Diabetes with Ketone Bodies in Cats

3 min read

Diabetes Mellitus with Ketoacidosis in Cats


The term “ketoacidosis” refers to a condition in which levels of acid abnormally increased in the blood due to presence of “ketone bodies.” Meanwhile, diabetes is a medical condition in which the body cannot absorb sufficient glucose, thus causing a rise the blood sugar levels. In diabetes with ketoacidosis, ketoacidosis immediately follows diabetes. It should be considered a dire emergency, one in which immediate treatment is required to save the life of the animal. Typically, the type of condition affects older cats; in addition, female cats are more prone diabetes with ketoacidosis than males.


Symptoms and Types


  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Lack of appetite (anorexia)
  • Weight loss (cachexia)
  • Muscle wasting
  • Increased thirst (polydipsia)
  • Increased urination (polyuria) or lack of thirst (adipsia)
  • Rough hair coat
  • Rapid breathing (tachypnea)
  • Dehydration
  • Low body temperature (hypothermia)
  • Dandruff
  • Sweet breath odor
  • Yellowing of the skin, gums and eyes (jaundice)




Although the ketoacidosis is ultimately brought on by the cat's insulin dependency due to diabetes mellitus, underlying factors include stress, surgery, and infections of the skin, respiratory, and urinary tract systems. Concurrent diseases such as heart failure, kidney failure, asthma, cancer may also lead to this type of condition.




You will need to give a thorough history of your cat’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms, to your veterinarian. He or she will then perform a complete physical examination, as well as a biochemistry profile and complete blood count (CBC). The most consistent finding in patients with diabetes is higher than normal levels of glucose in the blood. If infection is present, white blood cell count will also high. Other findings may include: high liver enzymes, high blood cholesterol levels, accumulation in the blood of nitrogenous waste products (urea) that are usually excreted in the urine (azotemia), low sodium levels in the blood (hyponatremia), low levels of potassium in the blood (hypokalemia), and low levels of phosphorous in the blood (hypophosphatemia).


Further testing may be required to definitely diagnosis concurrent disease/conditions. For example, urinalysis may reveal abnormally high levels of glucose in urine (glucosuria) and ketone bodies (ketonuria).


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