ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Q: My 12-year-old male cat Prancer was diagnosed with diabetes. He was immediately put on insulin injections. He has his regular blood tests and changes in the insulin dosages. He does not appear to be making very much progress. Will he show improvement in eating and drinking habits? Will he regain some weight? Will diabetes affect his life expectancy?
Dr. Nichol: Prancer is not alone; there are a whole lot of diabetic kitties. Dr. Julie Stephens, board certified veterinary internist at the Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center, has been kind enough to share her insight.
“Diabetic cats can be tricky to treat. Some are like people with Type 2 diabetes; if they are obese they can become diabetic. These cats can be managed with a high protein diet and sometimes oral medications. Other cats develop diabetes due to chronic inflammation in the pancreas, where insulin is made. When the pancreas gets replaced with scar tissue it is no longer capable of making insulin.
“In a case that requires insulin, it can take a few months of adjusting the dose to get the cat’s blood sugar under control. Ideally they should eat twice daily, 12 hours apart, and receive their insulin immediately after eating. I typically recommend monitoring the blood sugar with a blood glucose curve seven days after each change in an insulin dose. This can be done at the veterinarian’s office or at home if the cat will allow it.
“There are some diabetic cats that are difficult to control. This can be due to underlying problems such as other hormonal disease, chronic inflammation, or a urinary tract infection. If Prancer is not eating and drinking well he should be checked for underlying conditions.
“Diabetic cats can be well-managed and have a normal life expectancy. They will gain weight back, drink less water, and urinate less. Well-controlled diabetic cats still need to be checked by their veterinarian at least three times per year for blood work and urine testing. Sometimes they go into a remission once the pancreas has a chance to rest so follow up visits to your veterinarian are very important.” Thanks Dr. Stephens.
Dr. Jeff Nichol provides pet behavior consultations in-person and virtually by telephone and Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post pet questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.