Feline Diabetic Neuropathy Symptoms

Owners of diabetic cats should be familiar with the signs of feline diabetic neuropathy, which is a rare complication of diabetes that can cause nerve damage, paralysis and even death in affected cats.

How Diabetes Affects Cats

Diabetes is a disease that affects a cat’s endocrine system, which is the part of her body that helps keep her metabolism operating properly. Diabetic cats are unable to produce adequate insulin, a hormone that helps the body absorb glucose that it uses for quick energy. As a result, blood sugar levels are excessively high.

Diabetic cats are excessively thirsty, and they urinate frequently. If you notice your cat’s water intake has increased dramatically, or if she’s using the litter box more often, set up an appointment with your veterinarian’s office for your pet to be evaluated for diabetes.

How Diabetic Neuropathy Affects Cats

Feline diabetic neuropathy can occur early in the course of a cat’s diabetes, or it may develop well after the cat has been diagnosed as diabetic. Neuropathy is a more common side effect of diabetes in pet cats than in pet dogs. It is caused by an overabundance of blood glucose, which damages the sheaths on the peripheral nerves in the cat’s body. The nerves in the cat’s hind legs are particularly vulnerable to damage from diabetic neuropathy.

Without proper control and treatment of the underlying diabetes, feline diabetic neuropathy can result in gangrene, which can lead to amputation or even death.

Signs of Feline Diabetic Neuropathy

The signs of feline diabetic neuropathy may also be the first indications to a cat owner that his or her pet has a serious health problem since the initial signs of diabetes can be easily overlooked.

The first indication that your cat has diabetic neuropathy may be her inability to stand correctly. Instead of standing on her toes as cats normally do, a cat with diabetic neuropathy stands on her hocks. The lower parts of her back legs will lie on the ground as she stands. She will also develop weakness in her hind legs and may drag a leg or paw as she walks. Her feet can slip out from under her as she walks, or she may have difficulty rising from a lying or sitting position. She may lie down more frequently that she used to, especially after taking short walks.

Over time, a cat with feline diabetic neuropathy will begin to walk in a crouch. In the most advanced cases, all four of the cat’s legs are affected. Other signs of diabetic neuropathy in cats include loss of bladder or bowel control.

Treatment Options for Diabetic Neuropathy

The type of treatment you pursue for feline diabetic neuropathy depends in part on the severity of your cat’s neuropathy. Mild cases may resolve themselves in a few months once the cat’s blood sugar levels are brought under control, while other cases may require supplemental B12 dosages or other medications to resolve the situation.