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How to draw up and give insulin to a diabetic cat.

Updated on December 4, 2010
Cat food, insulin and syringe.
Cat food, insulin and syringe.

Everything you'll need.

Has your cat been diagnosed with diabetes? If your vet has asked you to begin insulin injections for your cat then read on for a step-by-step how-to. Your vet may have given you instructions but vets can be busy and it's easy to forget what they told you. Relax, it's not hard and if you follow these steps you'll be able to easily give your furry friend his or her dose.

Step 1.

Get everything you'll need to hand. Your cat's food, the insulin and a syringe. You don't need to use a new syringe every time but it's up to you. Three times is my rule of thumb.

Step 2.

Uncap the syringe and place it down carefully.

The insulin.
The insulin.

Step 3.

Pick up the insulin and hold it firmly upside-down.

In this case I'm using a pen-fill cartridge intended for human use in an insulin pen. Cats can take human insulin and it will come in some sort of vial or pen-fill with a rubber circle in a metal cap.

Hold the syringe.
Hold the syringe.

Step 4.

Pick up the syringe and hold it with your other hand as indicated in the photo. Firmly depress the plunger to expel the air inside the syringe chamber.

Step 5.

Insert the needle into the vial and draw down slightly more than the dosage required.

Ie: I give my cat 3 units so I'll draw down 4 or 5.

Step 6.

Holding the syringe as indicated in the photo, tap the barrel several times with your finger. I use the finger of the same hand but you can put down the vial and use your other hand.

This is to move the air bubble to the top of the chamber. Do not tap too hard or the bubble will break into smaller ones.

Step 7.

Now gently push up the plunger until it reaches the required dosage. If you go past and now have too little in the syringe, repeat from Step 5.

Step 8.

Now add the required amount of food to your cat's bowl or dish. You vet will have described how important it is to give the cat the same amount each time so the food and insulin quantities match.

It's important to wait until you've completed Steps 1-7 before feeding your cat or it may finish eating and disappear to do something else. You don't want to be chasing it around the house with a syringe.

Step 9a.

Wait until your cat is committed to eating. Some vets recommend the cat eat half or more of it's food before you give it insulin in case your give the dose and the cat fails to eat. This would mean the insulin would make it's sugar levels drop too low.

It depends on your cat. Mine thinks of little else besides food so I can be sure he'll eat it all.  I give him his insulin the moment he's settled in to eating.


Step 9b.

With one hand, gently pinch your cat's skin between his or her shoulder blades.

Step 10.

Insert the needle into the raised skin and inject the insulin.

You're done. If you're reusing the syringe be sure to carefully recap it. When you discard it, break the needle off by bending the cap side to side. Put the syringe, with cap on into a plastic drinks bottle and into the trash or use an approved sharps disposal bin.


I hope these steps help you take the stress out of insulin injections. If you jab yourself, don't freak out. I've done it a few times and I called a vet and she said there were no blood borne cat diseases to worry about.

Cats respond well to insulin treatment so if your cat has been unwell with diabetes, follow these steps and your pal will be on the road to recovery in no time.

Please note: I'm NOT a vet. If my steps conflict with your vet's advice, follow your vet's advice.

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