Dealing With Cat Diabetes

A diagnosis of diabetes in your cat can be a big shock and fill you with fear. But diabetes in a cat, just like in a human, isn't necessarily a death sentence. Many cats live long and happy lives after being diagnosed with feline diabetes if they get the proper treatment.

What Is Feline Diabetes

Also known as diabetes mellitus, feline diabetes is an illness where the cat's body doesn't produce enough insulin or doesn't properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone created by the pancreas and regulates glucose levels in the blood. If the insulin is gone or improperly used in the cat's body, it begins to break down its body's protein and fat stores. The cat starts to lose weight and begins to urinate high levels of sugar as the body tries to get rid of it. This causes excessive thirst as well.

Cats can be non-insulin dependent or insulin-dependent. It tends to be more common in older cats and obese cats. Male cats get it more often than female cats.


Treatment varies from cat to cat and the type of diabetes the cat has. Some are easier to regulate and you'll need to discuss the options with your vet.

Cats that require insulin injections will need a needle twice a day under their skin. The injections need to be done at or near the same time each day. Oral hypoglycemic medications, like glipizide, can lower blood glucose levels in cats. It only works successfully in a small number of cats and can have potential side effects like loss of appetite, vomiting or liver damage. Cats tend to resist being forced to swallow a pill which can make administering the medication more difficult than giving a needle which cats barely notice.


Weight managing cat food can help treat feline diabetes. These types of cat foods tend to be high in fiber and have high complex carbohydrates that help control blood sugar values. If you're giving your cat insulin injections, feedings need to be timed with the injections. Food consumption needs to be closely monitored in diabetic cats.

Expected Costs

Expect to pay around $50 a month for supplies. Supplies include a prescription diet, insulin and syringes. You'll also need to pay for a blood glucose curve done by a vet every six months. This can cost as little as $100 to as much as $250.

Restrictions on Your Life

Cats with feline diabetes require a set medication and food schedule that will restrict your ability to leave your home for long periods of time. If you go on holidays, you will need to hire a professional to take care of your pet. You can no longer get your neighbor's kid to come in and feed your cat when you're gone. Your cat's behavior needs to be closely monitored and any medications need to be administered correctly.