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I love to keep you updated on newer medicines that will make our lives easier and help our pets stay healthier. There is just such a new medical treatment for feline diabetics. It is estimated that between 0.5% and 2% of cats will get diabetes in their lifetime.

When cats get diabetes, the majority of cases are due to insulin resistance. This is similar to Type 2 diabetes that is seen in humans. These cats are still producing insulin, but their body is resistant to it. In these cases, the treatment has been insulin injections to give the body more insulin on top of the insulin already present in the system. The other form of diabetes occurs when the insulin cells in the pancreas are not working, so the body has no insulin and it needs to be replaced with insulin injections.

This newer medicine is for use in cats that are still making insulin but have become resistant to it. The science behind the medicine involves the kidneys and something called the Sodium-Glucose Cotransporter 2 (known as SGLT2). Our kidneys are filtering our blood every minute. In the process, glucose is filtered out, but 90% is taken back up by SGLT2. Ten percent is reabsorbed by SGLT1.

This newer diabetes medicine is an SGLT2 inhibitor. It keeps the kidneys from reabsorbing the filtered glucose, resulting in a consistently lower blood glucose level. The SGLT1 is not affected, allowing 10% of the glucose to be reabsorbed. SGLT1 is up to the task of maintaining a normal blood glucose level.

Cats have always been notoriously hard to regulate. The insulin dose that works to keep blood sugar levels right where we want them to be will suddenly one day be too much for this pet, and it is in danger of having a very low blood sugar. Insulin also is labor-intensive. Pet owners have to give it twice a day every day.

This new medicine is given orally once a day. It can be given any time of day, just as long as it is given consistently. One dose fits all regardless of the size of the pet. With a once-a-day pill or oral solution, the cat has consistently normal blood sugar levels all day and does not have the symptoms of diabetes.

Because it does not replace insulin, cats whose body is no longer making insulin cannot take this drug. They require insulin injections to maintain normal body functions. Without insulin supplementation, these cats are prone to ketoacidosis, which is a life-threatening condition.

Because of the danger of giving this new drug to a cat with suppressed or no insulin production, it cannot be given to a cat that is already on insulin. Cats that are candidates for the new oral drug must be newly diagnosed, and have normal blood work and no signs of illness other than the normal signs of diabetes.

Two companies have come out with this product. Boehringer Ingelheim has Bexacat, which is a tablet, and Elanco has Senvelgo, which is a liquid version. Ask your veterinarian about these drugs if your cat is diagnosed with diabetes.

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