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"Your cat has feline diabetes." If this is your vet's message after examining your beloved friend, it will come as a shock. Yes, your cat has a serious disease. But you can treat it!
I got the message myself early 2003. My (then) 10-year-old neutered cat Duvelke had been urinating and drinking more than usual for a few weeks. First it was thought to be connected with a previous medication. But after urine and blood tests the veterinarian was certain. "Your cat has feline diabetes."
Now what is diabetes?
Blood contains sugar (glucose). The blood sugar level is controlled by the hormone insulin, which is produced by the pancreas. If this organ produces not enough insulin, we speak of diabetes.
Symptoms of feline diabetes differ. Duvelke started to pass more urine than usual, and had an increased thirst as a result of this. Other possible symptoms are weight loss, decreased appetite, lethargy and a poor coat condition.
Cats with untreated diabetes will become inactive, vomit regularly, stop urinating and fall into a coma. But if you treat feline diabetes correctly, your cat might still be able to lead a long and happy life. It does take effort and dedication, though.
Your cat will need to get food at set times, and preferably should stay indoors.
And - this is essential - you will have to give your cat insulin shots. Once a day, often two times daily. Your vet will determine the quantity and tell you how to do it. It is not scary!
But keep an eye on your friend. Your cat should have had food before getting the insulin shot! If not, a hypoglycemic shock (a 'hypo') may occur. This is also possible if your cat gets too much insulin. And this is really dangerous. If you are not there to help, your cat might die from a hypo.
Duvelke has had a few hypos since 2003. He survived. How? By putting glucose in his mouth, on the inside of his cheeks. Honey on his tongue also worked well.
Duvelke's quantity of insulin has been reduced considerably the past year. And he's doing really fine. If you didn't know about his disease, you would assume he is a perfectly healthy cat.
So, with a proper treatment, diabetic cats can still lead a happy life!
© 2004, Marc de Jong. Journalist, web site builder and cat lover Marc de Jong lives in Belgium. He is the owner and editor of http://www.cat-pregnancy-report.com on which you will find a longer, more detailed version of this article.
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