Monitoring a cat with diabetes


The Diabetic Person

Typically a person with diabetes will monitor their blood glucose levels frequently throughout the day. Based on their blood glucose levels they can adjust what they eat and the amount of insulin or oral hypoglycemic medication they take. It is necessary for people with diabetes to maintain normal blood glucose levels as much as possible because of the high risk of secondary medical complications, such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, vision loss, and neurologic impairment. These conditions often occur in people after decades of poor regulation of diabetes.

The Diabetic Cat

Insulin Injection and cat with diabetesUnlike with people, it is very difficult to adjust the dietary intake and blood glucose levels in diabetic cats. The good news is that it is generally not necessary to do so. This is because cats do not live long enough to develop the secondary medical complications that diabetic people develop. Our primary goal in the treatment of diabetes in cats is to reduce the blood glucose level enough to improve the health and quality of life of the cat. This can be achieved without normalizing the blood glucose levels.

How is Diabetic Kitty Doing?

There are certain signs to watch for in a diabetic cat that will help determine how well they are doing. The main things to monitor are the weight, appetite, urine volume, thirst, and ability to jump. It is possible to know if a diabetic cat is well regulated just based on these signs. If the blood glucose levels are too high a cat will lose weight despite eating ravenously, drink and urinate excessively, and become weak in their hind legs and not be able to jump. In a well regulated diabetic cat the weight will be stable or increase despite eating less, the volume the cat drinks and urinates will be less, and they typically will be able to jump up on the couch.

Other Ways to Monitor Diabetic Tom

In addition to monitoring certain clinical signs, people can monitor their cats urine and blood glucose levels at home. Although this can be helpful in regulating the diabetes it is not absolutely necessary. If there is no glucose in a diabetic cats urine it suggests the insulin dose is too high. In that situation the cat should be rechecked by a veterinarian very soon to have the insulin dose modified. Finding glucose in a diabetic cats urine is to be expected and this does not indicate poor diabetic regulation.

Fussing Over Diabetic Puss’ Blood Glucose Levels

If a person can measure the blood glucose levels of their cat at home it is ideal to check it every 2 hours for a 12 hour period. This will provide valuable insight into whether the insulin is working, the lowest blood glucose level, and the duration of effect of the insulin. If it is not possible to do home blood glucose monitoring then the cat will need to have glucose testing at a veterinary hospital. Although technically easier to have veterinary staff perform the glucose testing, the cat will often have higher blood glucose levels in the hospital because of the stress they experience.

Vet Visit to Check Fructosamine Blood Level

The only other diagnostic test that can be used by a veterinarian to evaluate the insulin dose would be a fructosamine blood level. This test looks at the level of this protein, frustosamine, that becomes elevated with high blood glucose levels and remains in the blood stream for 2 to 3 weeks. In general, if the fructosamine level is very high that typically means the diabetes has been poorly controlled in the past 2 to 3 weeks compared to a mildly elevated to normal fructosamine level indicates well regulated diabetes for the past 2 to 3 weeks.

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