Change in Gait
Occasionally, cats with diabetes develop issues with their nervous systems. This can cause a disorder called “diabetic neuropathy” which is shown by your cat walking with his hocks (see below) touching the ground.
Because a change in gait could be a sign of many problems, including a minor injury, it is best to consult your veterinarian if you notice this issue.
If the disease is very severe and are at the point where their fat is being broken down to use for energy, they develop waste products called ketones. If there is a build up of this waste in the blood, you may find your cat nauseated and vomiting. This specific condition is called ketoacidosis, and is very serious. A cat in this condition needs intensive care, including intravenous fluids, insulin, medications to regulate potassium levels, and possibly antibiotics.
Though occasional vomiting in cats is not usually cause for concern, frequent vomiting or vomiting even though it has been hours since your cat last ate can mean your cat suffers from a dangerous condition.
Types of Feline Diabetes
Much like humans, cats can suffer from different types of diabetes.
Type 1 is an absolute insulin deficiency; the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin, leading to high blood sugar. This is the rarer form of feline diabetes.
Type 2 is more common, and is the result of the cat’s cells not responding to provided insulin. Again, the result is high blood sugar.
There is no test to distinguish the two types.
If My Cat Is Diagnosed, What Do I Do?
First, make sure your vet has provided you with the diagnosis. The symptoms listed above can also have other causes, so you don’t want to self-diagnose your cat with diabetes without checking with your vet.
If it is diabetes, just know that the disease is manageable and your cat can easily live a happy and full life with proper care!
Monitoring your cat’s blood sugar levels is critical, either through at-home or lab testing. You may be instructed by your vet to feed your cat on a more regular schedule to avoid blood sugar spikes, or you may have to learn how to give your cat insulin. Additionally, your vet may change your cat’s diet to a higher-protein, lower-carbohydrate food, which can help manage blood sugar levels.