Written by Dr David Allen
Sylvester the Burmese cat visited our cat clinic last week with his owner worried that he was under the weather.
Sylvester was eight years old, slightly podgy and had an easy-going lifestyle living indoors, moving from food bowl to couch.
However his owner noticed she needed to fill his water bowl more than she had before, and that Sylvester was doing lots of wees.
His coat was looking unkempt and he was beginning to look thinner than he had done a few weeks ago.
Sylvester had a thorough examination and our consulting vet had a number of suspicions as to the type of diseases he might have.
A small blood sample and 15 minutes later we had a diagnosis- Sylvester was suffering from diabetes!
It is quite common for us to see overweight, middle-aged cats who don’t live an active life develop diabetes, in fact, the Burmese breed is over-represented with this disease.
Fortunately Sylvester was still eating and his blood tests showed he did not need to be admitted to our hospital for intensive treatment.
Unfortunately some cats when presented to our clinic are quite sick and need intravenous fluids in order to get them on the road to recovery.
Diabetes is best treated at home with twice-daily injections of insulin, given under the skin at the back of the neck.
Although at first this seems a daunting task for owners, we show them how to give the injections and all our owners can confidently give their cats injections.
Some changes to a cat’s diet are sometimes necessary, and we have special diets suited to this condition.
As Sylvester is overweight we have started a gentle weight loss program to get his back to a healthy weight.
We asked Sylvester’s family to keep a weekly record of his weight, appetite and thirst, coat condition and urination.
He has just revisited us this week and we took a blood sample to monitor how well his insulin treatment is working.
We were very pleased to see that he was looking better and his owner reported that his drinking was now back to normal.
With early diagnosis and treatment it is possible that Sylvester may be cured of his diabetes within a few weeks.
If Sylvester’s diabetes remains a permanent disease, he will require insulin injections and occasional monitoring for life.
Like a human diabetic, we warned his owners to watch for signs of low blood glucose.
If he appears disorientated, hungry, shaking or collapsed he should be fed immediately or a sweet food such as honey rubbed onto his gums to restore his glucose levels.
However, in well-controlled diabetes cases complications are rare, and most cats can be managed by their owners well at home and have an excellent quality of life.