Causes of Diabetes in Cats

Diabetes in cats is an endocrine medical condition that is caused by the incapacity to metabolize glucose in the blood. There are two types of diabetes, and each has its own probable causes.

Causes of Diabetes Type I

Type I diabetes can occur early on, typically before the cat reaches the age of 7 years. This type of diabetes is considered to be hereditary. Certain cat breeds are also more prone to develop this type of diabetes.

Causes of Diabetes II

Type II diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, is determined by the insufficiency of insulin produced by the pancreas. The insulin is produced to assimilate the glucose in the blood, and if there is an elevated level of insulin, the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin. On the other hand, the pancreas may stop producing as much insulin as the body normally needs.

Diabetes mellitus occurs usually after the age of 8 and can be caused by obesity, old age, neutering, lack of activity, pancreatic diseases or tumors or certain drugs.

Diabetes may also be a symptom of an underlying disease caused by viruses or immune system diseases. An excess of reproductive hormones in female cats can facilitate the occurrence of diabetes.


The symptoms of diabetes range from weight loss to lethargy and also include the following:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Better appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Frequent urination and urinary infections
  • Vomiting

These symptoms are caused by the increased level of glucose in the blood.

Diagnosing Diabetes

Diabetes in cats can be identified through a few blood tests. An increased glucose level may indicate a deficiency of insulin. However, hyperglycemia can also be caused by stress, so further tests (i.e., levels of fructosamine) are needed. A urine sample may help in confirming the diagnosis.


A diabetic cat should receive treatment as soon as possible, as a constant excess of non-metabolized glucose can cause a lot of damage in the cat’s body. If detected in timely manner, diabetes can be treated through a change in the lifestyle of the cat, weight loss and a diet alteration.

However, diabetic felines should usually be treated with insulin shots. These shots will be administered on a daily basis, or sometimes even twice per day, depending on the type of the insulin and the dosage prescribed. A diabetic cat will need these shots for life, unless his condition changes. Your pet needs to be periodically monitored to make sure the treatment is suitable or to adjust the amount of insulin that is needed.


Diabetes mellitus can be prevented in some cases. You need to keep your cat at a normal weight at all times, as obese cats are more likely to develop diabetes. Reduce the amount of carbs in the cat’s diet. Cats are carnivores and can live without eating carbs. Dry food contains a lot of carbs, so you may consider switching to a wet or homemade food. Make sure your cat plays or performs different activities on a daily basis.