By Jeff Bell

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— It seems that our pets are echoing the concerns of the human population, specifically with the increase in the number of cats being diagnosed with diabetes every year.

Dr. Jennifer Scarlett with the SF SPCA said diet, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are the main culprits for the increase. Right now it’s estimated that 60 percent of cats in the United States are obese or overweight.

“That’s about 43 million cats with an incident rate of diabetes of about one in 400 cats,” she said.

So what exactly is going on in a diabetic cat’s body? According to Scarlett, cats usually get Type II diabetes, which means their insulin production is low and that they can’t use insulin well.

“Insulin is there to pull in glucose from the blood stream into cells where we can use it. So when we don’t have insulin or we can’t use it, we’re unable to use glucose meaning we don’t have energy and we start to burn fat and other proteins in our body.

Drinking a lot of water and urinating a lot can be a symptom of feline diabetes. Other signs are cats that are eating more, but not gaining weight or actually losing weight.

Diet change to a low carbohydrate diet can help your diabetic cat. Other things that can help are increasing exercise and controlling weight. “A lot of cats will go into a diabetic remission and you don’t have to treat them,” said Scarlett. Otherwise, she said you’ll have to use insulin once or twice a day to get their glucose under control.

So now is the time to get your cat on a diet, start playing with them and exercise. If you want more information, visit sfspca.org.

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