Diabetes in Cats : Everything you need to know

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Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which a cat is unable to control its blood sugar or glucose levels.

A cat can get this disease at any age, but it is especially common in old or obese cats.

Diabetes in Cats :

Diabetes in Cats : Causes

Insulin and blood meter in case of a cat’s diabetes
The blood sugar level of a cat is determined by the hormone insulin. This is produced by the pancreas, an organ close to the stomach that produces enzymes for digestion.

A cat with diabetes mellitus suffers from a lack of insulin or does not produce enough insulin, with the result that it cannot function properly in the body. The result is a high blood sugar level.

The causes of diabetes mellitus in cats are unknown. These can be due to the pancreas not producing enough insulin or a body’s immune response to the insulin produced by the pancreas.

General symptoms

A cat with diabetes pees more than normal. This is because if the blood sugar level is too high, the glucose is drained from the kidneys together with water. Other symptoms may include the following:

  • increased thirst due to increased urine output
  • changed appetite, sometimes increased but more often decreased
  • weight loss
  • bad fur
  • listlessness
  • depression

At the veterinary practice

There are regularly cats with diabetes in the veterinary practice. The syndrome starts with a lot of drinking and a lot of peeing. It is also often noticeable that the animals eat more and lose weight in the beginning.

A lot of energy in the form of sugar is lost through the urine. Eventually, the cats will weaken and become slow, they can stop eating, after which deviant waste products will form in the blood, which can sometimes lead to the smell of acetone on exhalation. The final stage is death by a coma caused by extremely high blood sugar.

The cause of diabetes is a lack of insulin. The insulin hormone regulates blood sugar so that it stays between certain limits. If there is not enough insulin, the blood sugar will rise. It is also possible that sufficient insulin is formed, but that the hormone cannot sufficiently function. We see this with the use of certain medicines and with very thick animals.


The diagnosis of diabetes can be easily made by measuring the sugar content in the blood and urine. In addition, we always measure the long-acting sugar, the fructose amine in the blood.

This substance reflects the sugar content that was present in the blood for 14 days and is more reliable than the measured actual sugar content in the blood, because this can jump up due to stress in a cat, so that you measure a too high value.


Treatment consists of administering insulin and giving a special diet. Tablets against diabetes generally work poorly with the cat.
In many cases, the owner will have to administer insulin to the cat twice a day. In the beginning that seems very scary, but with the help of the veterinarian it is very practicable. The cat will have to return regularly for blood tests to determine the correct insulin dose.

Nowadays there is a special diet for diabetic cats. This is a major advance. Due to the special diet, a lower dose of insulin can be injected and some, in particular, the fatter cats can get good blood sugar even after losing weight without the animals being sprayed.


If too much insulin is given, the cat may get a hypo, or too low a blood sugar level. This can lead to a coma. The vet often gives the owner dextrose powder to be sure. In case of emergency 1 gr. enter per kg cat in the mouth (dissolve dextrose in some water) and always go to the vet quickly.

Relative insulin deficiency, as is often the case with large animals, can lead to total destruction of these cells due to the depletion of insulin-producing cells, so it is always important to prevent this and treat the sugar patient as quickly as possible.

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