Not that I'm an expert on feline diabetes after only five days since my vet diagnosed Dashiell with the disease, but I voraciously read everything about it that I could, and between that, the vet's advice, the local pet store's advice, and some observation, well, Dashiell and I have something to say on the matter.
First, I caught it pretty early, which is good. It helps just having good instincts about your pet, and after 13+ years with this Maine Coon I know him pretty well. What I noticed:
He was drinking a lot more water than usual. (And thus peeing more than usual.)
He was a bit more sulky and lethargic than usual.
I took him in. The vet initially said it could be three things: hyperthyroidism (which would've been my first choice because it's easiest to control), kidney "failure", which isn't as bad as it sounds, but not great, and diabetes, which, frankly, sucks.
After the blood and urine test came back, the vet confirmed the worst: Yep, diabetes.
So how does a cat get a disease that in humans often comes on from diet and lack of exercise (in addition to genetics, too, of course)? Well, from diet and lack of exercise. But mostly the former. In short, since house cats get fed by us, it's a human-caused disease.
I had to: Start him on insulin shots, two a day, for at least a time, and a high-protein, low-carb diet. (Which some wag on the web dubbed the "Catkins Diet."
What I've learned:
And now, after only 4 days on the diet and two days on the shots, Dashiell is already a little peppier, and as much as we can tell with cats, happier, too.
UPDATE! 4/08: Dashiell made a full recovery from Diabetes after less than 2 months on insulin and by changing diet. In fact, he ended up losing a little too much weight and now I have to plump him up again. So I feed him high protein, high fat wet food, along with the Evo dry stuff, and occasionally the higher carb dry just to get his weight up. But basically when he's a little heavier again, keeping him on the high protein, low-carb, healthy food looks to keep him from regressing back to diabetes. The insulin was obviously the main reason he recovered so quickly, but diet certainly helps. Hooray!