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Ask a Vet: Face needle with favorite feline

POSTED: August 31, 2014 1:00 a.m.

If you or someone you know has diabetes, that’s no surprise. But did you know cats are susceptible to diabetes, too?

Diabetes mellitus is one of the three most commonly diagnosed chronic diseases in older cats. Although some cats may have complicating factors causing a development of resistance to insulin and leading to Type 2 diabetes, most cats have a true lack of insulin production.

Left uncontrolled, diabetes mellitus can progress and cause damage to other organs such as the kidneys and heart. In some cases, the lack of blood sugar control can lead to life-threatening diabetic ketoacidosis.

Therefore, the classic treatment for feline diabetes mellitus is administering insulin injections under the skin, usually twice daily. Dietary management and weight control, as well as exercise, help the insulin work.

But guess what? Many cats with diabetes mellitus are put to sleep. Why? One of the more common reasons is needles.

It is not that needles cause the diabetes to occur or worsen. Some owners choose to put the cat down instead of learning to give injections. In some cases, the cat is too far gone, or other health factors give a bad prognosis. But some owners literally put their pet down because they don’t think they can give the injections.

I understand your resistance if your cat decides to take your face off to avoid the injection. But please, don’t assume you can’t do it. I have very little faith in humanity sometimes, but I always have faith in owners who care about their cat.

Pets receive the injection under the skin, and most adapt to the schedule very well. Yes, needles can be scary, and my job desensitizes me. But for a beloved kitty, you can do it.

I am coaching my son’s soccer team this fall, and I am terrified. Not that I’m scared of soccer. I just don’t want to embarrass him by displaying my football/baseball-biased ignorance on the pitch.

But I’m going to try, because I love my son. And I know you could try if you ever need to, because I bet you love your cat. Be brave.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at


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