CVC Highlight: 8 tips to make life easier for owners of diabetic cats
1. The quicker diabetes is controlled, the more likely remission will occur.
In a study evaluating remission in diabetic cats initially treated with insulin, 55 diabetic cats were included whose owners followed a highly intensive monitoring and blood glucose regulation protocol using insulin glargine and a low carbohydrate diet.1 Remission was achieved in 35 cats (64%). Cats that had received glucocorticoid treatment within six months prior to a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus, that required a lower maximum insulin dose, or that were intensively managed using glargine within six months of diagnosis were more likely to achieve remission, while cats with a peripheral neuropathy present at diagnosis (such as difficulty climbing stairs or a plantigrade stance) were less likely to do so.2. Diet is important, and canned food is preferred.
3. Make giving insulin part of a pleasant experience for the cat—and the owner.
Insulin syringes, as compared with other types, are recommended because of the small needle size, but a needle prick can still be an unpleasant sensation. A good practice is to make the injections part of a good experience. For diabetic pets that are meal-fed and enjoy their food, inject them as they are eating and when they are close to finishing the meal. For others, owners can give the injections while doing a pleasurable activity. My cat Madison loved getting brushed every day. When he became diabetic, I started brushing him twice daily, and I gave him the injection midway through each brushing.
For any patient that needs a small amount of insulin, 0.3- or 0.5-ml insulin syringes should be used for accurate dosing. These are referred to as low-dose syringes. The scale on the syringe is easier to read for small doses.
The site of insulin injection is important. An appropriate location must be chosen, as absorption of insulin from various sites in the body differs. In dogs and cats, the dorsal neck, or the scruff, has commonly been used as an injection site, but this location may not be ideal because of low blood flow and increased fibrosis caused by repeated injections. A better option may be to administer the insulin along the lateral abdomen and thorax. The chosen area should be rotated daily to prevent fibrosis at an injection site.6