Diabetes in Cats

What is Diabetes Mellitus?

Diabetes in cats and dogs is a disease generally seen in middle age to old animals. In most cases it is due to decreased production of the hormone insulin in your pet’s pancreas.

In a normal animal:

After eating a meal glucose (sugar) is absorbed from the intestines into the bloodstream. At the same time insulin is released into the blood. Insulin helps move glucose from the blood into the cells of the body where it is used for energy.

In a diabetic animal:

In diabetes there is a lack of insulin so glucose cannot move into the cells where it is needed. As a result glucose builds up in the bloodstream to dangerously high levels.

Other health problems associated with Diabetes:

If left untreated, diabetes can lead to serious health issues.

If body cells are not getting enough glucose they must resort to other ways of making energy. Unfortunately these other processes also produce toxic by-products that can build up making your pet very sick.

Other problems such as cataract formation (blindness), and muscle weakness may also develop due to persistently high blood glucose levels.


Signs to watch out for:

Some common signs of diabetes include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination – may also urinate in unusual places (in house, outside litter box)
  • Excessive hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Less active/sleeps more


Diagnosis of diabetes simply involves blood and urine tests to check blood glucose levels and to check for any glucose being inappropriately lost in the urine as a result of high blood glucose.

Managing Diabetes:

Managing your pets diabetes can take a lot of effort but the results are worth it. The aim of therapy is to control the condition so your pet can return to normal urination, thirst, hunger, maintain a consistent weight and decrease the risk of complications.

One of our vets will design a treatment plan specifically for your pet. Insulin, diet and monitoring are the 3 main components of most treatment plans.


Insulin injections once or twice daily are generally needed to control your pets blood glucose levels. This involves using a very small needle and once a regular dosing routine has been established causes little stress to you or your pet.


Diet plays a vital role in regulating diabetes. Food that is of high quality and a consistent source of protein are essential in any diabetic diet. To keep your pets diet consistent from day to day, it is best to use a commercially produced diet. Some specific diabetic diets that may be used are:

Hills m/d

Eukanuba weight/diabetic control

Royal Canin Diabetic

Your vet will recommend a diet specific for your pet’s needs.


Once therapy is started, your pet will need regular check-ups, blood and urine tests to measure glucose levels and ensure the insulin dose is specific for your cat or dog.