Why do cats get diabetes?
In the last few years veterinarians have noted with alarm an increase in cats with diabetes. This follows the exact same trend in humans and the reason is exactly the same: obesity. In other words, fat cats like Garfield and Heathcliff are funny in cartoons but not in real life.
Just like humans, they need a perfectly balanced diet.
What causes diabetes? It develops when the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin, a hormone that regulates the metabolism of glucose (blood sugar). The more fat available in the body, the less available and effective the insulin that the pancreas produces. In cats, recent studies have linked diabetes to high carbohydrate diets.
A change to a balanced low carb, high protein diet, leading to a gradual return to normal weight, may be enough to control diabetes in some cats. For others, weight loss and a change in diet may need to be assisted by medication to lower blood sugar. In the most extreme cases, cats will need insulin shots and regular monitoring of their blood sugar, both of which can be carried out at home.
The problem for a cat who needs injections is often psychological. For the owner! Once the owner becomes comfortable with giving their cat injections and settles into the feeding routine, it’s totally possible for a diabetic cat to live a happy and wonderful life.
If you would like to learn more, there are many resources on the internet concerning this matter. For example: www.felinediabetes.com or check out our peers at Cornell University.