Cats and Feline Diabetes
28 May, 2013

Cats, like humans, can become diabetic.   The approach to treating the symptoms is not that different than treating diabetes in humans.  Feline diabetes is treatable and only requires a cat owner to take a little more time and effort with his or her kitten.  The cause of diabetes is actually when sugar, or glucose, is found in the blood.  The level of blood sugar in the body or the animal is kept under control by hormone insulin, which the pancreas produces.  When the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, diabetes is to blame.

Symptoms of Feline diabetes

The symptoms of feline diabetes will vary.  The most common symptoms include an increase in urine and an increase in thirst.  Other symptoms of feline diabetes include a loss of appetite, weight loss, and a poor coat.  An increase in thirst is easy to detect, as you can easily notice the water dish empty throughout the day.

If you don’t get your cat treated for feline diabetes immediately, the cat will eventually become inactive, vomit on a regular basis, and eventually fall into a coma.  On the other hand, if you get the diabetes treated in time, your cat will lead a normal and healthy life.  Keep in mind that treatment doesn’t happen overnight – it takes time and dedication.

I can live a long life with treatment!


Overweight cats have a tendency to get feline diabetes.  If your cat is overweight, make sure to put your kitty on a diet immediately for his or her overall health and to prevent diabetes.  Your veterinarian can give you recommendations of how to get your cat’s weight down.

Cats that have feline diabetes should be given food at the same time every day. They should be prevented from going outside as well.  If your cat has diabetes, you’ll need to give him insulin shots once or twice or a day.  Once your veterinarian checks your cat, he or she will tell you how many shots and how much insulin you need to give your cat.  Other diabetic cats respond well to carbohydrate-restricted diets. Although diabetic cats have been successfully managed with both types of diets, some cats respond better to high-fiber diets and others to low-carbohydrate diets.

Cats with feline diabetes are usually given insulin

Before you give your cat his insulin shot, you should always make sure that he has eaten first.  If he hasn’t eaten and you give him a shot anyway, he could end up with a hypoglycemic shock.  This can also occur from too much insulin as well.  A hypo can be really dangerous, and should be avoided at all costs.

If you have to give insulin shots to your cat due to feline diabetes, you should always keep a watchful eye on him after you have administered the shot.  After your cat has been on insulin for a period of time, your vet may reduce the amount of insulin.  Even though he may have to stay on insulin the rest of his life, he will lead an otherwise healthy life.

Most diabetic cats require insulin injections administered under their skin twice daily. The injections can be given at home, preferably at the same time each day. Your veterinarian will show you how to give these injections, which are not painful for your cat. Because each is different, the proper type of insulin, dose, and frequency of administration needs to be determined by your veterinarian.

What to look our for in your cat that has diabetes

At home, you’ll need to be constantly aware of your cat’s appetite, weight, water consumption, and urine output. It is important to feed a consistent amount and type of food at the same times each day, so that you can be aware of days that your cat either does not eat or is unusually hungry after the feeding. Additionally, since water consumption is highly variable from one cat to another, monitoring your cat’s water consumption for a few weeks will allow you to establish what is normal for your cat.

Urine output can be roughly estimated by determining the amount of litter that is scooped out of the litter box. This is less accurate if more than one cat uses the litter box, but changes can still be meaningful. Any significant variation in your cat’s food intake, weight, water intake, or urine output can be a sign that the diabetes is recurring and immediate veterinary care is needed.

A cat with diabetes can live a long time

If your cat develops feline diabetes, don’t despair.  With a good, healthy consistent diet and the consistent monitoring of insulin, your cat can live and thrive.   A cat with feline diabetes needs to be watched and monitored more than a cat that doesn’t have diabetes, but is worth the effort!

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