Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Purrfect 10: Warning Signs of Feline Diabetes

We love reading and researching anything and everything about cats, and wanted to find a fun and unique way to share the interesting facts we learn with you! Since top 10 lists are very popular in the blogosphere, we created The Purrfect 10 as a way to present 10 educational or fascinating tidbits about a wide variety of cat-related topics, everything from health issues to cat breeds to famous felines.

Diabetes has become an epidemic both in humans and our pets. I know from first-hand experience that a diagnosis of feline diabetes is life-changing, but it's also very manageable. As with any chronic disease, early diagnosis is key, but what are the warning signs you should be looking for in your cat? In honor of Pet Diabetes Month, here's what you need to know in the latest edition of The Purrfect 10...

1) Increased Urination & Inappropriate Elimination: High blood sugar is a build-up of glucose in the bloodstream as it is unable to enter the cells. The increased blood glucose gets to a point where it starts to spill into the urine causing the animal to urinate large amounts. When kitty starts urinating outside the litter box there's a very good chance he just couldn't get there in time! (Inappropriate elimination can also be the result of urinary tract infections and diabetic neuropathy, as discussed below.)

2) Increased Thirst: When the cat's body is getting rid of sugar, it takes water from the rest of the body to make the urine. The loss of water causes the cat to feel thirsty and drink more.

3) Increased Appetite: A diabetic cat doesn't get the energy he is consuming because he doesn’t have the insulin to help convert the glucose into energy. The body responds by feeling hungry and increasing the appetite. The problem is, when kitty eats he's just raising his blood sugar level even higher. It's a vicious cycle which leads to...

4) Weight Loss: To get the energy it needs, the body turns to alternate sources, breaking down fats and proteins to feed glucose-starved cells. This breakdown results in weight loss, despite increased appetite, and can cause the formation of ketones (acids made when your body begins using fat instead of carbohydrates for energy) in the blood.

5) Recurring Urinary Tract Infections: This is how my Tara was diagnosed. Excess sugar in the urine makes the bladder a breeding ground for bacteria. When antibiotics weren't clearing up Tara's recurring infections a urinalysis and blood work were done and we got our answer. Signs of urinary tract infections in cats include blood in the urine, difficult or painful urination, frequent passage of small amounts of urine, and urinating in inappropriate locations.

6) Sticky kitty litter: Due to excess sugar in the urine. 

7) Lethargy: Most cats sleep a lot but they shouldn't be sleeping all the time, and when a cat's normal routine changes significantly it needs to be investigated. A diabetic cat's body is being starved of energy because he can't use the calories he's consuming. How do you feel when you haven't eaten in a long time?

8) Unkempt Appearance: When anyone feels crummy on the inside it's going to show on the outside. An unkempt, flaky or oily coat due to poor grooming isn't uncommon.

9) Rear Leg Weakness: Diabetic neuropathy occurs when chronic high blood sugar causes nerve damage resulting in pain, numbness and tingling in the legs. It's usually a reversible condition and can be one of the first signs of diabetes, although it's most commonly seen in cats that aren't properly regulated. Walking on the hocks (ankles), limping or dragging a limb, loss of balance, a reluctance to jump, muscle wasting/atrophy are all signs of diabetic neuropathy.

10) Sweet Smelling Breath: Ketoacidosis is the buildup of ketone waste products in the blood that occurs when the body burns fat and protein for energy instead of glucose. In cats who develop ketoacidosis, a by-product of fat metabolism is acetone (think nail polish remover), which is responsible for the sweet, fruity smell on the breath.

Have you ever had a cat diagnosed with diabetes?
What were the first signs that you noticed?

flickr creative commons/Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue
flickr creative commons/CelloPics
flickr creative commons/nteee


Summer at said...

This is so informative! My human is going off to smell Binga and Boodie's breath now!

Lone Star Cats said...

We've never had a kitty wif diabetes, but Crockett's daddy wuz diagnosed wif it this year, so we are learning a LOT about it. Lotsa da symptoms for kitties sound similar to human ones.

Mickey's Musings said...

Great points!
Mum has dealt with diabetic cats before.
She noticed the excessive drinking and peeing and had the testing done.
Giving insulin is easy, so should not be a deterrent to having a diabetic cat.
Purrs Georgia,Julie and JJ

katsrus said...

Thanks for the post. I have had 2 diabetic cats. I fist noticed the extra peeing and thirst and weight loss.
Sue B

The Menagerie Mom said...

This is such a significant post about diabetes and knowing the symptoms. When I used to work at a cat clinic, I always found it interesting how different cats could manifest their diabetes with such differing symptoms. We definitely had a lot of kitties displaying increased thirst and increased urination, but we also had one cat who came in looking incredibly healthy, though he had suddenly seemingly gone paralyzed in his hind limbs. Despite the fact that he looked fantastic and the owner had noticed no other abnormalities, his blood glucose was through the roof. He began to walk normally again after starting on insulin. Thank you for sharing this incredibly important information, Mudpie and Melissa!

Patricia T said...

Very informative, Melissa.

Eastside Cats said...

We learned early on, that watching litter box habits can determine if a kitty is sick. The Hubby thinks I'm amusing that I scoop at the same time every day, but it's my way of monitoring. I would notice extra peeing, or other symptoms! Thanks for the post.

Unknown said...

Very well written information. A lot of it applies to human with diabetes,too.

Unknown said...

Great information, and important for people to know. When my mom's cat, Tyler, was first diagnosed with diabetes, we had noticed the weight loss and unkempt appearance. He started getting insulin twice a day and did great. He lived another 4 or 5 years and was happy & healthy.

The Swiss Cats said...

Very informative post ! Purrs

Mark's Mews (Marley, Lori, Loki, and Binq) said...

TBT says we are all going to get some tests to identify potential problems. Iza needs them first; she has early signs of diabetes. But we all will get tested for whatever the vet suggests after routine exams.