Diabetes is often found in companion animals, including cats. Like humans, cats are prone to Type 2 diabetes, which is known as ‘adult-onset diabetes’ in humans. It also known as ‘non-insulin dependent diabetes,’ which means that the cause is related not to a lack of insulin but to the resistance of cells to insulin.

Cats with Type 2 diabetes produce insulin, but their body’s cells develop resistance. This means that the cells do not take up glucose from the blood, an action mediated by the hormone insulin. The following 4 warning signs and symptoms will help you detect diabetes in your cat early on, which is key to beginning a successful treatment regimen.

Excessive/Inappropriate Urination

In diabetes, as blood sugar levels increase, the body tries to compensate for the imbalance through other mechanisms. One of the primary methods is the elimination of excess blood glucose by the kidneys.

As the kidneys work to eliminate excess glucose, there is a considerable amount of water loss at the same time, resulting in excessive urination. Excessive urination is known as polyuria. If you feel that your cat is urinating more than usual, a blood glucose level test is recommended.

Some cats also begin to urinate in inappropriate places outside of the litter box. This may include on the floor nearby the litter box or in other areas of the home.

It must be kept in mind that other conditions such as kidney disease, liver disease, and even separation anxiety may cause the same symptom. A veterinary diagnosis is a must.

Excessive Thirst

Drinking excess water is a common symptom of diabetes. When the kidneys try to eliminate glucose from the blood, this causes an abnormal loss of fluids from the body, which in turn makes cats feel thirstier. This condition is known as polydipsia. Polydipsia and polyuria are like two sides of a coin.

Increased Appetite

Another common symptom is increased appetite. The primary source of energy for all body cells, glucose is not properly processed by cats with diabetes. This results in depleted energy sources for the body’s organs, which leads to increased hunger.

This condition is known as polyphagia. The “three P’s”, polyuria, polydipsia, and polyphagia, are the classic symptoms of diabetes. Careful observation and regular monitoring will help you to diagnose the condition at the earliest.

Weight Loss

Despite often eating more, many diabetic cats lose weight. This is because, no matter how much glucose is given, the cat’s body cannot take up the sugars from the blood. The body then signals an alternative way to restore energy, which is by burning fat and muscle. As a result, weight loss occurs.

While these are the common and significant warning signs of diabetes in cats, other noticeable signs that might indicate high blood glucose levels include the following:

  • Cloudy eyes
  • Change in gait
  • Vomiting
  • Skin infections


Identifying diabetes in cats requires significant observation, dedication, and patience. Be sure to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible should you notice any of the above signs and symptoms.

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.