Cats are also more and more often affected by chronic diseases, which we know mainly in humans. The causes are varied. Our cats are getting older and are mostly well looked after. Sometimes too good, because obesity is suspected to be the causative factor in some illnesses. Joint or metabolic diseases can be the result.
One of these diseases is “diabetes mellitus,” colloquially “we can no longer recognize diabetes,” in which the patient’s pancreas no longer produces a sufficient amount of the hormone insulin or the insulin produced in the body. There is an excess of sugar in the blood (“hyperglycemia”), leading to permanent organ damage and even life-threatening conditions.
The classic symptoms of diabetes mellitus in cats are primarily excessive thirst and frequent urination in large quantities. The cats have an increasing appetite but still, lose weight. Further symptoms are – depending on the course – possible.
An attempt is made to restore an optimal blood sugar level through appropriate medication and monitoring in human medicine. If necessary, the multiple daily measurements, the injection of needs-based amounts of insulin, and an adapted diet are essential components of successful therapy. But what about the cat?
Diabetes mellitus – How is the diagnosis made?
We can confirm the diagnosis in cats with a blood test. Two different indicators are decisive here. On the one hand, the so-called “glucose value” shows the current sugar content in the blood. This value is used in clinical diagnostics, i.e., at the veterinarian’s or veterinary clinic, often very high. But don’t worry! In most cases, this is harmless because the value is prone to stress. If your cat gets upset while the blood is being drawn, the value will jump upwards – even without your cat being diabetic. Depending on the stress level, the glucose value can reach dizzying heights and is only really useful in relaxed animals. A largely stress-independent and therefore reliable value for diagnosis is the so-called “fructosamine value,” a long-term value of your cat, so to speak. It’s like looking back over the past week or two. Unfortunately, there are also other metabolic diseases, which in turn can influence the fructosamine level. Therefore, if the result is conspicuous, the overall picture of the cat is always.
Diabetes – What Now ?!
If the diagnosis is confirmed, we should start therapy as soon as possible. This depends on the severity of the disease. In most cases, your vet will recommend an adapted diet, instruct you on how to inject insulin, and have a check-up in about a week. All of this rushes past you a little because, at first, you are certainly unsure how everything should work with your cat and how serious it is about her now.
So the good news first: Diabetes is a very treatable disease. Hired cats have a good life expectancy and can usually lead a happy life. Some even go into a so-called “remission,” in which the pancreas recovers to such an extent that it no longer needs support from insulin injections. So, take a deep breath and take a moment to deal with the therapy options. Serenity is one of your most important tools for further treatment.
ALSO READ: Vacation with a cat
Therapy – Russian Roulette or Pincushion ?!
Similar to human medicine, the basis for stopping diabetes mellitus is to determine the blood sugar level several times a day using a small sample. You take a tiny amount of blood from the edge of your cat’s ear (depending on the measuring device, a drop smaller than a pinhead is sufficient) and have the value evaluated using a measuring device (from human medicine). The individual time of day value is recorded in a table so that the required amount of insulin can be precisely determined and adapted to the cat’s constitution.
Some veterinarians and clinics offer to hire your cat in practice. Your fur nose moves in there temporarily, and veterinary assistants determine the required blood sugar level; based on this value, the insulin dose is determined.
However, this method has disadvantages. When measuring in the ear, you measure the glucose level described above, which – as we already know – is prone to stress. In practice, where your cat is certainly unsettled, it is usually much higher than in your cozy home. The determining insulin dose will, therefore, likely be higher than needed. The second disadvantage is the constantly fluctuating values of your cat, depending on the feeding, the general condition, and other factors. Once a value has been determined, it can look completely different in the next few hours or days. So it’s a bit like Russian roulette when you always administer the same insulin dose every day without measuring how your furry friend is doing.
It is usually more sensitive and therefore often recommended to take measurements at home at least twice a day (the interval should be twelve hours) and regular daily profiles in which you monitor the course of the blood sugar curve every two to four hours for 12-24 hours. You should agree with your veterinarian on which monitoring method is most suitable for your cat.
That sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it ?! But it’s not at all because you and your cat can learn through training together that this process is part of your everyday life and only takes a few minutes. The individual treatment steps are always carried out the same way so that the cat can get used to the process and adapt to it. At the same time, she is positively accompanied with small treats or other rewards and ultimately combines the treatment with something pleasant. The little prick is then quickly not that bad – for both of you.
By the way, you can also improve a lot through diet in diabetes mellitus. It does not necessarily have to be the expensive diet food, but it can also be an individually adapted, species-appropriate diet. It is best to get advice from a trained expert, such as a veterinarian specializing in animal nutrition.
READ ALSO: Kitten food: this is how you feed your kitten properly
READ ALSO: Mixed feeding for cats
Discussion about this post