Feline Diabetes Treatment
Feline diabetes is life-threatening if left untreated. Treatment should be undertaken with the supervision and support of a qualified veterinarian. Feline diabetes treatment entails a combination of a low carbohydrate diet and insulin injections. Less commonly, oral medications may be prescribed. Treatment methods for FD are described briefly below. For more in depth information, please visit the specific pages linked below, or visit the Diabetic Cat Help Forum to discuss treatment options with other diabetic cat owners.
A low carbohydrate, wet diet is the cornerstone for effective treatment of feline diabetes, and is essential when practicing Tight Regulation. Carbohydrate content should be less than 10% on a dry matter basis, which is different than carbs on an “as fed” basis depicted on pet food labels. Vets may prescribe a dry diabetic diet, but these are typically much higher in carbohydrates than is recommended for a diabetic cat and will put the cat at risk for hypoglycemia. In some cases, a change to a low carbohydrate diet may be enough to allow the cat to go into remission. More commonly, insulin is needed in conjunction with the diet change. To read about feline nutrition in more detail, visit the Nutrition page.
Some veterinarians may prescribe an oral glucose control medication (e.g. Glipizide) when the cat is initially diagnosed, particularly if an owner is reluctant to give insulin injections. Glipizide acts to stimulate the pancreas to release more insulin, or reduce glucose production. In her book, Your Cat, Simple New Secrets to a Longer, Stronger Life, Dr. Hodgkins recommends avoiding non-insulin glucose control oral medications as some studies have shown that these drugs may damage the pancreas.
Most cats diagnosed with feline diabetes will need to receive injected insulin to control their blood glucose. The insulin of choice for cats is bovine-based Protamine Zinc Insulin (PZI) as this insulin is the closest in structure to the cat’s own insulin. Unfortunately, this is not always available and thus other insulins may need to be used, for example, Human DNA recombinant PZI (ProZinc), Lantus (Glargine), Caninsulin (Vetsulin), or NPH (Humulin). These insulins, including which ones work best with tight regulation (TR) are discussed on the Insulin page.