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Feline Hyperglycemia: Causes Symptoms and Treatment Options

Hyperglycemia in Cats: What You Need to Know

As pet owners, we strive to provide the best possible care for our furry friends. This includes monitoring their overall health and wellbeing.

One often overlooked aspect of feline health is blood glucose levels. Hyperglycemia, a condition where there is an excess of glucose (sugar) in the blood, is becoming increasingly prevalent in cats.

In this article, we will discuss what hyperglycemia is, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, risk factors, and treatment options. What is Hyperglycemia?

Hyperglycemia translates to high blood glucose levels. It can be a serious condition if left untreated and can lead to a number of health complications for your cat.

While some temporary increases in blood glucose are normal after meals, exertion, excitement or stress, chronic hyperglycemia is a cause for concern.

Causes of Hyperglycemia

There can be several causes of hyperglycemia in cats including:

1. Pancreatitis: Inflammation of the pancreas can cause insufficient insulin secretion, causing blood glucose levels to rise.

2. Hormones: Excess hormone production can cause blood glucose levels to rise, particularly in unspayed females, and in obese cats.

3. Diet: Feeding your cat a high-carbohydrate diet can increase blood glucose levels.

Overfeeding or allowing free feeding can also contribute. 4.

Infections: Kidney and urinary tract infections, as well as dental infections, can affect insulin production and blood glucose levels.

Symptoms of Hyperglycemia

The following symptoms may indicate hyperglycemia:

1. Increased thirst: Your cat may drink more water than usual.

2. Increased urination: You may notice your cat urinating more frequently, and in larger volumes than usual.

3. Depression: Your cat may appear lethargic or not as active as usual.

4. Weight loss: Your cat may lose weight despite eating the same amount of food, or even more than usual.

5. Excessive hunger: Your cat may be constantly hungry despite eating regularly.

Diagnosis of Hyperglycemia

If your cat is exhibiting any of the above symptoms, you will need to take them to a vet for diagnosis. The vet may perform the following tests:


Blood profile: This will test fasting glucose levels and other metabolic markers for diabetes mellitus. 2.

Urinalysis: This will check for the presence of glucose in the urine, as well as any kidney or urinary tract infections. 3.

Diabetes mellitus diagnosis: If elevated blood glucose is diagnosed, a diabetes mellitus diagnosis may be obtained through blood glucose curves. 4.

Inflammation: Blood or urine samples may also be tested for signs of infection or inflammation. 5.

Abdominal X-rays and ultrasound: These diagnostic imaging procedures can detect any abnormalities of the pancreas and other organs.

Treatment and Management of Hyperglycemia

Treatment for hyperglycemia is aimed at correcting the underlying cause and managing blood glucose levels. Depending on the severity of the condition, the following treatment options may be recommended:


Correction of underlying cause: If the condition is caused by pancreatitis, hormonal disorders, diet, or infections, treatment will be targeted towards their specific underlying cause. 2.

Insulin: If high blood glucose levels are diagnosed as diabetes mellitus, your cat may require insulin injections twice daily. Your vet will train you on proper administration, which should be given at the same time each day.

3. Special diets: Special diets can help reduce blood glucose levels and promote weight loss in overweight cats.

These diets are low in carbohydrates and high in protein, usually prescription diets provided by your vet. 4.

Compliance: It is important to monitor your cats glucose levels at home and administer insulin or other medications as prescribed. Regular vet visits are important to monitor blood glucose levels and adjust treatment if necessary.

Risk Factors for Hyperglycemia

Certain factors can increase your cat’s risk of developing hyperglycemia, including:

1. Age and breed predispositions: Middle-aged and older cats, and neutered males, are more prone to developing hyperglycemia.

2. Prone to high blood sugar: Stress, temporary increases and a family history of diabetes mellitus can increase your cats risk.

3. Physiological causes: Your cat’s blood glucose levels can increase temporarily after a meal, exertion, excitement, or stress.

4. Infections: Infections such as kidney and urinary tract infections and dental infections can cause hyperglycemia.


In conclusion, hyperglycemia is a serious condition that can lead to various health complications in cats if left untreated. Its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and management should be taken seriously to ensure that your cat remains healthy and happy for years to come.

By being aware of the risk factors associated with hyperglycemia, you can take steps to minimize your cats risk and live a long and healthy life. Contact your vet if you suspect your cat may be suffering from hyperglycemia.

Symptoms of Hyperglycemia: Common and Severe

Hyperglycemia is a condition where there is too much glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream. It can be the result of various underlying health conditions, such as diabetes mellitus or hormonal disorders.

If left untreated, it can lead to several severe complications. The most common symptoms of hyperglycemia are increased thirst, increased urination, depression, weight loss, and excessive hunger.

However, severe symptoms can occur, such as dehydration, cataracts, nerve damage, non-healing wounds, and tissue damage. In this article, we will cover the common and severe symptoms of hyperglycemia in detail.


Symptoms of Hyperglycemia

1. Increased Thirst: Increased thirst is a very common symptom of hyperglycemia.

It occurs because excess glucose in the bloodstream causes water to be pulled out of cells, leading to dehydration. As a result, cats feel thirsty more often and drink more water.

2. Increased Urination: Hyperglycemia can cause cats to urinate more frequently than usual.

This is because excess glucose in the bloodstream is removed by the kidneys via urine. Increased urination can also lead to dehydration.

3. Depression: Hyperglycemia can cause cats to be lethargic and less active than usual.

They may sleep more and show a lack of interest in their usual activities. 4.

Weight Loss: Despite an increase in appetite, hyperglycemic cats may experience weight loss. This is because the body is unable to utilize glucose adequately, and instead, it breaks down fats and proteins to provide energy.

5. Excessive Hunger: Cats with hyperglycemia may feel hungry more often and may demand more food.

This is because the body is unable to use the glucose in the bloodstream, leading to feelings of hunger. Severe

Symptoms of Hyperglycemia


Dehydration: If hyperglycemia is left untreated, it can lead to severe dehydration. As glucose builds up in the bloodstream, fluid is drawn out of the cells, leading to excessive thirst, increased urination, and dehydration.

Dehydration can cause lethargy, sunken eyes, and dry skin. 2.

Cataracts: Prolonged hyperglycemia can lead to the formation of cataracts. Cataracts are opaque areas that form in the lens of the eye, leading to vision impairment.

Cataracts can occur in one or both eyes and may require surgical intervention. 3.

Nerve Damage: High levels of glucose in the bloodstream can cause nerve damage, leading to numbness, tingling, and pain. This is called diabetic neuropathy, and it can result in the loss of sensation in the limbs, making it difficult for cats to walk.

4. Non-Healing Wounds: Hyperglycemia can cause poor circulation and slow wound healing.

This can lead to the development of ulcers, infections, and even gangrene, which can be life-threatening. 5.

Tissue Damage: Prolonged hyperglycemia can damage blood vessels and lead to poor circulation, causing tissue damage. This can occur most commonly in the feet, resulting in diabetic foot ulcers that can lead to amputation.

Causes of Hyperglycemia

Hyperglycemia can be caused by various underlying health conditions. These conditions can be classified into the following two groups:


Low Glucose Consumption: Hyperglycemia can occur when there is an insufficient amount of insulin to transport glucose into the cells, where it is needed. The following conditions can lead to low glucose consumption:

– Diabetes mellitus: Diabetes mellitus is a condition in which the body does not produce enough insulin or is unable to use it effectively.

– Acute pancreatitis: Inflammation of the pancreas can affect insulin production, leading to high glucose levels. – Progesterone levels: Unspayed female cats may experience high progesterone levels that can affect insulin sensitivity.

– Kidney excretion: Some medications or diseases can affect the kidneys’ ability to excrete glucose. 2.

High Glucose Production: Certain hormonal disorders can cause excess glucose production in the liver, leading to hyperglycemia. The following conditions can lead to high glucose production:

– Hyperadrenocorticism: This condition occurs when the adrenal glands produce too much cortisol hormone.

– Pheochromocytoma: This is a rare tumor that can occur in the adrenal gland and produce excess hormones that affect glucose levels. – Glucagonoma: This is a rare tumor that can occur in the pancreas and produce excess glucagon hormone, which increases glucose production.

– Pancreatic Neoplasia: Abnormal growth of cells in the pancreas, such as insulinoma, can affect insulin production and lead to hyperglycemia. In conclusion, hyperglycemia is a condition where there is too much glucose in the bloodstream, and it can be caused by various underlying health conditions.

Cats with hyperglycemia may experience common symptoms like increased thirst, increased urination, depression, weight loss, and excessive hunger. They may also experience severe symptoms like dehydration, cataracts, nerve damage, non-healing wounds, and tissue damage.

It is important to monitor your cat’s blood glucose levels and contact your vet if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above. Early detection and treatment can help minimize complications and improve your cat’s quality of life.

Diagnosis of Hyperglycemia: Blood Tests, Urinalysis, and Imaging

Hyperglycemia is a common condition in cats that requires accurate and timely diagnosis so that treatment can be initiated. Diagnosis of hyperglycemia can be confirmed through blood tests, urinalysis, and imaging.

In this article, we will cover these diagnostic methods in detail.

Blood Tests

Blood tests can confirm hyperglycemia by measuring blood sugar levels. A cat’s normal blood glucose range is between 70-150 mg/dL.

If blood glucose levels are higher than 200 mg/dL, a cat is considered to have hyperglycemia. The test typically involves taking a blood sample from the cat using a needle and syringe.

Results may be available the same day or may require further lab analysis. In addition to blood sugar levels, blood tests can also measure other metabolic markers, such as insulin levels, lipase, and amylase enzyme levels.

In cats with hyperglycemia, insulin levels are usually low. Lipase and amylase enzyme levels can indicate if inflammation of the pancreas is present, which can affect insulin production.


Urinalysis is another diagnostic method that can confirm hyperglycemia. The test measures the presence of glucose in the urine.

A healthy cat should not have any glucose in their urine. If glucose is present, it indicates that blood glucose levels are higher than what can be reabsorbed by the kidneys, leading to excess glucose being excreted in the urine.

Urine tests can also detect the presence of other substances, such as pus, bacteria, and ketone bodies, which are all indicators of diabetes mellitus.


Abdominal X-rays and ultrasounds can help detect any underlying conditions that may be causing hyperglycemia. They can identify abnormalities in the pancreas, liver, or other organs.

For example, pancreatic tumors or inflammation can affect insulin production, leading to hyperglycemia.

Treatment and Management of Hyperglycemia

Once a diagnosis of hyperglycemia is made, appropriate treatment and management strategies can be implemented. Treatment will depend on the underlying cause of hyperglycemia and may include correcting the underlying cause, dietary changes, insulin therapy, and monitoring.

Correction of Underlying Cause

If stress, changes in feeding schedules, or insulin fluctuations are suspected to be the underlying cause of hyperglycemia, adjusting these factors may help lower blood glucose levels. Treating any infections or addressing any hormonal imbalances can also decrease hyperglycemia.

Diabetic Patients

In diabetic cats, special diets that are low in carbohydrates and high in protein can help regulate blood glucose levels. It is important to maintain compliance with these new diets to avoid any sudden fluctuation of the cat’s blood sugar levels.

Monitoring blood glucose levels at home can help cat owners track their cats response to diet changes, allowing for adjustments if needed.

Insulin Recommendation

Insulin therapy is the hallmark of treatment for diabetic cats. Insulin is a hormone that is responsible for transporting glucose from the bloodstream into the cells where it is needed for energy.

Insulin injections are given under the skin twice a day at the right time in the right dose. Cat owners should consult with their veterinarian regarding the best type of insulin, dosage, and monitoring schedule.

Overdosing or underdosing insulin can have severe side effects, including hyper- and hypoglycemia, which can be life-threatening. In conclusion, hyperglycemia in cats requires accurate and timely diagnosis to ensure that appropriate treatment and management can be implemented.

Blood tests, urinalysis, and imaging are important diagnostic methods that can confirm hyperglycemia. Treating underlying conditions or correcting diet, medication, and insulin dosing can help improve blood glucose regulation.

Monitoring blood glucose levels, diet, and insulin administration in diabetic cats is important to minimize the risk of severe complications. Cat owners should work closely with their veterinarian to ensure that their cats are receiving the most appropriate treatment and management for their individual cases.

Hyperglycemia is a condition that can cause severe health complications in cats. Diagnosis requires accurate and timely testing such as blood test, urinalysis, and imaging.

Treatment varies depending on the underlying cause of hyperglycemia, including special diets, insulin therapy, and correcting any predisposing factors. Owners should work closely with their veterinarians to monitor their cat’s blood glucose levels and ensure compliance with treatment and management strategies.

Regular check-ups and diligent management can help cats live longer, healthier lives, and reduce the risk of severe complications. As pet owners, our furry friends rely on us to help keep them healthy, and diagnosing and treating hyperglycemia is an essential component of responsible pet care.

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