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How Long Do Cats Live With Diabetes


Insulin Injections For Cats With Diabetes Are Actually Not Complicated

Ask A Veterinarian: Managing Cat Diabetes & Weight Loss

Injections are not that difficult to give, even when cat, Mr. Mug, is acting like Mr. Angrypants.

Stick the furry face in some food and pop in the tiny amount of insulin, and its over. Pilling a cat is probably much more difficult on a daily basis than giving an injection.

Your vet and staff should give you all the help you need when learning how to give insulin to your cat.

Theres lots of debate about which insulin works best in cats. Each vet has their favorite, and if your cat doesnt do well, they will switch to a different option. Be prepared for some trial and error.


For information about the cost of insulin for cats, see Part 2 of this article below.

Life Expectancy In Cats With Diabetes

The life expectancy of cats with diabetes varies depending on the specifics of their situation. For a cat that is otherwise in good health, diabetes that is well-regulated may not shorten their life.

However, some cats are more difficult to regulate or have an interfering disease, so their prognosis may be different depending on the illness.

Treating Other Medical Conditions

To help with diabetes control, any other disease conditions should be diagnosed and treated. Infections can lead to insulin resistance, as can other systemic diseases such as kidney disease, heart disease or overactive adrenal glands. Some of the most common interfering conditions include urinary tract infections and dental disease.

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What Are The Clinical Signs Of Feline Diabetes

The most common clinical signs associated with diabetes are increased drinking, increased urination, a normal-to-increased appetite and weight loss. The increased urination is often profound and happens as a result of the glucose passing through the kidneys into the urine. This prevents the kidneys from retaining water normally , leading to significantly increased urine production. To prevent becoming dehydrated as a result of this, cats with diabetes therefore have to drink a lot more water to compensate for the high urine production.

Weight loss occurs as a result of the inability to use the blood glucose for energy. To compensate for not being able to use blood glucose for energy, the body has to utilise fat and protein stores, leading to breakdown and loss of both fat stores and also muscle. Cats with diabetes typically develop a reduced muscle volume, but because many cats who develop diabetes were overweight-to-obese in the first place, this can be more challenging to appreciate in some patients. In cats with severe or uncontrolled diabetes, the breakdown in fat and muscle can lead to a further syndrome called ketoacidosis which, if left untreated, will progress from vomiting, diarrhoea and severe dehydration to coma and death.

What Is The Long Term Prognosis For Cats With Diabetes

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Provided cats with diabetes are given regular insulin injections, as directed by a vet, and stick to a recommended diet combined with exercise to keep weight down, they will often lead long and happy lives. But sadly, not every cat responds well to treatment and there are many complicating factors.

Page last updated 17/01/2022

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Early Signs Of Diabetes In Cats

1. Excessive Urination & ThirstYour cat may be suffering from Type I or Type II diabetes if they are urinating frequently. The kidneys attempt to remove the excess glucose from the body through urine. The high concentration of glucose pulls excessive amounts of water into the urine. Increased urination can mean high body water losses, possible dehydration, and increased thirst.

2. Increased Weight Loss & AppetiteWhen a cat has diabetes, cells can no longer absorb the glucose from the blood appropriately. As a result, starved cells will trigger the breakdown of the fats and proteins available in the body as an alternative source of energy.

The cat may lose weight in a failed attempt to fill the void left after burning fats and proteins, and as a result, their appetite increases.

Prognosis For Diabetic Cats

The prognosis for a cat with diabetes depends on a number of things. Poor indicators of long-term control over the disease include other endocrine diseases such as an overactive adrenal gland and an overactive pituitary gland. If a cat develops ketoacidosis and cannot get out of this state, or is in this state during follow-up visits, there is a correlation with poor long-term survival.


For most diabetic cats, the ability of the cats person to manage him is the biggest factor when it comes to prognosis. For instance, if the person cannot consistently give the insulin, the cat tends to do worse and is hard to regulate. Also, if the cat will not eat a canned high-protein food, it is harder to get good control of his blood sugar.

It is not possible to cure a diabetic cat, but it is possible for the cat to go into remission. Being in remission means that he does not need insulin for four months. However, even in remission, a diabetic cat typically needs to stay on a high-protein diet. He also should have his blood sugar checked frequently and have an exam done by a vet to make sure he does not require insulin again.

Diabetic cats do require more extensive veterinary care, but those who have their blood sugar adequately managed can live for years.

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What Can I Expect If My Cat Has Diabetes

If your cat has recently been diagnosed with diabetes, your veterinarian will recommend lifestyle changes for your kitty, and that will include feeding a diabetic cat food.


Many cats on a high carbohydrate diet will see great improvement when changing to a species-appropriate low carbohydrate, high in protein, and moderate in fat diet. This is why it is very important to check the food labels and get advice from a professional. Many modern domestic cats suffering from diabetes can reach remission when they are changed to a diet that is appropriate for their metabolism and needs.

Its imperative to regularly monitor your cats blood glucose levels, so glucose meters are a must if your cat has been diagnosed with diabetes. Weve mentioned that having a diabetic cat is a lifelong commitment, and its wise to familiarize yourself with common symptoms. The signs of low blood sugar include lethargy, anxiety, confusion, or weakness. Keep in mind that if the carbohydrate amount of your cat diets is reduced, you will most likely have to reduce the amount of insulin as well. Regular glucose level checks and treatment adjustments should become part of the routine.

Feeding A Diabetic Cat

Remission of diabetes in cats and dogs

The diet that you feed your cat is as important as the insulin you give. In fact, the cat food your kitty has eaten may be a large part of the reason he became diabetic to begin with. Now, it’s time to change.

Why Do Cats Have A Problem Eating A Diet High in Carbohydrates?

The most important thing to remember about any cat diet is that cats are true carnivores. A diet high in carbohydrates is bad for all cats and certainly will make it more difficult to successfully treat a diabetic feline. Cats lack the enzymes needed to use carbohydrates for their energy requirements. Instead, they utilize proteins and fats for their energy. For example, birds and mice only have three to five percent carbohydrates. However, most dry food contains more than 35% and even as high as 50% carbs.


If a cat is fed a diet high in carbohydrates, the excess carbs end up as fat deposits in the cat√Ęs body. This excess fat leads to greater insulin resistance, leading to the development of feline diabetes.

There are several different companies that manufacture a feline diabetic diet. Royal Canin, Hills, and Purina all have cat prescription diets that include diabetic cat food.All companies offer both dry and canned forms of their diabetic cat food diets. However, if you compare the carbohydrate content of different feline diabetic diets, you will find that not all diets are created equally:

Hill’s Prescription dry m/d:

Hill’s Prescription canned m/d:

Purina dry DM:


Purina canned DM:

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How Are Cats With Diabetes Treated

Cats with diabetes need constant attention. They eat a special low carbohydrate diet to reduce the amount of glucose in the body. Even so, most cats require insulin injections twice daily to keep blood glucose in check. The injections are administered under the skin in rotating sites, preferably at the same time each day.

In addition to extensive home care, diabetic cats need frequent visits to the veterinary hospital for blood monitoring, urine tests, and physical exams. Considering the effort it takes to care for a cat with diabetes, remission, even short term, is a welcome relief for both cat and cat owner.

Causes Of Diabetes In Cats

A number of factors play a role in diabetes development.


  • Obesity: If your cat is obese but not showing signs of diabetes, its wise to bring their weight down to avoid possibly developing the disease. This can be accomplished through a proper diet.
  • Physical Inactivity: If your cat has become a lazy bone, there are toys available that will get your cat moving. Toys provide mental stimulation, too. Even if your cat is older, there are toys available to get your senior moving.
  • Aging: Diabetes is more common in middle-aged and senior cats. Its important to take your cat kiddo for yearly examinations.
  • Males: Male cats are at greater risk for developing diabetes. Males have lower insulin sensitivity values compared to females, which can lead to obesity.
  • Corticosteroids: Steroid treatment may result in the development of diabetes in pre-diabetic cats. However, diabetes can usually be resolved when the treatment is stopped.

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How Can I Get Lantus As Cheaply As Possible

A 10 ml vial is good for at least 34 months, maybe longer if handled properly.

Most cats require very little insulin, so some of the insulin will go to waste, even if it lasts for 6 months.

Pharmacists may tell you that you can use the bottle only for 1 month. They are wrong. This is the human usage instruction. Veterinary specialists have tested the insulin, and it stays effective for 34 months, often longer.

Your pharmacist might talk you into Lantus Solostar pens. These are 3 ml pens that are sold in bundles of 5. The bundle of pens is more expensive than the 10 ml vial, but the insulin will definitely stay stable and not expire.


Some pharmacies, we are told, will sell only 1 pen at a time. Its a good deal if you can find it. Local, privately owned pharmacies may be your best bet.

Talk with your vet if you want to try the insulin pen. The delivery system is not designed for a cat.

Most specialists recommend that you have your vet put the insulin in a sterile vial and withdraw your insulin from that vial.

You can check it out on YouTube.

Heres one example:


A few more ideas if youre looking to save money on Lantus:

Cat Diabetes: Causes Signs Diagnosis Treatment

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When a cat is diabetic, it means he has too much circulating glucose in his bloodstream because his body is unable to make insulin or his cells do not respond to insulin . Type 2 diabetes is the most common form in cats.

Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose to be taken up by cells from the bloodstream and allows it to be stored in various forms. When there is not enough insulin or the body does not respond to insulin, too much glucose remains in the bloodstream. When glucose is at normal levels in the bloodstream, the kidneys are able to reabsorb it so glucose is not found in the urine. In a diabetic animal, the kidneys are not able to reabsorb all the extra glucose and the glucose is spilled into the urine. The glucose in the urine pulls more fluid with it, so the cat produces more urine, which results in fluid loss and creates thirst in the cat.

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What Are The Signs That My Cats Insulin Medication Isnt Working

Your pet will require regular check-ups to monitor their condition but always contact your vet for advice if you are worried or your cat seems unwell. If your pets thirst or appetite changes, or your cat is dizzy or groggy, contact your vet immediately as this could be a sign that insulin isnt working.


What You Can Do With Your Veterinarian

  • Maintain a close working relationship with your veterinarian and their support staff. Be honest about your capabilities . Stick with the recommended in-clinic monitoring plan discussed with your veterinarian.
  • Ask the veterinary staff to show you how to monitor your cats urine dips and/or blood sugars at home.
  • Work with your veterinarian to ensure that your cat doesnt have any underlying medical conditions or infections that can predispose your cat to diabetes or complicate its management.
  • Talk with your veterinarian to ensure that your cat isnt on any medications or supplements that can predispose them to diabetes, or make its management more difficult.
  • In cases that are difficult to control, speak with your veterinarian about a referral to a local board-certified veterinary internal medicine specialist, who can often help. You can also locate these specialists by searching the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine database.

While diabetes in cats is common, it doesnt have to be that way. There are many simple steps you can take to decrease your cats risk of developing diabetes, and achieving such prevention will save you a lot more than just money.

Many of the steps you can take to prevent this disease are also helpful in managing it, and your cat can still live a full, happy life.

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Communication Is Essential For Treating Feline Diabetes

The most important step is maintaining good communication with your veterinarian. Talk to your vet about any changes you observe in your cat. Ask questions about anything you do not understand theres a lot more to properly caring for a diabetic cat than is described here.

Communication between family members is also important. Who will give the cat insulin and when? How will you record when your cat has received insulin? What does your cat eat and when? How many and what kind of treats? What are the symptoms of an insulin overdose, and what should family members do to help?


Taking care of a diabetic cat is a lot of work and needs to be taken seriously. Once their blood glucose is managed, they can go on being a happy cat, and that is the most important thing.

What Is Diabetes Mellitus

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Diabetes mellitus is a condition where the pancreas does not properly produce insulin. It may produce very little or none at all. When this happens, your cats body cannot balance glucose levels or blood sugar. The disease usually strikes middle-aged to senior cats, and males are more prone to develop diabetes than females. It is a serious condition that can be life-threatening if not treated. If you suspect your cat may have a health issue, then a trip to the vet is in order, especially if they are showing signs of diabetes.

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Ongoing Costs And Routines

Weve already discussed the cost of insulin for cats. Here are some other things youll want to keep in mind:

Urine Testing

A couple of times a week, you should test the cats urine with a dipstick.

This is a safety check to ensure no ketones are present. Ketones are a natural toxin and an early warning of trouble ahead. If the cat has ketones in the urine, then contact the vet urgently.

Blood Tests

From time to time, monitoring is necessary to check if the insulin dose is correct.

This involves taking a pinprick of blood every hour or so to see how much sugar is in the blood.

This test can either be done at the vet clinic or at home. Home testing is preferable because the cat is usually less stressed.

Daily Routine

Youll quickly adapt to the cats daily routine of injections, and it usually isnt too much of a bother.

Having a diabetic cat does mean sticking to a regular routine of mealtimes and injections. Theyll need feeding at least twice a day, and once youre happy theyre eating, then give an insulin injection.

Most people find this fits seamlessly into their daily routine, although it can be complicated if you travel a lot or go on vacation which well discuss briefly next.

Better Diets Are Helping Diabetic Cats Live Healthier Lives

A poor diet may have brought on your cats diabetes in the first place. Now its time to get back on the right track.

Vets put overweight or obese cats on a calorie-controlled diet.

These cuddly cats have an unfortunately habit of storing fat inside insulin-producing cells, which smothers their ability to produce vital insulin. But slim down the cat, clean out the pancreatic cells and ta-dah! Some cats become normal again.

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Its Relatively Easy To Find A Pet Sitter Friend Or Kennel To Give Injections When Youre Away

If youre used to leaving your cat for long weekends with a big bowl of food and a see you later, your life is going to have to change.

If your cat needs insulin injections, youll need to find a reliable pet sitter familiar with diabetics, a family member or a pleasant boarding situation.

If you travel constantly, caring for a diabetic cat will not be easy. But for most of us with average home/work situations, being home morning and night for 2 kitty meals and 2 injections shouldnt be that difficult.

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