Feline diabetes is a commonly diagnosed disease in older cats, and so many pet parents will have to learn how to give insulin for cats. Type I diabetes, in which your cat’s body is not producing an adequate amount of insulin to regulate blood sugar levels, needs to be treated with insulin injections. Here we’ll help you master the basic steps to giving your cat an insulin shot. With a little practice it will become second nature to you—and to your cat.
Your veterinarian will be able to recommend an insulin brand and dosing regimen for your cat. You’ll want to administer the doses at regular intervals and also consult with your vet on an overall wellness strategy, including feeding times and types of food.
Step 1. Properly store the insulin
Insulin is a fragile hormone. Exposing it to direct sunlight or high temperatures can render it ineffective. Keep your unused bottles in the refrigerator, and avoid temperature fluctuations by storing it on the fridge door.
If the insulin bottle looks frosted, discolored, or might have been exposed to heat, start with a new vial. Expired insulin should be discarded. It’s better to be safe and use a new dose if you have doubts.
TIP: Bringing the insulin to room temperature before use will not harm the hormone and can feel more comfortable for your cat at the injection site.
Step 2. Prepare the insulin injection
- Gently roll the vial between your hands to mix the hormone evenly. Be careful NOT to shake the insulin.
- Remove the needle safety cap and mark the correct dose on the needle by pulling back the plunger.
- With the vial upside down, insert the needle through the stopper and into the bottle. Depress the plunger to force air into the bottle so you’ll be able to cleanly draw the insulin.
- Measure the proper dosage by drawing back on the plunger until the needle-facing end of the plunger stop is marking the correct amount. Withdraw the needle.
- Double check the dosage (again, measuring from the front end of the stop) and check for air bubbles in the dose. If you see air bubbles, depress the syringe into the bottle and start again.
- Replace the cap on the needle to avoid accidents.
- Return the insulin to the fridge door.
Step 3. Give your cat the injection
- Hold the syringe in your dominant hand and grip a tent of skin on your cat’s shoulders or back with the thumb and index finger of your free hand. Your fingers should be about an inch apart. Choose a different spot each time for the injection to avoid creating a granuloma.
TIP: Try to establish a calm, happy routine with your cat around the injections. Give a vet approved treat or do some petting while holding the capped needle to get your cat comfortable. You may also want to give the injections while on the same level as your cat, to avoid seeming too dominant or threatening.
- When all is ready, uncap the needle.
- In a smooth, swift motion, push the needle through the skin tent using a 45 degree angle. Steadily depress the plunger to dispense the dose. You want to give the injection just under your cat’s skin and not accidentally in the fur.
TIP: If you have a long haired cat, try brushing or rolling the fur to the side before tenting the skin.
- Remove the needle and immediately replace the syringe cap before properly disposing of it.
- Reward your cat for their good behavior! This can mean soothing praise, snuggling, or a treat. This is an important part of making this a stress-free process for you both.
Soon you’ll be giving regular insulin injections like a pro!
More on Diabetes
Managing Treatment for Diabetic Cats
Know the Different Types of Insulin for Dogs and Cats
The Best Ways To Save on Cat Insulin
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.