Cats and Diabetes
Diabetes mellitus or sugar diabetes is a chronic illness in which there are high levels of glucose in the blood. It is seen in dogs and cats as well as humans, and is commoner when overweight. There is no cure, but treatment, which in cats may or may not include insulin injections, can maintain a healthy and active life. This article discusses how diabetes occurs as well as both Western and complementary therapies in its management.
Introduction- Diabetes mellitus or sugar diabetes is a chronic endocrine (hormone) illness characterised by high levels of glucose in the blood. It is seen in dogs and cats as well as humans, and in each species is commoner in the overweight and obese. There is no cure, but treatment, which in cats may or may not include insulin injections, can maintain a healthy and active life.
Pathology - Diabetes occurs when the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, the Islets of Langerhans, stop producing sufficient insulin to cope with the body's glucose load (Type 1 diabetes), or when the peripheral tissues in the body that react to insulin become resistant to its effect (Type 2 diabetes).
* Weight loss (more likely in type 1 diabetes)
* Thirst, excessive drinking (polydipsia)
* Increased urination (polyuria)
* Increased appetite
* Increased blood glucose (hyperglycaemia)
* Chronic Pancreatitis
* Stress (cortisol, one of the stress hormones, makes fat cells less sensitive to insulin)
* Genetic predisposition - it affects cats of all ages, sexes and breeds, but is commoner in older, castrated male cats, especially Burmese cats Diagnosis
Diagnosis depends on a urine test followed by a confirmatory blood test for glucose levels.
Effects of Diabetes - There is an increased incidence of:
* Premature death
* Problems in pregnancy
* Infections, especially bladder
Current Western Treatments
* Neutering of diabetic female cats
Insulin - The discovery of insulin in 1921 ( see www.discoveryofinsulin.com) was pivotal in changing diabetes mellitus from disease that was fatal within weeks to a chronic and not necessarily life-threatening condition.
Insulin is the most important treatment in many cats, although some cats, once stabilised, can be managed with diet alone. Diet
Diet needs to be specific and timed correctly. Glucose control is easier to obtain if you feed a fixed formula feed, low in fat and high in slowly digested complex carbohydrates. However, if your cat's normal routine is to eat several times per day with "ad lib" food, your vet is unlikely to change this.
If your cat is overweight, getting his/ her weight down to normal is essential over the first 3-4 months after diagnosis.
Exercise - Your cat should be allowed to take exercise as normal. Other considerations
A diabetic cat will take up a lot of your time and finances over the years, but will reward you with years of companionship.
Complementary Therapies - Stress Reduction by whatever means will help with glucose control, and can be helped by:
* Spiritual Healing
* Crystal Healing with crystals such as amethyst
* T-touch technique
* Stinging nettles - for fatigue, poor appetite
* Garlic - for digestive problems
* Fenugreek - for fatigue and weight loss
* olive leaves - for blood pressure and glucose control
Bach Flower Remedies tend to be favoured over aromatics by cats. Your choice of remedy will depend on your cat's personality and current circumstances.
Conclusion - With Diabetes it is very important that you work closely with your vet in order to get the best glucose control. The triad of insulin (where needed), diet and exercise is pivotal. Other measures can be used to help support your cat's management.
Article Tags: Glucose Control
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alison Grimston, a holistic doctor and animal healer, has a natural animal therapy website informing the public about animal therapies while connecting and informing animal therapists. http://www.TheNaturallyHealthyPet.com