Diabetes in Cats
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Diabetes Mellitus in Cats: reprinted with the kind permission of Pets Magazine

Diabetes mellitus, a common disease in both animals and people, was first recognized in cats over 75 years ago. Most commonly found in middle-aged to older cats, it is estimated to occur in about one in every 400 cats. Although it is a potentially serious disease, veterinarians have learned a great deal in recent years about how to treat diabetic cats effectively, so they may enjoy good health and quality of life.

Glucose is a type of sugar found in the bloodstream of all animals, as well as in certain foods. It is the end product of carbohydrate metabolism in the body and is the chief source of energy for living organisms. Insulin is the primary hormone that controls this metabolism and storage of fuel sources found in food. In diabetes, secretion of insulin from the pancreas may be impaired or the body's cells may be resistant to the actions of insulin. As a result, the body's ability to regulate blood glucose levels is compromised.

Diabetes mellitus alters the body’s functions and ultimately causes the normal metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats to be profoundly disturbed. The cells in the body need glucose for energy to sustain life. In the normal animal, insulin helps glucose enter most body cells. In diabetic animals, on the other hand, glucose cannot adequately enter cells, causing it to accumulate in high levels in the bloodstream (this is called hyperglycemia) and in the urine. As a result, the body’s cells do not receive the nourishment they need, forcing the cat’s body to break down fat tissue and the protein of muscle tissue in a futile attempt to supply the needed energy.

Diabetes is usually seen in cats over six years old, it can develop in cats of any breed, age or gender. However, the most typical patients are older, overweight and neutered male cats. Owners of diabetic cats will notice a change in their cat’s behaviour, specifically it will become increasingly thirsty and hungry. In addition, the owner may observe an increase in the frequency and amount of  ...... [Read complete article]

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