Feline Diabetes Treatment

Feline diabetes is life-threatening if left untreated. Treatment should be undertaken with the supervision and support of a qualified veterinarian. Feline diabetes treatment entails a combination of a low carbohydrate diet and insulin injections. Less commonly, oral medications may be prescribed. Treatment methods for FD are described briefly below. For more in depth information, please visit the specific pages linked below, or visit the Diabetic Cat Care Forum to discuss treatment options with other diabetic cat owners.

A low carbohydrate, wet diet is the cornerstone for effective treatment of feline diabetes, and is essential when practicing Tight Regulation. Carbohydrate content should be less than 10% on a dry matter basis, which is different than carbs on an “as fed” basis depicted on pet food labels. Vets may prescribe a dry diabetic diet, but these are typically much higher in carbohydrates than is recommended for a diabetic cat and will put the cat at risk for hypoglycemia. In some cases, a change to a low carbohydrate diet may be enough to allow the cat to go into remission. More commonly, insulin is needed in conjunction with the diet change. To read about feline nutrition in more detail, visit the Nutrition page.

Oral Medications (Pills)
Some veterinarians may prescribe an oral glucose control medication called Glipizide when a cat is initially diagnosed FD, particularly when an owner is reluctant to give insulin injections. Glipizide acts to stimulate the human pancreas to release more insulin, or reduce glucose production. In her book, Your Cat, Simple New Secrets to a Longer, Stronger Life, Dr. Hodgkins recommends avoiding non-insulin glucose control oral medications as some studies have shown that these drugs may damage the pancreas.

Most cats diagnosed with feline diabetes will need to receive injected insulin to control their blood glucose. The choice for cats is a manufactured bovine (cow)-based or bovine-porcine (pig) Protamine Zinc Insulin (PZI) as this insulin is the closest in structure to a cat’s own insulin. Unfortunately, bovine based insulin isn’t available in every country. However, there are numerous other insulin types, both medium and long acting which work very well with Tight Regulation (TR). Please visit the Diabetic Cat Care forum for more information about the various options available when it comes to insulin.