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9 Signs of Diabetes All Cat Owners Need To Know

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Diabetes in cats (and dogs) is on the rise. It is not known what the exact cause is, but it is most often found in older, obese cats. Males are more prone than females. According to the Cornell Feline Health Center, other diseases have been linked to it as well, including pancreatitis, hormonal diseases (such as Cushing’s and hyperthyroidism), and even certain medications such as megestrol acetate and corticosteroids. If you notice any of the following 9 signs of diabetes in your cat, get him to the vet as quick as possible. The sooner you begin treatment the better.

#1 – Increased Urination

This is one of the signs many cat owners notice first because they find themselves cleaning the box more often. Dr. Kathryn Primm, DVM, owner of Applebrook Animal Hospital and the “Animal Stuff You Wonder About” blog, explains that “the increased blood glucose reaches a level at which it starts to spill into the urine. Because of the way the kidneys work, the increased sugar molecules draw fluid into the urine in the same way that eating a salty meal can cause some people’s feet to swell by drawing fluid into the space between the cells.”

Image source:  @Johanna via Flickr
Image source:  @Johanna via Flickr

#2 – Increased Thirst

Dr. Primm adds that since your kitty is urinating more and losing all that fluid, she is going to be thirsty. Cats that seem to be drinking constantly or sit and beg for more water may have a health problem.

Image source:  @hildgrim via Flickr
Image source:  @hildgrim via Flickr

#3 – Increased Appetite

If your cat is suddenly ravenous, begging for more food after he has finished his meal, or asking for a mid-day snack, it could be because his body isn’t actually getting the energy he is consuming. Dr. Primm explains that when a diabetic cat eats, he is just raising his blood sugar level even higher, because he doesn’t have the insulin to help convert the glucose into energy.

Image source: @Charlievinz via Flickr
Image source: @Charlievinz via Flickr

#4 – Weight Loss

So, even though your cat is eating and drinking more, they are losing weight. Dr. Primm explains that since the cells are basically starving, your cat’s body will start to use the fat stores, so your cat will drop weight dramatically.

Image source: @Butfortheksy.com via Flickr
Image source: @Butfortheksy.com via Flickr

#5 – Disheveled Appearance

You cat’s body is not working right on the inside, and it’s gonna show on the outside. Many diabetic cats just look awful – they are skinny, have matted, coarse hair that is often flaky, Dr. Primm adds.

Image source: @ChristinaRutz via Flickr
Image source: @ChristinaRutz via Flickr

#6 – Weakness In Rear Legs

This should not only be an easy sign to see, but a big red flag that should motivate you to go the vet quickly. Dr. Primm says about 10 percent of diabetic cats show signs of “diabetic neuropathy” which usually manifest as weakness in the rear legs. Cats with this issue will not be able to jump normally, or will stand on their hocks (the joint above the paw) instead of on their paw.

Image source: @RockyMountainFelineRescue via Flickr
Image source: @RockyMountainFelineRescue via Flickr

#7 – Urinating Outside Box

While it’s easy to just say your cat is mad at you or being naughty, often there is a real reason (whether medical or behavioral) that caused your cat to go out of his box. Diabetic cats are often found going outside their box, so it’s something to let your vet know about should you notice your cat is starting to do it when before he never made a mistake.

Image source: @AlishaVargas via Flickr
Image source: @AlishaVargas via Flickr

#8 – Lethargy

Since your cat is not getting any energy, he is going to be tired. While cats do sleep a lot, your cat shouldn’t sleep all the time. Be aware of your cats normal patterns and if he starts to sleep through his normal play or cuddle time, something may be wrong.

Image source: @LaurenceSimon via Flickr
Image source: @LaurenceSimon via Flickr

#9 – Sweet-smelling Breath

While you may dream of a kitty with sweet, almost fruity breath, it’s actually not a good thing unless you just brushed their teeth with minty paste! Sweet-smelling breath is a common sign of diabetes and should you smell it, it warrants a vet visit.

Image source: @sean_hickin via Flickr
Image source: @sean_hickin via Flickr

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