7 Maine Coon Diabetes Symptoms

Many owners are surprised to learn that Maine Coon diabetes can affect their cats just like it can affect humans. While this condition may sound scary, it is relatively easy to prevent and treat.

Diabetes mellitus is a condition of the endocrine system. Cats with diabetes cannot produce insulin, or their cells cannot detect it. In both cases, this disrupts the body’s ability to absorb glucose, leading to hyperglycemia. The first signs of diabetes in cats are typically increased thirst and urination.

Diabetes can be a scary condition to think about, especially concerning our pets.

Although diabetes can cause death, it is not a death sentence as there are many treatment options available.

Read on to learn how you can manage your cat’s diabetes, or how to prevent it in the first place.

Maine Coon Diabetes

Maine Coons are enormous, tough cats that developed without human intervention in the state of Maine.

There, they developed thick coats and large paws to help them navigate the snowy climate.

Since Maine Coons originated naturally, they are often much healthier than most cat breeds. Still, there are some health problems they can be prone to, for instance, cat diabetes.

Diabetes in Maine Coon cats is a disorder that affects the endocrine system.

The endocrine system is a collection of tissues throughout the body that send hormones through the bloodstream.

These hormones serve many purposes, from regulating temperature to stabilizing glucose levels.

So, what is cat diabetes?

Also known as diabetes mellitus, this condition occurs when the cat’s body is either incapable of producing insulin, or the cat’s cells are no longer capable of responding to insulin.

If your cat has been diagnosed with diabetes, you might want to know, do cats with diabetes suffer?

Sadly, diabetes can cause nerve pain, particularly in the spine and hind legs. If diabetes is caught and treated early on, however, symptoms can be reduced or managed (source 1,2).

7 Maine Coon Diabetes Symptoms

Many people are knowledgeable about the effects of diabetes in humans, but how does diabetes affect cats?

As pet parents, it is our responsibility to pay close attention to changes in our pets’ behavior, since they cannot tell us when something is wrong.

Here are the signs of diabetes in cats to keep an eye out for (source 1):

1. Increased Urination

Kidney function is greatly disrupted when a cat has diabetes, leading to a significant increase in urination.

Many cats with diabetes begin having accidents outside of the litter box, as well.

2. Increased Thirst

Since cats with diabetes urinate much more frequently, they also become much thirstier.

You may notice that you are refilling your cat’s water more often, or your cat may try drinking out of odd places such as your:

  • Glass of water
  • The sink
  • The bath

3. Increase In Appetite

Most cats with diabetes either have no change in appetite or they begin eating a lot more.

This is because, even though their body is incapable of absorbing glucose, their cells are still hungry for glucose.

4. Weight Loss

Even though a cat with diabetes will continue to eat the same or even more than they once did, they often begin to lose weight.

This is because their cells are starved for glucose they cannot even absorb.

Furthermore, the body often starts breaking down stored fat and protein to feed its cells.

5. Lethargy

Since glucose provides energy to our cells, a cat with diabetes will have significantly reduced energy.

Your cat may spend a lot more time sleeping or might be hesitant to play, jump, or run.

6. Poor Coat

Another sign of diabetes in cats is poor coat quality. Your cat’s coat may appear dull or thin, or it may be tangled or matted.

Many cats with diabetes also have dandruff.

Learn more about Maine Coon Skin Problems, in this article.

7. Posture Changes

In more serious cases of diabetes, particularly untreated diabetes, the affected cat may develop a plantigrade stance, where their back legs drop to the floor.

This is caused by nerve damage and is often uncomfortable and leads to decreased mobility.

What Type Of Diabetes Do Cats Get?

There are three types of diabetes in cats, just like there are three types of diabetes in humans, however, the first two types are more common.

The first type is present from birth, while the second type develops due to genetics or environmental factors.

Below are the three types of cat diabetes: (source 1,2,3):

Type I Diabetes

Type I diabetes is very rare in cats.

It is caused by an inappropriate auto-immune response which sadly destroys all of the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.

Type II Diabetes

The most common kind of diabetes in cats is type II diabetes.

Risk factors that increase the likelihood of a cat developing type II diabetes include:

  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Malnutrition

In this kind of diabetes, too much sugar in the blood causes cells to become less reactive to insulin, causing them to stop absorbing glucose.

This increase of sugar in the blood in turn destroys cells that produce insulin and further exacerbates the problem.

Type III Diabetes

This rarer kind of diabetes is caused by insulin resistance like type II diabetes.

However, this insulin resistance is caused by other factors like hormones (particularly pregnancy hormones) or tumors.

What Is Insulin?

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas.

This hormone attaches itself to certain cells and then signals to those cells when it is time to absorb glucose.

If the body does not produce insulin, or if the body’s cells cannot “understand” insulin’s signals, then none of the glucose in the cat’s body can be absorbed.

As a result, cats with diabetes suffer from hyperglycemia, an excess of glucose in the blood.

What Causes Cat Diabetes?

Why do cats get diabetes?

While there is no single cause for diabetes, there are several risk factors.

Type I diabetes is caused by an autoimmune response that kills off insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

If you want to know how do cats develop diabetes, here are some of the risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing type II diabetes:


If you are wondering what causes type 2 diabetes in cats, diet is often a huge factor.

Cats require a diet that is high in protein with a moderate amount of fat and a small amount of carbohydrates.

If your cat regularly eats a diet high in carbohydrates, it is more likely to develop diabetes.


Studies suggest that obese cats are four times more likely to develop diabetes than cats of a healthy weight.

It is important to give your cat lots of exercise through playtime, and you may even want to consider taking your cat on walks outside if it is overweight.


Middle-aged and senior cats are significantly more likely to develop diabetes than young cats.


Male cats, particularly those that are unneutered, are more likely to get diabetes than females.

This is the best age to neuter a Maine Coon.


Glucocorticoids are often used to treat cats with asthma, but the use of glucocorticoids can also increase a cat’s likelihood of developing diabetes.

Are Maine Coons Prone To Diabetes?

If you are wondering how common is cat diabetes, you might want to know what percentage of cats get diabetes. Research suggests that anywhere from 0.5 to 1% of cats have feline diabetes.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the relationship between Maine Coon cats and diabetes, this breed of cat is at a slightly increased risk of developing diabetes compared to other cat breeds (source 1).

How Are Cats Diagnosed With Diabetes

If you want to know how to test cat for diabetes, you will have to visit the vet.

For those of you asking, can I test my cat for diabetes at home, the answer is no.

While many owners assume a simple blood test will reveal if their cat has diabetes, a proper diagnosis requires two steps.

If you suspect your cat has diabetes, your vet will want to take both a blood test and a urine test.

While a blood test may indicate high levels of glucose, a urine test is necessary for cats. This is because cats are prone to high blood sugar, particularly in times of stress.

Simply visiting the vet can cause enough stress for a cat’s blood sugar to suggest diabetes, even if that is not the case!

Urinalysis will determine if there is enough glucose in the urine to diagnose diabetes.

If your cat is showing symptoms of diabetes, make sure you go to the vet even if you think you understand the cause.

The symptoms of diabetes are often similar to many other endocrine disorders or even conditions like kidney problems.

It is therefore very important to get the opinion of a professional before making any changes to your cat’s lifestyle (source 1).

How Is Cat Diabetes Treated?

If your cat has been diagnosed with diabetes, do not despair!

There are many treatment options available so your cat can continue to live a normal, healthy life.

Here are the most common treatment options for cats with diabetes (source 1,2):

Insulin Injections Or Pills

An essential form of treatment for cats with diabetes is to provide a dose of insulin every twelve hours.

While insulin can be taken orally, most cat owners find it is actually easier to provide injections instead of pills.


If you want to know do cats with diabetes need special food, the answer is yes!

Your vet will probably suggest foods that are low in glucose.

Dry food tends to contain more glucose than wet food, so your vet will recommend you provide more wet food than usual.

Oral Medication

Sometimes, vets prescribe oral medication to encourage insulin production in the pancreas, though this treatment is typically only effective in a small percentage of cats with diabetes.

How Long Can A Cat With Diabetes Live?

If your beloved pet has been diagnosed with diabetes, you are probably wondering, can cats die of diabetes?

The lifespan of a cat with diabetes is rarely reduced.

If your cat is only suffering from diabetes but has no other health complications, it is likely your cat can live as long as any other cat.

However, if your cat has severe diabetes that is more difficult to manage, or if your cat has other conditions that are exacerbated by diabetes, then your cat’s lifespan may be reduced.

Overall, however, cats with diabetes can live normal and long lives provided their diabetes is treated properly.

For comparison purposes, this is the average lifespan of a Maine Coon cat.

What Happens If You Don’t Treat Diabetes In A Cat?

Providing insulin for your cat can be both stressful and expensive.

If you want to know can a cat live with untreated diabetes, though, the answer is sadly no.

Put simply, if you do not provide insulin to your cat, its body will go into ketoacidosis and eventually shut down completely.

Without insulin, the cells of your cat’s body will starve.

Do Cats With Diabetes Need To Be Put Down?

If your vet has just diagnosed your cat with diabetes, there is no need to panic.

You do not need to put down a cat simply because it has been diagnosed with diabetes.

If your cat’s diabetes has caused severe discomfort or mobility issues, then your vet may recommend euthanasia.

However, most vets recommend waiting at least 12 weeks after treatment has begun to see if your pet’s symptoms stabilize.

If, after 12 weeks of treatment, your pet has shown no signs of improvement, it may be time to say goodbye.

Overall, it is best to consider your cat’s quality of life before making such a big decision.

For instance, if your cat shows interest and pleasure during activities like eating, snuggling, or playing, then euthanasia probably is not necessary.

However, if your cat is in pain or spends most of its time sleeping, then euthanasia might be the more humane option (source 1).


Feline diabetes makes it impossible for a cat’s cells to absorb glucose, either because their body cannot produce insulin or because their cells cannot respond appropriately to insulin.

If you are worried about Maine Coon diabetes, providing a healthy diet that is low in carbohydrates and exercising regularly can prevent this condition from developing.

If your cat has been diagnosed with diabetes, you will have to provide insulin every 12 hours, either through oral medication or injection.

Diabetes can be treated and managed for many years, and unless your cat’s diabetes is particularly severe or exacerbated by other health problems, it is rarely a death sentence.

Related Questions

Why Is My Maine Coon Cat So Mean?

Some people think hissing and biting are aggressive, but they are actually defensive behaviors. If your cat lashes out, it might be scared or in pain.

What Disease Are Maine Coon Cats Prone To?

Maine Coons are most prone to Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, hip dysplasia, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Polycystic Kidney Disease, and Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency.

Maine Coon Central

Hello! My name is Katrina Stewardson, and I’m a CRAZY CAT LADY! I've been in love with the Maine Coon cat breed ever since we welcomed an adorable male Maine Coon kitten into our home 10 years ago. We called him 'Pippin', but he also goes by the name ‘Pipsteroo’! Our enormous, kind-hearted cat genuinely thinks he's a dog and has convinced me that cats are Man's True Best Friend! UPDATE: We recently adopted two 4-year-old male Maine Coon cats. They are named Mika and Bali.

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