Vet’s View: Cats can get diabetes, just like humans

A healthy diet and active lifestyle are important for cats as well as humans
A healthy diet and active lifestyle are important for cats as well as humans

BUSTER definitely looked as though he had been born on the wrong side of the tracks, writes vet Peter Brown.

His torn ear and kinked tail bore witness to an early life spent defending his territory and dodging the passing traffic.

So, it was not surprising that, when he found out the position of resident cat at number 63 had fallen vacant, he adapted readily to the warm bed and regular food on offer, growing (quite literally!) into the role.

All 15 pounds of him was adorning my table, and I began to examine him.

There was nothing obvious to see at first, but his owner had noticed that he was drinking more than usual, so we took a small drop of blood from his ear to test. Sure enough his glucose levels were off the scale. Buster had got diabetes. Diabetes is increasingly being recognised in our pet cats, and most cases are similar to Type 2 diabetes in humans. Just as with us, being overweight and having a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to the disease, which is caused by the body either failing to produce insulin or not responding well to it.

If your cat is diagnosed with diabetes, your vet will often recommend insulin injections to control the disease.

This can be a bit daunting at first, but most cats quickly adapt to the routine and your practice team will be on hand to guide you through the process.

Diet is important, too, with many cats responding well to a low-carbohydrate diet, and while you may not be able to persuade your cat to take more exercise, weight control is a must. In fact, sometimes you may find that the diabetes resolves when you adjust your cat’s nutrition. But, although many cats will need ongoing insulin, they can still have an excellent quality of life.

And as for Buster, after all that fighting, I don’t think he even noticed the injections!

Peter Brown, of Northdale Veterinary Practice, writes the Herald & Gazette’s Vet’s View column. A local man, whose family history can be traced back to the 1700s in Worthing, Peter took over the practice 26 years ago. What was a one-man operation is now a thriving six-vet practice. For more information, log on to