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Cures for cats with diabetes

Updated on January 17, 2009

With proper management your cat can lead a happy life!

While years ago a diagnosis of diabetes in felines was perceived as a poor prognosis, nowadays, diabetic cats can lead almost normal, happy lives. Caring for a diabetic cat may take some effort, however with the help of your veterinarian and thanks to the medical advances of veterinary medicine, diabetes can be a very manageable condition.

In order to effectively care for a diabetic cat, three particular protocols must be observed: diet, medication and blood work. By abiding to such protocols the cat's blood glucose will be effectively under control. Miss one or the other and problems may arise.

The importance of Diet in Diabetic Cats

Diabetes occurs in cats when their pancreas does not work properly. In normal cats the pancreas produces insulin which allows the cat's cells to utilize blood glucose for energy. Animals with diabetes do not produce sufficient amounts of insulin, therefore, the blood glucose pools in their bodies creating the well known symptoms of diabetes.

Diet plays a fundamental role in managing diabetes. Most diabetic cats are on the obese size causing treatment to be difficult. A good combination of a diet and exercise regimen may make diabetes much more controllable. Diets rich in fiber, high in protein and low in carbohydrates in particular appear to be beneficial. There are a variety of prescription diets available beneficial for diabetic such as Hill's W/D and Purina DM.

Dry cat food has been thought to be a major cause of diabetes. The reason behind this is the large amount of carbohydrates and low proteins. Many cats have reported great improvements when fed canned protein rich and low carb meals. 

Diabetic cats also benefit from eating various small meals throughout the day, four a day work much better than one or two daily feedings. Diet changes should always be done gradually to prevent stomach upset, a little bit of the new food should be added to the old, gradually increasing the amounts over a week or two. Glucose levels should be monitored upon changing to special diets as insulin levels very likely will need adjusted.

The Importance of Medication in Diabetic Cats

If your cat was diagnosed with diabetes, very likely your cat will require daily insulin injections to keep the diabetes under control. While this task may seem daunting, most cats accept the injections and become cooperative as a routine is set. Your veterinarian will very likely schedule an appointment to simply demonstrate how to give such injections.

Insulin injections need to be given ideally at the same time every day after meals. Unfortunately, there are currently no other methods. Oral medications have yet to prove effective and holistic remedies have not shown promising as of yet as insulin injections. PZI insulin is currently a common type of insulin prescribed for cats, Vetsulin is another one that is gaining popularity.

Frequent blood glucose tests are recommended to control insulin levels. An insulin overdose may cause hypoglycemia (the opposite problem) and cats may suffer sudden weakness, lethargy and even coma. It is important for cat owners to always carry some Karo syrup along to give in case of a sudden bout of hypoglycemia.

The Importance of Frequent Blood Tests in Diabetic cats

Control of diabetes is of utmost importance for diabetic cat owners. Some owners have decided to test their cat's glucose levels at home by using over the counter test strips and a glucometer. The blood is usually taken from the ears. Most cat owners are told to routinely have their blood glucose checked by their vet. This is called a blood glucose curve and requires a day of hospitalization. The cat will be fed routinely and the vet will test the blood every 2-4 hours and record the findings. These tests will help determine the correct amount of insulin to be given in order to effectively control diabetes.

Blood glucose curves are to be done routinely as blood glucose levels vary with time. The insulin quantity will therefore be adjusted accordingly. Some cats though may become stressed in a hospital setting and become hyperglycemic complicating the process of finding the ideal insulin dosage. Some cats may even refuse food further complicating matters. In such cases, the veterinarian may suggest longer hospitalizations to allow the cat to get better accustomed to its environment.

While most cases of diabetes require insulin, in some cases, when caught early diet changes may reverse the condition. Some cats may undergo "honeymoon moments", these are periods where the blood glucose levels are optimal and the cat may be off insulin for some time. As seen with proper diet, exercise, medication and routine blood checks diabetic cats may lead happy, purring long lives along with their caring owners.


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    • GarnetBird profile image

      Gloria Siess 8 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      My vet informed me that dry cat food can lead to feline weight gain and diabetes. NICE HUB! Check out my Hub Stopping DIabetes In Cats Before It Starts. My cat was getting very fat and sluggish; she is doing better on canned food.