November is Diabetes Awareness Month and for the cat, just like the human, being overweight is a strong risk factor to developing the disease. Having your cat’s weight and body condition assessed by your veterinarian is a good reason for a yearly physical exam even when the cat is “fine” and does not need any vaccines. As we all know, it is easier to get a little weight off than a lot. For the cat, one pound overweight is more like 14 pounds in the average human. Diabetes is just one condition that is more likely when the cat is overweight. Like humans, the risk of developing diabetes can be lowered by maintaining an appropriate weight.
When the cat begins to show the signs of Diabetes, the owner will notice that he (more cats with diabetes are male) has a great appetite, drinks large amounts of water, and is making huge puddles in the litter box while he gets thin. The cat’s activity may also have decreased. The diagnosis is by a blood profile including glucose and an urinalysis. The complete blood profile is so that some other diseases that have similar symptoms can be checked also. Treatment for the cat is twice daily insulin injections and a prescription diet specially formulated to help control diabetes in the cat. It is a different diet than that for dogs with diabetes. The oral drugs that humans take do not work very well in the cat, unfortunately. They can be used to help the insulin in some difficult to control cats though.
The best course of action is to not let your cat become one of the 30-70% (depending on which expert you listen to) of adult cats that are overweight or obese. Feed the correct food for your cat’s lifestyle in the correct amounts. For most indoor cats, this is less than that listed on the bag. A consult with your veterinarian at the yearly or twice yearly physical exam is best. Some veterinary clinics (La Grange Park Cat Clinic for instance) have special programs set up to help with the weight loss. Now, while we are all concentrating on not gaining weight over the holidays would be a good time to think about Fluffy or Tiger’s weight also and keep healthy cats in healthy homes.
Dr. Pam Cuevas
La Grange Park Cat Clinic
3075 S. Wolf Rd.
Westchester, IL 60154
P: (708)562-2287 (CATS)
A certified “Cat Friendly Practice”