Diabetic Cat Care

Diabetic cats require life-long extra care from their owners in order to stay healthy. Along with daily medication, diabetic cats also need frequent behavioral and blood glucose monitoring.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is an endocrine disease in which a deficiency in insulin prevents the body from properly metabolizing sugar. There are two types of diabetes—Type I and Type II. Type I diabetes occurs when the body does not make enough insulin and can be caused by a defect in the cells of the pancreas that are responsible for the production of insulin. Approximately 50- to 70-percent of cats who have diabetes suffer from Type 1.

This form of diabetes requires insulin injections. Type II diabetes occurs when the cat makes enough insulin, but something prevents the body’s ability to utilize it properly. About 30-percent of cats with diabetes have Type II. This form of diabetes can be treated with weight control, oral drugs and the proper diet

Treatment and Care for the Diabetic Cat

Cats who have Type I diabetes will need to receive insulin injections to control their blood glucose levels. Depending on the cat, he may need the injections once or twice a day. Insulin injections are given under the skin, usually around the shoulder blade area with a very small needle. Most cats learn to handle the treatment extremely well and often do not mind. Many pet owners administer the injections while their cats are eating and distracted by the food. Insulin treatment is most effective when given around the same time of day and if the injections are need twice daily, it is best if they are given 12 hours apart.

When your diabetic cat is initially placed on insulin, it will probably take some adjusting before the proper dose is discovered. Your cat will need to have her blood glucose levels checked frequently to ensure that the right amount of insulin is being given. Too much insulin can cause the glucose levels to be lower than desired, while not giving enough insulin will cause the levels to remain high. Low glucose levels can be extremely dangerous for a cat and can cause seizures, weakness and disorientation. It is for this reason why diabetic cat owners should always have Karo syrup on hand. This syrup is high in sugar and can be placed on the gums of cats who are unconscious due to low glucose levels. If you are suspicious your cat’s glucose levels are too low, offer her food and contact your veterinarian immediately. Additionally, if your cat’s thirst and urination frequency have increased, these may be signs that the insulin levels need to be adjusted.

Even after your cat’s insulin dose is stable, she will still need to have her levels checked periodically. This can either be done at home or at her veterinarian’s office. Additionally, the use of keto-diastix test strips are helpful in monitoring your cat’s ketone and glucose levels in the urine.

Many diabetic cats are placed on diets made specifically for the treatment of diabetes. These diets are typically high in protein and low in carbohydrates and help keep the glucose levels stable.