Did you know that cats are at risk for diabetes in much the same way as people? Type II, or non-insulin dependent diabetes, accounts for the majority of diabetes cases in both people and cats. In Type II diabetes, the beta cells of the pancreas which produce insulin either become exhausted or fail to respond to the body’s signals to produce insulin.
Insulin helps move glucose from the blood into tissue cells where it is utilized for energy. Insulin is the hormone that signals the cells to take up the glucose. Without insulin, the glucose stays in the blood and results in high blood sugar, called hyperglycemia. Without diagnosis and treatment, diabetes will eventually cause a metabolic condition known as ketoacidosis. This leads to dangerous changes in the blood chemistry, dehydration and eventually, death.
Being obese or overweight is a risk factor for Type II diabetes because of the chronic inflammatory state obesity produces. This leads to a reduction in insulin sensitivity. In addition, fat cells in overweight animals stop producing the hormone essential for proper insulin receptor function. Symptoms to watch for include excessive drinking, frequent urination and unexplained weight loss.