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Published: Jan 18, 2013

Diabetes is a common condition in humans, but some pet owners may be surprised to learn that their cats can suffer from it as well. Diabetes in cats is a common disease that occurs when a cat's body either doesn't produce insulin, or cannot properly use it, according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Animal Planet estimates one out of 1,200 cats will develop diabetes in his lifetime, and it most commonly afflicts older and overweight cats.

Felines who have diabetes need continuous care from their owners, since they rely on you to monitor their insulin levels. But first, you have to determine that your cat does in fact have the condition. Here are some of the common signs and ways you can get a feline diabetes diagnosis.

What are some common signs of cat diabetes?
One of the first clinical signs of cat diabetes that many owners notice is frequent urination. You may notice your cat drinking more water than usual, too. This is because the urine has a high level of glucose, which passes more water from his system, the news outlet reports. Some cats with diabetes also strain to urinate or do so outside the litter box.

Changes in appetite are also common, but whether he loses interest in meals or starts eating more, a diabetic cat will lose weight because his metabolism can't convert food to energy.

How is it tested?
Clearly, diabetes can be extremely detrimental to your cat's overall well-being, which is why it is important to bring him to the veterinarian if you notice these clinical signs. There are several tests involved in feline diabetes testing - the vet will do a complete blood count, a serum biochemistry profile and a urinalysis for cats.

Can I treat this condition?
Once your cat has been diagnosed with diabetes, your veterinarian will discuss the ways you can treat the condition. Usually, treatment starts with lifestyle changes. If certain drugs were causing the condition, the vet might switch these medications. Obesity is often a cause, too, and sometimes weight reduction in cats can resolve the issue. A healthy, well-balanced diet is also recommended for cats with diabetes, according to VCA Animal Hospitals.

If there are no predisposing causes, or removal of these causes does not improve your cat's condition, he may require treatment with insulin. Some cases of cat diabetes can be treated with oral hypoglycemic medication, but most felines will need insulin injections. Your vet will monitor the cat during his initial stages of treatment to determine the appropriate dosage, and after that, the feline will need injections once or twice a day from you. The vet will show you how to give these shots, which cause no pain to your cat.

What complications should I look out for?
When a cat gets insulin injections, he is at risk of a diabetic coma, which is the result of too much insulin. Your veterinarian will warn you about the clinical signs of this condition, which include weakness and shivering and can lead to coma. If you notice this, bring your cat to the vet immediately to get his glucose levels adjusted.