1. Home

Discuss in my forum

Managing Chronic Diseases in Cats

Help With Managing Feline Diabetes, Hyperthyroidism, and Other Chronic Ills


Managing a chronic disease in cats need not be as overwhelming as you might expect, provided you are given sufficient instruction and support by your veterinarian, know what symptoms are red flags, and what side effects might be considered normal, and hold to a regular routine. Routine is all-important to cats, and even a very sick cat will expect his medication and other treatment to be delivered regularly, on schedule. Learn more about managing diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and other feline ills.

Managing an Arthritic Cat

Shannon, at 19, suffered from feline arthritis
Photo Credit: © Franny Syufy

Senior cats that exhibit the symptoms of aching joints may be afflicted with Osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease. Excess weight may be a contributing factor, and weight control (including exercise) is an important part of any treatment program for Osteoarthritis.

Although osteoarthritis cannot be cured, a planned treatment program in partnership with your trusted veterinarian can help make your treasured senior cat's final years more comfortable.

Managing Chronic Renal Failure in Cats

Extremely common in older cats, CRF (Chronic Renal Failure) is a serious condition evidenced by gradual, irreversible deterioration of kidney function over a period of months or years. The kidney consists of tiny funnel-shaped tubes called nephrons, which filter and reabsorb the fluids that balance the body. When an individual nephron is damaged by any cause, (aging, poison, infection, etc.) it stops functioning.

Managing a CRF cat will produce a roller-coaster of emotions, as you find yourself overjoyed or in despair over the latest BUN and Creatinine numbers. Try to remember the old medical adage to "treat the cat, not the numbers." Remember to keep your own stress at a minimum; avoid telegraphing negative feelings to your cat.

Managing the Diabetic Cat

Diabetes in cats is very similar to human diabetes. Feline Diabetes Mellitus presents as one of two types: Type 1, caused by the insufficient production of insulin, and Type 2, related to the body's cells' inability to handle insulin efficiently. Although diabetes can strike cats of any age, it is more prevalent in older, obese cats, and is found more often in male cats.

Secondary Diabetes can be caused by drugs or diseases that either impair the natural secretion of insulin, or its effects on tissues. Ovoban and corticosteroids are suspects, as well as hyperthyroidism and certain pancreatic conditions.

Although the management of feline diabetes is challenging, it is possible through a consistent program, working closely with your vet.

Managing a Hyperthyroid Cat

Photo Credit: © Franny Syufy

Hyperthyroidism, also known as "hyperthyroid disease," occurs when the thyroid gland enlarges, and starts producing excess amounts of thyroid hormone (thyrotoxicosis). This anomaly is usually caused by a benign tumor on one or both of the thyroid gland's lobes.

The symptoms of hyperthyroidism are also common to other diseases, including diabetes, liver disease, and CRF. However, diagnosis can be confirmed with a complete blood panel which when combined with a thyroid-specific test, often the T4, which will show thyroid levels. Elevated levels of T4 will usually strongly indicate the presence of hyperthyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism can be successfully managed with oral medications, surgery, or with radioactive iodine (R131) therapy.

Managing Feline IBD

Feline Irritable Bowel Disease (disorder, or syndrome) are terms that describe a group of gastrointestinal disorders which display as inflammation of the lining (mucosa) of the digestive tract. Feline IBD can occur in the large intestine (colitis), the small intestine (enteritis), or the stomach (gastritis).

Symptoms of IBD can mimic other conditions, and diagnosis can sometimes be complicated, requiring one or more tests, including blood tests, x-rays, radiographs, ultrasound, and/or stool examination. IBD can often be managed successfully through dietary changes, although medical therapy may also be utilized.

Hepatic Lipidosis (Fatty Liver Disease)

Although it is not technically a chronic disease, Fatty Liver Disease, which is an accumulation of fats (lipids) in the liver tissue, often accompanies other chronic diseases. Although the disease is presently considered idiopathic (no known cause), it is thought that it might result from the way cats metabolize proteins and fats. The disease progresses this way:
  • A previously overweight cat stops eating for whatever reason
  • Lacking food, the body starts sending fat cells to the liver to process into lipoproteins for fuel.
  • Cats' livers are not terribly efficient at processing fat, and much of the fat is stored in the liver cells.
  • Left untreated, eventually the liver fails and the cat dies.

Pancreatitis in Cats

The pancreas is part of the endocrine and digestive system, which is integral for the digestion of foods, producing the enzymes that digest food, and producing insulin. When the pancreas becomes inflamed, the flow of enzymes into the digestive tract can become disrupted, forcing the enzymes out of the pancreas and into the abdominal area.

Inflammation of the pancreas can often be treated in your veterinarian's office and will include fluid therapy, substances to help move blood flow in the veins and arteries (colloids), electrolyte supplements, and potassium supplements, as potassium levels often drop when the cat is experiencing this medical condition.

  1. About.com
  2. Home
  3. Cats
  4. Health Concerns
  5. Diseases and Conditions
  6. Managing Chronic Diseases in Cats

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.