Cat Diabetes Symptoms: Here's What You Need to Know

Feline diabetes is a severe condition affecting pets and people, so it's essential for owners to watch for cat diabetes signs and symptoms. Keep reading to learn more about feline diabetes symptoms and treatments to help your furry family member live a long and happy life.

What is Feline Diabetes?

Also known as diabetes mellitus, the body isn't producing enough insulin or balancing its blood sugar levels. Similar to humans and dogs diabetes, cats can get type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The first type is when the body can't maintain the necessary glucose concentration. For type 2, the levels are too high. Research shows this might occur because the body isn't responding properly to insulin. 

The main difference between the two is with type 1, your cat's not getting enough insulin, and in type 2, they're producing too much glucose. Type 2 diabetes is more common than type 1. As many as 1% of all cats are diagnosed with the condition in their lifetime.

Cat Diabetes Signs and Symptoms

The best way to help your pet is to watch for diabetic cat behavior and body language. The two most common signs of feline diabetes are increased thirst and urination. Although these symptoms can occur in pets with a normal weight, it's more common for overweight ones. Some may experience an increase in appetite despite getting the same amount of food as usual.

Cats with untreated diabetes can experience loss of appetite, dehydration, and vomiting. As the condition progresses, felines can show signs of depression, weight loss, nerve damage, and death.

Treating Feline Diabetes

Your veterinarian will explain feline diabetes symptoms and treatments to help you understand the steps necessary to manage the condition. There are four main goals for treating diabetic cats.

  • Restoring normal blood sugar levels
  • Promoting weight loss and healthy weight management
  • Reducing or ending increased thirst and urination
  • Preventing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar from treatment)

Pets with diabetes require insulin therapy, which involves a daily injection. Unfortunately, there are no oral medications that can reduce symptoms or return blood sugar levels to a normal level. Several prescriptions are available that vary by effectiveness, duration, and price. It can take time to find the proper medication and dose to help your cat maintain healthy blood sugar levels. These injections are given under the skin or subcutaneously twice daily. 

Another part of treatment involves monitoring dose times, symptoms and performing regular blood sugar screenings. Your pet's veterinarian will guide you through these steps to help you get comfortable with the entire treatment plan. In addition, glucose tests are often performed by the vet to ensure accuracy. 

Can a Cat Get Too Much Insulin?

Yes! Cat diabetes management is about maintaining balance. Too little or too much insulin can have dangerous results. Watch for signs of hypoglycemia along with diabetic cat behavior, which can include weakness, shaking, lethargy, unsteadiness, and convulsions if it's dangerously low. If you notice any of these symptoms, check your pet's blood glucose levels immediately. Hypoglycemia is a medical emergency, and you should seek immediate care for your cat. 

Preventing Diabetes in Cats

You can't prevent type 1 diabetes. But most cats are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which is preventable. Diabetic cat behavior usually occurs when they're overweight. A Feline that's three or more pounds overweight is considered obese. To reduce the chances of your pet gaining too much weight, provide regular, nutritious meals.

Don't overfeed your cat with larger portions than necessary for their age and body frame. Also, ensure that they get regular exercise. You don't have to take your furry friend for a walk every day (although you can!) But you can play with them. An excellent option is a toy treat feeder. These require your pet works to get their snack, providing fitness and a treat all-in-one.


Learning that your beloved cat has diabetes can be scary and confusing. However, after forming a plan with your pet's veterinarian and getting your furry family member used to daily injections, you'll both become accustomed to the routine. Administering injections at home isn't difficult. The needle is small and most cats don't experience pain during the procedure. For type 2 diabetes, the goal is weight management to reduce and eliminate symptoms. Remember, both type 1 and type 2 require your pet to have a healthy weight. You can help them achieve this through proper nutrition, portion control, and regular exercise.

How to know if a cat has diabetes?

To know if your pet has a glucose-related condition, watch for diabetic cat behavior. Specifically, animals that are drinking and urinating more, have increased hunger despite the same diet, and they're overweight, might have diabetes. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your pet's vet for the next available appointment. An early diagnosis and treatment is the key to longevity with a chronic condition.

What are the signs of a diabetic cat?

There are very specific cat diabetes signs and symptoms that will alert you to a health problem. The most common are excessive thirst and urination. You may also notice an increased appetite despite unexplained weight loss. As the condition progresses, your cat's appetite might decrease, and they can present with advanced symptoms.

Do Cats Get Diabetes?

Cats can get diabetes. For some pets, there's no underlying cause of a type 1 diagnosis. However, it's more common in older cats. Obesity can lead to type 2 diabetes. With the right care, your cat may achieve remission. Although this positive result isn't possible for all diabetic cats, an estimated 17% to 67% of pets reach this goal. Your pet is considered in remission if they maintain a healthy glucose level for over four weeks without insulin injections. The key to this status is ensuring your cat reaches and stays at a healthy weight. Regular checkups are still necessary to monitor long-term success. Understanding feline diabetes symptoms and treatments can help you learn more about the condition and the required steps to help them live a long, healthy, and happy life.

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Written by Leo Roux

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