We have a strange problem with our year-old cat, Toby. We can’t keep the ants away from his litter box. Further, the cat seems to use the box all the time -- not surprising since he drinks so much water. Do you have any suggestions?
Toby’s problem sounds like it could be a case of diabetes mellitus, a condition found in dogs and cats as well as humans. The high glucose sugar level in his urine accounts for the invasion of the ants. A blood test for diabetes may show excessive glucose and confirm the diagnosis.
In diabetes mellitus, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, a hormone that is vital to the absorption of sugars into the body’s cells. Usually an injection or two of insulin each day and diet can control the disease. Each animal is different and will require different dosages of insulin and an individually designed diet.
Toby’s excessive thirst is one of the early signs of the disease along with his frequent trips to the litter box. A diabetic animal usually urinates two to four times more often than normal. These symptoms, however, also are signs of kidney or liver disease or Cushings disease (a problem with the adrenal gland). Some medications also cause excessive drinking and urinating. Bladder infections and urinary calculi (bladder stones) can also cause frequent or painful urination, but without the glucose in the urine.
The apparent presence of glucose in the urine which attracts the ants seems to narrow the possibilities to diabetes. You may also notice that Toby is eating more but losing weight.
Cataracts are sometimes a complication from diabetes. Older animals may develop cataracts due to their age. In a younger animal like Toby, diabetes is often the cause. Insulin therapy should halt the progress of cataracts.
People with diabetes often can control their disease with diet. Animals often require insulin as well as diet management; however, some diabetic cats may be managed with diet changes alone that are prescribed by your veterinarian. With insulin and with proper care, diabetic animals can live long and healthy lives.