What is hypoglycemia in cats?
Hypoglycemia refers to a condition characterized by excessively low blood glucose. Your cat’s cells require glucose to function properly every day. Glucose is a form of sugar and is one of the major sources of fuel. If your cat is deprived of the energy that comes from glucose, it may result in serious medical illness. Therefore, it is always important for pet owners to be able to spot symptoms of low blood sugar. Once you spot symptoms of hypoglycemia in your cat, you can take your cat for diagnosis and treatment. Low blood sugar usually occurs in cats with diabetes.
Diabetes is a condition where the pancreas fails to make insulin. Insulin is needed by the body to help move glucose from the blood to the cells. Diabetic cats should follow a treatment program that mostly involves insulin injection, a healthy diet, and regular exercise. In case there is a missed insulin dose, a hypoglycemic state may occur. It is rare for cats to have low blood sugar if they don’t have diabetes. However, a form of low blood sugar known as juvenile hypoglycemia is common among kittens without diabetes. Hypoglycemia can occur in kittens under 3 months, because their system is not fully mature. Therefore, when these kittens are exposed to factors like stress, cold conditions, intestinal parasites, and poor nutrition, they are likely to have low blood sugar. When the blood sugar levels falls below 60mg/dl the cat is said to have hypoglycemia.
Signs and symptoms of feline hypoglycemia
You should watch out for the following symptoms:
- Low energy
- Loss of appetite
- Increased hunger
If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, you should take them to see a veterinarian. A veterinarian will perform tests to indentify the cause of these symptoms in your cat.
Causes of low blood sugar in cats
There are different factors which can cause feline hypoglycemia. However, the main cause of low blood sugar is diabetes in cats. Cats with diabetes require insulin injection to help them control their levels of blood glucose. If you do not follow the insulin dosing instructions from your vet, low blood sugar may occur. Cats without diabetes may experience hypoglycemia because of pancreas and liver problems. The following are other factors that can contribute to hypoglycemia in cats.
- Liver disease
- Excessive exercise
- Not eating enough food
- Addison’s disease
Treatment of hypoglycemia in cats
If hypoglycemia is suspected in your cat, a thorough physical examination and tests will be performed by your doctor. In case low blood glucose in your cat is as a result of administering too much insulin, you should let your veterinarian know. If your cat doesn’t have diabetes, your doctor will stabilize them with treatment before making a diagnosis. Various tests, including blood work, an ultrasound, and a urine test, will be performed to rule out the possibilities. If your cat is showing symptoms of severe hypoglycemia, oral glucose will help stabilize its condition. Once in hospital, IV fluids may be used to normalize severely low blood sugar.
Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this community article are strictly for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. This article, and other community articles, are not written or reviewed for medical validity by Canadian Insulin or its staff. All views and opinions expressed by the contributing authors are not endorsed by Canadian Insulin. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.