Feline diabetic neuropathy is a rare complication of feline diabetes. It occurs when chronic high blood glucose levels cause nerve damage and can be potentially fatal to your diabetic cat. Read the following information in order to educate yourself about how this complication is caused, its symptoms, and how you can treat it.
Causes of the Neuropathy
Feline diabetic neuropathy occurs only in cats who suffer from diabetes mellitus. In diabetes mellitus, your cat's body no longer produces enough insulin, the chemical that regulates blood sugar levels, leaving your cat with high levels of sugar in the blood. The consequences of this can be severe, including liver disease, secondary infections, and a potentially fatal condition known as ketoacidosis. Symptoms of feline diabetes include excessive urination, excessive thirst, weight loss, and increased appetite.
Visible Symptoms of the Neuropathy
In cases of feline diabetic neuropathy, weakness occurs in the hindquarters as a result of chronic nerve degeneration. Your cat will experience muscular weakness and deterioration of muscle tissue. He or she will also develop a peculiar gait that is distinctive of feline diabetic neuropathy. Most cats walk on the tips of their toes. However, cats with neuropathy cannot walk effectively and move along in a crouched position. In advanced cases, neuropathy can spread to the front legs as well. The more advanced the neuropathy, the longer treatment will take and if the case becomes too advanced, recovery may only be partial.
Treatment Options Available
Diabetic neuropathy is often the first sign any owner will see indicating the cat's diabetes. Cats in the early stages of feline diabetes may show very few symptoms, remaining alert and active. Treatment involves the introduction, or adjustment, of feline insulin. Your cat's diabetes will need to be addressed and managed in order to bring about any degree of recovery from feline diabetic neuropathy. Vitamin B12 may help reverse some of the nerve damage caused by neuropathy.
Overall, diabetes is a treatable condition. Your diabetic cat will require insulin therapy and you'll need to watch his diet carefully. Not all diabetic cats need insulin injections as some cases of feline diabetes can be controlled with diet and oral medication. However, feline insulin shots should not be too trouble to administer the needles are quite small. It should be noted that your cat's insulin may need to be adjusted several times, as treatment for feline diabetes is always individually tailored. Make sure you understand the symptoms of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and hypogylcemia (low blood sugar) as both are dangerous conditions that require emergency care. With treatment, a diabetic cat can live normally for many years.