Feline Diabetes/Hypoglycemia Differences

Feline diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body’s ability to regulate sugar is impaired. Pets with feline diabetes have high levels of sugar in the blood. The diabetes is due to reduced or no secretion of insulin in the pancreas and a resistance to the effect of insulin. The resultant buildup of glucose can lead to complications and damage to organs such as the eyes, the kidney and the nerves.

Conversely, hypoglycemic cats have very low levels of sugar in the blood. The most common cause of hypoglycemia is the medication administered for the control and management of feline diabetes. Other causes are liver disease, tumors or bacterial infections.

Symptoms of Diabetes in Cats:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Fatigue
  • Increased appetite
  • Weakness in the rear legs
  • Vomiting
  • Poor vision 
  • Poor condition of skin and hair coat

Management of Feline Diabetes

The normal blood sugar in cats is between 60 and 120 units. After conducting a physical exam and running blood and urine tests, a vet will be able to confirm the diagnosis. Insulin injections will be administered once or twice a day if diabetes is confirmed. Blood tests will also be carried out to determine optimum insulin dosage for your pet as a low dose will be ineffective in controlling diabetes and a high dose can cause hypoglycemia.

Your pet should be fed a diet that is high in fiber and low in carbohydrate content to manage diabetes. In addition, blood glucose levels should be monitored regularly to maintain the overall health of your pet. With proper care and management, diabetes needn’t be a life threatening disease and your pet can live a long and happy life.

Symptoms of Hypoglycemia Include:

  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Coma 
  • Death

Management of Hypoglycemia

A veterinarian can determine if a cat is suffering from hypoglycemia by running simple blood tests. If your pet shows symptoms of hypoglycemia you should immediately give him sugared water and some food that is part of his normal diet.

However, if your pet is unconscious or comatose, you shouldn’t feed him orally or give him any liquids as he may aspirate the given liquid or food and this could lead to complications such as pneumonia. In such animals, an injected fluid mixture of water and dextrose is given to raise the blood glucose levels. Since hypoglycemia is due to an underlying disease or condition, it’s essential for the vet to treat this underlying disease to better manage hypoglycemia.

Diabetes Remission in Cats

Cats are the only animals that can experience remission if they have Type 2 diabetes. If the diabetes is diagnosed early and the cat is immediately put on a high fiber, low carbohydrate diet and medicated with slow acting insulins, cats can regenerate the damaged pancreatic cells and their bodies can start producing insulin once again. Hence, they wouldn’t end up insulin dependent for the rest of their lives and the diabetes can be controlled and managed by dietary modification alone.

Since your cat depends on you, you must ensure that your pet is given a nutritious diet and has regular checkups to prevent the onset of other diseases.