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Feline Diabetes: Treatment and Management in the Pregnant Cat

What is Feline Diabetes?

Feline Diabetes is medically called Diabetes Mellitus. In layman’s terms, it is known as “Sugar Diabetes”. The condition results in excess of sugar (glucose) in the cat’s bloodstream.

Glucose is the breakdown product of carbohydrates in the gut. This is then absorbed into the bloodstream to be delivered to the different cells of the body. Cells use glucose as energy source. The hormone insulin, produced by the pancreas, is needed to regulate the flow of glucose from the blood into the cells.

Diagram showing how insulin regulates blood sugar levels and how this balance is affected during Feline Diabetes
Diagram showing how insulin regulates blood sugar levels and how this balance is affected during Feline Diabetes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Feline Diabetes, the cat’s pancreas do not produce enough insulin or the cells don’t respond to insulin. Glucose is not absorbed into the cells. Consequently there will be too much glucose in the bloodstream, a condition called hyperglycemia. The cat’s body needs to eliminate this excess sugar in the blood so the cat urinates more and becomes always thirsty. This excessive thirst and urination cycle is one of the first noticeable symptoms of diabetes.

More detailed information on the risk factors, other symptoms and complications of Feline Diabetes can be found in the link below:

http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/Health_Information/brochure_diabetes.cfm

 

Management and Treatment

Feline Diabetes cannot be cured, it can only be treated and managed. In some cats it is easy to manage and these cats can live a fairly good quality life. In others it may be more complicated and they would require lifelong insulin treatment. If an intact female cat is diagnosed with Feline Diabetes, the best course of action to take is to have her spayed. An intact female’s heat cycles can affect her insulin requirements which will make the management of the disease more difficult.

Diabetic cat getting insulin injection.
Diabetic cat getting insulin injection.

Feline Diabetes, both in pregnant and non-pregnant cats, is ideally treated and managed by a combination of medication and proper diet. Depending on the extent of the disease, the cat many need regular insulin injections or may do well with only oral medications. The cat’s diet should be aimed toward maintaining proper weight. A low carbohydrate diet works best in most cases. However, if you have in your hands a pregnant cat with Feline Diabetes, it is very important to talk with your veterinarian first to tailor a feeding program suited to your cat’s particular needs. Pregnancy and lactation stages have an increased energy requirement and this greatly affects the glucose needs of the cells. Never limit on your own your cat’s food intake when she is pregnant or suckling kittens because any resulting severe energy deficiency during these critical stages can lead to life-threatening conditions. Always consult with your veterinarian for what is best for your cat.

For feeding tips and natural ways to manage Feline Diabetes, check out the links below:

http://www.petmd.com/cat/general-health/natural-ways-manage-diabetes-cats

http://pets.webmd.com/cats/guide/feeding-tips-for-a-cat-with-diabetes#1

 

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