Like their human counterparts, cats can develop diabetes. Many do. In fact, one in every 400 felines will eventually acquire this potentially lethal disease. That’s the bad news. The good news is: it can be treated, if caught early.
Diabetes is an incurable (chronic) condition that is caused by a malfunctioning of the pancreas gland which produces insulin in the body. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the amount of sugar (glucose) that is absorbed by the blood cells. If that glucose is not allowed into the cell, that cell is deprived of the energy needed to support itself and its overall functioning.
There are two types of diabetes. Type I Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce that insulin that is necessary to regulate the blood sugar levels. And Type II Diabetes happens when the pancreas produces that insulin, but the insulin is somehow prevented from entering (absorbing) into the blood cell itself. In either case, the end result is the same – the blood cells don’t get the sugar they need to run properly.
The first step in counteracting the progression of feline diabetes is to recognize the symptoms, and to obtain the laboratory work necessary to diagnose the problem. As a pet parent, you are in the driver’s seat in controlling your cat’s health. In addition to love, you need to observe your animal and its behavior so that you will be in tune with what’s going on with your cat’s overall health.
You’ll need to keep an eye out on your cat’s weight and how much water it seems to be drinking. Overweight cats, like overweight humans, are more prone to this killer disease. Neutered male cats and middle aged felines also have a greater disposition to diabetes, as well. When put together, if your cat is a neutered, middle-aged male that has excess body mass and is drinking a lot of water lately with increased urination, it’s time to see the vet for some needed blood and urine studies.
As the disease progresses and treatment is not given, felines generally show a switch in symptoms. There is a significant weight loss with frequent vomiting, and their fur becomes shabby and dull. There may even be hair loss. Eventually, they lose their appetite for food and grow lethargic. In advanced cases, the feline will fall into a coma and die unless treatment is provided.
While not all cases of feline diabetes have a happy ending, it is possible with strict dedication to give your pet a second chance at life. The vet is your first step in helping your little friend. He or she will examine your cat, take necessary tests, and prescribe the medications that could save your pet’s life. The meds, however, are likely to be in injectible form which you must administer once (or twice) a day, based on your veterinarian’s advice.
Giving your cat a shot may sound a little scarey since not many of us have had training in nursing skills. However, it really is not as difficult as it sounds; and your vet’s office will be able to show you exactly how it should be done. Many people administer these injections to their pets and are successful at helping their little friends achieve a long and healthy life. We are not going to discuss at this point the process of administering an insulin injection, because this is something that you should be shown by the nursing staff at your veterinary hospital. Just know here and now that because your animal requires this level of medical care does not mean that you can’t help them – because you CAN, and it really is NOT that difficult to do once you are shown how to do it.
Along with the kitty meds, you will need to be extremely vigilant of your pet’s diet. And, you will need to perform home testing of your cat’s sugar levels on a daily basis. These are all very doable procedures and are essential for the care of the diabetic pet. In other words, caring for a diabetic cat (or dog, for that matter) is very possible. With help from your veterinary staff, you can learn without much problems the way to administer your pet’s medications, observe their diet and behavior, and monitor their sugar levels. Without a doubt, this requires a great deal of dedication and perseverance on your part. And, above all, a great deal of love. In a sense, you must then not only become your pet’s parent, but your pet’s nurse, as well. Perhaps it s a long, hard road to consider. But, isn’t the love that you receive back from those trusting eyes incentive enough to try?