A diabetes diagnosis is not a death sentence for your cat. Most diabetic cats who receive proper veterinary care and good quality home treatment enjoy essentially normal lives, their longevity the same as non-diabetic cats. He'll have a shortened life as a direct result of diabetes only if you fail to manage the diabetes properly.
Feline Life Spans
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the average indoor cat lives for 13 to 17 years. Properly medicated diabetic cats have the same average longevity as healthy non-diabetic cats. But cats with untreated diabetes may succumb sooner, due to health problems that can develop as side effects of diabetes.
Insulin, a pancreatic hormone, breaks down the sugars your cat consumes and turns them into the energy he needs to function. Diabetes either inhibits insulin production or inhibits produced insulin's effectiveness. Further, diabetes is either "insulin-dependent" or non-insulin-dependent -- cats with insulin-dependent diabetes require frequent insulin injections.
Cats under 7 years of age rarely get diabetes. Overweight cats are more prone to become diabetic than cats of healthy weight; males are slightly more likely to become diabetic than females. Each cat's diabetes is an specific condition; your veterinarian will provide individualized treatment for your pet based on his symptoms.
Feline diabetes is not classified into stages beyond the general classification of type, but untreated feline diabetes has a series of progression, starting with symptoms of lethargy; increased eating, drinking and urinating; and weight loss. It progresses to leg weakness, poor skin and coat, and bacterial infection; then to wasting, ketoacidosis, neuropathy, and kidney disease.
Treating Feline Diabetes
Your veterinarian will diagnose the type of diabetes your cat has, then he develop a treatment plan to keep your cat healthy and active. Your veterinarian will monitor your cat's blood glucose for a period of time and, if necessary, prescribe a specific insulin dosage. Most insulin-dependent felines receive injections twice daily under the skin. Your veterinarian will teach you how to give injections at home. Your veterinarian may also put your cat on a specific diet if he is overweight. Your veterinarian will monitor your cat's condition long-term and make treatment adjustments as needed.
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.