Elevated Glucose in Cats

High blood glucose levels can pose a problem for your kitty
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Higher than normal blood glucose levels are not uncommon in cats, especially older cats. It's important that you learn the signs, symptom and treatments for high blood glucose levels because the sooner you diagnose and begin treatment, the more likely you can prevent related complications.

Causes of High Blood Glucose Levels

The most common cause of elevated blood glucose levels, also called hyperglycemia, in felines is a malfunction within a cat's endocrine system. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that facilitates the passage of glucose into an animal's cells. The cells metabolize the glucose to provide energy for your cat's everyday functioning. When the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin, glucose remains in the bloodstream and causes glucose levels to rise. Other causes of increased blood sugar levels include stress, hormones, pancreatitis, a high-carb diet, drug interactions, and bacterial infection. It's important to determine the cause of your kitty's hyperglycemia because some types are temporary and do not require long-term treatment.


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Because you cat is not getting glucose into her cells, she will feel lethargic and begin to lose weight because her body starts burning muscle tissue for energy. If left untreated, the hyperglycemia will turn into diabetes. Feline diabetes can lead to kidney damage, vision problems, neuropathy and weakness in your cat's legs. Another complication, ketoacidosis, is a serious condition that arises when ketones, a byproduct of the digestion of a body's own tissues, build up in the bloodstream. Ketoacidosis requires immediate attention by your veterinarian. Always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet.


Watch for any signs that might signal that your feline friend has hyperglycemia. Your cat may be excessively thirsty, resulting in frequent urination. She may be constantly hungry, yet losing weight. Bloodshot eyes, depression, and lethargy are other symptoms of high blood glucose. Also, if your kitty shows signs of weakness in the rear legs or walks on her hocks, it could be sign of nerve damage due to high blood glucose levels.

If you notice any of these symptoms, it's time for a visit to your veterinarian. He likely will perform blood and urine tests to determine your cat's glucose levels. Normal blood glucose levels range between 75 and 120 mg/dL, and anything higher than 200 mg/dL is considered hyperglycemia.

Managing Hyperglycemia

First you must discover the underlying cause of the raised glucose levels. If the cause is due to a drug interaction or infection, the condition likely is temporary and will disappear once the underlying problems are resolved. If the hyperglycemia has led to diabetes, you'll need to treat it through stress reduction, diet changes and possibly insulin or oral medications. Your veterinarian likely will suggest a high-protein, low-carbohydrate, low-fat, and high fiber diet. If your cat's hyperglycemia is insulin-dependent, your veterinarian will coach you on insulin administration and glucose monitoring techniques. Managing your feline friend's hyperglycemia is a lifelong commitment to following your veterinarian's guidelines, but with proper monitoring and management, your hyperglycemic friend can live a long, healthy life.

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.

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