Cats and Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes and Cats
All cats are at risk for the development of diabetes. The condition of diabetes in cats is manageable and treatable with a good overall prognosis. Diabetes, if cared for properly, should not significantly shorten overall lifespan or quality of life for the cat. However, this requires the owner to put forth certain efforts to control and manage blood sugar levels. To clear up any misconceptions, diabetes is not contagious, but is inherited genetically, through health problems, or through poor lifestyle choices.
Types of Diabetes
There are two types of diabetes in cats, both resembling the two types of diabetes found in humans; insulin and non-insulin dependent. Type 1 diabetes in cats is insulin dependent, as the body is not capable of producing and secreting adequate amounts of insulin. Type 2 diabetes in cats is non-insulin dependent, where insulin is secreted and produced in an abnormal manner, making it difficult for the cells to recognize and utilize. Type 1 diabetes requires insulin injections for control and management, while type 2 diabetes can usually be controlled through dietary and lifestyle changes. However, type 2 diabetes in cats can develop into type 1 diabetes over time, creating the need for insulin. Fact: Cats should maintain a blood sugar level between 100 and 300mg/dL.
Diabetes in Cats: Prevalence
Currently, approximately 1 in 400 cats will develop diabetes. Diabetes is more prevalent in older male cats. It is also important to note that it is not typically possible to reliably diagnose a cat as type 1 or type 2 diabetic. However, it is noted by many experts that type 2 is more prevalent than type 1. Diabetes is also more prevalent in specific breeds, as there are genetic associations with the development of diabetes. Fact: Fructosamine is the protein excreted through the urine used to determine glucose levels in the blood.
Diabetes in Cats: Signs and Symptoms
Initial signs and symptoms of diabetes occur gradually in cats and include excessive thirst, increased hunger, weight loss and excessive urination. Although less prominent, some cats will exhibit certain neurological dysfunctions, typically in the rear legs. Development of diabetes in cats typically occurs between five to seven years of age. Left untreated, cats will slowly become thinner and weaker, due to the use of reserved energy stores, usually accompanied by dehydration and death. Fact: There are several types of insulin that can be derived from several different sources, including short, rapid, long, and intermediate acting, based on the speed of reaction.
Diabetes and Diet
The dietary intake of your diabetic cat is extremely important. In certain cases, proper management of diet can be all that is required. Your cat should have a diet that is low in carbohydrates and high in protein content. Also, it is encouraged to feed your cat several small meals daily if possible, rather than one larger meal. This will help in the natural regulation of blood sugars. If your cat is dependent upon insulin, dietary changes are strongly associated with overall decreased amounts of insulin. If your cat has other conditions or diseases in addition to diabetes, you should consult your veterinarian before making any dietary changes.
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