Diabetes in cats appears to be similar to type II adult onset diabetes in humans. Diabetic cats usually start out overweight. When they become diabetic, they gradually lose weight and drink and urinate excessively. They may also become tired or lethargic, have a poor coat, and have difficulty walking with their back legs. Diabetes is controlled with a low carbohydrate diet or insulin injections, depending on the severity of the disease.

Diabetic Diet

Canned Cat Food: Meat Flavors (Avoid rice, gravy and fish flavors) or commercially prepared raw diets.

Healthy canned food brands are Blue Basics, Call of the Wild, Evanger’s, Identity Pet, Innova, Honest Kitchen, Natures Variety, Natural Balance, Tiki Cat, Walk About, Wellness Core and Ziwi. There are many other brands to choose from. Look for Grain Free, preferably organic meat flavors. We feed our house cats naturally farmed proteins such as rabbit, lamb, venison and duck. You should be able to read the ingredient list and recognize the ingredients.

This diet is similar to the human Atkin’s diet. It helps to maintain a steady blood sugar level and promote weight loss. Your cat should feel more satisfied and eat less on this diet.

Recommended daily amounts:

2 – 3 cans of a 3 ounce sized can (like Fancy Feast) OR 1 – 1 1/2 cans of a 5 1/2 ounce sized can.

It is ok to give cooked meat, lunch meat or freeze dried meat as a treat.

If your cat will not eat canned food, we recommend a grain free dry or Purina Diabetic Management dry. Feed 1/8 cup, three to four times daily. A cat on dry food will not go into remission and will require insulin.

Diabetics on canned food diet only

Cats being treated with diet alone should have a blood glucose (sugar) checked every 4-6 weeks until the blood glucose is normal.

Diabetics on insulin

A recheck exam and serum fructosamine level is recommended every 3 months. Serum fructosamine is a blood test that tells us the average blood sugar level for the two week period prior to the test. This gives a better picture of the diabetic patient’s overall regulation. The patient should be medicated and fed as normal prior to the test. The appointment can be set up for any time of the day.

For all diabetic patients, a chemistry screen and complete blood count is recommended with their annual exam. Diabetics are prone to infections and other complications such as fatty liver disease. These blood tests help us to detect new conditions sooner rather than later, which will give your cat a better quality and quantity of life.

Levemir Insulin Facts


  • Levemir dosage is not adjusted up and down like that of traditional insulin. Feline patients are given 1 unit subcutaneously one or twice daily if on a canned food only diet. Cats eating dry food may need more insulin. Giving any more than this can cause severe hypoglycemia and/or death! The dosage is not changed unless your cat’s diabetes goes into remission and we can take them off of insulin completely.
  • Levemir must be administered with prescription U-100 insulin syringes provided by your pharmacy. Used syringes should be disposed of properly. Most waste management companies permit veterinary sharps to be mixed in with your normal trash as long as they are in a hard sided container such as a commercial sharps container (purchased from your pharmacist) or an empty laundry detergent bottle or coffee canister. It is unlawful for you to transport medical waste of any kind, so please do not return used needles to us for disposal.
  • Levemir can be used for up to 6 months as long as it is stored properly. The vial should be kept in the refrigerator and away from light. If the insulin becomes cloudy, it should be replaced with a new vial.
  • Levemir should not be rolled or shaken prior to administration. After pulling up your cat’s insulin into the syringe, warm it between your fingers for a few seconds. Administering the insulin at room temperature will prevent a stinging sensation when being injected.
  • Fructosamine levels should be checked every 3 months for patients being administered Levemir. This is to determine whether or not your cat’s diabetes has gone into remission. If this occurs, Levemir is discontinued as long as the blood sugar levels stay normal.
  • As with all insulin therapy, your cat should be closely monitored for signs of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels). The earliest signs resemble a drunken state. Your cat will be weak and walk with a wobbly, uncoordinated gait. This stage may progress to seizure or coma. Should this occur, give 1 – 2 teaspoons of Karo Syrup, maple syrup or honey to your cat. If you suspect your cat is becoming hypoglycemic, immediately contact our office. You should offer your cat some food or treats until he or she can be brought in to see the veterinarian.

To learn how to give your cat insulin, please watch How to Give Your Diabetic Cat an Insulin Injection and How To Prepare an Insulin Syringe to Inject a Diabetic Cat.