Feline Diabetes

 

Help and Hope Starts With Getting Informed

Learning a cat has diabetes is stressful for any pet owner. But with the right knowledge, veterinary care and home treatment, pet owners can help their cats live long, happy lives. We’ll help you along the way. Let’s start with the information below.

Get the Basic Facts

Learn about symptoms, diagnosis and feline insulin needs.

Symptoms of cat diabetes

Feline diabetes occurs when a cat's body doesn't produce enough insulin or respond effectively to insulin. Symptoms include:

  • Increased thirst.
  • Urinating more than usual.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Weight loss, even with increased food intake.
  • Weakness in the back of legs. You may notice your cat's stance is different.

How cat diabetes is diagnosed

After drawing blood and collecting a urine sample, a veterinarian will conduct these tests:

  • High blood glucose (sugar) or hyperglycemia test. In the U.S., blood glucose is measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). The glucose concentration that may raise suspicion of diabetes is 200-300 mg/dL, depending on symptoms.
  • Fructosamine test. This provides a long-term view of blood glucose over the previous one to three weeks. Fructosamine is measured in micromoles per liter (μmol/L). A fructosamine measurement above 400 μmol/L could suggest diabetes.
  • Urinalysis test. Glucose in the urine indicates a failure of the kidneys to filter the glucose out of the blood, which suggests the cat is hyperglycemic and may have diabetes.

Learn about insulin needs

Facts on insulin production in healthy and diabetic cats

Insulin is a hormone for regulating blood glucose (sugar), a critical metabolic process. However, diabetic cats have difficulties producing and using insulin and fall into three main categories:

  1. Some cats with diabetes produce enough of their own insulin. An exercise plan or special diet can help them respond to their own insulin more effectively and may be the only treatment needed.
  2. Many diabetic cats cannot make enough insulin. In some cases, they are unable to respond to insulin efficiently and need more of it than their bodies can produce.
  3. Other diabetic cats don’t produce enough insulin or none at all. The insulin-producing cells in the pancreas have become damaged and no longer function properly.

Cats in categories 2 and 3 require insulin injections

This is where PROZINC can help. It’s the first protamine zinc insulin with FDA approval for diabetic cats. And it offers the help many cats need. The safety and efficacy of ProZinc in breeding, pregnant, and lactating cats has not been evaluated.

Kittens and pregnant or nursing cats

The safety and efficacy of PROZINC in breeding, pregnant, and lactating cats has not been evaluated.

Coping With Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia

Learn about these dangerous conditions and what you can do about them.

Hyperglycemia

Hyperglycemia (high blood glucose) defined

This is blood glucose higher than 200-300 mg/dL. After blood glucose stabilizes with treatment, it may occasionally rise due to stress, illness, injury or changes to the cat’s normal routine (such as ingesting something unusual or missing a PROZINC injection).

How to identify it

Symptoms match those of feline diabetes mentioned above but also include lethargy.

How to avoid it

Follow a routine. Give PROZINC injections on time and provide a consistent diet. Try to keep the cat free of stressful situations, which can cause glucose to spike.

What if you suspect hyperglycemia?

Contact your veterinarian. You may need to bring your cat to the clinic for a blood glucose check so your veterinarian can determine what treatment, if any, your cat needs.

As with all insulin, the most common adverse reaction observed with PROZINC is hypoglycemia.

Hypoglycemia

Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) defined

As with all insulin therapies, the most common side effect of PROZINC is hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). The FDA defines this as blood glucose with a concentration of less than 50 mg/dL. A blood glucose level that drops to 80 mg/dL may be a safety concern. Hypoglycemia is dangerous and potentially life threatening. It can occur if a cat has too much insulin, not enough food, or more exercise than usual. Educating yourself about hypoglycemia is the first step to avoiding it.

How to identify it

Hypoglycemia requires immediate attention. Signs include:

  • Weakness
  • Depression
  • Staggering or walking strangely
  • Unusual behavior
  • Muscle twitching
  • Seizure
  • Coma

How to avoid it

The best ways to help avoid hypoglycemia include:

  • Give correct doses of PROZINC on schedule. It may be helpful to have one person in the household responsible for giving the injections consistently.
  • Do not give second doses. If you doubt one dose was delivered correctly, do not give another. It is better to err on the side of underdosing than overdosing. Talk with your veterinarian if you have concerns or questions.
  • Feed on a schedule. Keep a consistent routine and provide the amount of food recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Do not give unauthorized medications. Do not give prescription or over-the-counter medications, like vitamins or supplements, without veterinary supervision.
  • Visit your veterinarian regularly. Even after a cat stabilizes, regular veterinary visits are important to monitor progress and make dosing adjustments.

What if you suspect hypoglycemia?

Don't panic. Here’s what to do if you notice that your cat:

  • Isn't conscious. Rub a tablespoon of corn syrup or honey on the gums and contact a veterinarian immediately.
  • Remains unconscious and has a seizure. Take the cat to the veterinarian immediately.
  • Is conscious or regains consciousness. Once the cat can swallow, hand-feed corn syrup or honey until your cat is alert enough to eat normal food.

As soon as the cat is alert enough to eat, feed the next scheduled meal — instead of waiting for mealtime — and call your veterinarian for advice.

Remember that hypoglycemia is a medical emergency that requires immediate action. Prepare for this type of emergency by always keeping corn syrup or honey on hand.