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Can Cats with Diabetes Be Treated Without Insulin Injections?

Are There Alternatives to Insulin for a Diabetic Cat?


Can Cats with Diabetes Be Treated Without Insulin?

In some cases, cats with diabetes can be treated without insulin but insulin still remains the treatment of choice.
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The thought of giving insulin injections daily is a scary prospect for many cat owners. As a result, if your cat is diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, you may be wondering if there is an alternative to treating with insulin.

Alternatives to Insulin Injections in the Treatment of Feline Diabetes Mellitus

In most cases of feline diabetes, insulin is the treatment of choice. However, there may be other treatment options that are worth exploring in a situation where your cat's personality is not conducive to receiving daily or twice daily injections of insulin or where you are physically incapable of giving the insulin injections.

Oral hypoglycemic medications such as glipizide and acarbose are one such option. These medications act to help lower the blood glucose levels. They are given by mouth and are most effective for cats with mild diabetes. They are effective for some but not all diabetic cats.

Feeding as an Alternative in the Treatment of Cats with Diabetes

The most commonly recommended food for a cat with diabetes is a diet containing high levels of protein and low levels of carbohydrates. Canned cat foods are preferred if commercial diets are used (as opposed to kibble or dry food).

A strictly controlled diet can be useful in controlling the blood glucose levels of cats with diabetes. Diet by itself may or may not be completely effective and is most likely to work for cats that do not have severe diabetes.

A high protein, low carbohydrate diet can be combined with one of the oral hypoglycemic medications to further help regulate your cat's blood glucose levels. It is possible that this may be more effective than using diet or medication alone.

Other Considerations in the Treatment of Diabetic Cats

Another important consideration in treating a cat with diabetes, especially if the disease is caught early, is that remission is possible in many cases if regulation of blood glucose levels can be controlled effectively. For that reason, aggressive treatment started early is considered to be the best course. And, in many cases, insulin injections provide better glycemic control (control of blood sugar levels) than other medications.

Insulin injections, particularly combined with a proper diet, are effective in converting many cats to a state of remission. This means that insulin injections may be necessary only for a short period of time and then your cat may not need them anymore.

Theoretically, any treatment that is capable of rapidly and effectively regulating the blood glucose levels can lead to remission. However, in practice, many cats respond better to insulin injections than they do to the oral hypoglycemic agents. For this reason, even though alternative treatments may be available if the situation warrants them, insulin is likely to remain the treatment of choice.

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