Hypoglycemia in cats, simply put, is low blood sugar levels.
Glucose is the form of sugar that is found within your cat’s bloodstream, and is formed during the digestion of any food that your cat eats.
It is technically defined as a situation where the blood glucose has reached a concentration of less than 70 milligrams per mg/dl of your cat’s blood.
The actual symptoms that can affect your cat will all depend on how quickly this concentration decreases.
It can affect some cats that might already have a compromised immune system if it falls between 50 mg/dl and 69 mg/dl.
However it most cases it has to fall below the 50 mg/dl level before symptoms start to occur.
Glucose is formed in your cat during the digestion of foods, and it can be stored within your cat liver in a storage form that is referred to as glycogen.
In the majority of cases, hypoglycemia in cats occurs as the result of an inadequate nutritional supply, or as a result of a food source that is classified as very poor.
However, what most owners may not be aware of, is that there are also several other potential causes.
Hypoglycemia in cats has several potential causes other than the food supply or quality of the food.
The first potential cause of this condition may be from a tumor.
Insulin producing tumors of the pancreas such as insulinoma, which are also referred to as beta cell tumors, may trigger the drop in blood sugar as it interrupts the natural process.
Another potential cause is referred to as Glycogen storage disease, which affects your cat’s ability to properly store glucose.
This is considered a hereditary disorder and it causes the enzyme process to become deficient which results in abnormal storage of glucose in the liver as starch.
Hypopituitarism is another potential cause and this is a situation where there is a decreased secretion of the regulatory hormones coming from your cats pituitary glands.
If you cat has diabetes mellitus and accidentally has an insulin overdose, it can also rapidly trigger low blood sugar levels.
If it is juvenile hypoglycemia in cats, kittens can also be affected by stress, cold weather, as well as intestinal parasites which in turn cause the blood sugar level to drop.
However, there is one other issue that owners should be concerned about and question or seek a second opinion anytime hypoglycemia in cats has been diagnosed.
There is one situation where a laboratory error can easily occur in the testing process.
It is very important to understand that your cat’s blood glucose concentration decreases by as much as 10 milligrams per deciliter of blood for every hour that it is allowed to set.
If your cats blood is not tested immediately, or if it is shipped to another site for testing, your cat may be diagnosed with something they actually do not have.
For this reason, always challenge the results and ask this question specifically.
The symptoms of Hypoglycemia in cats are numerous in nature, and as a result, are very easy to identify.
However, it is also very important to note that all cats, especially young cats and kittens, can have large drops in their blood sugar levels.
This is especially true if they have not eaten for a long period of time and play or undergo extreme types of exercise.
They basically run out of fuel; and when their body goes to its reserves for the blood glucose, it lowers the blood sugar levels.
The first real symptom or sign that you can watch for is a sudden onset of lethargy that quickly leads to you cat becoming uncoordinated.
Bouts of lethargy will occur in any living entity including cats, but becoming uncoordinated is never normal.
Once this does occur, your cat will start to demonstrate the next set of symptoms; trembling as well as muscle twitching.
Anytime you see this is your cat, something is horribly wrong and they need immediate help. But the symptoms do not end there.
Once the twitching and trembling starts, your cat’s behavior will change rapidly and they will be anything but normal.
If this does occur, quickly check their eyes and look to see if their pupils are dilated.
If they are, your cat is going temporarily blind as a result of the drop in blood sugar.
If they are in this stage, they are very close to going into a seizure or a stupor, or worse yet, a coma.
There are several very effective modes of treating Hypoglycemia in cats.
However if their blood sugar count does drop and they demonstrate any of the more serious symptoms, you have to react very quickly.
For this reason, all cat owners should always have a bottle of Karo syrup on hand.
Placing a small amount of Karo syrup on your cat’s gums can quickly pull their blood sugar levels back to normal.
However, there are still some precautions that you should take in doing this self-form of treatment.
You will need to make absolutely sure that your cat has all of their normal swallowing reflexes, because if they do not, even small amounts can cause it to become aspirated into their lungs.
In the vast majority of cases this will never be an issue, but it is something you should be aware of.
Once your cat has been stabilized, you will need to get them to a professional as quickly as possible.
Once your cat is at your veterinarian, they will most likely repeat the process with the syrup or give your cat a fifty percent solution of glucose orally to fully stabilize their blood sugar levels.
Once this has been done, further assistance may still be needed depending on the severity of the symptoms and the actual reading of your cat’s blood sugar levels.
Hypoglycemia in cats is a very serious condition, and additional electrolytes may be necessary.
If it is a kitten and their body temperature is very low, they will need to be warmed as quickly as possible.
This is something that you can also do on your own very easily in the initial stages. If the cause of the Hypoglycemia is from a tumor, it will have to be removed.
Testing will also have to be done to check for all of the other possible causes.
Your cat will than need to be fed smaller, but more frequent meals, to prevent future attacks from occurring. The diet should be high in fat, protein, as well as complex carbohydrates.
It is recommended to feed your cat, once they have been diagnosed, between 3 and 6 times a day instead of the normal twice daily feedings.
Hypoglycemia in cats in most all cases can very successfully be treated unless the actual cause is from mass infections from sepsis, in which case the prognosis is very guarded at best.
Identifying the actual underlying cause if possible can help to prevent future attacks, as well as making sure that you feed your cat a high quality diet.
Cats on raw diets have a very low probability of ever having low blood sugar, but even if you feed your cat a raw diet, keep a bottle of Karo syrup on hand just in case.