Diabetes Mellitus in Cats


Diabetes is a complicated condition caused a deficiency of insulin, which results in increased levels of sugar or glucose in the blood and urine. Insulin is produced by the pancreas which is a small organ located in the abdomen. Its main role is to allow cells to take up sugar or glucose from the blood.

Clinical signs

  • Weight loss
  • Eating more
  • Drinking more
  • Urinating more


  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests


Diabetes mellitus is usually a treatable condition and although it requires considerable dedication and commitment from owners.

It is recommended, as far as possible, to keep the diet constant both in terms of what is fed as well as timing of meals and so on. It is best to feed the cat before giving insulin.


In most diabetic cats, insulin therapy is required. Insulin is given by an injection under the skin of the scruff either once or twice daily.

The dose required by each cat is also very variable and it may take several weeks to stabilise the diabetes.

Insulin should be kept in a fridge at all times. Before administrating, the contents of the bottle should be gently mixed and not shaken.

The dose of insulin given should never be changed without consulting a veterinary surgeon.

Causes for concern

Low blood glucose levels, this can occur if an insulin overdose is given or if there are problems with the insulin regime.

The main signs are (in order of increasing severity):

  • Weakness/lethargy
  • Disorientation
  • Drunken gait
  • Strange behaviour, eg, aimless wandering, searching for food, licking lips
  • Severe neurological signs, eg, collapse, seizures

If the signs are mild, then the cat should be offered food and encouraged to eat. If this is not successful honey can be applied directly to the gums.

A notable effect should be seen within five minutes, if not contact the surgery for further advice.


The long-term outlook for cats with diabetes mellitus varies according to how old they are, how easy it is to stabilise their diabetes and whether they have any other diseases that will affect this.

https://www.vetedit.com/images/filetypeicons/16x16/doc.png Diabetes Owner Instructions
Information sheet.

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