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Diabetes In Cats

Cats can become diabetic just like humans.

In fact, the treatment to help manage diabetes in cats, also known as diabetes mellitus, is not that different than in humans.

Feline diabetes occurs in 1% to 2% of all cats.

While initially unsettling for any cat parent to hear, feline diabetes can be treated and managed with a little more effort, understanding, and patience.

Diabetes In Cats

Diabetes mellitus is the result of the absence of insulin, which is a pancreatic hormone that regulates blood glucose levels in your cat.

A normal cat’s bodily function has the ability to utilize glucose properly which is needed to give the cat fuel and insulin helps your cat do just that.

If glucose is unable to convert to insulin, kidney damage, and even damage to your cat’s heart, nervous system and eyes can occur.

If left untreated, diabetes can cause blindness, nerve damage, and even a stroke.

While diabetes isn’t curable, it can be stabilized with medication and a balanced, healthy diet.

Types of Cat Diabetes

There are 3 types of diabetes in cats.

Type I

The pancreas can no longer produce the correct amount of insulin and therefore daily insulin will be required.

Type 2

The pancreas is unable to utilize the production of insulin efficiently, but it can still produce small amounts of insulin.

Type 3

The production of insulin is reduced as a result of disease, drugs and/or other conditions.

Some examples include Cushing’s disease, gestational diabetes and other diseases that affect the pancreas.

Most cats are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes while dogs with diabetes tend to more often suffer from Type 1 diabetes.

A cat can sometimes go into remission in the early stages of diabetes if treatment is started before any damage to the pancreas occurs.

If left untreated, the stress on the cat’s pancreas will lead to the pancreatic cells becoming damaged.

If this happens, the disease tends to revert to Type 1 diabetes and the cat will then become dependent on insulin.

Diabetes in Cats Symptoms

  • Increase in urination
  • Excessive Thirst
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Weight Loss
  • Fur loss
  • Increased Hunger
  • Muscle Weakness

Causes of Diabetes in Cats

Feline diabetes is usually caused by the following:

  • Amyloidosis – A disease where amyloid, a protein that is starch-like, builds up in the pancreas.
  • Pancreatitis – Inflammation of the pancreas
  • Drugs – Such as corticosteroids
  • Obesity – Being over the normal weight the cat should be can cause health issues.

Treatment & Cost of Feline Diabetes

Your veterinarian will perform a full diagnosis of your cat monitoring your cat’s glucose levels in the blood and urine to determine the severity of the type of diabetes.


The most effective treatment for feline diabetes is insulin.

diabetic catEach cat is different and therefore the correct amount of insulin, dosage and frequency will be decided by your veterinarian.

Most diabetic cats will need to be given insulin injections under their skin twice daily.

The injections will be administered to your cat using a small needle.

The injections need to be given each day at around the same time frame.

Your veterinarian will show you how to give your cat the injections which shouldn’t be painful to your cat.

Your cat should have some food in his or her system before administering the insulin.

Your vet will prescribe the insulin and you can get the insulin directly from your vet or some online pharmacies.

The typical cost of insulin is $30 to $90 a month.

Cat Diet for Diabetes

Some diabetic cats will respond well to a high protein, low carbohydrate-restricted diet while others have a better response to a high fiber diet.

Wet food is always preferable for cats with diabetes due to the extra water in canned food and fewer carbohydrates.

Your veterinarian might also recommend a prescribed cat food that is formulated specifically for diabetes.

There are different brands of prescriptive food and Hills’ Prescription Diet, for diabetes can be effective but expensive!

For example, the formulation for diabetes in cats will cost about $75 for a bag of dry food and a case is approximately $45.

Vet Visits

You will probably have to visit the vet a few times a year to check not only on your cat’s diabetes but to make sure that the insulin dosage is just the right amount.

Pet Insurance for Cat Diabetes

Pet insurance can be really valuable to a cat that is diabetic or with any common cat health issue.

With the increased vet visits, insulin, syringes, and higher prescribed food, pet insurance can save you thousands of dollars each year.

As long as you have enrolled your cat in pet insurance prior to his or her getting diabetes, you will be covered for most of the costs!

A pet insurance plan, like Healthy Paws, will not only cover up to 90% of the treatment but also for the rest of your cat’s life.

But, if your cat develops diabetes before you enrolled, you won’t be able to cover your cat for any of the costs because diabetes will now be pre-existing.

Another reason why it’s important to enroll your cat in a pet insurance policy when he or she is a kitten.  Or if you have a breed like a Burmese, that is pre-disposed to diabetes.

Feline Diabetes Management

A cat with feline diabetes can still live a long life as long as your cat is being treated consistently.

Tips for Cats with Diabetes

Make sure to feed the same amount and type of food to your cat and at the same time each day.

Watch your cat’s water consumption to make sure he or she is drinking enough.

Monitor the frequency and consistency of your cat’s urination. Urine output can be monitored by the amount you scoop out of the litter box each day and should be consistent daily.  Once or twice a day is normal.

If you notice any changes to your cat’s diet, appetite, or urination, make sure to take your cat to the vet immediately.

Your vet might adjust the insulin and will check to make sure diabetes has not re-occurred.

If your cat does become diabetic, while not the best of news, it can be treated and managed.

Even though there is more effort involved, it can be done and your cat can continue to live a long, happy life!

If you want to take a look at some pet insurance companies to help offset the cost of any disease your cat might develop, our top cat insurance companies is a great place to start!

Even if your cat is diagnosed with cancer, these insurance companies can still protect you from the massive vet bills.

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