Diabetes mellitus, the clinical name for “sugar diabetes,” is a condition that affects the concentration of glucose, a type of sugar, in your cat’s blood. Diabetes results from a shortage of insulin or when the body has trouble using the insulin it has made properly.
Insulin affects the way your cat’s body uses food. When your cat eats, food is broken down into very small components that the body can use. One component, carbohydrate, is converted into several types of sugars, including glucose. Glucose is absorbed from the intestines into the blood. Once in the bloodstream, glucose travels to cells where it can be absorbed and used as a source of energy—if insulin is present. Without enough insulin, glucose can’t enter cells and builds up in the bloodstream. So your cat may act hungry all the time and eat constantly, but still be malnourished because its cells can’t absorb glucose.
Diabetes occurs in cats when their cells no longer respond normally to the amounts of insulin produced by the pancreas. Cats with diabetes usually need to have insulin injections, at least initially, as well as an appropriate diet. Your veterinarian will recommend the most appropriate treatment for your cat’s diabetes.