10 things you need to know about diabetes

Diabetes mellitus is the inability of your cat’s pancreas to produce enough insulin to balance his/her blood sugar. If left untreated, Diabetes mellitus can lead to weight loss, loss of appetite, vomiting, dehydration, depression, coma, and even death.

Here are some of the most FAQ about Diabetes mellitus

How common is feline diabetes?

Up to 90% of cats between the age of 8 and 15 are at risk of developing diabetes. While it’s more common in senior cats and obese cats, it can affect young cats with appropriate body weight too!

Can I prevent my cat from getting diabetes?

Not really. Nevertheless, obesity is a high-risk factor so the use of a low-carbohydrate diet can help control your cat’s blood sugar better.

What are the most common signs of diabetes in cats?

The main symptoms are increased thirst, increased urination, increased appetite and weight loss.

What’s the treatment for a cat with feline diabetes?

A very strict high-protein/low-carbohydrate diet and insulin therapy.

Will I have to test my cat’s blood and give her shots?

First blood glucose level tests should be done at the vet in order to adjust the insulin dosage needed. You can get a pet glucometer and learn how to test your cat’s blood glucose level at home; you will also have to learn how to give your cat insulin shots. Avoid using the scruff of the neck for injections, as there is insufficient blood supply to that area and insulin may be absorbed erratically.

Can I use a human glucometer instead?

No,  you need to get a pet specific blood glucometer. Cats can get diabetes just like humans do and the management of the disease is quite similar however the distribution of glucose in the blood of humans and animals is different so pet glucometers are calibrated differently. If you use a human testing device, the results will be significantly lower, therefore, the readings will be inaccurate.

What should I feed my diabetic cat?

The best option is a very high-protein/very low-carbohydrate wet food diet. In general, wet food contains more animal protein than dry food does. It has been proposed that low-carbohydrate diets increase the chance of diabetic remission in newly diagnosed diabetic cats.

Can my cat be cured?

Diabetes is usually not cured. Insulin shots will get your cat’s blood sugar under control, a reasonable diet high in protein and low in carbs will help a lot too!  If treated in time,  some cats do “go into remission” meaning diabetes actually goes away and your cat won’t be needing more insulin shots. If diabetic remission occurs in cats, it is most commonly in the first few months of treatment.

Is diabetes a threat to my cat’s life?

It sure is! If poorly controlled it can lead to a diabetic coma and if left untreated, it can lead to death.

Is it hard to care for a diabetic cat and what are the costs?

During the first weeks and until the right dosage of insulin is adjusted, it can be a little bit overwhelming, but it’s not terribly complicated once it’s being managed.  Depending on the insulin dosage needed for your cat, expenses could range between $40-$60 a month on insulin, syringes, and other supplies.

A member of my family is diabetic; is insulin used for humans good for cats too?

Diabetes is not well-controlled in most cats when human insulin is used for treatment.


Never medicate your cat yourself without consulting your vet first. If you suspect your cat may be diabetic, schedule a vet appointment right away. Your vet will run the necessary tests to come up with an accurate diagnosis and prescribe the kind of insulin that works best for your cat.