How to Care for a Diabetic Cat: 15 Steps (with Pictures)

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How to Care for a Diabetic Cat: 15 Steps (with Pictures)
How to Care for a Diabetic Cat: 15 Steps (with Pictures)

Finding out that your kitten has diabetes can be scary and leave you wondering what to do. Some owners wonder how they can help their pet to control this disease. Even if you are “no reaction” at first, caring for a diabetic cat is very possible; when the disorder is detected early on, there is even a chance of reversing it if proper care is taken. There are several measures that the owner can use: improve day-to-day care, learn to give insulin injections and know what are the signs of something more serious in felines with diabetes.


Part 1 of 3: Taking care of your cat on a daily basis

Care for a Diabetic Cat Step 1

Step 1. Adopt proper nutrition

As with diabetes in humans, cats will have to be careful what they eat; the diet will have to be high in protein and low in carbohydrates. Unfortunately, most feeds are high in carbohydrates and low in protein; look for a special one for your pet's needs.

  • Several pet food brands already offer protein-rich food, such as Purina, Hills and Royal Canin, which can be wet or dry rations. As long as the cat can drink water at will, either will do.
  • A high-protein diet will cause the cat's body to produce less glucose, stabilizing it. Sometimes, nothing more will be needed to treat the problem than changing the ration; the condition can be reversed with just this change, depending on the stage of diabetes.
Care for a Diabetic Cat Step 2

Step 2. Create a schedule for him to feed

Until recently, many believed that the best time to feed diabetic cats was right after an insulin injection. However, scientists have now identified that insulin levels peak three to six hours after injection, making the animal hungry. The principle is, therefore, to give the main meal at the time of peak insulin in the body, about three hours after application.

  • Before injecting your cat with insulin, make sure your cat is eating normally. Give a treat and see the behavior: if the pet refuses food, it is best to contact the veterinarian before giving the injection. It is possible for insulin to overdose if the feline is sick.
  • In simple terms: you should divide the total amount of the diabetic cat's daily ration into four small meals. Before each insulin injection, give two “snacks,” and the rest in two larger meals, about three to six hours after each insulin injection. See a good example of diet below:

    • 7 am: snack + insulin injection.
    • 10 am: normal meal.
    • 19h: snack + insulin injection.
    • 10 pm: normal meal.
Care for a Diabetic Cat Step 3

Step 3. Take the pet for veterinary evaluation frequently

This is important as the owner must learn to give insulin shots and check blood glucose; in addition, during the consultation, the veterinarian will perform certain tests that only he can perform, such as kidney and liver function.

  • When the cat's diabetes is well controlled and no problems arise, veterinary appointments should be made every three months.
  • Know what the “red flags” are. Changes in thirst, appetite and the volume of urine produced by the cat are all signs that something is not right. When you notice that he is thirsty more than usual, his blood glucose may not be properly controlled; take him to the vet.
Care for a Diabetic Cat Step 4

Step 4. When not at home, a trusted person should take care of the cat

This is especially important for those who work or study every day, or who travel frequently.

  • Hiring a person you trust and who knows how to take care of the cat - especially if you are going to spend a lot of time away from home - will ensure not only the owner's peace of mind, but also that of the animal itself. There are pet shops that offer “hotel” services for pets and even recommend “sitters” for diabetic cats.
  • If a friend keeps the pet, demonstrate how the monitoring of blood levels and insulin application should be done. Let him know what behaviors to keep an eye out for and who to contact in an emergency.
Care for a Diabetic Cat Step 5

Step 5. Look for pet support groups or forums, such as Amigos de Rodas

The more information and data to support, the better.

The cost of treating and caring for a diabetic cat can be high. “Amigos de Rodinhas” also helps owners of sick pets raise money for necessary treatments

Part 2 of 3: Giving the cat the insulin injection

Care for a Diabetic Cat Step 9

Step 1. Prepare the syringe

It is essential to use a new, sterile syringe for each injection to avoid infections. Prepare it according to the dosage indicated by the veterinarian.

Do not carry out the preparation while the cat is around. Let him do something else at this point; only then prepare the “snack” and find him to give the injection

Care for a Diabetic Cat Step 8

Step 2. Establish a routine

Try to inject the cat at the same time every day, adopt a diet rich in protein and low in carbohydrates, in addition to approaching him with the snack and the syringe already ready, so that he gets used to these "steps". This little food before insulin application will make the feline associate positive things with this moment.

By giving the injections at the same time, the chance of forgetting will also be less. You can put a reminder on your smartphone so you don't forget

Care for a Diabetic Cat Step 7

Step 3. Leave the pet seated and comfortable

A person who is trusted by the cat should hold it firmly, without hurting it, with both hands, especially if you think it might run away. You should be able to reach it without difficulty.

Help the animal adjust to the routine by leaving it calm and relaxed. Don't be nervous so he doesn't panic

Diagnosis Kidney Failure in Cats Step 5

Step 4. Using your thumb and forefinger, “pinch” the cat's fur

In most cases, the injection will be given to his shoulder or hip, and by “pinching” the skin, you will be able to deepen the needle and make the site less sensitive to pain.

  • For long-haired cats, use a comb or brush to gently part the coat so that you can see the skin when giving the injection.
  • When you are not sure where to give the injection, talk to your veterinarian.
Care for a Diabetic Cat Step 10

Step 5. Insert the needle into the skin

When giving the injection, it is important that the insulin is released just under the skin, not into the muscles; otherwise, the cat will be in a lot of pain. Hold the syringe almost parallel to the skin you are “pinching”; be quick and careful as much as possible.

  • Sticking the needle into the skin will only cause more pain. As it is sharp, quick and smooth insertion is possible.
  • The bevel (tip) must be pointed upwards when penetrating with the needle. That way it will pierce the skin without hurting.
  • After inserting it, press the plunger to release the insulin under the cat's skin. When finished, remove the needle.
Make Your Cat Love You Step 4

Step 6. Pay close attention and praise the pet after administering insulin

Stroking, combing, and telling him you've done great will make your pet happy. It's important that the cat knows it behaved well, so never skip this part.

When the routine is positive, the cat will get used to it and will not run away when it's time to take the injection

Part 3 of 3: Monitoring Feline Health

Care for a Diabetic Cat Step 11

Step 1. Monitor the cat's blood glucose index

This is the most important measure in controlling diabetes; the digital glucose monitors used by diabetes patients will also work for cats. Their normal rate should be between 80 and 120 mg/dl; after meals, this value reaches 250 to 300 mg/dl in healthy cats; as the blood of diabetics is maintained by insulin injections, the glucose level should be in the normal range.

  • Paying attention to your pet's blood glucose will prevent the effects of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). This problem can happen if there is an accidental insulin overdose; weakness, confusion, lack of coordination and, in severe cases, coma, are the signs that indicate excess of the hormone.
  • If the blood glucose level remains high even after administering insulin, take the cat to the vet as soon as possible.
Care for a Diabetic Cat Step 12

Step 2. Analyze cat urine

The veterinarian may ask the owner to do a quick urine test with the pet a few times a week, using a strip. Depending on the amount of glucose and ketones in the urine, the color of the strip will change; the purpose of the test is to see if there are ketones in it, not glucose. The veterinarian will tell you how to perform this home exam.

Ketones are toxins produced when blood glucose remains at high levels for too long. When present in the urine, it is a sign that the disease is not stabilized, so the cat should be taken to the veterinarian as soon as possible

Have Cats Without Being a Cat Lady Step 2

Step 3. Keep an eye on the animal's behavior

It doesn't matter if he is diabetic or not; you should always be aware of his behavior, as the pet cannot “talk” when he is feeling bad. Therefore, it is important to know what is normal and what is not.

When you notice that the feline is drinking much more water than normal, urinating frequently and in larger amounts, in addition to having lethargy, coordination problems and losing weight for no apparent reason, take him to the vet

Care for a Diabetic Cat Step 15

Step 4. Learn about diabetes in cats

Just like in humans, they can suffer from two distinct types of the disease; Type 1 and Type 2. The first requires insulin injections to keep the blood glucose level healthy, while the second does not always require insulin to be given. The determining factor is whether or not the pancreas produces sufficient hormone.

  • There are four main symptoms of diabetes: high frequency of urination (in high amounts), increased water consumption, greater than normal appetite and unexplained weight loss.
  • Depending on the case, diabetes in cats can be reversed if detected early and treated properly.
  • Cats do not respond well to oral hypoglycemic agents (drugs that lower the blood glucose level). Therefore, insulin injections are important for diabetes control.


  • Obesity is not the cause of diabetes, but it can facilitate the development of the disease. If you have an overweight cat, take some steps to improve his diet and help him lose weight, making him healthier and happier.
  • Dry food is not very good for cats. It is recommended to change a diet of this type to a more humid kibble, which will be healthier. When you are not sure what is the best food for your pet, talk to a veterinarian and ask for recommendations.


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