My Diabetic Cat

by Lori
(Winnipeg, Canada)

My 13 year old male Ragdoll cat was diagnosed with diabetes three weeks ago. I had noticed the signs – increase in drinking, decrease in appetite, increase in urination, and he became lethargic.

My vet has seen him three times, once a week since his diagnosis. The first week, his sugars were at 34 and the vet recommended giving him 3 units of insulin.

Week 2 his sugars were still high at 32 and the recommendation was to increase his dose to 5 units.

Week 3, he still tested high at just over 30. Again, the vet's recommendation was another increase to 6 units.

Although I have seen some improvement – increase in appetite and decrease in water consumption, he still seems lethargic and is at times walking on his hocks.

My cat had a urinary track infection when he was a kitten and I have been feeding him Hills C/D ever since. Since his diagnosis of diabetes, I have also started feeding him Hills M/D.

I am desperate for suggestions on how to get him feeling better as he means the world to me. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated!!

Dear Lori,

I am extremely concerned about the rate at which your cat’s insulin is being increased, the practice of only testing his glucose once weekly, and the diet he is eating.

Increasing cat insulin in such large doses (the standard recommendation is to increase no more than one half unit at a time), after such short periods of time, and with only checking your cat’s blood glucose once a week, can be extremely dangerous for your cat and could prove fatal.

Cat diabetics are best treated the same way human diabetics treat themselves. I can't recommend strongly enough the need for you to purchase your own glucometer and learn to test your kitty at home.

Giving a fixed amount of insulin at a specific time without knowing the cat's glucose level is dangerous. If you learn to test your cat yourself, you can easily know the glucose level and refer to a chart to know how much insulin to give each time. If your veterinarian won't work with you in this manner, find one who will!

I have a diabetic cat myself and have treated thousands of diabetic cats during my years of practice and I know what I am talking about.

In addition, any dry food, including the prescription diets C/D and M/D are too high in carbohydrates for cats, especially diabetic cats. You should be feeding your cat canned food only and canned food that is low in carbs. You can refer to Binky's Page for a chart that shows the carbohydrate levels of many different canned foods.

Having a diabetic cat is stressful. I certainly know this first hand, as I too am treating my own cat with feline diabetes. If you would like to read more about my own diabetic cat journey, and more about cat diabetes in general, you can do so here.

The most important thing to remember in treating a cat with diabetes is that it can take time to get the disease under control. While of course we want our precious cats to feel better as soon as possible, time and proper care will ultimately provide relief for your kitty.

Also, if blood glucose levels do not start to improve, you can discuss different types of cat insulin with a veterinarian. Since different cats can metabolize different types of insulin differently, a change may be needed down the road.

To read another reader’s question about cat insulin, please see this page.

Always make sure your kitty is eating well when giving insulin to prevent a possible hypoglycemic episode. And, always be sure to have a sugary solution on hand, such as maple syrup, to rub on his gums in the event that your kitty starts to show signs of his glucose levels being too low.

I wish you all the best with your beloved diabetic kitty’s treatment. Please visit the recommended websites and contact another veterinarian for a second opinion as soon as possible. Feel free to write again with any updates.

Dr. Neely

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