What Is Cat Diabetes
So what is cat diabetes? Basically a disorder wherein the body cannot properly control its levels and distribution of sugars, due to either a lack of insulin or a reduced sensitivity to insulin by certain body cells.
The diabetes disorder is pretty much the same in cats as it is in humans, and also dogs.
Sugar is the medium that the body uses at a cellular level to produce energy, which of course is vital for life. When we humans eat our food it is not necessarily all taken in as sugar, and indeed it is better for our health if it is not, but our bodies are able to change types of food from one to another, and much digested and absorbed food is distributed around the body as sugar in the blood.
It is essential, however that the actual concentration of sugar in the blood stays within certain fairly narrow limits otherwise there are adverse effects on our physiology.
The system is much the same for cats but whereas we eat a diet of protein, carbohydrates and fats, cats eat mostly protein in the form of meat or fish.
They still, however, convert some of this food into sugar which is transported via the bloodstream and utilised in the organs to produce energy.
As it’s essential to control the amount of sugar in the blood we (and cats) have a mechanism that uses the hormone insulin, to remove excess sugar from the blood, and, if it’s not immediately used up in energy production it gets stored in the body as fat.
So your cat, just like ourselves, needs sufficient insulin to provide for enough sugar in the blood but not too much.
In diabetes type 1 there isn’t sufficient insulin produced in the pancreas for normal blood sugar control and hence, if the condition is left untreated the blood sugar concentration tends to rise, and the situation will gradually get worse with characteristic signs and symptoms.
Sugar levels build up in the bloodstream and the body tries to remove some of the excess sugar in the urine causing the kidneys to work overtime.
This leads to greater need for water to allow the kidneys to function, and hence increased thirst.
As sugar isn’t being moved into body tissues and cells adequately because of lack of insulin, they are starved of nutrients causing body fat reserves to break down and subsequently even muscle tissue to be similarly affected in an attempt to provide nutrients.
This leads to loss of weight and wasting of muscles as time goes by unless insulin can be restored.
Thus diabetes is a chronic, i.e. long term condition due to hormonal insufficiency or an insensitivity to the hormone insulin which has general knock-on effects throughout the body unless treatment is given to restore blood sugar balance.
So what what causes cat diabetes? We believe it is a western couch potato lifestyle and poor diet. Your cat has evolved to be a meat eater and not a carbohydrate eater. So manufactured cat foods with high carbohydrate content and poor quality animal protein, we believe is the main cause.
Fortunately this is fairly easy to do and many diabetic cats live fairly normal lives with adequate care.
The question what is cat diabetes is normally asked with a feeling of dread but with good management many cats have been known to go into remission.