CVC Highlight: 8 tips to make life easier for owners of diabetic cats - Veterinary Medicine
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CVC Highlight: 8 tips to make life easier for owners of diabetic cats
Caring for a diabetic cat is a formidable job—even for an endocrinology expert. Owning a diabetic cat gave this internist additional insights into how best to manage diabetic cats at home.


7. When you perform a glucose curve, normal routine must be maintained.

The purpose of a glucose curve is to determine how a particular dose of insulin is performing given a specific diet and schedule. Thus, routine must be adhered to. Admittedly, the normal routine is difficult to maintain with a patient in the hospital or even if the dog or cat is being "poked" every two hours at home. However, the standard procedures must be adhered to as much as possible.

In the beginning, it is important for a veterinarian or technician to ensure that the insulin is being given correctly. That means an owner should give the insulin in front of the veterinarian, which may mean a deviation from schedule at that point. Once administration issues are no longer a concern, it is still desirable to have the insulin given in the hospital so pre-insulin blood glucose can be measured. However, keeping the schedule usually trumps all.

8. Know the signs of hypoglycemia and what to do.

One of the most dangerous aspects of diabetes is the possibility of causing hypoglycemia. The first signs are often subtle and include muscle tremors, nervousness, restlessness, and hunger. Then, as the central nervous system becomes "starved" for glucose, lethargy, weakness, ataxia, bizarre behavior, seizures, and coma can develop. Owners should always have a high-glucose syrup (e.g. Karo or honey) on hand to give their pets. If signs are mild, feeding a meal can be sufficient. The cat should be taken to a veterinarian immediately, or the blood glucose should be checked at home if the owner is capable of doing so. First, the presence of hypoglycemia should be documented, if possible. Second, once hypoglycemia develops in a treated diabetic, it can take days to resolve, so monitoring, and potentially hospitalization and treatment, are necessary. It is always better to treat if unsure.


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Ellen N. Behrend, VMD, PhD, DACVIM
Joezy Griffin Professor
Department of Clinical Sciences
College of Veterinary Medicine
Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849


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