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Managing cat diabetes easier with AAFP Toolkit


Managing cat diabetes just got easier thanks to the exciting new Diabetes Educational Toolkit developed by the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP).

There’s an online version for veterinary professionals to manage cat diabetes:, as well as a section geared towards cat caregivers: If you are afraid that your cat is ill, then you should consider taking them to cat boarding services.

In a phone interview with AAFP president elect, Dr. Kelly St. Denis, MSc, DVM, DABVP (feline practice) Charing Cross Cat Clinic, Brantford, Ontario, Canada, she shared details about managing cat diabetes and how beneficial the toolkit can be to both veterinarians and cat caregivers.


The toolkit allows veterinarians to quickly access information about managing cat diabetes without having to search for information through the Internet.

With so much information online, finding and knowing if it is reliable can be challenging. As the toolkit was put together by AAFP Board-certified specialists, veterinarians know they can rely on it, and it will give them access to the most up-to-date information available. So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, she said.

Managing cat diabetes easier with AAFP Toolkit

This blog post is for informational and educational purposes. If you think your cat may have diabetes, consult with your veterinarian.

Happy Cats make happy owners

Management and treatment of feline diabetes is often perceived as a very complicated process as each cat requires an individualized plan, which includes frequent reassessment and adjustments to treatment as needed.

Additionally, diabetic cats are often challenging to diagnose, treat, and monitor. Diabetes mellitus is not always a straightforward diagnosis.

To help with this process, the kit has sections on diagnosis, treatment, remission strategy, troubleshooting, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and client resources.

Information on managing cat diabetes can be easily downloaded and shared with the cat owner. Vets can even put together an entire booklet with details needed to develop a treatment plan for cat caregivers that works for them.

According to St. Denis, developing the plan is key for the cat’s well-being. There’s no one-stop answer, and that’s why it’s so important for the veterinarian and cat caregiver to closely work together to find what works.

The plan may include modified diet, a weight-loss plan, and insulin therapy. People tend to panic when they think of giving their cats insulin shots.

Happy Cats make happy owners

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Happy Cats make happy owners

Additionally, she said the diagnosis can be tricky as cats can let a lot of sugar into their bloodstream when they are under stress. That can lead to an elevated glucose reading which may make it appear the cat is diabetic.

When they review the blood test, she explained your veterinarian is looking for repeated abnormally high levels of blood glucose, referred to as hyperglycemia, and the presence of glucose (sugar) in the urine, referred to as glucosuria. To develop a concrete diagnosis, you may be asked to bring your cat back to be re-tested.

Once a diagnosis is made, the cat caregiver must make decisions on what treatment plan works best for them and their cat. Factors like time commitments, lifestyle (working long hours or travel), and cost come into play.

For the cat caregiver, there’s looming questions like:

Managing Cat Diabetes not complicated

  • What happens if my cat is diagnosed with diabetes?
  • Now that my cat has been diagnosed with diabetes, now what?
  • Is my cat going to die?
  • Am I going to have to give my beloved kitty insulin shots?
  • How can I tell if my cat is getting better or worse?
  • How do I change my cat’s diet without hurting the other cats in the house?
  • As I travel a lot, how can I be home to manage my cat’s diabetes?
  • With no pet insurance, how am I going to afford to pay for the treatment?
  • Can I go on vacation, and leave my cat alone for a few days?
  • What happens if I miss a dose of insulin?

The kit answers many of these questions, and gives cat caregivers insight into what options are available for managing cat diabetes in layman terms. It also provides the latest information from the field as it is coming from AAFP.

Feline diabetes is on the rise

Estimates say somewhere in the range of 1 in every 100-200 cats will become diabetic. Most diabetic cats develop Type II diabetes where there may be enough insulin available in the body; however, the cells of the body don’t respond well to it.

What is feline diabetes?

AAFP defines Feline diabetes, known as diabetes mellitus, as an increasingly common condition in cats that often occurs in cats that are overweight and/or older. As in humans, cats have a pancreas that should produce insulin to regulate the sugar (glucose) in their bodies from their diet. Diabetes occurs when a cat’s body is not able to properly balance out the sugar in their bloodstream.

Much of the rise in diabetes in cats is cats due to inappropriate diets with too many carbs, overfeeding, and sedentary (inactive) lifestyles, St. Denis said.  With diet, both calories and carbs come into play. While cats are obligate carnivores (meat eaters) and have no desire for sweets or sugar, a certain amount of carbs is needed to make dry kibble, and that can exacerbate obesity. St. Denis encourages putting more canned food into the cat’s diet. The quality of the food can also be an issue.

Risk Factors

Other factors that could put your cat at higher risk for developing diabetes include:

  • Male
  • Neutered
  • Over seven (7) years of age
  • Overweight or obese
  • Taking medications such as corticosteroids
  • Other conditions happening at the same time, such as infection, hyperthyroidism, and/or renal issues


Early Symptoms

  • Weight loss
  • Drinking more water than normal
  • Drinking from unusual places
  • Begging for food/increased appetite
  • Decreased ability to jump
  • Walking on heels instead of toes (known as “plantigrade stance”)
  • Lethargy or decreased activity
  • Urine is sticky or difficult to clean
  • More frequent urination or urination outside of litter box

If your cat is displaying some of these symptoms, you should take your cat to the veterinarian’s office for a thorough physical exam and laboratory testing of both blood and urine.

Diabetes can be managed through a combination of diet, weight loss, and insulin therapy.

St. Denis explains an important part of the treatment plan is monitoring your cat’s response to the insulin and making adjustments as needed. There are three different monitoring protocols – intensive, standard, and loose.

There are various ways to monitor a patient’s response to insulin and determine dose adjustments. The method(s) used should be tailored to best meet the needs of both the cat and the owner.

  • Intensive: This protocol may be considered in a patient with a good likelihood of diabetic remission. The owner must be willing to monitor the cat closely and be able to follow directions. BG is checked at home three times a day
    • Before each insulin injection
    • 6-10 hours after the morning dose
    • Insulin dose is adjusted as necessary
  • Standard: This protocol supports, but does not require, at-home BG monitoring and is a suitable choice for many diabetic cats. recheck examination in clinic 5-10 days after starting insulin
  • Loose: This option relies primarily on clinical signs (water intake, urination) and body weight to make insulin adjustments. This protocol may be a suitable choice if the owner’s time or resources are limited

St. Denis said many diabetic cats can live happy and normal lives. To help your cat live a long life:

  • Maintain recommended checkups
  • Work to keep their blood sugar level stable
  • Strive to maintain a healthy body weight
  • Manage other diseases

You are a key part of your cat’s diabetes treatment plan, she said. Remember to be open and honest with your veterinarian about your ability to monitor and provide insulin therapy. Each cat is different and your veterinarian will work with you on an individualized healthcare plan for you and your cat.

Leave your Pawprints here:

Have you ever had a cat with diabetes? If so, how did you manage? Did you work closely with your veterinarian to develop a treatment plan? Please share your stories with our readers to help them learn from your experiences. To keep up with the latest cat news, sign up for our email list and get your FREE Guide to Stopping Kitty from Destroying Your Sofa.

4 responses to “Managing cat diabetes easier with AAFP Toolkit”

  1. Shirley Avatar

    My cat was diagnosed 3 months ago. I found the Feline Diabetes Group on Facebook. They also have a website… There are women who monitor your cats spreadsheets for your cats home texting. They hold your hand every steps of the way. They monitor the site 24 hours a day. They are even there if you’re having an emergency with your cat. They are so knowledgeable and very supportive. It’s very overwhelming in the beginning but these women make you feel like you are not alone because you aren’t. I don’t know what I would’ve done without them. My cat is on her 10th day of her 14 day “of the insulin” trial. It’s the second time she’s tried the trial and she’s doing very well. So I hope to be looking for remission soon. Please let these ladies help you❤️

    1. BJ Bangs Avatar
      BJ Bangs

      Thank you for sharing this. I plan to write another post about diabetes, and will definitely include them. I wish I had know about this when my Linus was diagnosed with diabetes. It was a short and painful trip. I think diabetes is one of the most challenging diagnoses for cat guardians because they can’t tell you how they feel. Keep me posted on how your cat is doing. I would love to share this on my blog or social media.

  2. BJ Bangs Avatar
    BJ Bangs

    Any surgery will cause blood sugars to spike in humans or in cats. You need to talk to your vet, and if you are not having any luck, see if you can get to a specialist, especially with the combination of sarcoma and diabetes. I offer information only, but the target when my Linus had diabetes was under 100, at least under 200. The lowest we ever got was the high 300’s, so I feel your pain. Diabetes is an extremely difficult disease, especially in cats. Prayers and good luck.

  3. Lyn Hillman Avatar
    Lyn Hillman

    My cat was recently diagnosed with diabetes, and sarcoma in a hind paw. Her leg has been amputated recently, so that problem is taken care of. The vet also put a Freestyle Libre glucose monitor on her, and I’ve been checking her glucose twice a day. The thing is, I need to know what is a good glucose level for her. Its been going up since her surgery two days ago. Its hard to get her on the phone, so I’ve been trying to research this. Any ideas?

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