Does Predinisone for Cats Cause Diabetes?

There is some concern regarding the use of prednisone for cats. It is somewhat widely accepted by veterinarians that the use of prednisone in cats may predispose them to diabetes. However, what is not known is whether this effect causes diabetes or if it is an enhancement of an existing condition to develop the disease. It is a rare effect but one to consider.

Diabetes Type 1 and 2

There are two types of diabetes. Diabetes I occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin due to damage to the pancreas and requires insulin injections. This type occurs in approximately 50 to 70% of cats diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetes II occurs when there is enough insulin produced but for whatever reason the body is unable to utilize it. Weight control, dietary management and oral drugs are treatments for this type of diabetes.

Prednisone and Cats

Prednisone is an anti-inflammatory drug used to reduce the pain, swelling and redness of inflammations, infections and autoimmune diseases; however, it suppresses the immune system. It should not be used with pregnant or diabetic cats.

Prednisone can produce weight gain since there is an increase in appetite and some fluid retention. Since it also suppresses the immune system, there can be the risk of an increase in infections. It can also induce insulin resistance, which can result in hyperglycemia and make insulin regulation difficult since it affects blood sugar levels.