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Understanding Feline Diabetes

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Feline Diabetes

What is Feline Diabetes Mellitus?

A. Feline diabetes is similar to type 2 diabetes in humans
B. The insulin produced does not allow the body’s cells to take up all of the glucose available
C. Characterized by non-insulin dependence, meaning that they do not respond to insulin to reduce the glucose in blood

This is why regulating cats has always been so difficult.

D. One in 200 cats has diabetes, and the incidence is increasing

Risk Factors for the Development of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Cats

A. Age: 8-12 years old are more likely to develop signs of diabetes
B. Sex: Male cats are twice as more likely to develop diabetes

This is because they have more visceral fat (fat in the abdominal cavity)

C. Obesity
D. Free choice feeding (leaving food out all day for cats to nibble on)
E. High carbohydrate diets

Signs of Diabetes in Cats

A. Early Signs

  • Polyphagia—eating excessively.
  • Diabetic CatObesity
  • Neuropathy (Inappropriate urination, irritability, lameness)
  • Hyperthyroidism

B. Late Signs

  • Polyuria (drinking water excessively) and Polydipsia (excessive urination)
  • Gait abnormalities
  • Weight Loss and/or Anorexia (not eating)
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea

Why Are Cats More Prone To Type 2 Diabetes Than Other Species?

A. Cats are obligate carnivores
B. Cats are unable to digest and use carbohydrates
C. Cats have a tremendous ability to make glucose from protein.
D. The cat’s liver has no glucokinase activity, which is what is needed to break down glucose.
E. Cats have limited ability to “mop up” excess glucose and store glycogen

Therefore, glucose hangs around longer after eating, increasing blood glucose levels.

F. For 15 minutes after eating, cats do not produce insulin.

Treatment Goals

A. Relieve Insulin Resistance

  • Feeding low carbohydrate diets.
  • By reducing obesity

B. Reverse glucose toxicity of the pancreas

  • By using Insulin therapy, no more than 2 units twice a day
  • Insulin should be given in the leg, not in the scruff.

C. It is possible to get up to 75 percent of cats OFF OF INSULIN ENTIRELY!

How to Meet These Treatment Goals

A.Diet Management

  • Feed a high protein, high fat, low carbohydrate diet.
  • Most canned foods already fulfill these dietary requirements.
  • No canned foods with rice, corn, or sauces because they increases carbohydrate content
  • The perfect diet for a cat is a whole mouse. Purina DM canned diet has the same composition of a mouse.

B. Reducing Obesity

  • Free choice feeding is not recommended.
  • Recommend feeding two meals daily, and take up whatever kitty does not eat
  • To maintain weight, feed 30 kilocalories per kilogram of body weight per day divided into two meals.

C. Monitoring Glucose

  • Owners monitor urine glucose at home using Glucotest.
  • Test fructosamine and glucose levels once monthly at clinic to determine if insulin dosage should be altered.

Fructosamine Testing

A. Why test fructosamine and not perform glucose curves?

In cats, glucose levels do not follow meal times. They spike and dip throughout the day.

Therefore, testing glucose at any given time can give an inaccurate picture of how much sugar is in the bloodstream.

Fructosamine is a sugar that is bound to protein. Therefore it is the system much longer (1-2 weeks). Testing the fructosamine will give an average level of sugar in the bloodstream over a 1 to 2 week period.

Cats must be fasted prior to blood draw. This will reduce the fat content of the serum which affects test results.


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