The Danger of Giving Diabetic Cats Too Much Insulin

If your cat is diagnosed with diabetes, you may soon find you're required to give the cat insulin injections once or twice a day, which can lead to an accidental overdose. Keep reading to learn what to do if your cat has received too much insulin.

Insulin overdose can cause your cat to use too much of its body's blood sugar. This is a condition called hypoglycemia, and it can become fatal very quickly.

Symptoms of Hypoglycemia

Look for signs of disorientation, unusual hiding behavior and crying or yowling. Drooling and a ‘glassy-eyed' look are common. A cat with hypoglycemia might be lethargic. Be alert for other behaviors like walking in circles or poor coordination. Watch for a sudden extreme hunger or a total disinterest in food. Seizures or coma appear in extreme cases, and require immediate emergency treatment.

Causes of Hypoglycemia

Even when you're giving the dosage prescribed by your vet and following correct procedures, your cat can get too much insulin in its system. A cat's need for insulin can rapidly increase or decrease, requiring a change in dosage regimen. Some cats even go into a sudden remission, where the pancreas begins to secrete enough insulin, meaning the cat no longer needs insulin injections for a time. This is why your vet will arrange regular visits to check for changes in your cat's condition, and increase or lower dosages if necessary.

Most of the time, when a cat has too much insulin in its body, it's because of a mistake or mishap related to giving injections. The most common mistake is an accidental double-dose. This usually occurs when two different people in the family each give the cat a regular insulin injection, or an incorrect measurement of a dose.

If you give your cat its injection right before feeding time and it doesn't eat, or vomits the food out, hypoglycemia can appear. It can also appear after your cat has had great exertion or vigorous exercise.

First Aid

If you see mild symptoms of hypoglycemia, the first thing to try is feeding your cat its regular food. Try a treat if the cat is disinterested. Mix sugar or honey with the food to increase blood sugar quickly.

Rub honey or sugar on the cat's gums if he's weak and can't swallow, or seems to be having seizures.

In extreme cases like coma, wrap your cat in a blanket to keep him warm and take him for immediate emergency treatment.

Preventing Dosing Mistakes

Assign one person in the family the task of injecting the cat, so as to avoid double-dosing.

Measure out the insulin dose carefully, and keep the vet's instructions in plain sight at all times so you can refer to them (put them on the refrigerator or a bulletin board). Call the vet after any hypoglycemic episode, to make sure your cat doesn't need a change in insulin dosage. Establish a regular time for injecting the cat and keep on schedule.