Diabetic neuropathy is a condition that affects the nerves that control the limbs that is caused by diabetes. Cats generally experience diabetic neuropathy in their rear limbs, though the forelimbs are just as susceptible to being affected. Most cats that are diagnosed with diabetes have already experienced nerve damage before they ever seeing a veterinarian, as many of the other hallmark symptoms of diabetes will go unnoticed for a long period of time.
Symptoms of feline diabetic neuropathy include:
Weakness of the rear legs
Feet slipping out from under a cat
Walking down on the hocks or ankles
Frequent lying down
If a cat that eats and drinks much more than normal begins exhibiting any of these symptoms, odds are he has diabetes, though an owner should not wait until signs of neuropathy are present before having the cat seen by a veterinarian. These symptoms can also signal other serious conditions and should not be ignored regardless of whether the cat is exhibiting any other symptoms.
Diagnosing diabetes is relatively simple. A quick blood test will confirm the presence of excessive glucose in the blood and a urinalysis will show sugar in the urine. These are the indicators veterinarians use to determine whether or not a cat indeed has diabetes or not.
Treatment for diabetes is much more difficult. Many blood glucose curves will be performed in order to determine how much insulin is required to control the disease as well as when the best times are to give it. Cats with diabetes will need to receive regular insulin injections and hold to a strict dietary protocol in order to slow the progression of the disease and stop the advancement of the neuropathy. Cats are notoriously difficult when it comes to controlling diabetes and many will develop complications from the disease such as neuropathy. There is a new treatment in the books specifically geared for reversing the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy called methylcobalamin, which is a derivative of vitamin B 12. Cats experiencing diabetic neuropathy are given injections of methylcobalamin have shown remarkable improvement after a few days of treatment. The success of this treatment will depend on how well the underlying diabetes is being controlled.
The overall prognosis for cats with diabetic neuropathy is somewhat marred by the fact that it is extremely difficult to adequately control diabetes in cats. Most cats that have been treated with methylcobalamin have shown marked improvement, though most will still succumb to diabetes within a year or two. It is recommended to discuss this treatment and all other treatments with your veterinarian.