DANTE, MY DIABETIC FOSTER CAT

Dante was adopted from our shelter and returned three and one half years later. The reason given by his adopters was that over a period of months he did not always use the litter box. This friendly, handsome black kitty appeared to the staff to be sick and our veterinarian quickly diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and diabetes mellitus. Dante had not had any medical attention since being adopted except to have all four paws declawed! Luckily, it was not pain caused by declawing but the infection and the frequent thirst accompanying diabetes that caused him to not use the litter box. We also noticed that he had licked off most of the fur on his lower abdomen which is a stress reaction in cats called psychogenic alopecia.

Dante was place on a special diabetic diet of low glycemic index dry food and given small doses of insulin. He initially needed a unit of long acting insulin twice and day but now only received one unit. It is very easy to give subcutaneous insulin to a cooperative cat and they rarely react to the needle stick. We rotate his shots between his shoulders and his thighs. We tried to give him DM wet food but he will not eat it, even if we do not give him dry food. Dante spent some time as a foster with me while we were adjusting his diet and medications. He is exceptionally friendly and talkative and religiously uses his litter box. While there is a moderate cost for medication and special food, this loving kitty is worth it. An ideal owner might be an older person with diabetes who would understand his needs. He has no claws so there would be little chance of any injury to someone with frail skin.

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DIABETIC CATS

Although the incidence of Diabetes mellitus in cats is between 1-2%, it appears to be developing at an alarming rate as obesity becomes a serious health problem for out pets. As in humans, this disease is the inability to produce enough insulin to balance blood sugar levels . Left untreated, it lead to symptoms such as weight loss, loss of appetite, vomiting , extreme thirst and urination, eventual dehydration, coma, and even death.

Diet control is certainly an important component in treatment of this disease. Generally a low-carbohydrate diet is probably best for cats with diabetes and special food needs to be purchased. DM food is available for cats in both wet and dry food. Another treatment is insulin therapy. It is important that owners work with their veterinarian to adjust a cat’s insulin dose. Blood tests will determine whether your cat’s blood glucose is elevated and how your cat is responding to diet and insulin therapy. Properly treated, your cat can live for many years with this disease.