Feline Diabetes arrives slowly. The symptoms build up over time, and are not that noticeable at the beginning. Depending on the progression of the disease, some symptoms may be intermittent, making it even more difficult to realise that there is an on-going problem.
In many cases, unless lab work is being done on the cat for some reason and that turns up high glucose levels unexpectedly amongst the results, the Feline Diabetes is fairly advanced before a combination of symptoms are apparent and severe enough for the owner to take the cat in for a vet visit.
Many of the symptoms such as increased thirst and urinating can also be signs of other diseases, such as Chronic Renal Disease. They are all symptoms that are warning signs that something is wrong, and that you should take your cat to your vet.
Feline Diabetes symptoms include:
• Increased thirst & drinking (polydipsia)
• Increased urination (polyuria)
• Weight loss
• Change in appetite (either increased or decreased)
• Decreased energy and activity
• Walking on the “hocks” : walking on the full foot and not just the toes as usual (neuropathy)
Serious Symptoms requiring vet care are:
• Extreme lethargy
• Being “spacey” and out of it
• Will not eat or drink
• “Acetone Breath” (may smell a little like apples or nail polish remover)
The above are signs of a Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), which is life-threatening. Please see “Associated Conditions” for more information
Increased Thirst, Drinking and Urination
Increased thirst and urination are two of the first symptoms that you may see.
The high glucose in the blood is filtered out by the kidneys. The glucose carries water with it as it is filtered out, causing increased urination… and so leading to the increased thirst which you will see by water bowls going down rapidly.
The increased urination may also cause your cat to not always use the litter box properly.
In many cases it is the weight loss that will make people take their cat to the vet to be checked. If your cat is showing real weight loss, he has probably been diabetic for quite some time.
Weight loss occurs as the body can’t access the glucose for energy: the cells need insulin to “unlock” the door and let the glucose in. As their body cannot access this energy, your cat is literally starving to death.
Change in Appetite
While more commonly you will see an increase in appetite – your cat will as noted above be “starving”, if your cat is not feeling well, he may be eating much less than usual.
Decreased Energy and Activity
… your cat is ill, and is not feeling well….. so he may quieter than usual.
Walking on the “Hocks”
Walking on the hocks is caused by Neuropathy. The high levels of glucose affects the nerves. Neuropathy takes several months to develop, and is also a sign that your cat has been diabetic for quite some time. Please see “Associated Conditions” for more information.
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