In part 1 we discussed a Chronic Renal Failure, a common cause for older cats to drink more and lose weight. Part 2 deals with Diabetes, another reason we see similar signs in older (as well as some younger) cats.
Diabetes is the inability or reduced ability of the body to use blood glucose for energy. This can happen because insulin (an essential hormone involved in the process) is not being produced - Type 1 Diabetes, or because the body doesn’t recognise the messages that insulin delivers - Type 2 Diabetes. Either way, the body isn’t able to use the energy from food, so it uses it’s own reserves to run the body so affected cats will be hungry but will continue to lose weight.
This process will eventually lead to the buildup of acid in the blood, resulting in life threatening Ketoacidosis.
Signs your cat could have diabetes
Other than weight loss, increased drinking and urinating are also a feature of diabetes. The high levels of circulating glucose spill into the urine, drawing more water into the bladder. Some affected cats will experience nerve damage, resulting in weakness and a changed walk.
Diagnosis of Diabetes in Cats
Diagnosis of Diabetes is made with a combination of physical signs, blood and urine tests. These test may need to be repeated to confirm the diagnosis and monitor treatment.
Treatment is a combination of insulin therapy and dietary management. While injections can be daunting initially, for many cat and their owners it becomes a routine part of the day. Feeding involves specific diets that better regulate blood glucose fluctuations and maintain an ideal body weight.
Many diabetic cats live for many years after diagnosis. Regular check ups and close monitoring at home will help achieve the best quality of life for diabetic cats.