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Gold standard management of the diabetic cat

February 27, 2015

The International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM), the veterinary division of International Cat Care, has convened an expert panel of veterinary clinicians and academics to produce practical guidance to help veterinary teams deliver optimal management for the increasing numbers of diabetic cats that are presenting to practices.

Similar to type 2 (or adult-onset) diabetes in humans, there is thought to be a link between the increasing prevalence of diabetes mellitus in cats and rising levels of obesity, although other factors such as certain drug therapies and concurrent disease can also contribute to the problem of insulin resistance in cats. While generally straightforward to diagnose, feline diabetes can be challenging to manage.

The panel, which carefully reviewed clinical research studies to collate the best available evidence, has published its advice, ISFM Consensus Guidelines on the Practical Management of Diabetes Mellitus in Cats, in the March 2015 issue of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery (JFMS)*.  

The guidelines, which are free to access and download, focus on the most important aspects of managing diabetic cats including weight control, use of an appropriate diet, insulin therapy (highlighting the value of longer acting insulin preparations) and close monitoring of blood glucose concentrations (including in the home environment). Good diabetic control requires a long-term commitment and one of the keys to success is finding a treatment protocol that best fits in with owners’ daily lives. The panel recognises all too well that owners may give up on treatment, or even elect for euthanasia of the cat, if the disease impacts too negatively on them and their relationship with their cat. Moreover, with appropriate support and guidance from their veterinary practice, an owner can play an invaluable role in managing diabetes. A well-regulated cat will have a better prognosis and may also be more likely to go into diabetic remission, no longer requiring ongoing insulin therapy.

Among the resources available to assist owners of diabetic cats is a series of short videos produced by International Cat Care (available at demonstrating blood glucose sampling, insulin injection (see accompanying screenshot), and urine collection and testing.


*Sparkes AH, Cannon M, Church D et al. ISFM Consensus Guidelines on the Practical Management of Diabetes Mellitus in Cats. J Feline Med Surg 2015; 17: 235–250.

The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery is the official journal of the ISFM, and is published in partnership with SAGE and the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP). All ISFM and AAFP guidelines are free to access and download from

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