Cats most likely to suffer from Diabetes
Diabetes is a hormonal disorder which occurs in cats fairly frequently. The first signs you would be likely to spot might be an abnormal degree of thirst and increased urination. Gradually your cat would tend to lose weight but this may not become apparent until it has lost quite a bit and is noticeably thin. The condition is due to an inability to control blood sugar levels properly and is serious if left untreated. Fortunately though it is usually spotted in time and with proper care the cat can live a fairly normal life.
In a young cat the condition is likely to be what is called type 1 diabetes where the pancreas doesn’t make sufficient insulin, the hormone that is necessary to remove excess sugar from the blood. In an older cat the condition could well be due to the body cells becoming resistant to the effect of insulin, producing much the same signs and symptoms. This type 2 diabetes can affect almost any cat as it gets older but is especially likely if the cat is seriously overweight and fairly sedentary in its habits.
Diabetes apparently seems to occur more often in male cats than females but nobody seems to know quite why. There may be some interaction between certain hormones perhaps.
The cats most likely to get diabetes tend to be between 8-13 years old, males, especially neutered ones, which are overweight.
When it comes to breeds of cats most likely to suffer from diabetes it seems there is only one: the Burmese, for some unknown reason. This breed seems especially susceptible with about one cat in ten developing problems by the age of nine or ten.
Thus the cats that are most likely to be at risk for diabetes are those that are fed an inappropriate diet with too much carbohydrate. This will inevitably lead to weight gain over time with its concomitant increased risk of diabetes. A young cat will be playful and pretty active, but as it grows older it is more likely to do more lying around than running around and thus may become gradually overweight, often so gradually that you don’t even notice it.
Some owners think they are being kind by erring on the side of over feeding their pet. They want them to have as much as possible and giving a lot of food is sometimes the owner’s way of expressing affection. If however you feed too much carbohydrate then this is totally misguided since you are potentially harming your cat’s health rather than helping it. The food manufacturers are largely to blame too for their persuasive adverts exhorting cat owners to feed their animals products labelled as nutritious but which are actually low in real nutrients because they are low in protein. A cat should, ideally have a diet of fresh meat and some fish served raw, but this is impracticable or seemingly unpopular amongst many owners who feel their meat should be cooked. Meat purchased in pouches or tins is often of less quality than that you would buy fresh, and is also bulked out with carbohydrate because it makes the product much cheaper to produce.
Statistics support the contention that relatively overweight and inactive cats are more likely to develop problems, so you should think twice if you live in a high rise apartment and can’t let your cat out regularly, or if you intend to neuter your cat since this invariably encourages weight gain.
Some predisposing medical disorders can lead to diabetes in some cats, such as over-active adrenal glands, (Cushings disease), a developing tumour, or over stimulation via the pituitary in the brain. This causes cortisol to be produced which leads to higher blood sugar levels and increased appetite.
Another factor is inflammation in the pancreas that can occur in cats, apparently linked to, if not actually caused by, deposits of amyloid building up within. Amyloid deposits may be encouraged by a diet rich in carbohydrates, and may be partly responsible for displacing or damaging pancreatic secretory cells so further diminishing insulin output.
By keeping your cat fit, active, and the correct weight, you will have a cat that’s NOT likely to develop diabetes.