What are cat diabetes symptoms?

Cat diabetes symptoms

Animals like humans, are capable of developing diabetes in their lifetime. There are many and various cat diabetes symptoms that are similar to humans that cat owners should watch out for. A cat that develops diabetes is still capable of living a long, happy life although you as the owner will need to give it extra attention and love to ensure this.

If left untreated cat diabetes symptoms can develop into very serious problems for your cat including severe depression, coma and ultimately death. The good news is that you have come to the right place to treat cat diabetes symptoms.

Cat diabetes symptoms

When a cat develops diabetes it is left with an inability to produce enough insulin to convert glucose or blood sugar levels into energy for its muscles and tissues to absorb. It is estimated that up to 2% of cats will develop diabetes however this statistic is likely very under diagnosed which means that this statistic could be as high as 4 or 5% of cats with diabetes.

Why do cats develop diabetes?

This is unknown as it is for dogs and humans. There are many factors that play a part. Feeding a cat dry food maybe a factor as dry food has a high carbohydrate content. Cats are natural carnivores so their diet would naturally be very high in protein. Cats that are obese are at biggest risk of getting diabetes, also inactive cats maybe at higher risk. The exact reasons for cats getting diabetes however, is a mystery.

Cat diabetes symptoms

Like people and dogs the symptoms of a cat with diabetes can be very similar. It is important to note that obese cats are at a significantly higher risk of developing diabetes. If you see any or all of these symptoms in your cat you should seek veterinary advice ASAP.  The main symptoms to watch out for are –

  • Dramatically increased thirst and urination
  • Increased appetite.
  • A big loss of weight
  • Bad breath
  • Vomiting
  • Poor coat condition

Taking your cat to the vet

It is important to note that a single blood test for your cat may not be enough to confirm the presence of diabetes. Your cat may become stressed and may show signs of elevated blood sugar levels. This stress can see your cat display what is known as transient hyperglcemia. Several blood tests may be required over time to confirm diabetes in your cat. Your vet will prescribe the best course of action when it comes to this.

How do I treat a cat with diabetes?

Proper diet and exercise will be one for of treatment for your cat. In some cases a cat with diabetes can be managed via its diet alone. You will also need to play extra attention to your cats behaviours over time. A diet high in protein will be ideal for your cat. Dry foods that are high in carbohydrates will most likely need to be out of your cats diet. Managing your cats weight will also be something that will also be required.

Your cat may need oral medication or medication such as insulin

Insulin shots

You may have to give your cat and insulin shot once or twice a day. You usually inject a cat with insulin at the scruff of the neck at the same times every day. It sounds complicated but it is not really. Your vet should show you how to administer the insulin in the best fashion.


Managing your cat with insulin can lead to over injecting your cat which can be dangerous as this leads to low blood sugar levels that can kill your cat. You should ideally feed your cat small frequent meals to manage this complication. A cat will display low blood sugar levels when it

  • Shows sign of weakness, lethargy
  • Convulses
  • Is wobbly on its feet
  • Goes into a coma

If left untreated it can lead to death. If your cat shows any or all of these symptoms offer it some food immediately. Ideally dry food that has a high content of carbs. Anything sweet or sugary eg sweetened milk is ideal as it acts very fast.

What is a cat with diabetes life expectancy?

Diabetes is a serious illness for your cat. It can lead to a host of complications if the illness is not managed properly. However with proper attention, care and love there is no reason to anticipate anything other than a healthy, happy long life for your diabetic cat. This can mean a life expectancy well into its teenage years.

How much will my cats insulin cost?

It is anticipated that people will need to spend somewhere in the vicinity of $20 to $30 per month on insulin and syringes to manage your cats diabetes.


It is important to monitor your cat’s overall behaviour. If you see any signs of cat diabetes symptoms listed above then you should seek advice from your local vet immediately. Managing your diabetic cats condition will be essential if you want to see it live a normal, healthy life.

I have further blog posts on how to tell if your dogs has diabetes and the best diabetic dog food brands as well if you are interested to find out more.

Please get in touch with me if you have a cat or know someone who owns a cat with diabetes.

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  1. Samantha

    Very nice layout! Being that it is a site about healthy blood sugars, I didn’t expect an article about cat diabetes, but I like the concept of including pets as well as humans. The article was well-written and very informative. But instead of using just one picture, it would look better to include at least 1 or 2 more pictures. Perhaps a picture of an obese cat and one of a diabetic cat food (preferably one from a company that you are an affiliate for).

    1. Ben (Post author)

      Thanks for the feedback Samantha

  2. Simon

    Hi Ben,
    Very interesting subject but always seek veterinary advice is the key here. Shame our cats can’t tell us anything, but you always know something’s wrong by the way they act.

    Years ago we had a dog that started to put on weight as she got older. Our Vet said that we were feeding her too much protein and she wasn’t burning it off as she wasn’t as active.

    The Vet suggested that we cut the mince intake down by half and make the rest up with bran to cut the protein levels down.

    It was the best advice as she did lose a lot of weight and became fitter for her later years. Looking back, whether she was suffering with diabetes I have no idea, that wasn’t mentioned.

    Great article,

    1. Ben (Post author)

      Hi Simon. Ironically, when you get diabetes you lose a lot of weight. When your diabetes is treated you soon put all the weight back on. Any unusual behaviour by a dog or cat should always see you speak to your vet. This article is just a guide on what to look out for. As a side note here are some diabetic dog food brands for you or anyone interested – http://healthybloodsugars.com/managing-blood-sugar-levels/diabetic-dog-food-brands-whats-best

  3. James Kelly

    Well researched article Ben and very useful information for me as a cat owner. I understand that diabetes is a fairly rare condition with cats ( less than 2% getting it but it is likely that the disease is under diagnosed) and fortunately none of the 3 cats I have had never got it. Good article for the many pet owners among us!

    1. Ben (Post author)

      Thanks for your comments James. Yes it is rare for cats to get diabetes but at least by reading this article you know what to look out for in future.

  4. Richard

    I do enjoy cats. I have three of them currently, two males and one female. The female is a big eater and not a big exerciser, so consequently she is very overweight. I have not noticed any symptoms of diabetes, but should I expect them? What percentage of overweight cats get diabetes?

    1. Ben (Post author)

      Only 2-5% of cats get diabetes Richard so it is not very common. Keep an eye on her though, if she shows a few signs then it is time to get her to the vet immediately. Until then you may be able to manage her weight through her diet.


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