Feline Diabetes: The Importance of Home Blood Glucose Testing

Gracey, The Tiniest Tiger

I want you to know how important home glucose testing is for the health of your cat living with diabetes

Last fall, I started showing symptoms of feline diabetes. I was getting super thirsty and began to drink a lot more water. And even though I was hungry and eating more, I was getting thinner. I was making more trips to my little box too.  My parents scooped me up and put me in my cat carrier and we went to see my doctors at the Morris Veterinary Clinic. My diabetes had returned. This time, my doctors didn’t think it was going to be transient like it was after suffering from pancreatitis the previous year.

Hearing that your pet has developed a health condition can be a scary time for pet parents.  But feline diabetes is treatable and your cat can resume a normal, happy healthy life once the diabetes is under control.

One of the best ways to help aid in regulating insulin levels is for your parents to learn how to use a blood glucose meter and plot a glucose curve at home. Now at first, you might think this will be too difficult, and it can be intimidating, but with some practice and patience, you will be able to get this testing down to a routine.

A blood glucose curve is a plot of your cat’s blood sugar levels during the day. The purpose of the glucose curve is to obtain blood glucose levels at the time of the morning meal and every 2 to 4 hours afterwards for at least 12 hours to show a pattern of when the level is too high, too low or just right. This is valuable information that is needed to get optimum regulation of insulin levels.

If your cat is like me, I get super nervous when I am at the veterinarian clinic. When cats are nervous and afraid, their blood glucose levels might be higher than normal, so if you can monitor your cat from the comfort of their home, the reading might be more accurate and help to get a more precise measure of your cat’s insulin requirements.

My parents use a glucometer to monitor my blood glucose levels and I take two insulin injections per day.  During the first week or two, my parents were so worried, they even cried. Sometimes they would give me the injections but the insulin would pool up on the outside of my skin. Sometimes I would wait until they were ready and then take a big step to the right to avoid the needle. But now we have it down to a routine. Most of the time I am cooperative with having my glucose tested but there are times that I just refuse to behave.  My parents just take their time, pet me and talk to me calmly explaining why it is so important to monitor my health.  After I settle down, they do the test and I get a treat.

Now, 11 months after my diagnosis, my weight is back up to 8 lbs., which is a perfect weight for a cat my size.  I am playing and jumping and back to my mischievous self. My health is stable and that makes my parents, my doctors and me very happy

This post is part of the Sensible Feline-Blogger Edition brought to you by World’s Best Cat Litter™

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  1. Somervillebs says

    WalMart sells the Sidekick blood glucose meter which includes 50 test strips for $19.99.   We have seen many cats, including our own cat, now 21 years old, able to go into remission from diabetes by being completed taken off ALL DRY FOOD of any kind and put on a raw or pate-style wet food diet (high protein, no gravies) and doing home testing.

  2. Great information, Joanne and Gracey! I had no idea what kitties with Diabetes have to deal with. Good to know. You are one amazing little girl. xoxox

  3. Where do you get a home test for cats?

    • Hi BrandySue.  We obtained our blood glucose meter and strips from our Dr. at the Veterinary Clinic.

      • my vet charges me $65 for each visit to check, but never gave me the option of doing it myself, I think it would be good to check myself as she is still having accidents around the house, should I call the vet and see if they will sell me the meter and strips?

        • Yes, you can ask your Veterinarian if they will get the meter and strips for you.  Our Dr. trained my parents on how to use the meter too.  We use the Alphatrak meter.

  4. knowing how to test a cat’s blood sugar is invaluable.  and while it might seem like a pretty big expense, it will save you money and sanity in the future.  Cats can become hypoglycimic and having a meter and knowing how to test can help you understand what is going on with the cat and can help you KNOW when the cat is coming out of the crisis.  Being able to do your own curves will keep you out of the vet’s office all day while s/he does them.  It also helped me when one of my kitties who was not diabetic was acting a little off.  I tested his blood sugar levels and the results told me he was sick and needed a vet and wasn’t just having an off day.

    it is a very steep learning curve, and so scary to think of making your cat bleed on purpose.  There are a lot of videos out there to walk you through it.  While it may be steep, it is short, and in almost no time you’ll be wondering why you were so scared.  I promise.

    I treated my own diabetic cat for seven years before she died of cancer. I then fostered four more.  It is a wonderful bonding experience, and you do become much closer to your kitty when you have to be so intimate with them twice a day every day.. not that I’d wish that on anyone, but a lot of diabetic cat owners go on to adopt other diabetic cats because they know how to treat it, and they know that bond..

  5. Hi Gracey!  How wonderful that you have parents that are willing to take care of your health so well.  I joined that ranks of sugarcat parent when I adopted a diabetic cat in 2007. When Woody passed away this spring, I adopted Minuit another sugarcat who so far is diet controlled.  Tomorrow PoughKeepsie another diabetic kitty joins our family.  It’s a commitment, but it such a manageable disease and it’s so worth it!

    • Thank you Dawn for adopting, caring and loving my cousins like me in need of special care.  

  6. Great article written from the cats perspective.  I would also like to comment about a company porting the gold standard human test for diabetes (A1c) to cats and dogs.  This will be a great diagnostic tool for vets and perhaps someday be available for at home testing.  The company is Baycom Diagnostics ( http://www.baycomdiagnostics).

  7. Hey Gracie,Through my beloved Whisper i learned so much about feline diabetes.He was on injection 2xdaily,and we made it a pleasant experience for the both of us.we bonded even more thru this process.i loved my Whisper so very much.it is a year this month that he went to the RB.I still kept the Smart cat litterbox system and my 4 kitties use it no problem eventhought they are not diabetic,my house never smells urine with that system.i will never go back to using another kind of litter box.its green too and that make it even better.stay on track little lade.love love =^.^= <3