Glucose meters for cats are designed to aid in the home management of feline diabetes. They help to cut down on trips to the vet and enable you to play a more proactive role in caring for your diabetic kitty.
A glucose meter enables you to test your diabetic cat’s blood sugar levels at home by taking a blood sample from her ear. Based on the results, you can determine how much insulin she needs. When your kitty is first diagnosed with diabetes your vet will recommend a daily insulin dose based on initial blood and urine tests. However, as with people who have diabetes, blood glucose levels can vary from day to day and home testing helps to control the disease more stringently and protects against an overdose of insulin that can cause potentially fatal hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Selecting A Meter
Glucose meters for humans and those designed specifically for felines can be used to take blood glucose readings from diabetic cats. The former are more expensive and opinion is divided as to whether they give a more accurate reading. A 2007 study conducted by the Clinic For Small Animals Internal Medicine at the University of Zurich compared a human glucose meter and one designed for felines to determine the effectiveness of each when used to obtain blood glucose readings on cats. The study concluded that the latter gave more accurate readings. However, the study also found that the results given by both meters were within clinically acceptable ranges. Because results can vary between meters, it’s important to use the same meter at all times and to check the results against those obtained through tests conducted by your vet.
How It Works
Blood glucose meters for cats come with a meter, lancet, needles and test strips. The portable pen-shaped lancet holds the needle in place while you prick your cat’s skin to obtain a small blood sample. Insert the test strip into the meter immediately after using the lancet and place the magnetic side of the strip against the blood. Your meter will give you a blood glucose reading within a few seconds.
Learning to use a home glucose meter can be daunting at first -- you don’t want your fur baby to think that you're a vampire -- but with a little patience things will soon run like clockwork. Getting blood is the hardest part initially because cats' ears can stubbornly refuse to bleed unless you stimulate the blood flow by warming them up first. Hold a warm towel against your cat’s ear for around 30 seconds, then gently massage the area for 30 to 60 seconds. Once your kitty’s ear is suitably warm, hold it between your thumb and index finger and aim your lancet toward the edges of the small vein that circles the perimeter of the ear. This is the marginal vein (see Resources).
Based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Elizabeth Burns began writing professionally in 1988. She has worked as a feature writer for various Irish newspapers, including the "Irish News," "Belfast News Letter" and "Sunday Life." Burns has a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Ulster as well as a Master of Research in arts.