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What You Need to Know About Feline Diabetes


When my first cat, Monkeyface, was diagnosed with feline diabetes, I was devastated. He was 11 years old when he died, which is pretty old for a Maine Coon. They can get to be 45 inches long and weigh up to 30 pounds, so their hearts are too small to pump the blood through their bodies. They tend to succumb to heart failure at a young age compared to other breeds.

Monkeyface was 20 pounds when he was healthy. His fur was full and beautiful and his eyes were bright. When I finally figured out that he was sick, his bright eyes were dull, his luxurious coat had lost its sheen, instead of being the big, healthy cat that I knew, he had, not only lost weight, but he had become a shell of his former self... he was sick.
When the vet diagnosed him with diabetes and kidney failure, it was too late. That was twenty years ago, and I feel guilty to this day. After all the love and companionship he gave to me, I failed him so miserably. If I had only known the signs of the disease, I might have given him more time.
The symptoms which Monkey displayed were constant thirst; eating less; weight loss; fur losing luster; and lethargy. Some other symptoms are eating more, UTI, sweet smelling breath, increased urination, and urinating outside the litter box.
The exact cause of feline diabetes is not known. It can be brought on by other diseases, such as hyperthyroidism and pancreatitis. Some medications have been known to cause it. If the cat is elderly or overweight, it is at risk, too.
Feline diabetes is all about insulin, a hormone that helps move sugar from bloodstream into the cat’s cells. As with humans, there are 2 types of feline diabetes. A lack of insulin brings Type 1 on, whereas Type 2 occurs when the cat produces the hormone, but the cells become resistant to the insulin put out by the body. As with humans, Type 2 is the most common.
Feline diabetes does not have to be a death sentence. Sometimes, shots are used to balance out the insulin. In other cases, pills will work. If your cat shows signs, take him to the vet immediately and you may save his life.

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