Last week, my friend Chelsea asked me if I’d ever had a cat that had suffered from diabetes. I’ve been blessed to be able to reply “no”. She mentioned that one of their family cats, Nova, a 6-year-old neutered Siamese, was diabetic. Little did I know, that not only do MILLIONS of people live with the undiagnosed disease, thousands of our feline companions do as well.
Sadly this was not Chelsea’s first time dealing with an undiagnosed illness that snuck up on them.
After previously losing a beloved fur-baby, Neptune to the disease being undiagnosed, it was a topic very close to their hearts.
A number of years ago, we sadly lost a cat named Neptune to multiple organ failure. It was due to diabetes that we had ZERO warning of. He went to regular vet visits and his behavior had not changed. One day he was lethargic so we took him in as an emergency visit. He spent 5 days on life support before we finally had to let him go.”
Now, Nova had been adopted by them when he was just 10-weeks-old.
She had another reason for asking me at thiat time too…November is National Diabetes Month.
So what exactly IS Diabetes?
Those with diabetes cannot produce or utilize insulin properly, preventing the conversion of food to energy. With no insulin to convert it to energy, the extra sugar left in the blood leads to lethargy and other health problems.
It cannot be cured, but with management and the proper treatments, those afflicted can still have a long, happy life.
A few of my own human family members suffer from the disease, so I was curious to see the statistics across the human world.
Checking out the CDC (Center for Disease Control) 2018 report, here’s what I found.
- Diabetes Fast Facts:
Total: 30.3 million people have diabetes (9.4% of the US populations)
Diagnosed: 23.1 million people
Undiagnosed: 7.2 million people (23.8% of people with diabetes are undiagnosed; meaning they didn’t know they had it!)
- Prediabetes Fast Facts:
Total: 84.1 million adults aged 18 years or older have prediabetes (33.9% of the adult US population)
65 years or older: 23.1 million adults aged 65 years or older have prediabetes
Sadly, it’s just as unrecognized in animals as it is in humans.
According to USA.PetDiabetesMonth.com, approximately 1 in 230 cats in the United States has diabetes.
All reports seem to agree though, it is very commonly under-diagnosed.
So with the increasing number of cats and dogs that ARE diagnosed each year, it is also become National Pet Diabetes Month.
Hopefully this will help bring awareness to pet owners and save the lives of our fur-babies.
Pets.WebMD.com explains how our pets are being affected.
“An alarming number of cats are developing diabetes mellitus, which is the inability to produce enough insulin to balance blood sugar, or glucose, levels. Left untreated, it can lead to [numerous issues listed below], comas, and even death.”
To successfully manage diabetes, pet owners must commit to working closely with their veterinarians.
Client education is essential!
A few of the most important factors include administering insulin, recognizing the signs of treatment responses in the animals and dietary management.
High-protein, low-carbohydrate foods are currently recommended for diabetic cats. These provide the extra energy cats need to get through their active days, without the extra carbs that can turn into excess sugar.
For the lucky animals that ARE diagnosed and can begin treatments, there are likely hundreds if not thousands, that are left to suffer.
How many stray and feral cats and dogs do YOU know that receive the proper dietary nutrition and medical attention to avoid developing diabetes? =(
But what actually causes diabetes in felines?
It’s not as if they are out eating fast food and candy all day (as many people attribute to the cause of the illness).
The AAHA (Americal Animal Hospital Association) has attributed the following common factors to Insulin Resistance and what we need to keep an eye out for.
Obesity (dogs, cats)
Dental disease (dogs, cats) <= Brush those toofers people!
Infection; for example, urinary tract infection (dogs, cats)
Hypertriglyceridemia (dogs, especially schnauzers)
Hyperadrenocorticism (dogs > cats)
Kidney disease (cats > dogs)
Pancreatitis (dogs > cats)
Pregnancy/diestrus (dogs, cats) <= HELLLOOO! One more reason to Spay/Neuter!
It is noted that diabetes is more common in cats. The disease has been diagnosed in cats of all ages, both sexes (intact and neutered) and all breeds.
Now, just HOW can we tell our pet may be affected? What “warning signs” should pet owners be looking for?
- Increased water consumption and urination
- Inappropriate urination
- Weight loss (most commonly over the back), despite an overweight body condition
- Change in appetite
- Chronic urinary tract and/or skin infections
- Weakness in the legs (specifically the hind legs)
- Cloudy eyes
- Poor skin condition (like excessive dandruff or an oily hair coat)
I asked Chelsea if she’d be open to sharing her story with me.
This way, we could all hear a first-hand account of the daily attention that goes into caring for felines with diabetes.
This also shows how quickly things can change; for better or for worse!
After losing Neptune, Chelsea made it a habit to have her animals checked for diabetes regularly.
Nova was diagnosed in early 2017. He had begun losing weight, seemingly towards his backside, so we took him in. It was minor and he was on a low dose of insulin. It was tricky finding a diabetic food that would work for him.
“He also gets bladder crystals and most diabetic food exacerbates this issue. By May of 2017, he was doing so well the vet believed that he was going into remission and took him off the insulin. On June 13th his eyes clouded over and we had to take him in to emergency care again.”
Sadly, this was a reaction to the diabetes, so Nova was put back on insulin going forward. Happily though, Chelsea reports that Nova has been healthy since, but it requires constant vigilance.
“He gets 2 shots a day after feeding and need his blood sugar checked regularly.”
Reporting and recording the results is very important so that doctors can make the most informed treatment plans and adjustments.
Nova just returned from the vet this week and his numbers are a little concerning. We are logging his Blood Sugar numbers EVERY HOUR so that we can monitor his spikes and lows. Then the vet can make changes to his care accordingly.
Remember, there is no cure for Diabetes!
With proper management, vigilant monitoring and regular checkups, your beloved family pet can be around FUR many years to come! We at the CaM Family wish continued good health to Nova, and all the millions of humans and animals alike, battling diabetes.
Please share this info and help spread the word so we can help save many more of our cherished pets.
For more info, please follow any/all the links provided in this article (BLUE FONT). Knowledge is power! There are also Facebook Support groups, such as Feline Diabetes, you can join.
REMEMBER: ADOPT, DON’T SHOP & SPAY AND NEUTER!
Check out this video from our friends at the Ad Council for National Diabetes Month! Let’s get the word out!
**PLEASE BE SURE TO CONSULT YOUR VETERINARIAN – I AM NOT A DOCTOR! JUST BECAUSE I FOUND INFO ONLINE, DOESN’T MEAN IT’S 100% TRUTH FOR EVERY ANIMAL THAT MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE DIABETES!**