Wednesday, 17 August 2016 16:14

Feline Soiling / Diabetes

Written by  Dr. Mindy Cohan
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Listen as Dr. Mindy Cohan talks with Kathy about cats who don't use their litterbox - also diabetes in dogs and cats. 

Feline House Soiling

Elimination outside of the litter box is one of the most frustrating problems faced by cat owners.   It is also unfortunately a major reason for cats being relinquished to a shelter, abandoned, and euthanized.   When choosing bathroom facilities for cats, many factors should be considered.

There are many options when it comes to the litter box itself. Choosing a box that is at least 1½ times the length of the cat is recommended. Although a lid is preferable for some owners to avoid litter scatter, most cats prefer open boxes. For cats that eliminate standing, deep boxes can help prevent urine and feces from landing on the floor. Larger boxes also allow an adequate depth of litter in order for cats to be able to dig and bury their waste products. When it comes to litter boxes, bigger is in fact better! Unscented scoopable litter is typically preferred to scented, non-scoopable varieties.

The location of the litter box is also crucial for kitty satisfaction. Avoid placing boxes in noisy or highly trafficked areas of the house. The box should be easily accessible to the feline residents. For those who must place a box in the basement, it is advised to provide boxes in the other levels of the home. Avoid placing the box near appliances that can make unexpected startling noises (washing machine) and keep boxes far away from food and water bowls. The magic number of litter boxes equals the number of cats plus one. If you have 3 cats, your home should have at least 4 litter boxes.

For homes with geriatric cats, be sure to place the boxes in a convenient and easily accessible location.  Older cats might have trouble jumping into a high edged box.   Some boxes have one shorter side to allow for easy access. Cat owners can create ramps if needed for arthritic pets.  

If your cat is not using the litter box, seek veterinary attention immediately.   Failure to use a litter box can have a medical or behavioral basis.  A veterinarian can help determine whether a medical problem exists.  Symptoms of a medical issue include:

  • ·         Frequent trips to the litter box
  • ·         Straining to urinate
  • ·         Smaller amounts of urine than usual seen in box
  • ·         Blood in urine
  • ·         Excessive licking of hindquarters
  • ·         Decreased appetite/vomiting/vocalizing 

If it is a behavioral issue, your veterinarian can make suggestions to resolve the problem.   The sooner inappropriate elimination problems are addressed, the greater the chances for a timely resolution. Some important tips for encouraging proper litter box usage include:


  • ·         Use scoopable, unscented litter
  • ·         Have one box per cat plus one extra
  • ·         Avoid covered boxes (traps odor)
  • ·         The bigger the better
  • ·         Place boxes in quiet areas of the home
  • ·         Keep box away from food and water bowls 

Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs and Cats

Diabetes mellitus is one of the most common endocrine (hormonal) problems seen in dogs and cats. It is estimated that one in 230 cats and one in 300 dogs is affected by diabetes. Because diabetic dogs and cats require insulin injections, pet owners are often scared when they learn their pet has diabetes. While giving an injection for the first time can be intimidating, it is important for pet owners to know it is easier than expected and there are a lot of helpful resources available to build your confidence.

Diabetes mellitus occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. The pancreas is an important organ that is located near the stomach and small intestine. Insulin is made by the pancreas and it serves to move glucose (sugar) into the cells of the body. There can be plenty of glucose in the bloodstream, but the cells of the body are starving, because they cannot utilize the available glucose without insulin. The body will begin to break down other sources of energy such as protein and fat. As protein is broken down, a pet can lose muscle mass and weight.

The typical symptoms of diabetes include: 

  • ·         Increased thirst and urination
  • ·         Urinary accidents in the house
  • ·         Increased or decreased appetite (early and late in the disease progress respectively)
  • ·         Weight loss

If you notice any of the above symptoms in your dog or cat, schedule an appointment with your pet’s veterinarian. Early detection and treatment of diabetes is important. If the disease progresses without treatment, pets can become very ill. Diabetes is diagnosed with blood and urine tests. Because diabetic pets are at greater risk for urinary tract infections, a urinalysis and culture are recommended. 

Once a diagnosis of diabetes is established, the veterinary team will talk to you about diet, feeding, insulin administration and monitoring. Most pets will need to receive insulin injections twice daily. Some cats may go into remission after a diet change and insulin treatment. Monitoring a pet’s blood sugar levels is extremely important to determine if an adjustment is needed in the insulin dose and whether a cat needs to continue with insulin injections. Your veterinary team will discuss signs of a low blood sugar level which can occur when too much insulin is given. If your pet is weak, unsteady on its feet, or collapses, treat the low blood sugar  by rubbing Caro syrup or pancake syrup on your pet’s gums. The sugar will be absorbed quickly and help to prevent a life threatening seizure. 

Diabetes is a chronic disease which is manageable, but cannot be cured with the exception of some cats that go into remission. Learning how to care for your pet and administering insulin injections can feel overwhelming. Be sure that your pet’s veterinary team provides you with adequate instructions and information. 

For more help regarding diabetic dogs and cats, visit:




Read 20439 times Last modified on Wednesday, 17 August 2016 16:32