Cats are prone to developing diabetes, just like humans. It is not a death sentence though if your cat is diagnosed with it. In fact, with the right treatment, this long-term condition can be easily managed so that your cat and your cat’s quality of life is not materially altered. However, if you suspect that your cat has diabetes it is good to have a check-up at your vet’s as soon as possible.

Not only will your vet be able to diagnose your cat’s condition definitively, but they will also be able to educate you like the cat owner and what will be required from you in the future to help your cat lead a long and healthy life. Your vet will also be able to diagnose which strain or type of diabetes that your cat has, as there are several that are known in cats, as there are in humans. The most common forms are Type II diabetes and diabetes that is often simply shortened to DM. This stands for Diabetes Mellitus.

fat cat due to diabetes

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes, in particular, the form DM, is a disease that makes it hard for your cat to utilize sugars within its body as a source of energy for its body movements and bodily functions. This means that, if not diagnosed, your cat can easily gain weight, or even lose it, due to an inability to use energy in its body properly. This, in turn, can lead to other illnesses.

In a cat that does not suffer from diabetes, they are able to digest food so that the food is broken down into smaller parts that are useful to the body or turned into waste. Sugar is one of those small parts that is often referred to as glucose when in the body. A cat without diabetes should be able to absorb glucose into the bloodstream from the digestive tract. Once in the bloodstream, it can then be transported around the body for parts that need the energy to move or different organs that need glucose to work.

However, before glucose can be used by the body, it needs a hormone known as insulin which is produced in the pancreas, just like it is in humans. For cats that suffer from diabetes, they have an inability to produce the right level of insulin or sometimes their bodies simply cannot use insulin properly so that glucose cannot then be utilized as it should be by the body or its organs.

This, therefore, means that glucose remains in the bloodstream so that too much sugar gathers there to unhealthy levels. It ultimately means that the organs cannot function as they are not provided with enough glucose or energy and so the body has to use its supplies of fat or even protein to keep the organs working. This is why cats with diabetes lose weight as they are losing both fat and muscle mass.

Cats that develop DM tend to be older or possibly overweight. Therefore, if your cat is either one of these, it is a good idea to brush up on the other symptoms of diabetes to ensure that your cat can get help should he or she need it.

Symptoms of Diabetes In Cats

Owing to cats’ independent and private natures, spotting the symptoms of diabetes within them can be more difficult than with other animals. However, it pays to be aware of the following symptoms that could point to the fact that they have diabetes and need a checkup with the vet. Bearing this in mind, some of the most common symptoms of diabetes are:

  • Eating more
  • Losing weight even though they are eating more
  • Needing to wee more
  • Drinking more water than usual
  • Deterioration in the coat and eyes as well as generally not looking as well as usual.

Your cat may also start to suffer from several urinary tract infections. This is due to the increased amount of sugar that will be in their urine. Whilst painful for your cat, this will at least mean that you are regularly attending your vet’s to get medication that will clear the infection up. An experienced vet will know to check for diabetes should your cat be suffering from one to many urinary infections.

These symptoms can obviously mean nothing but can also be symptoms of other conditions including DM – all of which will need the attendance of a vet to help clear up, treat or manage. If you are even the least bit concerned about your cat, you should take them to the vet as soon as possible to be on the safe side.

Prevention is always much easier and less painful than a cure.

diabetes cat

Cat Diabetes: How to Treat It

To know how to treat a cat’s diabetes, it first has to be properly diagnosed. To do so, a cat’s owner needs to take some urine samples to the vet where they will also have a sample of blood taken. This is done so your vet can ascertain the level of glucose that your cat has in its body which is a direct measure of how your cat copes with sugar and therefore whether they are diabetic or not. These tests and samples can be difficult to get sometimes so do not be surprised if your cat is admitted as a patient for the day under your vet’s recommendation.

If your cat does have a great deal of glucose in its body, your vet will discuss how to bring this level of sugar down to manageable levels so your cat is not at any risk of developing other diseases as a consequence. They will usually discuss how to do this through the use of both insulins as well as a special diet that can really help control the condition. If they advocate insulin, it will most probably have to be injected by you or another owner at home. Your vet will give you detailed instructions on how to do this. They will also discuss not only what to feed your cat but also when.

In terms of long-term treatment, your cat will need to return to the vet for regular check-ups so that your vet can monitor how the condition is either developing or diminishing. If the glucose levels within their bodies have not stabilized, your vet will alter the amount of insulin your cat is given to try to find the right balance. It is important for owners to stick to both the routine of when insulin should be administered, but also to stick to a routine of check-ups with the vet so that the condition is monitored carefully. Even when the right amount of insulin has been found for your cat, you will still need to attend the vet for regular check-ups.

This, perhaps, is as key as giving the insulin itself. Diabetes is the type of disease that is fairly easily managed, but it does require a certain amount of dedication to keep the disease under control. This is the same as with humans as it is with cats, only as cat owners we are responsible for their well being.

What Part Does Diet Have to Play in Helping Control My Cat’s Diabetes?

While insulin is obviously key to helping keep your cat’s diabetes under control, diet can also help with your cat’s long-term treatment of the condition.

For starters, cats that are overweight should be put on a controlled diet that addresses their obesity – however slight. Ask your vet about food that is suitable for cats that are both overweight and suffering from diabetes as the food will need to meet a certain set of criteria to be suitable for such a feline. This is a great course of action to follow however when your cat is first diagnosed with diabetes as it can have a huge impact on the severity of the condition. In some lucky cats, it can even eradicate the disease completely.

In other instances, where your cat is not necessarily overweight, your vet will still be able to prescribe the best diet for your cat. Talk through it with them in detail as diet is incredibly important in managing this condition. However, knowing in advance of your chat with your cat’s vet that a diet that has few carbohydrates in it is advantageous to know about so that you can talk through the various low carb options that are available to your kitty.

Finally, ask them about clever ways to up your cat’s amount of activity and exercise. This is a great way of maintaining your cat’s weight which is so often a problem with diabetes in any species.

Importantly, and what is often easy to forget, if your cat is allowed outside, is to try to inform your neighbors of the change in your cat’s diet and condition. All your hard work could be undone if well-meaning neighbors feed your cat little scraps and other titbits.

cat sleeping after insulin shot

Related Post: Best Cat Food for Weight Loss

Diet and Cat Diabetes FAQ:

Q: Is it possible to stop my cat from developing diabetes by keeping its weight down?

A: While this question is hard to answer with any certainty, there are definite pointers that link obesity with diabetes. Additionally, given that a low carb diet has been seen to help control diabetes, and in some cases eradicate it, it is easy to see why some medical professionals believe that by keeping a cat’s weight under control you are helping them remain healthy by minimizing the risk of diabetes, amongst other diseases. However, some breeds of cat are seen to be more prone to diabetes than others, so diet is not the sole factor in the development of the condition. Genetics play a part too.

Q: Is home cooked food better than store-bought food?

A: While it may sound counter-intuitive, given that home cooking is so frequently recommended when humans have developed diabetes, specialized diabetes-friendly cat food is a sure fire way to ensure that your cat receives a balanced diet.

Signs Your Cat’s Medication Is Not Working

The signs that your cat’s diabetes medication is not working are akin to the original symptoms of diabetes before it has been diagnosed. If you notice any of the following, you need to take your cat straight to the vet for a check-up, even if you have one scheduled. Signs to look out for are symptoms like your cat losing interest in food or even wanting to eat more than usual. Additionally, keep an eye on your pet for any dizziness or lethargy.

What Is the Long-Term Prognosis If My Cat Is Diagnosed with Diabetes?

As previously mentioned, cats with diabetes, when diagnosed, will be given regular injections of insulin hormones to help with their glucose or sugar levels. It will be a vet that will have prescribed this course of treatment and they will also have suggested a particular diet that will work at maintaining your cat’s wealth at a healthy level. Your vet will also have suggested some exercise that you can help your cat perform to further help with this. If owners follow all these directions, there is no reason to for your cat not to lead a long life that is otherwise happy and healthy. That being said, owners should be realistic and at least aware of the fact that some cats simply don’t respond to treatment for one reason or another.

Bottom Line

There is no denying cat diabetes is a serious condition. However, if it is caught early enough and dealt with in the right ways, it can be controlled so that it is not necessarily a death sentence. Cats with diabetes often go on to lead happy and healthy lives. 


  1. Diabetes in cats – Wikipedia
  2. Feline Diabetes: Symptoms, Treatments, Prevention, and Diet Tips – Pets WebMD


Olivia Williams
Olivia is our head of content for, mum of one and a true animal lover. With 12 different types of animal in her family, it's never a dull moment. When she isn't walking the dogs, feeding the cats or playing with her pet Parrot Charlie, you will find her product researching and keeping the site freshly updated with the latest products for your pets!


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