What is diabetes mellitus?
Diabetes mellitus is a medical condition resulting in an excessive amount of glucose or sugar in the blood. This is caused by a deficiency of insulin, which is a hormone secreted by the pancreas.
The clinical signs seen in diabetes are largely related to the elevated concentrations of blood glucose and the inability of the body to use glucose as an energy source due to the deficiency of insulin.
Diabetes mellitus affects an estimated one in four hundred cats, and is seen more frequently in middle to old-age cats and is more common in males than females.
What are the clinical signs of diabetes mellitus?
The most common clinical signs seen in diabetic patients are an increase in water consumption and urination. Weight loss is also a common feature, and an increase in appetite may be noticed in some cats. Recognition of these signs is variable though, particularly because of the life-style of some cats. If a cat spends a lot of time outdoors, it may drink from ponds or pools of water outside rather than appearing to drink excessively from what is provided indoors. Cats that are fed canned or moist diets receive much of their water intake from their diet and increased water intake will be less easily recognized in these patients.
How is diabetes mellitus diagnosed?
The diagnosis of diabetes mellitus is made based on clinical signs, persistently elevated blood glucose concentration and the presence of glucose in the urine. However, a diagnosis of diabetes cannot be made on a single blood and urine sample as other conditions, in particular stress, may also cause a transient rise in glucose levels. Confirmation of diabetes may therefore require more than one blood sample collected over a period of one to five days.