Unexpected weight loss in cats can be serious
If your cat loses weight suddenly, pay attention! Sudden weight loss in a cat can be a red flag for potentially serious medical conditions, especially if his/her appetite remains normal (or is increased). Some of the more common causes of sudden weight loss in cats include: diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism, and cancer. However, that is NOT to say all cats with weight loss fall into these categories, so please have your cat checked out by your veterinarian!
Take, for example, Sunny. Sunny was about 8 years old when he was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus. His weight chart shows you how dramatic his weight loss was–he went from a hefty ~17 lbs down to 12 lbs in a matter of months! (This is also why it’s so important to take your cat into a vet for regular check-ups, even when everything seems fine, because changes can also occur gradually, and your vet can help you detect these more subtle signs.) His owner also noticed he seemed to be drinking more than usual.
Blood work and urinalysis confirmed that Sunny had diabetes mellitus. Cats get Type II, or non-insulin dependent, diabetes. There are LOTS of great resources on the web about diabetes in cats, and we’re not going to repeat it all here–just check out these veterinarian-approved websites:
- Diabetes Mellitus Center (VeterinaryPartner.com) (Be sure to read the article on the main page, and check out the following articles on the right-hand menu: Diet for the diabetic cat, Glargine insulin, Home Testing of Blood Glucose for diabetic cats, and insulin administration in cats)
- Feline Diabetes Message Board support group
- Wikipeida – Diabetes in Cats (good source of basic and extensive information)
Getting back to Sunny–we started him on PZI insulin and have been monitoring his fructosamine level every six months. We have other patients who have been doing quite well on glargine (a different form of insulin). Of course, diet also plays a key role in helping regulate the diabetes. Hill’s w/d is a prescription diet that is frequently recommended for dogs and cats, and m/d is a feline-specific diet that helps keep diabetes under control.
We know the diagnosis of diabetes can be very overwhelming, but we hope to show you that this disease can be managed quite successfully, and treatment is easier than you might imagine!