March 31, 2022
If your cat’s been diagnosed with diabetes, you may be wondering if it’s time to put them down. As the decision for euthanasia is difficult to make, in this article we’ll discuss the symptoms of diabetes in cats and how long they typically live with the disease to help you get an answer to your question: “Should I euthanize my cat with diabetes?”.
Should I Euthanize My Cat With Diabetes?
There’s no easy answer to this question. If your cat is presenting any of the symptoms of diabetic cat behavior presented below and are not getting better despite treatment, euthanasia may be the right choice for your pet. Talk to your veterinarian about all available options for the cat’s care and make the decision that’s best for both you and your cat. If you’re still struggling with the decision of whether or not to euthanize your cat with uncontrollable diabetes even after discussing it with your vet, it’s important that you consider their quality of life. If your cat is uncomfortable or in pain, perhaps it would be better to spare them the suffering.
Putting down a diabetic cat is one of the most difficult decisions that any cat owner will have to make, and it can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. Saying goodbye is always painful, especially if you have to put a cat to sleep because there are no other options available. Although the decision process for cats with diabetes differs from deciding when to euthanize cats with FIV, feline leukemia, or other untreatable chronic diseases, treating a diabetic cat can become unfeasible, leading you to consider putting a cat to sleep as the best option.
But first, let’s see what are the signs of a diabetes in cat and what are the treatment options.
|DID YOU KNOW: Euthanizing an animal with a chronic disease should be considered only if their pain and suffering have reached the level at which euthanasia is the most humane thing to do. However, with a proper treatment plan, the odds are your diabetic cat will be able to live a long and healthy life.
How to Tell if Your Cat Is Diabetic
The first step in deciding whether to euthanize your cat is to determine if they actually have diabetes. For that purpose, we provided a list of the most common symptoms of diabetes mellitus in cats. If your cat presents any of these symptoms, it could be a sign of diabetes, so you should take them to a veterinarian for diagnosis.
Excessive Urination & Thirst
One of the most common symptoms of diabetes in cats is excessive thirst (polydipsia) and more frequent urination (polyuria). If your cat is drinking more water than normal and pees a lot more frequently, you should consider cat diabetes treatment options after consulting your vet.
Increased urination is caused by excess glucose that the kidneys are trying to remove through urine. This leads to a high level of water loss, increasing the need for water intake in order to prevent dehydration.
Increased Weight Loss & Appetite
Feline diabetes makes cat’s blood cells unable to appropriately absorb the glucose from the blood. As a result, the cells are starved and look for another energy source—the fat and protein reserves. By breaking them down, your cat would start losing weight, which would make the body think it’s starving, resulting in increased appetite.
Lack of Appetite, Vomiting, Lethargy
On the other hand, your diabetic cat could also experience a loss of appetite at a late stage of feline diabetes, leading to weight and energy loss. Although this can result in lethargy in cats, they can also become that way because high blood sugar affects their brain, making them feel tired and uninterested in playing. Other symptoms of elevated blood sugar levels are nausea and vomiting.
Changes in the Way Your Catwalks
Since animals with diabetes tend to get weaker, your cat may start walking flat on the back of the hind legs. Due to high blood sugar levels, the neuropathy can sometimes result in permanent paralysis if left untreated for too long, or if you only rely on treating diabetes in cats without insulin.
Inability to Jump & Loss of Interest
Your cat is unable to jump logically following from the previously explained aspect of your pet’s chronic illness concerning neuropathy. If you see them struggling to jump, you might consider it as an early-neuropathy symptom. Their struggle to walk will also affect their interest in playing, as well as other everyday activities that require movement.
If they’re not getting enough insulin or food, cats with diabetes may experience seizures. As this is a sign of a dying cat, you need to start your cat’s care immediately if you notice such symptoms.
Other diabetic cat behaviors and physiological symptoms that could also be a sign of another non-diabetic cat condition include liver enlargement, poor coat, bladder infections, vision loss, and collapse. It’s very important that you take your cat to the vet as soon as you notice any of these signs, so they can be properly diagnosed and receive treatment if needed.
|DID YOU KNOW: To diagnose your cat, your vet will have to perform blood and urine testing to look for elevated glucose levels, and if your cat presents symptoms that could point to other diseases as well (like poor appetite or kidney failure), there may be additional tests or screenings.
How Long Do Cats Live With Diabetes
Depending on how soon they’ve been given the diagnosis of diabetes, how well they’ve been treated, and whether or not any complications have occurred, the cats with diabetes life expectancy may vary. Even though the majority of cats live for many years after they’ve been diagnosed, it’s important that your sick cat is provided with good veterinary care, as well as a good diet.
The goal in managing diabetes is to keep glucose concentrations regulated, avoiding spikes and drops. Proper management can reduce or eliminate signs of diabetes, such as excessive thirst and urination.
When it comes to treating diabetes in cats, there are a few different options. You can try to manage the condition with diet and pet medication, or you may choose to go the insulin route. You should only consider putting down a cat if they’re resistant to the treatment, which usually includes regular blood tests, insulin injections, and a specific diet, or if the quality of your pet’s life is poor.
Regular Monitoring and Insulin Treatment
You should monitor your cat’s response to their diabetes treatment by testing them regularly to determine their glucose level. This would usually require you to take your cat to the vet to get blood and urine tests, but new technology offers owners of cats with diabetes the possibility of home testing with some easy-to-use glucose measurement devices.
Another important thing to do is monitor if your diabetic cat is not eating, how much water they drink, and whether their energy level or grooming habits have changed. Any changes might signify that they need additional testing or insulin dosage adjustments.
The only medical treatment proven to be effective in cats is injectable insulin, as oral medications’ effect hasn’t been consistent in reducing the glucose level. The daily insulin injections are administered subcutaneously (under the skin), and though the process might seem daunting, owners of cats with diabetes are taught how to do it easily and successfully.
However, if you want your diabetic cat to have a good quality of life, you must monitor their glucose levels more frequently at the beginning of their insulin therapy because both very high or very low blood sugar levels may indicate that your vet should adjust the insulin dosage your cat receives.
Changing your diabetic cat’s diet might make a huge difference, as they should eat food that’s high in protein and low in carbohydrates. There are some commercial diets and prescription food options for both dry and wet food specifically designed for diabetic cats. These might be the best choice, as they are both convenient and have consistent caloric content, which is crucial for avoiding cat euthanasia due to diabetes. If your cat is overweight, you need to figure out how much to feed them, as they would need a dietary change for weight loss, which should be monitored by the vet.
In case your cat doesn’t like commercial foods, a home-cooked diet will most certainly prove the best option. In order to provide your diabetic cat with a balanced diet, you should work out their meals with your vet.
How Long Can a Cat With Diabetes Live Without Treatment
Although cats with diabetes may live for several days without treatment, they are likely to experience symptoms that will force you to consider putting a cat to sleep, such as lethargy, vomiting, weight loss, and even more serious chronic conditions. In order to prevent these complications, it’s important to provide your cat with regular veterinary check ups so the vet can monitor his blood glucose levels and make sure they don’t develop any other problems associated with untreated diabetes such as kidney or liver disease.
If you’ve decided that you don’t want to put your cat through the stress of receiving daily insulin injections for the rest of their life, there are alternative cat diabetes treatments, such as prescription diets for a diabetic cat that include treats to regulate their blood sugar levels. You may also need to change the type of food you’re feeding your cat and restrict their water intake.
|DID YOU KNOW: Even though treating cats with diabetes without insulin may keep them healthy for years, it’s proven that an early, aggressive insulin treatment has sent many cats to diabetic remission, enabling them to control their glucose levels without the need for insulin injections.
Euthanizing a diabetic cat can be a difficult decision, but it may be the best option if your pet is experiencing severe symptoms that aren’t responding to treatment. In all other cases, providing your cat with proper diabetes treatment, taking them to regular veterinary appointments, and learning how to manage their disease’s symptoms will allow them to live a long and painless life.
Usually, it would take a couple of days without insulin for your diabetic cat to start showing serious symptoms, such as lethargy, vomiting, or early stages of kidney failure, so treating them with insulin on a daily basis is advisable.
Overdosing cats with diabetes with insulin should never be a thing to consider, as not only it will cause your cat pain, seizures, and feces and urine elimination, but it’s actually a felony. If you’re thinking “Should I euthanize my cat with diabetes?”, talk to your vet.
The process of euthanasia doesn’t hurt, but is actually similar to going under anesthesia. It may cause your sick cat to feel odd as they lose their consciousness, making them make weird movements or noises. However, with prior sedation, these mannerisms are minimized, allowing your cat to pass away painlessly.