When my first cat, Monkeyface, was diagnosed with feline diabetes, I was devastated. I had waited too long to take him to the vet, thinking it was just old age. He was 11 years old, and that is pretty old for a Maine Coon. They can get to be 45″ long and weigh up to 30 pounds, and their small hearts have to work pretty hard to pump the blood through their big bodies. They tend to succumb to heart failure.
Monkeyface was 20 pounds when he was healthy. His fur was full and beautiful and his eyes were bright. When I finally figured out that he was sick, his bright eyes were dull, his luxurious coat had lost is sheen, and instead of being the big, healthy cat that I knew, he had lost so much weight that he became a shell of his former self … he was sick. I took him to the vet.
When he was finally diagnosed with feline diabetes, it was too late and I had to put him down. That was thirteen years ago and to this day, I still feel guilty. After all of the love and companionship he gave to me I failed him so miserably. If I had only known the signs of the disease, I might have given him more time.
The symptoms which Monkey displayed were constant thirst; change in eating habits, either eating less; weight loss; fur losing luster; and lethargy. Some other symptoms that Monkeyface didn’t have are UTI, eating more than usual, sweet smelling breath, increased urination, and urinating outside the litter box.
The exact causes of feline diabetes are not known, but it is more likely that overweight and /or older cats are susceptible to it. Some other conditions that may lead to diabetes are hyperthyroidism, pancreatitis and/or abnormal protein deposits on the pancreas.
Feline diabetes is all about the insulin, a hormone that helps move sugar from bloodstream into the cat’s cells. As with humans, there are 2 types of feline diabetes. Type 1 is brought on by a lack of insulin and is most uncommon and rarely treatable. Type 2 occurs when the cat produces the hormone, but the cells become resistant to the insulin put out by the body. This type is treatment if caught in time.
Feline diabetes does not have to be a death sentence. In some cases, shots are used to balance out the insulin and in some rare cases pills might work. If your cat starts to show signs of feline diabetes, take him to the vet immediately and you may save his life.
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