Fat Cats Beware August 7, 2007Posted by Mrs Weird Scientist in Animals, Cats, Tough Stuff.
If you’ve got a cute, furry cat roaming around your flat or house, you might want to keep an eye on your beloved pet’s waistline. Not only is the incidence of diabetes rising in humans but it’s also rising in cats. To put it simply: a fat cat is at a higher risk for diabetes. Professor Danielle Gun-Moore of Edinburgh University led a recent study, which was published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. The study looked at 14,000 cats and found that 1 in 230 pet cats in the United Kingdom is diabetic.
Diabetes And Blood Sugar
If you’re not familiar with diabetes, here’s a quick primer on the condition. Diabetes is a condition where the body can’t keep blood sugar at a normal level. See, your blood sugar is part of a finely tuned system. It likes to stay within a very comfortable and narrow range. In a healthy person, the body works to successfully maintain that narrow range. Whenever you eat food, that food is converted into an energy form known as glucose. After a meal, your blood glucose level goes up and your body wants to bring it back down to its favorite level. To accomplish that, it releases the hormone insulin from beta cells in the pancreas. Then, the insulin helps to transport glucose out of the bloodstream and into your body’s cells. This brings your blood sugar back into its desirable narrow range! On the flip side, if your blood sugar is low – like when you’re exercising or in between meals – alpha cells in your pancreas secrete a different hormone called glucagon. It’s a smart hormone because it triggers your body’s cells to release the glucose back into the bloodstream, effectively raising your blood sugar and bringing it back to that narrow range it adores so much.
So, what happens in diabetes? Well, in type 1 diabetes, the pancreas isn’t producing insulin, so it can’t keep blood sugar in that nice, narrow range. In type 2 diabetes, some insulin is produced but its regulation is abnormal, so the body’s cells can’t use it properly. The end result? Blood sugar gets elevated and when it’s too high, a person experiences some icky symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss and sickness.
You might be wondering what fat has to do with diabetes? Just like humans, cats who are overweight have a higher risk of insulin resistance. This risk occurs because fat interferes with the body’s ability to use insulin. It’s thought that an overweight cat is three times more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes in comparison with one at a healthy weight.
Keep Your Cat Healthy
Just like humans, cats can overeat, so be sure to feed your cat normal portions of a healthy cat food. Housebound cats may get less exercise, so try to let your cat roam whenever possible. You might also have to lay down the law and say no to giving your cat regular treats. Give your wee friend a cuddle instead!