice, and an enlarged liver. Laboratory testing is essential to diagnose diabetes. Blood tests show hyperglycemia (high blood sugar, usually above 300 mg/dl), and often the Continue reading >>

Life Span Of A Cat With Diabetes

Life Span Of A Cat With Diabetes

A diabetes diagnosis is not a death sentence for your cat. Most diabetic cats who receive proper veterinary care and good quality home treatment enjoy essentially normal lives, their longevity the same as non-diabetic cats. He'll have a shortened life as a direct result of diabetes only if you fail to manage the diabetes properly. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the average indoor cat lives for 13 to 17 years. Properly medicated diabetic cats have the same average longevity as healthy non-diabetic cats. But cats with untreated diabetes may succumb sooner, due to health problems that can develop as side effects of diabetes. Insulin, a pancreatic hormone, breaks down the sugars your cat consumes and turns them into the energy he needs to function. Diabetes either inhibits insulin production or inhibits produced insulin's effectiveness. Further, diabetes is either "insulin-dependent" or non-insulin-dependent -- cats with insulin-dependent diabetes require frequent insulin injections. Cats under 7 years of age rarely get diabetes. Overweight cats are more prone to become diabetic than cats of healthy weight; males are slightly more likely to become diabetic than females. Each cat's diabetes is an specific condition; your veterinarian will provide individualized treatment for your pet based on his symptoms. Feline diabetes is not classified into stages beyond the general classification of type, but untreated feline diabetes has a series of progression, starting with symptoms of lethargy; increased eating, drinking and urinating; and weight loss. It progresses to leg weakness, poor skin and coat, and bacterial infection; then to wasting, ketoacidosis, neuropathy, and kidney disease. Your veterinarian will diagnose the type of diabet Continue reading >>

The Complications Of Having A Cat With Diabetes – By Rosalind Anderson

The Complications Of Having A Cat With Diabetes – By Rosalind Anderson

Around one in 200 cats get diabetes according to research carried out by Danielle Gunn-More, Professor of Feline Medicine, and Head of Companion Animal Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. Cats are slightly more prone to diabetes than dogs, she says. Fatter, older male cats that don’t have much exercise are generally at higher risk than other cats. Here, Rosalind talks about a typical day looking after her cat Jasper, aged 10, who has diabetes. I knew Jasper wasn’t quite himself. He’d lost some weight and had started sleeping against the wall behind the armchair – usually he’s on the settee or on my husband’s chair. He was also eating an awful lot. I’d looked up his symptoms and I was pretty sure it was diabetes – although I was surprised. I tend to know what’s wrong with one of the cats before I take them to the vet. (Last time I went to the vet with one of our other cats, I said ‘he’s got a haematoma in his ear’ and the vet had a look and said ‘so he has’.) The vet did blood tests and rang the next day and confirmed that Jasper had diabetes and had lost about a kilogramme in weight – which is quite a lot in a cat. His blood sugar was very high so he needed insulin to bring it down. I was worried as I’d got to inject him and had never done anything like that before. I thought he wouldn’t like it – and it would put him off me. I spent half an hour with the nurse at the vet. She showed me how to do the injections at the back of his neck (we injected water). Jasper was stoical but he wasn’t terribly pleased – he doesn’t like the vets anyway. I took the insulin home and started the injections. He wasn’t too keen but then I found some really nice dried chicken bits which he absolutely loves. Now when it’s time for his inject Continue reading >>

Doctor, You Aren’t Listening To Me... What If I Do Nothing?

Doctor, You Aren’t Listening To Me... What If I Do Nothing?

A month ago my sister wanted to know if her Jack Russell Terrier could be sick because he was drinking and peeing all the time. I told her he needed to go to the vet; he could have a simple urinary tract infection or he could have more going on. Inside my head, I was screaming “diabetes” as polyuria/polydipsia (drinks a lot and pees a lot), or PU/PD as medical types call it, is a hallmark for diabetes mellitus in dogs, cats, and people. In dogs, diabetes mellitus rarely responds to dietary changes - unlike some people and some cats - and almost always requires twice daily insulin injections to control the disease. Having seen clients react to a diagnosis of diabetes, I wondered how my sister and her husband would react if they had to take care of this chronic condition that requires significant planning and scheduling. It’s not for every owner: while it’s not expensive, it requires insulin injections every 12 hours, 7 days a week for the rest of the pet’s life, with no time off for good behavior. It requires considerable commitment, which can be particularly difficult for people like my sister and her husband who work outside the home and can’t drop everything to give a pet medication at the appropriate times. I wondered what they would choose to do if their dog did have diabetes rather than a urinary tract infection. Receiving a diagnosis of a chronic disease can be difficult to wrap your mind around. During my years in practice, I noticed that there are some pretty universal questions most clients ask. “What are my options and what will happen if I do nothing?” When I hear this, I translate this into: a. How will the disease progress? Will this be a disease that progresses quickly or is it going to be something that is a nagging problem for years to co Continue reading >>

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes is an increasingly common disease in people and is being recognised more frequently in older pets. It is a serious disease that must be treated as the complications can kill your pet. However, treatment of most diabetics is straightforward and with treatment they can live normal, happy lives. For treatment to be successful you must be prepared to invest time and money in your pet's care. Diabetes is caused by a lack of insulin and diabetic cats require daily insulin injections to keep healthy. Early recognition of diabetes allows treatment to start before the disease causes serious damage. Your partner in caring for your pet should be your veterinary surgeon. Regular visits to a vet for routine health checks and preventative health care such as vaccination allow you and your pet to build a relationship with your vet and gives your vet a chance to recognise early signs of illness in your pet. If you are concerned that your pet is losing weight or is drinking more than usual then ask your vet for an appointment. Your questions answered What is diabetes? How do I know if my cat has diabetes? Why does my cat have diabetes? Can diabetes be treated? Will my cat need insulin? Why can't insulin be given as a tablet? What if I can't give my cat injections? Will my vet monitor my cat? Do cats with diabetes feel unwell? Continue reading >>

When Is It

When Is It "time" To Euthanize?

Here's today's tough question [edited]: I have a cat, Zoe, who is 15. She is diabetic. Even when her diabetes is stabilized, she's so skinny! She has gone from a big 12 pound Maine Coon to a weeny 5 pound Maine Coon. She looks and feel bony. We know she has some arthritis (she gets chondroitin); the vet thinks she may have a tumor of some sort, possibly even/as well as a brain tumor. She definitely has dental problems. Zoe's quality of life seems to me to be poor - she will accept petting but is not the affectionate lapcat she used to be; she has always lived in a multicat household but now HATES the other cats; and she's occasionally incontinent. Mealtimes get her excited but that's it; the rest of the time she spends asleep. How do we know when it's time? We keep taking her back to the vet every 3 months for an assessment to see if she's in much pain and they never seem to think she is. I don't want to euthanize her just because she is no longer a charming little kitten or because she has health problems - she has definitely earned her retirement, but I also don't want her to suffer through a terrible existence because we haven't got the guts to make a decision. My Answer: Well... no pressure, huh? The decision to provide euthanasia is often a difficult one. In fact, it is almost always a difficult decision, even when the situation is pretty clear-cut (as in the dog caught in a combine harvester header who had all four of his legs cut off: the owner wanted me to "fix him". Holy cow!) "Quality of life" and "quality of life issues" are the buzz-words. They are more than just buzz-words, though. If one is sure that a patient is in constant pain which is NOT going to get better, then the decision is pretty clear. But what about the patient who just never feels good? You d Continue reading >>

Diabetes Complications In Dogs And Cats: Diabetes Ketoacidosis (dka)

Diabetes Complications In Dogs And Cats: Diabetes Ketoacidosis (dka)

Unfortunately, we veterinarians are seeing an increased prevalence of diabetes mellitus in dogs and cats. This is likely due to the growing prevalence of obesity (secondary to inactive lifestyle, a high carbohydrate diet, lack of exercise, etc.). So, if you just had a dog or cat diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, what do you do? First, we encourage you to take a look at these articles for an explanation of the disease: Diabetes Mellitus (Sugar Diabetes) in Dogs Once you have a basic understanding of diabetes mellitus (or if you already had one), this article will teach you about life-threatening complications that can occur as a result of the disease; specifically, I discuss a life-threatening condition called diabetes ketoacidosis (DKA) so that you know how to help prevent it! What is DKA? When diabetes goes undiagnosed, or when it is difficult to control or regulate, the complication of DKA can occur. DKA develops because the body is so lacking in insulin that the sugar can’t get into the cells -- resulting in cell starvation. Cell starvation causes the body to start breaking down fat in an attempt to provide energy (or a fuel source) to the body. Unfortunately, these fat breakdown products, called “ketones,” are also poisonous to the body. Symptoms of DKA Clinical signs of DKA include the following: Weakness Not moving (in cats, hanging out by the water bowl) Not eating to complete anorexia Large urinary clumps in the litter box (my guideline? If it’s bigger than a tennis ball, it’s abnormal) Weight loss (most commonly over the back), despite an overweight body condition Excessively dry or oily skin coat Abnormal breath (typically a sweet “ketotic” odor) In severe cases DKA can also result in more significant signs: Abnormal breathing pattern Jaundice Ab Continue reading >>

10 Good Things About Owning A Diabetic Cat

10 Good Things About Owning A Diabetic Cat

Many people hear the news their cat is a diabetic and they think it’s a death sentence. This is not true. Don’t panic. On the positive side: 1. It’s a treatable disease. A diagnosis of diabetes means your cat can get treatment. When an older cat is presented to me with the common symptoms of drinking lots of water, urinating tons and losing weight, a diagnosis of diabetes can actually be good news. It’s often better news than kidney or liver failure in many cases. If your cat seems very thirsty, this is not normal. Get the cat to the vet. Early intervention with diabetes, as with so many other diseases, gives your cat the best chance of a better life, and possible remission. 2. Sometimes diabetes is reversible; it goes away. With proper diet and the correct insulin therapy, a significant number of cats can go into remission, or have their diabetes reversed. We don’t completely understand this, but we are getting better treatment results with low-carb/high-protein diets and early insulin intervention. Diabetes is more common in male cats, and the statistics show that males have a slightly better chance of reversing their diabetes. 3. Better diets are helping diabetics live healthier lives. A poor diet may have brought on your cat’s diabetes in the first place. Now it’s time to get back on the right track. Most experts recommend a diet with about 7 percent carb content. Fancy Feast Chunky Chicken or Turkey is a good choice for a diabetic. Friskies and 9 Lives have some options too. Evo95 Duck or Venison is great protein, low in carbs. Some of these “regular” cat foods are probably better than the prescription diets, in my opinion. If your cat is addicted to dry foods, the Evo dry diets are probably the best. I still wish you could convert Mr. Mug to a we Continue reading >>

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