My cat, Milly, was recently diagnosed as being diabetic so I thought I would write a post about the symptoms, cause and treatment.
1. Increased appetite
2. Weight loss (gain)
3. Excessive drinking
4. Excessive urination
5. Weakness in the back legs causing a wobbly gait, arched back and walking on the back legs rather than on the back paws.
Approximately 1 in 500 cats develop feline diabetes and, like humans, major risk factors are age and obesity. Milly is over 9 and when we got her from a rescue centre she was very overweight. So, classic risk factors.
However, my vet informed me that diabetes is unknown in feral cats and the cause of feline diabetes is always processed cat food. The dry food is especially high in carbohydrates which cats cannot process effectively. This is because all cats are obligate carnivores with a short gut that has evolved to process protein in the form of meat. Cats are carnivores and must have a mainly meat-based diet.
Firstly, change the diet to an all-meat one. Chicken, turkey, beef, pork, and fish are all good but avoid processed meats and fish in brine. Milly has been on this diet for just under a week and the results have been astounding. All of the symptoms above have gone with the exception of weakness in the back legs. But that has improved greatly and continues to improve.
The correct name for weakness in the legs is neuropathy. It happens because nerve, eye & kidney cells do not require insulin to take up glucose so excess glucose is easily absorbed and causes damage to the nerve sheath. Unlike eye and kidney damage, nerve damage can be reversed within 6 weeks in many cases as seems to be the case with Milly. Vitamin supplements may also aid recovery.
If diet control fails the next step is insulin. Hopefully, we may avoid that. However, many cats with diabetes who receive insulin do stabilise in a couple of months and do not need further treatment.
If your cat exhibits any of the symptoms listed above, take it to the vet asap to be tested. High-protein diets are essential so don’t try to turn your cat into a vegetarian-they must have a meat diet.
Further blogs to follow.