Your kitty has been diagnosed with diabetes mellitus. At one time diabetic cats were destined to always have diabetes, and many still are. However, we now know that feeding a low-carbohydrate diet and keeping blood glucose (sugar) well-controlled can allow some cats to go into remission. Diabetes remission in cats can be permanent or temporary, but the only way it can be permanent is to maintain a low-carbohydrate diet and being faithful with insulin administration every day.
Know the signs of remission! If your kitty “stops being diabetic,” his blood sugar can plunge dangerously low. Look for staggering, falling, passing out, and in the worst cases, seizures. These are all signs of dangerously-low blood sugar, which can usually be corrected with oral administration of sugar-water or, better yet, plain, clear Karo syrup. If your kitty is unconscious he will not be able to swallow, so put just enough syrup in for him to absorb the sugar through his tongue and gums. If he is not snapping out of this episode quickly he may need emergency care, as low blood sugar can be life-threatening! If this occurs on a weekday that your veterinarian is open, call for instructions. If it happens after hours or when he is closed on a weekend, call the emergency number your veterinarian has provided for you. Intravenous treatment may be needed.
Glargine insulin (Lantus®) is approved by the FDA for use in humans, but is widely used by veterinarians world-wide for treatment of diabetes mellitus in both dogs and cats. The FDA-approved package insert for Lantus instructs users to throw it away after 28 days. The potential for danger occurs if the bottle’s contents become contaminated with “germs,” such as bacteria. Use alcohol swabs to wipe the top of the bottle before and after each injection. DO NOT RE-USE SYRINGES! “Dirty needles” may contaminate your pet’s insulin and waste a $140.00 bottle of insulin, as well as causing him a nasty infection and disregulation of his diabetes. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions on when to replace the vial of insulin.
Keep your kitty’s insulin in the refrigerator. Do not allow it to freeze, and do not leave it out on the counter where it can attain room temperature.
Worldwide, pet owners use Lantus® safely for six months. If your bottle of glargine insulin becomes colored or cloudy, obtain a new one and discard the old one.
Just as in people, diabetic cats are susceptible to numerous infections, chief among them urinary tract infections. If your kitty begins to drink excessively, make frequent trips to the litterbox or have accidents outside the litterbox, call to make an appointment for urinalysis and/or urine culture and sensitivity.
Above all, if you have questions, do not leave them unanswered. Call your veterinarian if questions arise.
To read more about diabetes in cats, click here. To read about diabetes in dogs, click here.