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Diabetes in Cats

At Peterborough West Animal Hospital one of our least favorite diagnoses to make in cats is diabetes. The veterinarians have a dislike for feline diabetes because of two indisputable facts:

1) It’s largely preventable.

2) It can be a real challenge to treat for many owners.

Fortunately, diabetes is also one of those diseases that benefits from early detection. Here are Peterborough West Animal Hospital’s top five reasons you need to test your cat early and often for diabetes:

 

1. Diabetic remission
One of the most interesting aspects of feline diabetes is its potential reversibility or remission, especially when diagnosed in the earliest stages.  The doctors at Peterborough West Animal Hospital have seen many cats weaned off insulin when diagnosis and treatment was initiated quickly.  Research has shown up to 60% of cats will experience diabetic remission within the first few months of treatment.  Combining strict blood sugar regulation with precise insulin therapy, changes in diet and weight loss are a recipe for reversing diabetes in many cats.  Some cats will remain diabetes-free for many months to years.  Drs. Sargent, Giffen and Purvis’ advice is to have blood work and urinalysis performed at least yearly or twice yearly if you have an elderly and/or an overweight feline.

 

2. It’s more than high blood sugar
Many cat owners focus solely on blood sugar levels.  That’s good, but too often we forget the continuous and severe damage hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels) is causing throughout the body.  The longer diabetes goes unchecked, the more potentially irreversible damage occurs.  Prolonged high blood sugar levels can lead to nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy that typically causes weakness in the rear legs), chronic infections (especially urinary tract and skin), and loss of lean muscle mass resulting in weakness and wasting.  It is well recognized that untreated diabetes may cause a life-threatening emergency condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis.  The sad reality is that too many cat owners fail to recognize diabetes until their cat has lost a tremendous amount of weight.  Early diagnosis can preserve precious vital tissues and prolong health.

 

3. The litter box connection
Let’s face it; most cat owners rarely see their cat drinking water.  That’s perfectly normal because, well, cats don’t drink that much in the first place.  This means looking out for the classic diabetic symptom of “excessive thirst” in cats is harder.   A better sign to look for is more frequent urination and wetter, heavier litter.  If you suddenly notice you have to change the litter box more frequently, call the team at Peterborough West Animal Hospital to book an appointment to have your cat checked out immediately.  While we’re talking about urination, if your cat suffers from chronic urinary tract infections, be sure to ask one of our veterinarians at Peterborough West Animal Hospital about screening for diabetes.  One final “pee-note:” diabetes should always be ruled-out in cases of inappropriate elimination such as “accidents” on the bed or rugs. Unfortunately our veterinarians have seen one too many cats misidentified with a “behavior problem” when the correct cause was a disease such as diabetes.

 

4. The risk of excess fat
The team at Peterborough West Animal Hospital wants you to be aware of the link between excess fat and diabetes in cats (and dogs as well).  The fact is that fat cats are at a much higher risk of developing diabetes than a lean cat.  Diabetes is a disease commonly created at the food bowl.  If your cat is overweight or obese, have him screened for diabetes twice a year.  Blood tests are best, but even a simple urinalysis can aid in diagnosing diabetes.  The great news is that when diagnosed early and weight loss programs are implemented, many cats will undergo diabetic remission .

 

5. Longer, better life
The real reason to test your cat early and often for diabetes is to prolong a high quality of life.  The American Association of Feline Practitioners also warns that cats being diagnosed with diabetes are increasing.  Don’t delay bringing your cat in to see the veterinarians at Peterborough West Animal Hospital if s/he is drinking or urinating more, has “accidents” in the house, suddenly changes eating habits, or inexplicably loses weight.

While it is true feline diabetes is one of our least favorite diagnoses, it’s also true that when one of the doctors at Peterborough West Animal Hospital has the opportunity to detect it early, their spirits are lifted.  The only way we can identify diabetes promptly is through regular screening at least once or twice a year.  It’s up to you; bring your feline companion to Peterborough West Animal Hospital for regular wellness blood and urine testing. Together we can help your cat live a long, healthy, and happy life.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call Peterborough West Animal Hospital at 705-745-4800

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