What All Cat Parents Need to Know About Diabetes

Dr. Ruth MacPete is our guest today!

Dr. Ruth MacPete

Dr. Ruth MacPete

I am honored to introduce you to  Dr. Ruth MacPete.  Dr. Ruth, “the Pet Vet”, has appeared on TV shows like “The Doctors” and on the TV news programs throughout the country educating pet parents about important pet issues.  She has also written numerous articles for Cat Fancy, Bark, and Kittens USA.

Dr. Ruth always wanted to be a veterinarian. Her love of animals was evident from the time she was a baby. One of her first words was cat, not surprising since she seemed to always be surrounded by them. This is our kind of Doctor!

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Many of you know that I have diabetes and  that my parents take good care of me with glucose checks and making sure I get my ProZinc insulin twice a day.  But  we wondered if cat parents are knowledgeable  about feline diabetes.  Dr. Ruth was super nice and offered to talk to us about what all cat parents need to know about diabetes.

Guest Post by Dr. Ruth MacPete


Diabetes affects 1:200 cats nationwide and its prevalence is increasing at an alarming rate. Diabetes is a multi-factorial disease caused by different risk factors including: age, genetic predispositions, diet, and obesity. Unfortunately obesity is also on the rise in both people and pets. It is estimated that 58% of cats in the US are overweight. That means more than half of cats in the Unites States are at risk for developing diabetes. 


Diabetes mellitus occurs when the body is unable to regulate the amount of sugar in the bloodstream. Diabetes is classified as type-1 or type 2-diabetes. Type-1 diabetes occurs when the body fails to produce the hormone insulin, which is responsible for controlling blood sugar levels. Insulin resistant or type-2 diabetes develops when the body becomes less responsive to the effects of insulin. Type-2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in both cats and people. Both type-1 and type-2 diabetes result in chronically elevated levels of sugar in the blood. Left untreated diabetes can lead to nerve damage, kidney failure and even death.


The classic signs of diabetes include increased thirst and urination, change in appetite and weight and a decrease in activity level. Of course, it’s important to mention that our feline friends are very adept at hiding illness so these symptoms may be difficult to recognize initially. If you have to fill your cat’s water bowl or change their litter more frequently this may be a subtle, but very important, clue. As the disease progresses the classic signs and symptoms may become more obvious and you may even see weakness in your cat’s rear legs.


If you think your cat may have diabetes see your veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian can diagnosis diabetes by performing simple blood and urine tests on your cat. These fast and easy diagnostic tests allow your veterinarian to detect abnormally high levels of sugar in your cat’s bloodstream and also look for the presence of sugar or sugar breakdown products in your pet’s urine.


Fortunately, being diagnosed with diabetes is not a death sentence. Diabetes is a manageable disease. The goal of treatment is to provide stable blood sugar levels. This can be achieved with some combination of diet, weight loss and insulin. There are several different types of insulin available with different durations of action; your veterinarian will determine which type of insulin will be best for your particular pet. In addition your veterinarian will likely suggest switching your cat to a low-carbohydrate and high-protein canned food diet. This type of diet prevents large fluctuations of blood sugar throughout the day. Weight loss is also important because obesity is a common cause of insulin resistance. With the right medications, diet and weight loss, diabetes can be controlled.


Diabetes is an increasingly common problem in cats. Become familiar with the signs and symptoms of diabetes and watch for their development in your pet. Take your cat to your veterinarian for regular examinations and screening tests. Remember it is always best to catch diseases early before they become advanced and lead to complications. If you veterinarian diagnoses your cat with diabetes, remember diabetes is a manageable disease and with treatment cats with diabetes can live long healthy lives.



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  1. Cat Rescue says

    Great post, my baby girl is one of those that was dx. she is in remission for almost 3 yrs! We HOME TEST! Just as you would a child. Before EVERY shot and mid term. We eat nothing but 10 carbs or under even though she is in remission and still test at least once every 6 wks. We watch and do the dental as that can onset diabetes.

  2. PetNewsandViews says

    Another great post!

  3. Thank you Gracey, and Dr Ruth…that was very helpful, and I will hold on to this info. Gracey, you are so brave to take your shots, …:) xoxox

  4. I’ve seen many many cases of feline diabetes go into remission when the cats are put on a “low carb” food – one with as few plant based ingredients as possible. Having owned and then fostered several diabetic cats, I can tell you that home testing is invaluable when it comes to feeling like you have some sort of control over this disease. Home testing of the cats glucose levels is pretty easy and inexpensive (when compared to bringing the cat to the vet) a simple human glucometer purchased at any megamart will work just fine. There are a lot of videos on YouTube about home testing and articles on the web if you are looking for more information.

    I can tell you it saved me more times than I care to remember.