Feline Diabetes

Feline diabetes is an increasingly common disease in cats, and for good reason: with the rise in obesity among our pets, accompanied by an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, they are combining more and more risk factors for developing diabetes.

It’s a progressive disease, and will be easier to treat (or even cure completely) if it’s treated from the outset.

Glucose in the urine is one of the earliest signs of feline diabetes, which is why we recommend using a health-indicating litter such as OdorLock maxCare if your cat has risk factors. This innovative litter detects the presence of glucose and/or blood in cat urine!

What are the signs of feline diabetes?

Apart from the appearance of glucose in the urine, here are a few signs that may be suggestive of feline diabetes:

  • Your cat drinks a lot, urinates a lot
  • He eats a lot but doesn’t gain weight (or even loses it).
  • Sometimes he urinates outside the litter box (“he can’t hold himself back to the litter box”).
  • He may show changes in his behavior
  • Your cat may present with plantigradia (walking with the whole sole of the foot on the ground, a relatively late sign).
  • In the event of ketoacidosis, one of the most dreaded complications of uncontrolled diabetes, your cat may also experience drowsiness, vomiting, eating disorders, shortness of breath and even coma. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a life-threatening emergency!

Which cats are most affected?

In the feline population, there are “risk factors” for developing diabetes = characteristics that could increase the risk of some cats developing diabetes and that need to be closely monitored, namely:

  • Age (over 6 or 7)
  • Overweight
  • A sedentary/indoor lifestyle
  • The male sex
  • Breed (e.g. certain lines of Sacred Birman, Tonkinese, Norwegian)
  • Treatment with glucocorticoids (anti-inflammatory drugs such as prednisone or cortisone) or progestagens (contraceptive hormones)
  • A history of diabetes or chronic inflammatory disease

How is feline diabetes treated?

Treatment begins with a veterinary diagnosis to accurately identify the cat’s status.

The aim of treatment is generally to reduce clinical signs.

If diabetes is detected early, it will also be possible to try and cure the cat completely: unlike human diabetes, 7 out of 10 feline diabetics can go into complete remission, especially if detected early and monitored properly!

Home treatment often consists of :

  • Make dietary adjustments (as needed);
  • Monitor and record your cat’s blood and urine glucose levels;
  • Monitor and record clinical signs;
  • Monitor weight;
  • Insulin injections (if possible; it’s not compulsory, and there are constraints and risks associated with poor practices, but it’s often the best way to achieve potential remission).

Well-controlled diabetes will ensure your cat’s quality of life!


This article was written in collaboration with Élodie Khenifar, Veterinary Doctor, M.Sc. (Clinical Pathology), Medical Director of Laboratoires Blücare. Élodie is a graduate of the École Nationale Vétérinaire de Toulouse, did her specialty training at the Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire d’Alfort and her Masters in Veterinary Science at the Faculté de Médecine Vétérinaire de Saint-Hyacinthe, Université de Montréal.

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