Cat Glucose Monitoring

Glucose monitoring is important for any owner with a diabetic cat to ensure they remain healthy and happy.

Why You Should Monitor at Home

When a cat has diabetes, it would be not only inefficient time-wise, but also extremely costly, to have to take them in for constant monitoring to your vet. At-home monitoring takes little time, and is significantly less stressful for your cat.

If your cat is on insulin, glucose monitoring at home can help ensure the amounts your cat is receiving are adequate. Because insulin needs can change, monitoring at home and being able to adjust the amount of insulin needed is key to keeping your cat healthy.

Common Concerns about Home Monitoring

Some people worry that pricking a cat's ear for testing is painful. It is no more painful than for a human; they'll feel a brief prick that is over in half a second. Many cats are used to it after the first few times and it does not bother them at all. Having this done at home is far less traumatic for a cat than being taken to a vet so often.

Others worry about the cost of glucometers. Glucometers, depending on the type you get, might be a little pricy, but they will be much cheaper than taking your cat to the vet every time they need their glucose checked. Many owners have come close to losing their cat because vet monitoring alone was not enough and a diabetic cat's insulin needs change so frequently.

People point out that glucometers are for humans and don't know how to read cat blood. This is entirely false. A glucometer does not need to know what species it is reading from, the owner simply needs to know what numbers are considered normal for their cat. For the skeptics, however, there are cat-specific glucometers you can purchase.

What to Look for in a Glucometer

Monitors will come in a variety of shapes and sizes with different features, so you want to make sure you purchase one suitable to your needs and wants. Some things to consider:

  • Size. You don't want something huge, especially when trying to get a quick reading from your cat, who likely isn't going to enjoy the process very much.
  • Price of blood strips. It might be better to pay a little more for a glucose monitor if the replacement strips are significantly cheaper than another brand. Strips will have to be bought again and again, so you don't want to be stuck with a monitor that has expensive strips.
  • No sounds. While not a necessity, if you're going to have the monitor near your cat's head, you might want one that makes as little noise as possible, so your cat doesn't associate the monitor with having his blood taken.
  • Amount of blood. Different monitors require different amounts of blood for an accurate reading. You don't want to take a lot from your cat, so look for one whose blood reading is no more than 2 microlitres.

How to Test

After growing accustomed to being tested, most cats grow used to the procedure. Others may not. How you hold your cat while taking his blood sample will be up to you and the cat. Some may need to be 'burrito'-wrapped in a towel, while others might sit right in your lap and let you work. Try giving him a treat when you're done as a reward for the inconvenience.

Warm the ear before you take the blood sample. This can be done with anything from a warm washcloth to simple massaging with your own fingers. After pricking to get your sample, gently pinch that spot of the ear with a tissue in order to let the blood clot for about 30 seconds. Afterward, you can dab a bit of Neosporin or vaseline on the spot. This will aid in healing and ease what little discomfort there may be.