Do’s and Don’ts of Monitoring Feline Diabetes At Home

Tess Thompson

If your cat has been diagnosed with diabetes, one of the major items that should be on your agenda during discussions with the veterinarian is that of home care. Make sure that you discuss monitoring diet and blood sugar levels at home along with how to store, handle and administer insulin. Another thing that you should understand are the various symptoms of diabetes in cats especially signs of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.

Diabetes in cats can be managed for long periods with dietary management and oral medication without resorting to insulin. It is, however, recommended that insulin be used first to control the sugar levels before an assessment is made about whether the condition can be managed only with home care and dietary modifications.

One of the primary methods of monitoring a diabetic cat involves the aid of a blood glucose meter. Invest in a good quality device and learn how to use it. Some cats may prove to be too difficult to manage while trying to obtain a blood sample but perseverance always pays. You also need to know from the veterinarian about the normal range of blood sugar levels and the levels that require veterinarian intervention.

A blood glucose curve is a diagram of blood glucose levels during the day. You can learn to read the variations of the levels and understand whether it is being caused by an overdose or an under-dose of insulin. Levels of glucose in urine too can be monitored but these are not too reliable. However, monitoring urine sugar levels is better than not monitoring at all in cases where drawing blood from the cat is not possible.

While your cat is on insulin, you should schedule and plan the mealtimes of your cat. Again, this depends upon the type of insulin the veterinarian has prescribed. Certain brands of insulin have prominent peak action times and the mealtimes have to be adjusted accordingly. If your cat is used to eat small quantities throughout the day, it is better to use slow-acting insulin rather than disturb the animal’s schedule. The end goal is to try to keep blood sugar levels in a comfortable range by timing insulin injection and diet intake.

Care has to be taken that the blood sugar level does not shoot up from low levels too fast. If the dose of insulin is to be increased by, say 0.5 units, then you must adhere to it rather than thinking that such a minor variation is not going to make any difference. Rapid increases can make the cat resistant to insulin.

Make sure that you are feeding a diet meant for diabetic cats. The diet should be low on carbohydrates and high on proteins. If at all carbohydrates are needed they should be the ones that have a low glycemic index.

If you are not monitoring blood sugar at home and also want to save on laboratory tests, it is advisable to keep a regular check on whether the cat is drinking, urinating and eating normally. If this is the case, then the insulin dosage should not be increased. However, this is fraught with dangers. If the blood sugar level crosses the ‘renal threshold’, diabetes in cats can lead to organ failure.


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