Learn All About Feline Diabetes: Prevention, Symptoms, Treatment and Diet
November is American Diabetes Month®, and humans aren’t the only ones at risk of developing diabetes. Approximately 1 in 200 cats in the United States suffer from diabetes. What is diabetes? Diabetes mellitus, commonly called just diabetes, is a disorder that occurs when the body is unable to regulate the amount of sugar in the bloodstream. There are two types of diabetes, type-1 and type-2. Type-1 diabetes, also known as insulin dependent diabetes, occurs when the body is unable to produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone released when blood sugar levels are high, called hyperglycemia, such as after meals. Insulin directs cells in the body to move sugar out of the blood stream and into cells for storage or energy. Type-2 diabetes, also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes or insulin resistance, occurs when the body becomes less responsive to the effects of insulin. Even though insulin is still being produced, blood sugars levels become elevated. Regardless of the cause, both forms of diabetes result in chronically elevated blood sugar levels that damage capillaries, the smallest blood vessels in the body. The damage to capillaries may lead to different complications. What causes diabetes in pets? Diabetes is influenced by both inherited and environmental factors. Genetics seem to be an important risk factor in dogs, and certain breeds, like Keeshonds and Samoyeds, are more likely to develop diabetes. Age is another important risk factor. Though it can affect animals of any age, it is more common in middle-aged and older animals. Obesity is a major risk factor for type-2 diabetes, which is more common in cats. Fat tissue impairs the effects of insulin and leads to insulin resistance. Unfortunately, obesity in pets is becoming more prevalent. It is estimated that more than half of all cats in the United States are overweight and at risk of developing diabetes. Fortunately, diet and weight loss play an important role in the treatment of type-2 diabetes. How is diabetes treated or managed? While there is no cure for diabetes, it is a manageable condition. Just like diabetes in people, diabetes in pets can be controlled with medications and lifestyle changes. The goal of treatment is to stabilize blood sugar levels by preventing them from getting too high or too low. This can be achieved with some combination of diet, insulin and at-home monitoring. There are several different types of insulin available with different durations of action, your veterinarian will assess your pet to determine which type of insulin will be best for your particular pet. In addition to insulin, diet and weight loss are just as important when it comes to treating diabetes in pets. Recent nutritional studies show that switching to a low-carbohydrate and high-protein canned food diet is the most effective dietary routine for most diabetic cats. Your veterinarian will work with you to determine what if any nutritional changes are necessary for your cat. Weight loss is also important because obesity is a common cause of insulin resistance. Fatty tissue releases factors that impair the effects of insulin. To promote weight loss, you should increase your cat’s daily exercise (yes you can get your cat to exercise), in addition to following your veterinarian’s dietary suggestions. Photo by Piotr Musioł on Unsplash What are the common signs and symptoms of diabetes in cats? The classic symptoms of diabetes are: Increased thirst Increased appetite Increased urination Lethargic Weight loss Dull coat It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of diabetes so that you can promptly seek veterinary care if you notice any of these in your pets. Of course, it’s important to mention that cats are very adept at hiding illness so these symptoms may be difficult to recognize initially. That’s why regular veterinary check-ups are so important. Annual examinations and diagnostic tests help to uncover diseases, like diabetes, early when they are typically easier to treat or manage. How do you know if your cat has diabetes? Diabetes can only be diagnosed by a veterinarian. If you think your cat may have diabetes, see your veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian can diagnose diabetes with simple blood and urine tests. These fast and easy diagnostic tests allow your veterinarian to detect abnormally high levels of sugar in your pet’s bloodstream and also look for the presence of sugar or sugar breakdown products in their urine. What’s the treatment? Fortunately, diabetes is a treatable disease. The goal of treatment is to avoid the complications of diabetes by providing stable blood sugar levels. This can be achieved with some combination of diet, weight loss and insulin. There are several different types of insulin available with different durations of action. Your veterinarian will determine which type of insulin will be best for your particular pet. If your cat is overweight, your veterinarian will likely change their diet. Recent nutritional studies have found that switching to a low-carbohydrate and high-protein canned food diet is the most effective dietary intervention for diabetic cats. To promote weight loss, follow your veterinarian’s feeding recommendations and encourage active play. With the right medications, diet and weight loss, diabetes can be controlled. It is important to realize that if caught early and treated with insulin and diet, diabetic cats can go into remission, which means their blood sugar levels, also known as blood glucose levels, remain stable for more than a month without insulin injections or oral medications. Studies have shown that diabetic cats have remission rates that have been reported to range from 15%–100%. Predictors of diabetic remission in cats include achieving excellent blood sugar control within 6 months of diagnosis and regular home monitoring. Even if your cat does not go into remission, the goal of diabetes treatment is to reduce symptoms and avoid complications of uncontrolled diabetes. Take home message Diabetes is an increasingly common problem in older cats. Become familiar with the signs and symptoms of diabetes and watch for their development in your pet. Take your cat to your veterinarian for regular examinations and screening tests. Remember it is always best to catch diseases early before they become advanced and lead to complications. If your cat has diabetes, remember that diabetes is a manageable disease and with treatment cats with diabetes can live long healthy lives. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT DIABETES SPEAK WITH YOUR VETERINARIAN. The makers of okocat® natural litter are not only dedicated to making the best cat litter, they are also committed to helping cats live longer, healthier lives. By providing educational articles like this one, they hope to educate pet parents about important cat health topics.Read More
Top tips to keep your cat safe at home!
A cat’s insatiable curiosity is an incredibly endearing feline trait. While it is a sign of their intelligence, their inquisitive nature can also get them into trouble. After all, there is a reason for the saying “curiosity killed the cat.” So what can pet parents do to protect their feline friends? How can they cat-proof their home? To keep their cats safe, pet parents need to recognize and address these common household dangers. Kitchen and Laundry Room Cats have a knack for getting into things. Unfortunately, the kitchen or laundry room can be a hazardous place for curious kitties. Keep appliance doors closed: If your cat gets into a grocery bag or purse, it’s cute. If your cat gets into the dishwasher, oven, washer, or dryer, it can be lethal. Animals have been hurt or even killed when someone turns on the appliance without realizing their pet is inside. Preventing these tragedies is simple: always keep lids and doors closed and check before turning on the appliance. Don’t leave food unattended: Cats also have an amazing sense of smell and seem to know where to find tasty food. Keep foods that are toxic to cats, such as chocolate and alcohol, out of their reach. Also keep them away from poultry bones that can splinter and get lodged in their gastrointestinal tract. To avoid these problems, keep unattended food off tables and counters and dispose of leftovers in a covered garbage can to prevent garbage surfing. Keep cleaners tucked away: Be sure to store detergents and household cleaners safely out of your feline’s reach. Living Room At first glance, the living room may seem like a safe haven. Unfortunately, first impressions can be deceiving. Place breakables out of reach: Our carefully placed decorations can also draw the unwanted attention of our curious cats. Bright, shiny, and especially fragile objects seem to beckon our curious feline friends to play with them. If knocked over and shattered, glass and ceramic fragments are razor sharp and can cut unsuspecting paws. Don’t leave lit candles unsupervised: Little paws can do more than break fragile decorations. Lit candles that are knocked over can burn your pet, or even worse, cause a household fire. Know which plants are feline-friendly: Even decorative plants can be deadly. Before you bring any plants or flowers to your home, check to make sure they are not poisonous to your cat. Lilies, for example, are highly toxic to cats and consumption of any part of the plant can lead to kidney failure and death. Keep electrical cords out of reach: They can electrocute your pet if chewed upon or strangle your pet if they get tangled in the cord. Check under your recliners: Finally, before your sit down and relax in your recliner or rocking chair, always make sure your cat hasn’t curled up beneath it. Bathroom The bathroom ranks as the smallest room in a typical house, but what it lacks in square footage it makes up for in hazards. Toss the floss: What’s good for your teeth may not be good for your cat. Flossing may be what the dentist ordered, but flossing can actually be dangerous to our cats. Cats are often drawn to linear objects like yarn and dental floss. Ingesting a linear object can cause an intestinal obstruction that can be fatal if not treated with emergent surgery. Floss to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Just remember to dispose of your floss in a covered garbage can. Don’t leave the curler on: Lastly, be careful with hot hairdryers and curling irons that can burn an unsuspecting, curious cat’s nose. Garage The garage is usually the most dangerous place in your home for your cat. Garages are stockpiles of hazardous chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers. Be wary of chemicals: Make sure all chemicals are safely put away. Some chemicals, like antifreeze, have an appealing sweet smell that can entice a curious pet for a taste. Unfortunately even a mere taste can be lethal. Safely store your pesticides: Insecticides, rodenticides, and fertilizers can also be toxic. Pesticides are the most dangerous because they are often sweetened or scented to attract pests and cats can become their unintended victims. You can never protect your pet from every possible hazard. However, you can take these measures to make your home safer for your pets and protect them from these common household dangers. Following these suggestions can help keep your cats safe and prevent unscheduled emergency visits to the veterinarian. ökocat is not only dedicated to making the best cat litter, but also committed to helping cats live longer, healthier lives by educating pet parents about important cat health topics.Read More
Cat Not Using the Litter Box? Top Reasons Why and How to Fix Them!
It can be very upsetting when your cat urinates outside their litter box. Feline inappropriate elimination (FIE), or house soiling, can be a challenging problem to solve, leaving many feeling overwhelmed. In fact, FIE is one the main behavioral reasons why people relinquish their cats to shelters. By becoming familiar with FIE, you can hopefully prevent it from developing or know how to curtail it. Before treating FIE as a behavioral problem, medical causes need to be excluded. Inappropriate urination can be due to kidney or bladder infections, diabetes, kidney failure, bladder or kidney stones, or even cancer of the genitourinary system. FIE may be the presenting symptom for a disease in an otherwise healthy cat. Make sure your veterinarian excludes medical causes before you accuse your cat of bad behavior! Marking their territory Many cats urinate outside the litter box because of their instincts. In the wild, cats mark the boundaries of their territory to keep others away. Not surprisingly, domestic cats have kept this behavior. In particular, unneutered male cats are more likely to mark or “spray” outside of the litter box. Often neutering can prevent or correct this behavior, especially when done at 6 months of age or younger. Sometimes, even neutered male cats or female cats can become territorial. If multiple cats are sharing one litter box, cats will often “claim” the litter box by marking it. Make sure you have multiple litter boxes in different locations to help prevent this behavior and consider using feline pheromones to “calm” territorial disputes. Location Like in real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. Cats, like us, need privacy when using the bathroom. Placing the litter box in a high traffic or noisy location will deter many cats from using it. Be sure to place the litter box in a quiet location where your cat will not be disturbed, otherwise it may fear the litter box. Also, make sure the litter box is easily accessible. Older cats with arthritis may have trouble climbing stairs so place the litter box close to where they spend most of their time. Preferences Most people know cats can be picky: they are picky eaters, they are picky about whom they like and they are picky about when they want to be loved. It should not be surprising that they can also be picky about litter or their litter box. Fortunately, ökocat makes different formulations to suit your cat’s fancy. “Original premium” has a natural texture and scent, “super soft” has a soft texture similar to clay, “less mess” has small pellets that are less likely to stick to your cats’ fur, “featherweight” has a soft texture and is their lightest litter, and “dust free” is a non-clumping paper pellet that is ideal for cats with respiratory issues or after surgery. If you change litters, make sure you change the litter gradually. Some cats may be picky about their litter box; some prefer open litter boxes, while others like the privacy of a covered litter box. Watch for these preferences and remove or add a cover based on your cat’s desires. Accessibility As cats get older, arthritis becomes more common. Arthritis is a progressive, painful joint disease that limits mobility. Arthritic cats may have trouble getting in and out of traditional litter boxes and end-up going outside of the litter box. This problem can be resolved by using “low profile” litter boxes or boxes with a ramp. Likewise, soft litter, like ökocat “super soft” and ökocat “featherweight” are easier on an arthritic cat’s joints. Dirty litter boxes Cats are very clean animals. They meticulously groom themselves. It should be no surprise that they prefer clean litter boxes. The presence of waste and the smell of ammonia in a dirty litter box can deter a cat from using it and force them to go elsewhere. Keeping the litter box clean is a chore that is often neglected. However, keeping the litter box clean is often the only way to cure inappropriate urination. If you can’t scoop daily, consider an automatic self-cleaning litter box or try teaching your kitty to use the toilet (yes, it is possible with training and patience, but don’t expect them to flush). Solving FIE By knowing the causes of FIE, you can hopefully prevent it from developing. Since bad habits are hard to break, it is easier to prevent a behavioral problem than to treat one. But what do you do if your cat already house soils? First, rule out medical causes. Once they have been excluded, the approach to correcting FIE can be divided into 3 steps: cleaning up the accident, preventing future accidents, and making the litter box more inviting. All accidents must be cleaned up completely. Use cleaning products that completely remove or neutralize the urine smell. Cat’s sense of smell is 14x more sensitive than ours. If a cat can still smell the scent of urine, they will be drawn there and will continue to soil in that location. In order to prevent future accidents, make the location less attractive. Use products to deter cats from house soiling such as scat mats, double-sided sticky tape, crinkly runners, aluminum foil, and noise canisters. By making the site of the crime unappealing, it will encourage your cat to choose a more appropriate location (i.e. the litter box). Finally, make the litter box more inviting. The most important step is to keep it clean. Also choose litter and a litter box that caters to your cat’s preferences. Make sure you provide enough litter boxes for everyone (the rule of thumb is one litter box for cat plus one). Finally, feline pheromones can help with territorial issues. FIE can be a frustrating problem. By knowing the most common behavioral causes of this problem, you can help prevent it from developing or treat a pre-existing problem. If these problems persist, ask your veterinarian for a referral to a veterinary behaviorist.Read More
Vet Tips on Caring for Your Senior Cat
Thanks to advances in technology, medicine and nutrition, our pets, like people, are now living longer healthier lives. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)’s pet owners survey, the number of geriatric animals has dramatically increased in the last several years. Senior cats have unique healthcare needs and caring for an aging cat population poses special considerations for pet parents and veterinarians. Like their human counterparts, geriatric animals suffer from many of the same age-related diseases. Diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, thyroid disease, inflammatory bowel disease, periodontal disease, hypertension, and cancer are all more prevalent in older cats. While we can’t stop aging, there are things you and your veterinarian can do to ensure that your pet stays healthy as long as possible. Pets seven and older are considered senior pets and should have comprehensive examinations every six months. Regular examinations enable your veterinarian to do a full physical looking for early signs of disease. During the examination, your veterinarian may suggest blood and urine tests. These allow them to screen for diseases that may not be evident on examination. Studies have shown that 17% of senior cats and 22% of senior dogs that appear healthy on examination have been shown to have clinical disease. Since our pets can’t talk, many diseases often go unnoticed until an animal is very ill. Routine examinations and diagnostic tests help veterinarians uncover diseases early, and many can be prevented, controlled or completely cured if diagnosed early. Waiting until our animals become ill and show symptoms of these diseases means their condition is more advanced, making it harder and more costly to treat. What else can you do? You should become familiar with senior health issues so you can recognize the signs and symptoms of disease. Look for increased urination, increased thirst, change in appetite, weight loss, change in energy or activity level, drooling, trouble eating or weight loss. Cats are very good at hiding illnesses and at times the only indication you have that something is wrong is that they have lost weight. Notify your veterinarian if you notice any of these symptoms, detect weight loss, or if you discover any new bumps or lumps. Remember you and your veterinarian are on the same team, by working together you will be able to diagnose diseases earlier. Getting old is an inevitable part of life. Though we cannot halt the passage of time, we can take steps to meet the unique needs of our senior cats. Routine examinations and screenings can help up detect diseases earlier before many of the complications of advanced disease have developed. By working with your veterinarian, you can ensure that your senior cats age gracefully. What cat litter should you use for your senior cat? If your senior cat has sensitive paws, ökocat® Super Soft or Featherweight litters make a great choice because of their soft texture. However, the most important thing is to use a natural litter that has little dust for their sensitive respiratory systems and one that traps urine and odor on contact to help prevent urinary tract infections.Read More
6 Ways to Keep Your Cats Healthy
Don’t Skip Check-ups Annual examinations are the best way to detect medical problems early and to ensure your cat is protected against preventable diseases. We take our kids to the pediatrician for wellness visits, so why should our cats be any different? Cats get sick too. They suffer from many of the same illnesses we do, like obesity, diabetes, thyroid disease, and kidney disease. And cats can’t talk and tell us when they are sick. To make matters worse, they are masters at hiding illnesses. You may not notice any signs or symptoms until the disease is very advanced. That’s why routine physical examinations are so important. They allow your veterinarian to check your cat from head to tail for subtle signs of illness. Your vet can also utilize screening tests to detect diseases early and to start treatment promptly. The fact is bringing your cat to the vet at least once a year for a check-up is the best way to be ensure your cat lives the healthiest, happiest life possible. Keep Vaccines Up to Date Cats can be exposed to a number of different infectious diseases, even if they live indoors. Upper respiratory infections can be carried on your clothes or shoes or can spread through an open window or screen door. Not to mention that even indoor cats can sneak out. Although strictly indoor only cats may require less vaccines than outdoor cats, the fact remains that indoor cats may benefit from vaccines that protect against the upper respiratory viruses: feline rhinotracheitits, feline calicivirus, and feline panleukopenia. In addition, some states require cats to be vaccinated against rabies. Speak with your veterinarian to find out what vaccines are appropriate for your particular cat based on their age, lifestyle and risks. Don’t Forget About Parasite Control Unfortunately, even indoor cats aren’t immune to parasites. Pesky bugs like fleas can be brought into your home by your dog or rodents. You can even move into a house with an existing flea problem. Fleas in the pupa stage can remain dormant for months. In addition, mosquitos transmit heartworm disease and we all know how easy it is for them to get inside. Just because your cat doesn’t go outside don’t assume they are safe from parasites. Be on the look out for parasites and speak your veterinarian about parasitic screening tests and preventative medications that might be appropriate for your cat. Microchips Are a Must All pets, even strictly indoor cats, should have microchips and ideally collars and ID tags. What happens when your cat sneaks out an open door or window, or worse yet, gets lost during an earthquake, hurricane or tornado? They become an outdoor cat with no identification! Collars and tags allow a neighbor to return your cat directly to you, but unfortunately, collars can break or fall off. Microchips provide a more reliable means of identification. Of course, for them to work, make sure you register and keep your contact information up-to-date. The fact is accidents happen and it is always better to be safe than sorry. Being sure your pet has proper identification (collar, tag and microchips) is the best way to improve the odds that your pet will be returned home if they ever get lost. Get Your Cats Moving All animals, even cats, benefit from exercise. Exercise is the best way to keep your cat trim and healthy. Like us, cats can suffer from obesity and the problems associated with being overweight such as arthritis and diabetes. You can keep your cat active by playing with a laser pointer. Most cats love to chase a laser pointer (and most humans find this entertaining too). Some cats can also learn to play fetch. The goal is to find the toy or activity that gets your pet moving. Don’t be afraid to ask your veterinarian for ideas and help getting your lazy cat off the couch. Keep Cats Indoors The decision to keep your cat indoors is probably the single most important action you can take to promote the health and longevity of your feline friend. The average lifespan for an outdoor cat is just 3 to 5 years, while indoor cats average 12. This huge difference in life expectancy should be a compelling enough reason for all cat parents to keep their feline friends indoors. Outdoor cats are at risk for getting hit by a car; being attacked by a dog or coyote, getting into a fight with another cat; ingesting poisonous chemicals such as rodenticides, insecticides, snail bait, or antifreeze, and are more likely to get parasites and infectious diseases like feline leukemia virus (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). The fact is once your cat is outdoors, there is no way to protect them from all of these dangers. Make sure to use a natural cat litter like okocat, that's cleaner and healthier for your cat with less dust and no harmful chemicals or added perfumes. See also >>> Clean & healthy litter that stops odor As pet parents, besides loving our pets, our responsibility is to care for them and protect them from harm. What can you do to insure your cat lives out his nine lives? Make sure your cat has regular veterinary check-ups, stays up-to-date on their immunizations and parasite control, gets regular exercise and stays safely indoors. The makers of okocat® natural litter are not only dedicated to making the best cat litter, they are also committed to helping cats live longer, healthier lives. By providing educational articles like this one, they hope to educate pet parents about important cat health topics.Read More
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Dr. Ruth MacPete
aka Dr. Ruth, The Pet Vet
“I am passionate about pet care and educating pet parents about making Earth-friendly choices, and I admire Healthy Pet for making products that are good not only for your pets, but also your family and the environment.”Visit the Pet Vet