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Diabetes Mellitus

cat in grey studio


Just as in humans, our pets can have Type I or Type II diabetes. Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to convert glucose into energy. But don’t worry, diabetes is manageable.

With proper management a diabetic cat can lead an active life.

High levels of glucose in the blood pull fluid out of tissues, creating an increased fluid load on the kidneys. This results in the pet urinating more often, and thus increased thirst. Excess glucose in the blood can also affect appetite, behaviour and overall health.


Contact your veterinary surgeon if your cat is showing any of these signs:

  • Fatigue or Weakness

  • Sleeping more than usual

  • Acting sluggish or less playful

  • Appearing sick or not feeling well

  • Poor body or coat condition

  • Increased Hunger

  • Your pet has been eating more but has not gained weight

  • Excessive Thirst

  • You have been filling the water bowl more than usual

  • Your pet has been drinking water out of the tap or toilet

  • Frequent Urination

  • Your pet has been asking to go out more

  • Your pet has been having accidents in the house

  • You have to change the litter box more than usual

Signs of diabetes may recur after your pet is diagnosed and begins treatment. Always watch for these symptoms and let your vet know if any reappear. Reappearance of signs may indicate that your pet’s diabetes is not being properly regulated.

Risk Factors

Certain risk factors increase the chances of a pet getting diabetes. If your pet has one or more of these risk factors, consult your veterinary surgeon about a diabetes screening.

Risk Factors in Cats:

  • Older age

  • Neutered Male,1,2,3

  • Obesity

  • Breeds with genetic predisposition for diabetes: Domestic, Siamese, Burmese


Although the causes and effects of diabetes in pets are relatively similar to that in humans, it is important to note that the makeup of your pet’s blood is much different than your own. The ratio of glucose in plasma and red blood cells differs among humans, cats and dogs. The amount of glucose in plasma is 93% for cats. Humans have a significantly lower amount of glucose in the blood, with just 58%. This difference means that detecting and managing diabetes in pets takes specific tools and techniques.

Sometimes, pet owners choose to use human blood glucose monitors, which are created and calibrated for measuring the level of glucose in a human’s blood. When a human blood glucose meter is used on a dog or cat, it assumes human blood composition to calculate glucose levels. This results in underestimation of blood glucose concentrations and inaccurate readings.

To get accurate blood glucose readings on your diabetic dog or cat, you must use a blood glucose monitor made specifically for dogs and cats. AlphaTRAK Blood Glucose Monitoring System is calibrated specifically for dogs and cats.


If your veterinary surgeon has determined that your pet does indeed have diabetes, you’re not alone and it is manageable. With the proper treatment plan, your diabetic pet can live an active life. Your vet will customise a diabetes management plan to fit the needs of you and your pet.

The goal of pet diabetes management is to control glucose levels and minimize complications. Blood glucose monitoring is a way to assess the diabetes treatment plan and make adjustments, if needed. Your veterinary surgeon can perform blood glucose tests at the clinic, or you can perform a test at home.

How to Perform A Blood Glucose Test

There are two types of blood glucose tests: a blood glucose spot check and a blood glucose curve.

A spot check is just one blood glucose sample test. Most pet owners do spot checks 1 - 3 times a day on regular basis and when they suspect that blood glucose is too high or too low.

A blood glucose curve is a series of spot checks taken every 1 - 2 hours over a period of 8 - 24 hours. Blood glucose curves are usually done:

  • A few weeks after the pet is diagnosed with diabetes to check how the treatment plan is working

  • If diabetes signs recur

  • When the treatment plan is changed

  • Before diabetes check-up appointments

It is important to perform spot checks and blood glucose curves under the direction of your veterinary surgeon, as many things may cause a fluctuation in blood glucose levels, including:

  • Age

  • Having house visitors (may raise BG levels)

  • Increase in activity or exercise (may cause BG levels to drop)

  • Eating meals or snacks (likely to raise BG levels)

Your veterinary surgeon will show you how to accurately perform blood glucose tests and prescribe a monitoring schedule. To learn more about at-home testing, visit zoetis.co.uk/alphatrak



1. Reusch C. Feline Diabetes Mellitus in Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine 7th Ed.
2. Tremayne J Education Key in Diabetes Maintenance Vet Practice News Dec 2009 (ALPHA-346);
3. Rand J, Freeman L, Farrow H Canine and feline diabetes mellitus: Nature or nurture? J Nutr Aug 2004; Rand J, Roomp J www.uq.edu.au/ccah




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