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Feline Diabetes: What You Need To Know

male veterinarian holding a tabby cat

What is diabetes?


Diabetes is a condition where the body cannot produce the hormone insulin. This leads to elevated blood glucose (sugar) levels. Glucose is an essential source of energy. Normally, the pancreas produces insulin; in turn, insulin attaches itself to the cells and waits for the body’s signal to absorb the glucose and distribute vital energy. However, when diabetes is present, the pancreas cannot produce insulin on its’ own which triggers a buildup of glucose in the blood.



Are there factors that increase the risk of my cat getting diabetes?


Obesity, age, and physical inactivity are some of the risk factors. Obese cats are four times more likely to develop diabetes. As a cat owner, the best things you can do for your cats are to help them maintain a healthy weight and engage in regular physical activity through playtime.



What are the signs of feline diabetes?


The two most common signs are weight loss despite a healthy appetite and increased thirst and urination. The best thing to do to confirm a diagnosis is to visit your veterinary clinic.



How is feline diabetes treated?


Typically, feline diabetes is treated through insulin injections and diet changes. Insulin injections are administered under the skin every 12 hours. There are several types of insulin and different syringe sizes for each. It’s important to discuss the differences with your veterinarian to determine which option will be good for you and your cat. Although it might seem scary to give daily injections to your cat, it’s not that bad. Your veterinarian will show you some techniques to make administration quick and painless. The actual needle is small and very thin which most cats tolerate. Diet changes include switching to food low in carbohydrates. Several food brands, like Hill’s Science and Royal Canin, offer dry and wet options created for diabetic cats. It’s essential to monitor your cat after insulin therapy and dietary changes and to communicate with your veterinarian if you notice any changes.



What happens if I need to travel? Who will administer insulin to my pet?


You have a few options. One would be to reach out to your veterinary clinic to see if they offer boarding. There, your cats will have access to round-the-clock care from qualified veterinary staff who can give your cat its medication. Of course, not all cats tolerate boarding well. The stress of being in a new environment may not be ideal for their overall health. In these cases, you can reach out to a professional, insured cat sitter, preferably one with previous experience administering insulin to cats. The cat sitter will likely conduct an in-home consultation before scheduling services to meet your cat and determine if they can safely administer its medication. Whichever option you choose, make sure it’s a good fit for you and your cat.



If you have a diabetic cat and need a hand with medication administration, we offer special cat insulin visits up to twice a day to clients in Greensboro, NC, and Jamestown, NC. Visit our Services page online to learn more.


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