Insulin and Testing
Right after a species appropriate low carb wet diet; the next most valuable weapons in your arsenal to fight feline diabetes are a glucometer, test strips, syringes and the right insulin for your cat.
Prior to making ANY dietary changes, or starting Dr Hodgkins Tight Regulation Protocol (TR), it is important that you understand simply removing dry kibble from the diet of a cat already receiving insulin can be very dangerous! For your cat’s safety, we request you read our Detox Process document. Experienced members on the forum will be able to answer any questions you have and guide you through the Detox Process particular to your cat’s individual situation, making sure your cat is completely safe and the transition onto TR is as smooth as possible. The sooner your cat starts TR after diagnosis, the better chance there is of achieving diabetic remission (or as we call it, going OTJ – Off The Juice).
Blood Glucose (BG) Testing
Whether your vet supports blood testing or not, testing your cat’s blood sugar with a glucometer is imperative for the welfare of your cat and an absolute requirement for practicing TR. Any human glucometer will do – there is no need to spend triple the amount buying a “pet” glucometer sold exclusively at vet clinics. Most pet meters are simply repackaged human meters. The key to whatever meter you buy is to use the same meter all the time. You will want to get a glucometer that takes the least amount of blood and requires the least expensive test strips.
By testing your cat’s blood glucose, you will know when and if your cat needs insulin, what amount of insulin to give and even when to give it. Please see Protocol for more information.
It is very easy to test a cat’s BG, although it can be intimidating to some at the start. Take a flashlight, or sit your cat between you and a light source and you will see the very small vein that runs around the outer edge of the ear. It is between the vein and the outer edge of the ear where the blood tests are performed using a lancet pen.
Most cats take to testing very quickly, particularly once they associate the testing with making them feel better. Please watch this YouTube clip explaining how to test your cat’s blood sugar levels at home. Positive reinforcement such as a low carb treat right after testing really helps to ensure successful results.
While you may think you are hurting your cat, nothing could be further from the truth! Our cats have very few nerve endings in their ears – testing is more of an annoyance to them, like a mosquito buzzing around their ear. After only a few blood tests, most of us find that our cats actually start to purr knowing that you are working to make them feel better. Every member at Diabetic Cat Help has gone through the process of moving past our angst about testing our cat’s BG. After joining the forum, please read through Diabetic Cat Help’s TR College of Knowledge, which includes detailed information about testing blood sugar. Knowledgeable members at DCH will readily provide you with lots of support as well as many tricks and tips to make blood glucose testing easy for you and your cat.
There are many types of syringes available and in some places a prescription is required to purchase insulin syringes. Here is a link to the Global Prescription Laws for Insulin and Syringes. We recommend purchasing 3/10cc syringes with half unit markings and long needles made for use with U100 strength insulin. While you may be using U40 strength insulin, with a simple conversion, using U100 syringes will enable you to consistently and accurately measure out precise and/or very small doses of insulin for your cat. On the forum, experienced members of Diabetic Cat Help can help you source the proper syringes and learn how to use the U40 to U100 conversion chart if need be.
Select the Correct Insulin
Protamine Zinc Insulin (PZI) is the best choice for cats. It is gentle, predictable insulin that drops the BG slowly and is Dr. Hodgkin’s preferred insulin when it comes to felines. There are different types and strengths of PZI available – bovine based PZIs are the best, but ProZinc, a human DNA RecombinantPZI, is also effective. Outside the US, Hypurin is available and is a bovine based PZI. Availability depends on where you are located. Forum members have a lot of experience using the various PZIs and will strongly recommend you do what you can to get this type of insulin for your cat.
Lantus (aka Glargine) can also be used successfully for TR. Because it is usually dosed every 10 to 12 hours, Lantus is recommended for those folks who are unable to give shots earlier, as preferred for the PZI insulins.
Many vets will recommend Caninsulin (Vetsulin) because the FDA recently approved it for use in cats. Although Caninsulin is not the best insulin for cats, it can still be used when dosed appropriately. The same applies to NPH, human insulin that works very much like Caninsulin.
We invite you to join our Diabetic Cat Help Forum to gain access to specific details and dosing scales for all insulins mentioned above. On the forum, you will find a wealth of information about proper feline diet, country specific sourcing info, and details about starting TR safely.