Diabetic remission

A recovery from the signs of diabetes.

Overview

Diabetes can be a very challenging condition to manage. However, the commitment to consistent insulin injections, dietary restrictions and frequent blood and urine samples can give your cat the best chance at remission. Diabetic remission refers to the temporary recovery from the signs of disease. It occurs when the disease has been effectively managed through insulin medication and diet. And with time, this support may allow the cat's own insulin production to maintain glucose levels, and they will no longer require insulin injections.

Cats with other risk factors such as obesity, disease, concurrent medications or genetics will require further treatment in order to reach remission. 

Insulin Injections

Your veterinarian will determine the insulin injection regime, provide home monitoring requirements and establish regular revisits for bloodwork.

Insulin injections must be scheduled alongside meal times. Training your cat to come for their injections can help. Using a small treat before and after the injection will help remove any stress related to the injection.

It is important to note that insulin doses will be adjusted on a regular basis depending on the bloodwork.

There are 3 phases to treatment. 

1. Increasing dose every 5-7 days

2. Holding dose 

3. Decreasing dose

Remission is expected within 2-3 months whereby no further insulin is required.

How to administer insulin

This step-by-step guide will help you with administering insulin injections to your cat.

Your veterinarian will provide you with the needle and syringe and the insulin medication. The amount of insulin required will also be advised. It is important to note that the amount of insulin required may differ throughout treatment as determined by the urine and blood sugar results.

Step 1 Feed first

  • Administer the insulin AFTER you have fed the cat

Step 2 Check the insulin dose

  • Prepare the insulin according to your veterinarian's instructions
  • Clean the rubber stopper on the insulin bottle by wiping it with an alcohol swab
  • GENTLY roll the insulin bottle to ensure that the contents have combined

Step 3 Draw up insulin

  • Insert a NEW syringe needle into the insulin bottle
  • With the bottle upside down, draw the prescribed amount into the syringe

Step 4 Administer insulin

  • Locate an area on the cat's skin:
    • 3-4 cm from the spine over the shoulders
    • 3-4 cm from the spine over the hip

  • Alternate the location each time to avoid skin tenderness
  • Gently pinch a fold of skin and into the skin tent, gently insert the needle
  • Gently push the plunger of the syringe all the way
  • Carefully remove the needle and syringe and dispose of in a closed sharps or biohazard container

Dietary requirements

Cats with diabetes require a diet that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates. This diet will help stabilise the blood sugar, maximise the metabolic rate, improve meal satisfaction and prevent lean muscle mass loss.

Canned food is ideal as it offers:

  • Lower carbohydrate levels
  • Ease of portion control
  • Lower caloric density
  • Additional water intake

Prognosis

Cats have the best chance of reaching remission when their blood glucose level is controlled within the first 3-6 months of diagnosis. Home monitoring is very important as it is less stressful for the cat, cheaper and more convenient for you. Your veterinary team will help you get comfortable in giving insulin injections as well as monitoring blood and urine glucose levels. 

Seek veterinary care immediately if your pet

  • Begins twitching
  • Seems weak or spacey
  • Has been hiding for more than 12 hours
  • Vomits more than 3 times in 12 hours
  • Bumps into objects
  • Has difficulty walking
  • Has missed more than 2 doses of insulin
  • Received the incorrect dose of insulin
  • Has a seizure