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How To Give A Cat An Insulin Shot


A Potential Game Changer For Pets With Diabetes

How to Give Your Diabetic Cat an Insulin Injection

UPDATE: Resources and information on COVID-19 testing and more.

When Olaf, a four-year-old Siberian husky, was diagnosed with diabetes in February, there wasnt anything his owners, Gina and Brian Dacey, wouldnt do to help him. Weve had him since he was a few weeks old, and hes really still just a baby, Gina Dacey said.

Pets with diabetes cannot properly use glucosea type of sugar found in the blood and the main source of energy for all the bodys cells. Glucose levels are primarily controlled by a hormone called insulin, which in pets with diabetes is either not produced or is insufficient for healthy living. Diabetic animals, just like many humans with the condition, must receive carefully timed daily injections of insulin to avoid developing life-threatening complications from their disease.

Already juggling the schedules of two small children and work, the couple rearranged their life to ensure someone would always be home to give Olaf his twice-daily insulin injections. Its definitely been a lifestyle change and learning curve for all of usespecially Olaf, whos used to getting treats from his human sister, Dacey said. Now my three-year-old daughter will tell him, You cant have a treat, because you have diabetes and we have to watch your blood sugar.


To learn more about participating in the diabetes clinical trials at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, email .

Genevieve Rajewski can be reached at .

Unfortunately The Cost Of Insulin For Cats Is Ridiculous

And we were on such a good roll there with all those upsides to having a diabetic cat!

Oh well. Now weve reached a huge, honking downside: the skyrocketing costs of insulin.

When the first version of this article was published, in 2012, we mentioned that a bottle of Lantus insulin considered by many vets to be the first insulin choice for diabetic cats ran about $100.


Research has shown that early treatment with Lantus gives the best possibility of remission. Its labeled for human use for only 30 days, but veterinary experts believe its effective for several months past the expiration.

Anyway, $100 a bottle of this stuff wasnt too bad considering it can last a few months. But times have certainly changed. The cost has skyrocketed lately.

Where Should I Get Rid Of My Used Syringes

Ask your healthcare provider where to get rid of your syringes. He may tell you to place the syringe in a heavy-duty laundry detergent bottle or a metal coffee can. The container should have a cap that fits securely. Ask your local waste authority if you need to follow certain rules for getting rid of your syringes. Bring your used syringes home with you when you travel. Pack them in a plastic or metal container with a secure lid.

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Skilled Care By A Visiting Petsitter

Note: For all diabetic animals 24-hour supervision is the best option. However, while the option of a visiting sitter may be considered by owners with well-regulated animals, it is not recommended for animals that have recently been diagnosed, that have had a recent insulin dosage/type change, or that have had an incident of hypoglycemia or DKA within the past 6 months. These animals must either have a live-in sitter or be boarded at a 24-hr veterinary facility.


If you cannot secure 24-hour care and your animal is a) well-regulated and b) has been on the same dosage of insulin and getting predictable responses you may consider leaving your pet at home and having a pet sitter come twice daily to test the blood glucose levels, feed, and administer insulin. In this case the pet sitter must:

  • Have solid knowledge of diabetes care, including: insulin dose measurement and administration symptoms of hypoglycemia and symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis. This individual should be able to answer questions about what to do in the event of suspected or confirmed hypoglycemia or ketoacidosis.
  • Be comfortable taking blood glucose reading on your home meter. To confirm this comfort level, during your “interview” or prep session, have the vet technician or sitter demonstrate for you by taking a blood glucose reading from your pet using your home meter.
  • When the petsitter visits in your absence, he or she must stay to see that your pet is eating his/her meal before giving insulin.
  • How Is Insulin Administered To Cats With Diabetes Mellitus

    So...someone get me an insulin injection please.... : PERSoNA

    In cases of standard diabetes where the patient is otherwise relatively healthy, cats will generally be started on insulin injections immediately once the diagnosis is made. Because they break down insulin relatively quickly, almost all cats will require injections twice a day . The injections are usually administered under the skin of the back using either a syringe and very fine needle or a purpose-designed insulin pen. A crib sheet on insulin administration is also available within the fact sheet section of the Davies Veterinary Specialists website.

    Insulin is typically started at a low dose, which will often need to be gradually increased based on response. The low dose is used because overdosing of insulin is much more dangerous than underdosing, but the consequence is that it can take some weeks to reach the optimal dosage by incremental increase. Insulin doses should not be changed too regularly and doses should never be altered without discussion with a vet.

    Recommended Reading: How Long Do You Live With Diabetes

    Tip #: Come Up With A Game Plan For Feeding Your Diabetic Cat When You Have Another Cat In Your Home

    Ideally, you dont want your non-diabetic cat eating your diabetic cats food.


    There are a range of strategies you can consider, such as:

    • Placing food in strategic places around your home
    • Feeding your cats in separate rooms
    • High-tech solutions like special collars that trigger the lid to open on the right cats bowl

    Because each situation with multiple cats is unique, its best to chat with your veterinarian for tips for your cat family.

    If you live in the Castle Rock area, our veterinarians are happy to help.

    The Rules For Caregivers

    Regardless of which of the following three options you arrange, the following rules apply for care given in your absence:

  • A blood glucose reading must be taken before every shot. There are no exceptions to this rule, ever. A urinary ketone reading should be taken whenever possible.
  • Provide a chart, set up to be filled in with AM and PM pre-shot values, the amount of insulin given afterward, and the results of urine testing for ketones.
  • Provide insulin, insulin syringes, your glucometer and test strips, and urine testing stix.
  • Unpack one insulin syringe and mark it clearly at the fill line. This is extra insurance that the person administering insulin will use your syringes and not over-fill. You may want to break the needle off of the syringe so no one goes ahead and uses it, as this should be the “reference” syringe. Tape it to the box of syringes or the insulin bottle.
  • Provide a list of DOs and DONTs: do not leave dry food out, do not give treats, and so forth as pertains to your animal. Include in the DOs that you must be called if there are changes in behavior, litterbox use, appetite, digestion .
  • Provide clear instructions on feeding, insulin dosages, and your contact information in case of questions or emergencies.
  • We recommend that you give a blood glucose range and have the caregiver call you if the blood glucose is out of range. For example:
  • Recommended Reading: How Many Points Does Metformin Lower Blood Sugar


    How Do I Inject The Insulin With A Syringe

    • Wash your hands with soap and water. This will help prevent an infection. Dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel.
    • Clean the skin where you will inject the insulin. You can use an alcohol pad or a cotton swab dipped in alcohol.
    • Grab a fold of your skin. Gently pinch the skin and fat between your thumb and first finger.
    • Insert the needle straight into your skin. Do not hold the syringe at an angle. Make sure the needle is all the way into the skin. Let go of the pinched tissue.
    • Push down on the plunger to inject the insulin. Press on the plunger until the insulin is gone. Keep the needle in place for 5 seconds after you inject the insulin.
    • Pull out the needle. Press on your injection site for 5 to 10 seconds. Do not rub. This will keep insulin from leaking out.
    • Throw away your used insulin syringe as directed. Do not recap the syringe before you throw it away.

    Procedure To Give Insulin To A Cat

    ProZinc: The Easy Way to Give ProZinc

    Follow the instructions below, and if you have any further questions about insulin for diabetes cats, speak with your pets veterinarian.

    • Feed your diabetes cat.
    • Gently roll the insulin vial between your palms to warm and mix the product. Do not shake the insulin vial.
    • Draw up the appropriate amount of insulin.
    • Make sure there are no air bubbles in the syringe. If there are air bubbles, try pushing the insulin back into the bottle and drawing it up again.
    • Double check that you have drawn up the correct insulin dose.
    • Collect your diabetes cats.
    • Pinch an area of skin behind one of your cats shoulder blades to create a skin tent.
    • Position the needle with the bevel up, and insert it into the tent. You should direct the needle so that it is almost parallel to the skin tent.
    • Make sure the needle is under the skin rather than in the skin or the muscle.
    • Check to make sure the tip of the needle is not sticking out of the cats skin.
    • Pull back on the plunger of the syringe. If you get air or blood in the syringe, withdraw the needle and restart.
    • If there is no air or blood in the syringe, push the plunger to inject the insulin.
    • Praise your cat, and give it a small treat.
    • Dispose of the syringe according to your veterinarians directions.

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    How Will My Cat Respond To Regular Insulin Injections

    Typically, cats tolerate the injections very well and do not find them to be uncomfortable. This is due to the tiny width of the insulin needles and the fact that they have a large amount of loose skin which is not painful to inject under . This comfort can be maintained in the long term by varying the site of injection across different areas of the back. This prevents one area of skin being consistently pierced, which eventually would lead to the development of inflammation. Anywhere that you can find loose skin is an acceptable place to inject.

    Home Monitoring Is Possible

    Home monitoring devices are available for pets, just like human diabetics use.

    These cut down on vet visits and are great for the cat who is anxious at the vets office.


    Some cats wont let you prick their ear for a drop of blood. Home monitoring is certainly not for everyone, or every cat. But its worth discussing with your vet.

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    Cost Of Insulin For Cats

    An avid Petful reader wrote in to tell us she couldnt find Lantus for under $285 a bottle for her diabetic kitty.

    She was correct. In the course of a few short years, the cost of Lantus more than tripled!

    It is very expensive and very crazy, this reader told us. We agree.


    Unfortunately, youre at the mercy of greedy Big Pharma when it comes to filling human scripts, such as insulin, for your pets.

    Your vet may go to another insulin, PZI , when Lantus has not worked. Unfortunately, these other, less expensive insulins dont seem to work as well in cats.

    Here are some simple facts about the cost of treating cat with diabetes today:

  • Lantus is, according to most specialists, the best choice for diabetic cats.
  • Newly diagnosed diabetic cats given Lantus as the first insulin have the best chance of remission. This means they may return to being a normal, non-diabetic cat.
  • Lantus means easier control of diabetes, which translates to fewer trips to the vet, which translates to less money spent.
  • Lantus is expensive, no matter how you cut it. The product will probably not be available as a generic for several more years.
  • Once Your Cats Glucose Is At A Regulated Level Your Cats Check

    How to Give Your Diabetic Cat an Insulin Injection

    For example, they may start to go to 3 months and then to 6 months.

    If your cats glucose gets out of whack, youll go back to a visit every few weeks until its back on track.


    As we mentioned above, a prescription diabetic cat food can make it easier to regulate your cats glucose than a regular cat food, which may reduce your vet visits.

    Ultimately, though, it depends on your cat.

    Some regulate quickly.

    Put your mind at ease

    If you want to make sure your diabetic cat is getting the right care and you live in the Castle Rock area, call us at 303-688-3757 or:


    Cherished Companions Animal Clinic is a veterinary clinic in Castle Rock, Colorado. Specializing in the care of cats and dogs, our goal is to help you and your pet feel more comfortable, keeping your stress to a minimum.

    This article is intended to provide general guidance on diabetic cat tips, including feeding schedules, insulin shots and glucose checks. If you have specific questions or concerns, please contact your local veterinarian.

    Also Check: Why Do Type 1 Diabetics Lose Weight

    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.

    How Should I Dispose Of The Needles And Syringes

    You should be aware that some communities have strict rules about disposal of medical waste material, so do not throw the needle and syringe into the trash until you know if this is permissible. It is usually preferable to take the used needles and syringes to your veterinary clinic or local pharmacy for proper disposal.

    Contributors: Malcolm Weir, DVM, MSc, MPH Ernest Ward, DVM

    Also Check: What Is A Normal A1c For A Non Diabetic

    What Happens If My Dog Moves When I Give The Injection

    Ideally, have someone assist you while you give the injection, especially for your first few treatments.

    “Try offering the pet an appropriate treat as a distraction while you administer the injection.”

    Try offering the pet an appropriate treat as a distraction while you administer the injection. Some clients find that it is easiest to give their dog an injection while he is eating a meal. By injecting quickly, you can minimize your pet’s movement. Most pet owners find that their pet becomes cooperative for these life-sustaining injections over time.


    Caring For A Diabetic Cat: An Owners Experience

    How to Administer Insulin

    One of Brians feline patients, Bagpuss, was first diagnosed with diabetes more than 10 years ago. Heres how owner Sheena Fisher managed the condition:

    Bagpuss turned up in our garden around 2005, and soon made herself at home, Sheena says. Then, two years later, she went missing for a couple of days. We frantically searched for her, and she eventually staggered back home looking very ill. We rushed her to the vets, where they diagnosed her with diabetes. The diagnosis certainly took us by surprise and initially sounded a bit daunting, but there was no other option wed do whatever was needed to care for her.

    While Bagpuss did have some hypoglycaemic attacks, we were fortunate that they were rare and we were in the house at the time, meaning we could recognise the symptoms and act immediately. She would quite quickly show signs of lethargy, weakness and slight disorientation, so my first action was always to carry her to her food bowl. Shed usually eat a big helping of food, and then Id guide her to her bed where shed stay quietly until she recovered.

    I also kept a jar of runny honey available at all times, so if I ever felt she needed extra help to recover, I could put a little of it around her gums with my fingers. Generally speaking, she recovered well from eating her food and was back walking around and acting normally within about fifteen to twenty minutes.

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    Was Your Pet Food Recalled

    Most experts recommend a diet with about 7% carb content:

    • Fancy Feast Chunky Chicken or Turkey is a good food for a diabetic cat.
    • Friskies and 9Lives have some options too.

    Some of these regular cat foods are probably better than the prescription diets.

    If your cat is addicted to dry foods, there are probably decent dry diets out there but we still wish you could convert your cat to a wet diet.

    Certain manufactured foods contain high levels of humectants, which cause spikes in blood sugar. Its best to avoid them.

    Sometimes Diabetes In Cats Is Reversible It Goes Away

    With proper diet and the correct insulin therapy, a significant number of cats can go into remission or have their diabetes reversed.

    We dont completely understand this, but we are getting better treatment results with low-carb/high-protein diets and early insulin intervention.

    Diabetes is more common in male cats, and the statistics show that males have a slightly better chance of reversing their diabetes.

    Anywhere from 3090% of cats will return to normal with early diagnosis and treatment.

    Also Check: What Happens If You Stop Taking Diabetes Medication

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