my cat has diabetes

General questions

Q: What causes diabetes in the cat?

A: Diabetes is a complex, but common, disease similar to diabetes in humans, in which the cat doesn't produce or doesn't process insulin. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas in small amounts to properly balance the blood sugar (glucose) levels in the blood.


Q: What are some risk factors for diabetes in the cat?

A: Veterinarians have known for years that obesity is one of the leading risk factors for diabetes in cats. In addition, some chronic health conditions and medications can increase the risk of cats developing diabetes.


Q: How do I know if my cat has diabetes?

A: The most common symptoms of diabetes in cats are increased thirst, increased urination and sudden weight loss, especially in overweight cats. In addition to these sudden changes, you may see changes in appetite, reduced physical activity (lethargy), vomiting and diarrhea.


Q: What do I do if I suspect my cat has diabetes?

A: If you see symptoms and think your cat has diabetes, contact your veterinarian immediately to schedule a physical examination and laboratory confirmation. Delaying treatment can be detrimental to the long-term health and life of your cat. Managing your diabetic cat can be a bit overwhelming at first but can certainly be achieved with some commitment and learning on your part. Your veterinarian can help you manage your cat's diabetes and provide the most effective therapies and information to help you.


Q: What is hypoglycemia, and how do I handle it?

A: Hypoglycemia is the term for low blood sugar, the opposite of high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), caused by diabetes. In diabetic cats, hypoglycemia can develop when too much insulin is given or the disease is mismanaged. This can be avoided in most cases by maintaining a consistent dosing regimen. Any adjustment to dosage must be made with the guidance of your veterinarian.


Q: What kinds of insulin are there and which is best for my cat?

A: There are several different types and sources of insulin available for treating your cat. Some are animal derived insulins, usually from beef and pork sources, and some are human insulins. In addition, insulins have different durations, from short- to long-acting. Depending on which category of insulin they are, different doses will be required for treatment, all of which can result in different responses in your cat. Your veterinarian will be able to recommend an insulin that is best suited to managing your cat's condition.