It’s easy to love Siamese cats with their point coats and energetic personalities. If you own one, you know that their health and happiness is your top priority. If you are thinking about adding a Siamese cat to your family, you may be wondering if they are at risk of any diseases, such as diabetes.
Siamese cats have a higher chance of developing diabetes than some other breeds. Several risk factors increase a Siamese cat’s likelihood to develop diabetes, such as obesity, age, gender, and treatment for other illnesses.
Whether a seasoned Siamese owner or a newbie, it is important to understand your cat’s probability of diabetes and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle to prevent and treat this disease.
What is feline diabetes?
Also known as diabetes mellitus, feline diabetes is very similar to diabetes in humans. Cells in your cat’s body need sugar to produce energy. That sugar is in a form called glucose. However, glucose needs the hormone insulin for cells to know when is the right time to open up and receive the glucose.
Insulin is produced by the pancreas, so in cats with diabetes, their pancreas has one of two problems:
- Type 1 Diabetes: The pancreas cannot produce the right amount of insulin, so the blood glucose is too high.
- Type 2 Diabetes: Their cells don’t respond to the insulin hormone correctly leading to higher glucose levels.
Cats can have either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, but Type 2 is more popular among cats.
Diabetes can affect every system in your cat’s body, and diabetes is a lifetime condition. However, it can be managed to allow your cat to live a long, happy life. Yet, untreated diabetes can lead to death, so if you suspect your cat may be developing this chronic condition be sure to see your vet for testing.
Risk Factors for Diabetes in Siamese Cats
Certain cat breeds have a higher risk of developing diabetes than other breeds. According to a study published in 2018, Burmese, Maine Coon, Russian Blue, Norwegian Forest, and Siamese cats are more likely to develop diabetes than other breeds. However, any cat can develop diabetes mellitus. Several factors besides breed contribute to the acquisition of feline diabetes.
Siamese cats who are 6 years or older are at a higher risk of developing diabetes. One of the most likely reasons older cats are more prone to diabetes is they have been exposed to other risk factors like poor diet longer than other cats.
Male cats who have been neutered are more likely to develop diabetes than female cats. Neutering causes male cats to be less active because they don’t have large concentrations of the sex hormones that inspire them to roam around to seek a mate. Plus, males have a naturally lower sensitivity to insulin than females.
These two factors combined make male, neutered indoor cats more likely to contract diabetes than their female counterparts. Around 60-70% of feline diabetes cases are indoor, neutered males.
One of the major causes of diabetes mellitus in cats is obesity. If your cat is overweight, they are 4x more likely to develop this condition than active cats.
The leading contributors to obesity are poor diet and lack of activity. Indoor cats are far less active than outdoor cats. Encourage your cat to get up and move by playing.
Also, a poor diet filled with too many carbohydrates can lead to your cat gaining weight. Pairing a poor diet with inactivity increases your cat’s likelihood of obesity.
Siamese cats who may be treated by steroids long-term for other illnesses such as asthma or Irritable Bowel Disease are at an increased risk of developing diabetes. Although these drugs are great for treating these illnesses, long-term use can lead to immune suppression, adrenal disease, and pancreatitis, which all put your cat at risk of developing diabetes.
Additionally, steroids can increase your cat’s appetite, which leads to obesity if not managed well. So, this also increases your cat’s risk factor.
Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes in Cats
If your Siamese cat fits into any of the risk categories, you may want to look out for the signs and symptoms of diabetes. Watching out for symptoms of diabetes in your cat can help you to get them the treatment they need if they do develop this condition.
Here are the common symptoms of diabetes in cats:
- Increased thirst
- Excessive urination
- Increased appetite
- Weight loss (although the appetite is good)
- Cloudy eyes
- Recurring infections
- Poor coat quality
- Plantigrade stance (damage to the nerve cells in the hind legs that causes your cat to walk with the whole foot touching the ground)
- Muscle wasting
Early detection is important to get proper treatment and management of the disease. Some other diseases have similar symptoms, so it can be hard to differentiate by just symptoms alone.
Remember to always consult your vet about any concerns you may have with your cat. Untreated diabetes can lead to seizures, coma, or even death. Your veterinarian will be able to run tests to help diagnose and discuss any issues your cat may have and give you peace of mind.
How can you prevent your Siamese cat from developing diabetes?
Knowing your cat breed can be prone to diabetes, you will want to do the best you can to prevent your Siamese cat from developing this disease. There are some ways you can help reduce your cat’s risk of diabetes, but even so, you can’t eliminate the risk completely.
Maintain a healthy weight and diet
One of the major contributing factors to diabetes is poor diet and obesity. Not only do these factors lead to diabetes, but they can also cause many other illnesses, as well.
So, be sure to feed your cat a completely balanced diet. Not all catfoods are alike. Look for cat food with protein as its main ingredient. Many lower-quality catfoods load their formulas with carbohydrates to be more filling and make the price more affordable, but too many carbohydrates are bad for your cat.
Follow the serving sizes on the back of your cat’s food to avoid overfeeding your cat. Also, be careful with how many treats you give your Siamese cat. Treats can be addicting for your cat and too many treats can lead to obesity.
People don’t often think of cats needing exercise. Felines seem to be self-sufficient and aloof, but the same as any other pet you own, they need an active lifestyle. Siamese cats are incredibly intelligent. They can be trained similarly to dogs. Use this characteristic to your advantage. You can train your cat to walk on a lead or do tricks.
This will not only stimulate them mentally, but it will also give them the active lifestyle they need to maintain a healthy weight and body.
Routine check-ups with a veterinarian
Be sure to keep up with your regular vet visits. Routine visits will allow you to discuss any concerns with your veterinarian. Your vet can run diagnostic tests to give you peace of mind and to detect any issues early.
Treatment Options for Siamese Cats With Diabetes
If your Siamese cat does get diabetes, it can be scary, but there are several treatment options for cats with diabetes that allows them to live a long, full life.
Daily injections of insulin may be required for your Siamese cat with diabetes. Often, your vet will have to keep your cat for a day, in the beginning, to monitor their glucose levels throughout the day. This will help your vet find the best dosage. Once they have established the correct dose, they will show you how to give your pet the injection.
For people unused to giving injections, it can be scary. Vets are patient and can help to alleviate concerns you may have. Be sure to follow their instructions, and you will learn how to properly give your cat an insulin injection.
You may also have to change your cat’s diet to a high protein, low carbohydrate formula. Be sure to follow your vet’s dietary instructions carefully and don’t suddenly change diets without first consulting with the vet.
Monitoring blood sugar levels and adjusting treatment as needed
You’ll also need to monitor your cat’s blood sugar and follow a strict feeding and insulin administration schedule to keep your cat’s glucose levels where they need to be. This can be tricky at first. Never give your cat a full dose of insulin if your cat is not eating.
Also, don’t alter the amount of insulin you give your cat without first consulting with your vet. The dosage amount may change over time, but these changes need to be directed by a medical professional.
Siamese cats are beautiful and loving pets. If you are looking to adopt one, they are a wonderful breed full of so much love and life. However, they are more prone to diabetes than other cat breeds, so make sure to feed them a healthy, high-protein diet, give them plenty of exercise, and take them to regular vet visits to reduce their risk of diabetes.
If you suspect your cat may be developing diabetes, consult a veterinarian right away. This disease can be fatal if left untreated. Remember that although diabetes can be scary, there are treatment options that allow your cat to live a long, fulfilling life.