Diabetic Cat Handout
Diabetic Cat Overview
If your cat has been diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, this handout will help introduce you to some of the terms and treatments that accompany this diagnosis.
Diabetic Cat Handout Summary
To fully understand your cat’s condition and unique reactions to this disease, it is important to speak with your veterinarian. By discussing the issue with your vet and staying educated with the information in this handout, you can ensure a proper diagnosis, treatment and care for diabetes in your pet cat.
What is diabetes mellitus and why is it harmful?
Diabetes mellitus is a serious medical condition that significantly impairs your pet’s ability to control blood sugar levels due to problems with insulin production or function. If left untreated, diabetic cats can suffer from other severe problems such as liver and kidney damage and even death.
What are the symptoms of diabetes mellitus in cats?
While symptoms vary from cat to cat depending on a number of factors, the most common concerns include:
- Excessive urination
- Excessive thirst
- Weight loss (despite loss of, or even increase in appetite)
Once diagnosed, diabetic cats need to be carefully monitored for signs of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). This condition often manifests itself in the form of:
- Difficulty seeing
- Excessive salivation
- Seizures (in very advanced cases)
This form of diabetes is most closely related to the human form of diabetes seen in children where there is very low or no production of insulin by the pancreas. Treatment typically involves regulation by insulin injections.
Type I diabetes mellitus (Insulin dependent)
Cats typically suffer from this type of diabetes similar to the form that develops in adult humans. In this case, there is high or normal blood insulin level, but the body is resistant to the function of insulin. Treatment usually involves prescribed insulin, dietary changes and other medications.
Type II diabetes mellitus (Non-Insulin dependent)
Diagnosis and treatment
Although there are standard treatment options for diabetic cats, your veterinarian will partner with you to diagnose your cat’s condition and develop the most effective treatment plan for your pet. Many pets must stay in the hospital for a few days while the veterinarian is helping them to regulate their blood sugar values and treating any additional illness (dehydration, electrolyte abnormalities, etc…). After the pet is over the initial crises it can commonly be started on insulin injections and dietary modification.
The first few weeks
Beyond establishing the initial treatment plan, here’s what you can expect in the first few weeks after diagnosis:
- Frequent trips to your veterinarian to assess your cat’s overall condition
- Possible modifications to the treatment plan if needed
- Blood tests with varying intervals to monitor blood glucose levels
- Urine tests to further define and monitor the condition
- Increased veterinary expenses (your local Banfield team can provide you with an estimate to set your expectations)
After your veterinarian has determined the appropriate insulin dose, your cat may only need a few trips to the hospital each year to reassess the treatment regimen. At-Home TreatmentOne important aspect of treatment is the consistency in timing of feeding and administering medication. Below are some tips and important information to know when managing your cat’s diabetes at home:
- Develop a method that works well for your family to monitor:
- When injections were given
- How much your cat ate
- Any abnormal behavior
- To monitor insulin administration, we recommend a simple chart on the fridge that can be checked off. Download our handout to see an example.
- Talk with your veterinarian about using a home testing kit such as an AlphaTRAK glucometer to monitor your cat’s blood glucose levels.
- Be sure to ask your Veterinarian to show you how to administer the correct amount of insulin in the correct manner.
- Before being withdrawn from the vial, make sure to mix the insulin by rolling it between your palms as opposed to shaking it.
- Follow these steps to ensure that you are properly administering the injection:
- Be sure that you are administering the insulin just under your cat’s skin (not in a vein or a muscle).
- Pinch and pull up the skin to form a tent over your cat’s shoulder.
- Withdraw the plunger to ensure you get negative pressure and not blood coming back into the syringe.
- Give the injection in the middle of the tent.
- Partner with your veterinarian to discuss any prescription diets that may be appropriate for your diabetic cat. The diets we typically recommend for diabetic cats include the Diabetic DS 44 diet by Royal Canin® or the M/D Feline Weight Loss- Low Carb-Diabetic diet by Hill’s®.
Download our diabetic cat handout for even more information on treating feline diabetes mellitus. You can also contact your local veterinarian to discuss risk factors, treatment and prevention for your cat.