Diabetes in Cats
Caring for Your Cat With Diabetes
Diabetes can be managed successfully with proper treatment, diet and exercise. Although it cannot be completely cured, your cat can live a happy, normal life.
The goal in managing diabetes is to keep glucose concentrations regulated, avoiding spikes and drops. Proper management can reduce or eliminate signs of diabetes, such as excessive thirst and urination.
Starting Insulin Therapy
After diagnosis, your veterinarian will use your cat’s weight to determine the insulin dose needed. Your veterinarian will also recommend a change in your cat’s diet as this is an integral part of successful treatment of diabetes in cats.
Your veterinarian and veterinary nurse are your best advocates. They will teach you everything you need to know about giving Vetsulin® via syringe or VetPen®. They can also discuss monitoring your cat’s blood or urine glucose levels at home.
At the start of treatment, closely monitoring your cat’s clinical signs (water and food intake, activity, urination frequency, etc.), blood glucose level, and urine glucose levels is important to make sure dosage is correct. Based on this monitoring, your veterinarian may adjust the dose as necessary over several weeks or months to best help your cat.
Some cats with diabetes no longer need insulin after a few weeks or months of treatment, a condition known as clinical remission. This does not mean your cat’s diabetes has been cured, only that it’s stable. Care must still be taken with your cat’s diet and lifestyle. Insulin treatment may be required at a later date, so it’s important to continue regular checkups.
“At first my family thought my diabetes would be hard to handle, but now that we’ve gotten in a routine with my insulin and special diet everything feels normal again.”
Monitoring Glucose Levels
An important part of managing overall diabetes therapy for your cat is to monitor the glucose level. It can be done in two ways:
- Blood Test
- Measuring the glucose level in your cat’s blood is the most accurate method. It can be done either at the veterinary clinic or at home with a portable glucometer and blood test strips. Learn More About Monitoring Blood Glucose
- Urine Test
- This test checks your cat’s urine for the presence of glucose and ketones (a chemical produced when the body burns fat for energy). It is not as accurate as measuring glucose in the blood, but can be done at home easily. Learn More About Monitoring Glucose & Ketones
If your pet has significant weight gain or loss, or recurrence of signs that were previously controlled, talk to your veterinarian. This may affect treatment or may be a sign of a complication of diabetes.
Diet plays a vital role in helping to keep your cat’s diabetes regulated. Your veterinarian can recommend choices specifically for your cat, but these basic tips can help:
- Choose cat foods with quality sources of protein, and low carbohydrates.
- Ideally, your cat should be offered meals at the same time each day.
- If your cat prefers to eat small amounts through the day, talk to your veterinarian how to manage this.
Overall, a tasty and nutritious diet can minimize fluctuations in blood glucose, help your cat maintain a healthy weight, and manage diabetes. Learn More About Nutrition for Cats With Diabetes
Exercise for cats with diabetes needs to be monitored. Although it can help with happiness and health, it can also affect you cat’s blood glucose levels. If your cat suddenly expends more energy than normal, they will burn up more glucose, resulting in an extremely low blood sugar level.
For cats of a healthy weight, the usual amount of exercise should remain relatively unchanged. Overweight cats could potentially use exercise for controlled weight loss, but it’s important to talk to your veterinarian about exercise plans before starting.
Spaying Your Female Cat
If you have a female cat, your veterinarian will recommend that you have your cat spayed as part of the treatment. That’s because one of the female sex hormones, progesterone, can interfere with the normal action of insulin. In order to remove the source of progesterone, spaying your diabetic female cat is critical.
Regular Veterinary Checkups
Keep up with regular visits to your veterinarian to help identify any changes in your cat’s condition. This is the best way to keep your cat’s diabetes stabilized. It can also prevent possible complications and side effects from happening. Typically your veterinarian will recommend visiting 2–4 times a year for a physical examination and possibly laboratory testing.
Even after a long period of stability, changes to insulin requirements may need to be updated. Many of these updates are due to changes such as:
- Weight loss or gain
- Change in exercise regimen
- Dental problems
- Presence of other diseases or infections
- Progesterone in unspayed females
- Additional medications
If your cat is going through any of these changes, they may again show signs of diabetes (drinking, urinating more, etc.). If you’re aware of changes, or notice signs reappear, consult your veterinarian right away.
Living with a Cat With Diabetes
Attentive care and regular doses of Vetsulin can help your cat lead a happy and healthy life.
The good news is that the life expectancy of cats that stay regulated with insulin is similar to cats without diabetes. Good communication between you and your veterinarian, and adhering to the management regimen, will help keep your cat healthy.
Find more information and FAQs about managing diabetes. Read Now
If you feel your cat is at risk for developing diabetes, consider having your pet tested during a regular veterinary examination at least once a year.
Tracking Tools & Resources
- Pet Diabetes Tracker app
Review and keep important information to manage care.
- Blood Glucose Curve Tool
Easily record blood glucose readings to generate a blood glucose curve.
- Helpful Downloads
Additional resources to understand and manage canine diabetes.
Talk to Your Vet Today
Find a veterinarian to learn more about pet diabetes, and how cats and dogs can lead a happy, healthy life with proper management.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION:
VETSULIN® and VETPEN® are for use in animals only. Dogs and cats known to have an allergy to pork or pork products should not be treated with VETSULIN®. VETSULIN® is contraindicated during periods of hypoglycemia. Animals with severe ketoacidosis, anorexia, lethargy, and/or vomiting should be stabilized with short-acting insulin and appropriate supportive therapy before use. As with all insulin products, careful patient monitoring for hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia is essential. Overdosage can result in profound hypoglycemia and death. Progestogen and glucocorticoid use should be avoided. The safety and effectiveness of VETSULIN® in puppies, kittens, breeding, pregnant, and lactating dogs and cats has not been evaluated. Keep out of reach of children. Avoid contact with eyes. In case of contact, immediately flush eyes with copious amounts of water for at least 15 minutes. Accidental injection may cause clinical hypoglycemia. In case of accidental injection, seek medical attention immediately. Exposure to the product may induce a local or systemic allergic reaction in sensitized individuals. For complete safety information, refer to the product label.