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Canberra Cat Vet Blog

Diabetes in cats

Thursday, January 18, 2018
   

Diabetes mellitus in cats is much the same as type 2 diabetes in humans - overweight, sedentary individuals are most at risk.

Cleo came to see us for her annual check a few months ago and we were concerned to find that she had shed nearly a kilo since we had last met. That's 10% of her bodyweight! Her carers told us that her appetite was greater than ever and they'd noticed that she was up at the sink looking for water much more often. Burmese are more at risk for diabetes than other breeds so we were immediately suspicious that Cleo had developed diabetes.

Because we were anxious to confirm our suspicions and to rule out other diseases we ran her blood tests in our lab at Canberra Cat Vet. While her kidneys, liver, blood count and electrolytes were normal her blood glucose was high. She also had a urinary tract infection, which is very common in cats with diabetes because bacteria thrive in the sugary urine.

Cleo started on insulin that night. Although her carers had never given injections before they were soon experts. They waited until she was eating her special high protein diet and slipped the tiny needle under her skin. Cleo didn't bat an eyelid.

Once they were all in the routine and the urinary infection had cleared we retested her blood glucose levels and adjusted the dose. If diabetes in cats is caught early and the diet adjusted many go into remission. The remission is more durable if the cat is back to a healthy lean weight.

My kitten has diarrhoea...

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Many kittens develop diarrhoea especially in the first week or two in their new homes.

Often it is due to the big changes in their lives - a new family, leaving mum, new surroundings, but most often it is because of the new diet. Even good quality kitten food causes diarrhoea in a kitten that is not used to it. Find out what the breeder or foster carer fed your kitten and feed some of the new food mixed in with some of the old food. Gradually increase the proportion of the new food over a couple of weeks.  

Kittens lose the enzyme for digesting milk very quickly so avoid dairy products. Kitten foods contain all the calcium and protein that a kitten requires.

Check when the kitten was last wormed. Worm young kittens every 2 weeks until they are 12 weeks old to avoid diarrhoea from worms.

If your kitten develops diarrhoea switch to just cooked white chicken for a couple of meals and deworm with a reputable wormer like Milbemax. Do not use a wormer based on piperazine.

If the faeces does not firm up within 24 hours or your kitten is lethargic, vomiting or not eating consult a vet immediately. Kittens quickly dehydrate and become very ill because of fluid loss.

More serious causes of diarrhoea include enteritis (also known as panleukopenia), giardia, coccidia, cryptosporidium, trichomonas,clostridia, salmonella and campylobacter. Take a sample of the diarrhoea to your vet so that we can check for them if necessary.

Furballs and vomiting

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Stomach and intestinal disease is so common in cats that many people think vomiting and ‘furballs’ in an otherwise healthy cat are normal.

 

Vomiting more than once a week, particularly if your cat is losing weight is NOT normal. Furballs are a sign of stomach or intestinal inflammation and should be investigated.

  

There are many causes of vomiting. The easiest to diagnose and treat is an intolerance to a particular food, usually a protein like fish, lamb or beef. If the vomiting stops when your cat is switched to a hypoallergenic diet then a dietary intolerance is the most likely cause. Once the offending protein has been identified you just have to avoid feeding it to your cat.

 

Cats that eat grass or other hard- to-digest plants frequently vomit. Preventing access to the grass may solve the problem but often they are driven to eat grass by an irritated stomach.

 

If a hypoallergenic diet does not eliminate the vomiting we suspect a more serious disease like Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) or a gut cancer. IBD and low grade gastrointestinal lymphoma are quite responsive to treatment. Occasionally more serious cancers are found.

 

An ultrasound may show increased thickness of the stomach or small intestinal wall indicating IBD or lymphoma. Occasionally another problem like a partial blockage or a solid cancer is found.

 

Unfortunately ultrasound does not distinguish between inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and lymphoma. Biopsy samples of the stomach, small intestinal wall, abdominal lymph nodes, liver and pancreas obtained during abdominal surgery are the most accurate way of distinguishing them.

 

A veterinary pathologist looks at the biopsy sample under the microscope and determines if IBD or lymphoma is present and then classifies them. This information helps us make a treatment plan and predict the response to treatment.

 

Inflammatory bowel disease is caused by a chronically irritated stomach and intestinal lining. The inflammation is sometimes caused by an irritant in the food. Often the cat’s immune system overreacts to components of a normal diet. It is usually very difficult to identify the specific cause. The inflammation interferes with digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. Therefore cats with advanced disease lose weight and try to compensate with an increase in appetite. Treatment includes immunosuppressive drugs such as prednisolone, special diets and vitamin B12 injections. Often, cats get an initial short course of antiparasitic drugs and antibiotics to rule out other irritants of the intestine.

 

IBD is not a curable disease but proper treatment controls it and stops or slows the vomiting and weight loss. Overall, the prognosis is very good.

 

Low grade lymphoma is treated similarly but a low dose chemotherapy drug is added in. Many cats live for years with proper treatment.

 

If dietary intolerance, IBD or low grade lymphoma are left untreated higher grade bowel cancers may develop.

 

Weight Loss

Friday, March 21, 2014

Cino (and Cino's mother) are worried that he is losing weight despite a hearty appetite. Burmese are more likely than other breeds to develop diabetes so we checked his blood glucose first. It was normal and so were his kidney and liver tests.

Hyperthyroidism is more common in older cats like Cino who turns 12 shortly. However the blood test showed that his thyroid is functioning normally.

Cino occasionally vomits. Because everything else seems normal we will zero in on his intestinal tract. First we will try a diet that will minimise inflammation in his stomach and intestines. If we don't get any response to that we will scan him from top to bottom for abnormalities.

Some cats suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, which may escalate into mild or, less frequently, severe lymphoma. Many of these bowel conditions are treatable and well-managed cats do well.


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