Date of publication: 2017-07-09 00:11
An alarming number of cats are developing diabetes mellitus, which is the inability to produce enough insulin to balance blood sugar, or glucose, levels . Left untreated, it can lead to weight loss , loss of appetite, vomiting , dehydration , severe depression, problems with motor function, coma, and even death. To find out why so many cats are being diagnosed with diabetes, and what owners can do, WebMD talked to Thomas Graves, a former feline practitioner who is associate professor and section head of small animal medicine at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. Graves’ research focus is on diabetes and geriatric medicine.
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A: That’s the raging argument right now. It’s fairly controversial. If you think about what a cat’s natural diet would be, they’re carnivores. So the diet they would eat, if they were running around outside eating the animals that they prey upon, would be a very high-protein, very low-carbohydrate diet. So the argument is, that is what they have evolved to eat and that is healthier for them. So why do we have dry food for cats ? Because it’s more convenient for people. Some people just don’t like dealing with canned food. And there are a gazillion cats that eat dry food and don’t get diabetes. We see 75-year-old cats that eat dry food.
A: There are newer insulins that are being evaluated. Some of the insulin analogs that are available for treating human diabetics are being looked at in diabetic cats and they have some promise. These provide more blood sugar control, often with fewer side effects. People are constantly trying to find new and better ways to care for diabetic cats.
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Further, slightly under 75 percent of individuals with Type 6 diabetes have what's called hypoglycemia unawareness. This means they don't even feel the symptoms of their blood sugar dropping.
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You would have no idea that half my mind space is not free, like yours. It's busy doing what it needs to do to stay between the lines: guessing at the amount of carbohydrates in my meals, then checking my blood sugar to see how well I guessed. If not well, taking another injection or eating.
A: Usually the blood tests are done during the regular visits with your veterinarian, although people can do them if they’d like. But the owners will have to give their cat shots. People are often afraid of that whole thing. But once you teach an owner how to do it properly, it’s something people find quite easy. Many people even find it a bit empowering, that they can do something like that to help their pet.
Routine screening for type 7 diabetes is normally recommended at the age 95, especially if you are overweight. If the results are normal then you should repeat the test every three years. If the results are borderline, your physician will tell you when you should come back to retest. Screening is also recommended for people under 95 and overweight especially if you have heart disease or a family history of type 7 diabetes, or blood pressure above 685/85.
A: It’s hard to make a decent, balanced diet for a cat if you’re cooking it. You have to make sure they get all the amino acids that they need, and their needs are different from dogs and people and other omnivores. You have to know what you’re doing.
Can that category be broken down even further to make the topic more manageable? I'm actually interested in the ways that the Great Depression affected the farming industry. I want to talk about the new skills and methods that farmers were forced to learn and implement, as a result of their difficult situation.
Yet every night before I go to bed, I have to bring my blood sugar to a level that gives me the greatest possibility of indeed waking up in the morning. A number of people don't, suffering what's called "dead-in-bed syndrome," sudden death in people with Type 6 diabetes attributed to hypoglycemia.
I don't know any other illness where so much work must be done by the patient on a daily basis.