When hearing the words "diabetic medication," you automatically think of insulin. Although insulin is the major diabetic medication for felines, it's not the only one. In fact, some diabetic cats don't need insulin. Their diabetes can be managed with other drugs.
Feline Diabetes Mellitus
Cats diagnosed with diabetes mellitus don't have sufficient enough insulin, produced by the pancreas, to regulate glucose in their bodies. According to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, "When insulin is deficient or ineffective, the cat's body starts breaking down fat and protein stores to use as alternative energy sources." As a result, Kitty loses weight even though he's always famished, drinks and pees excessively, and generally starts looking bad. If Kitty has any of these symptoms, bring him to the vet for a diagnosis.
Cats with diabetes fall into the categories of insulin-dependent and noninsulin-dependent. If Kitty is insulin-dependent, you'll have to give him insulin shots once or twice daily along with his food, depending on your vet's recommendations. These shots are given subcutaneously -- under the skin.
You might be squeamish about giving shots at first, but your vet shows you how to do it, and once you learn it becomes part of your everyday routine. However, giving insulin shots means keeping to a strict schedule. Your vet regularly monitors Kitty's glucose profile, adjusting insulin dosage accordingly.
Cat with noninsulin-dependent diabetes might receive glipizide, a relatively inexpensive drug manufactured under the trade name Glucotrol by Pfizer. This oral medication forces the pancreas to produce additional insulin. You should give your cat his pill at the same time he's eating his cat food.
Kitty might throw up when first starting the drug, although that generally stops after a few doses. However, because it's so important for him to eat regularly if he's diabetic, contact your vet if Kitty vomits after consuming glipizide. Your vet will monitor Kitty's blood sugar levels and white blood cell counts while he's on the medication.
Methylcobalamin, a type of vitamin B-12, is given to diabetic cats suffering from neuropathy. Neuropathy, the most common complication of feline diabetes, affects nerves in Kitty's hind legs. If you see him walking oddly in the rear, take him to the vet.
Methylcobalamin comes as tablets and is given orally in the dosage determined by your vet. Kitty might have to take the medication for a year or longer, but it should help him regain the ability to walk normally.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- Vetinfo: Feline Diabetes Oral Medication
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Feline Diabetes
- Vetinfo: Feline Diabetes Treatment with Glipizide
- Vetinfo: Cat Insulin Management
- Veterinary Practice News: Feline Diabetes: Five Principles Breed Success
- Vetinfo: Managing Feline Neuropathy with Methylcobalamin
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.