Feline Diabetes Symptoms

Feline Diabetes Symptoms
Feline Diabetes Symptoms (Image: Enid Yu: Flickr.com)

Feline diabetes is a disease signified by the body's inability to produce enough insulin to regulate blood sugar, causing cats to slowly starve to death. Diabetes can easily be recognized and diagnosed based on classic symptoms and veterinary tests. Feline diabetes can be regulated successfully, allowing your pet to live a long life.

The Facts

Diabetes is a common disease affecting cats and can be a serious health risk, causing death if the condition is not treated. Felines at highest risk for diabetes are overweight and aging, and male cats are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than females. However, the disease is not limited to cats with those risk factors, and only a veterinarian can provide the correct diagnosis.

Early Warning Signs

Feline diabetes is related to a hormone called insulin, which controls the body's ability to process sugar (or glucose). Diabetes in cats is divided into two distinct types. Type 1 diabetes is the most common and is characterized by the cat's inability to produce insulin. In Type 2 diabetes, the cat's body does not process insulin correctly. In either case, cats do not properly digest sugar brought into the body by the food supply, and their blood sugar levels rise.

Because the feline's body is not processing sugar correctly--starving the body of its energy source--the first symptom pet owners may notice is an increase in weight as cats eat more. However, felines will eventually begin to lose weight rapidly as the body reacts to the way it is processing food.

Physical Symptoms

Cats with diabetes will urinate excessively as the body tries to get rid of the sugar not being processed correctly. If you notice that your cat's litter box needs to be changed more frequently than usual, this could be a warning sign. Felines with the disease also may drink more water than usual in an attempt to quench their thirst and hunger. Because the feline's body is unable to process the sugars in food, cats may regurgitate their meal after eating.

Behavioral Symptoms

Cats with feline diabetes often refuse to use the litter box or eliminate in inappropriate areas. This is a behavioral sign that there is a physical disturbance affecting the pet. As the diabetes reaches a more advanced stage and the cat is existing with vastly depleted energy stores, she may exhibit a slowdown in activity levels.

Symptoms Noted at Exam

Diabetes must be diagnosed by a veterinarian, who will conduct a physical exam to look for symptoms of dehydration, measuring weight loss and checking for an enlarged liver. The vet will also take samples of blood and urine to measure glucose levels and liver enzymes.


Once an official diagnoses has been reached, the veterinarian will recommend appropriate treatment. The first step is to modify the feline's diet. Insulin medication also is required for most cats, which can be administered through daily shots or orally.

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