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Is my cat diabetic?

Species: Cat
Breed: Cymric Manx
Age: 8-11 years
Ollie is consuming lots of water, and peeing a lot. There has been a marked increase in the last week. I had a diabetic cat once and know this is a concern. He shows no signs of neuropathy. He eats only wet Science Diet CD and a few tiny scraps of meat from the table.

Ollie is a rescue cat. He is so traumatized by the vet that when I first got him (5 years ago) his records said his previous vet recommended putting his down. He has been to my vet 3 times. After the last scary visit even though I had given him a sedative at home they decided to put his whole carrier in a box and give him gas before handling him. They removing a bump on his head (it was benign)and pulled some bad teeth.

Both vets at this office suggested that since he is an indoor cat he should only come in for emergencies. This is not a cat that will tolerate regular blood draws and the kind of check ups a diabetic cat would need, although I'm sure I could get insulin into him.

I am out of money too! I am 65, only have $3,000. left in my savings and am "retired"and working part time.

Over the year Ollie has become very affectionate with me, and is a lovely "one person" cat by the way. He is still scared of strangers. His previous person declawed him so he bites when upset.

I need help prioritizing how to take care of dear Ollie. He is strong and active and will freak out at the vet. Could this be something other than diabetes? Should I take him in right away? Can I wait and see if he slows down on the water? Would a "thunder coat" help?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I'm sorry to hear about Ollie's problems. Any time a cat has a noticeable increase in thirst and urination there is something medically wrong. Yes, diabetes is very likely but there are other possibilities such as kidney disease. Kidney disease doesn't usually present with a sudden increase in thirst and urination unless it is what is called acute kidney disease. Acute kidney disease usually comes from eating something toxic like certain plants or antifreeze. But, most cats with acute kidney disease are not feeling well and don't want to eat.

If Ollie is diabetic this may be a tough situation to handle. You would need to have your vet do tests on him initially to get a diagnosis and instructions on what type of insulin to use and how much and how often. To manage a diabetic cat though, I have many clients that take glucose readings at their home, phone them in to me and then over the phone we consult on the case. (These are my own patients that I have initially seen in my office though, not over the internet.) Most cat owners are able to get a blood sample to test in a glucometer by doing an ear prick. It looks hard, but I have many clients that can do that.

However, there are costs involved with taking care of a diabetic cat. You will have the costs of insulin, syringes and glucometer strips. Roughly, these costs can be $50-$200 per month depending on the severity of the problem.

I wouldn't advise waiting too long before getting him seen. Sometimes, if we can start a diabetic cat on insulin soon enough we can actually cure the diabetes after a couple of months on insulin. On the other hand, if a diabetic cat goes too long without treatment they can get a serious condition called DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) which is often fatal.

I am doubtful that a thunder coat would help with his vet anxiety, but to be honest I don't have experience with any cats using them for this reason.

You may want to see if it is possible for your vet to do a house call for Ollie. Or, given his history of freaking out at vet visits your vet may be willing to give you a diagnosis by having you bring in a urine sample. They can tell a lot about whether or not this is likely to be diabetes just by doing tests on his urine. You can usually get a urine sample by providing him with an empty litter box to urinate in. In most cases, a physical exam would be needed in order to get your diagnosis, but if the vet is aware that he is near to impossible to examine they may consider just looking at his urine.

The best thing I can advise is for you to call your vet's office and ask what they recommend in this case.

I hope things work out ok.

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.