I get some great questions from clients. They inspire me with article ideas and keep me in tune with diabetic pet owners. I enjoy interacting with our readers, and sometimes the questions are worthy of a newsletter. I bet if one person has this question and takes the time to write me, there are likely lots of folks with a similar question. Today’s question involves a kitty that has been drinking a lot of water.

My 18-yr old female cat has been drinking a lot of water. Should I buy a testing meter to check for diabetes? Thank you very much for your kind help.

You are wise to think of diabetes, but first I’d suggest having an examination and a full blood panel and urinalysis at your veterinary office as there are other possible causes of excessive thirst and urination besides diabetes. For 18-year old cats, we are especially concerned about kidney disease. Hyperthyroidism, a kidney infection or Cushings disease are other culprits that come to mind.

Now, if your kitty does turn out to be diabetic, I would suggest getting into a regimen where you would include blood glucose testing and insulin injections twice daily with the goal of getting control of your cat’s diabetes. I’m a big advocate of at-home testing for diabetic pets because testing at home is much easier and less stressful for the pet. This will also save you a lot of money versus having to bring your sweetie to the vet’s office for testing. Pet blood glucose monitors have come a long way. Back when I was in vet school, we used meters made for testing human blood. But with advancements in technology, the meters made today that are specifically calibrated to test the blood of small animals is definitely the way to go. If you have to go this route, your veterinarian should provide you with a quick lesson on how to perform both a blood glucose test as well as an insulin injection. And you can always refer back to prior articles of mine to get some helpful pointers too.

Most meters are sold as a starter kit of sorts. They will include all that you need to get going immediately – test strips, a lancing device and lancets, control solution, a blood glucose log book and of course, the meter. As the name implies, a starter kit is all you need to get started.

Nonetheless, first schedule an examination with your veterinarian as kidney disease is rampant in older cats and is a very common cause of increased thirst in older kitties. It would make no sense getting a blood glucose meter if you cat is not diabetic.

Most vet clinics offer what is called a “senior profile”. It includes a chemistry profile which includes testing the blood glucose, kidney values, liver values, and electrolytes, as well as a complete blood count which will look for anemia or infection. A full urinalysis where they will be looking at her urine concentration and chemical analysis and also any cells in the urine will also take place. A urine culture may also be in order in addition to the senior profile for your thirsty cat.

Now, if your kitty has kidney disease, there are things your veterinarian can offer to help slow the progression and improve her quality of life. Fluid therapy and kidney diets are the most common options. Kidney diets can help delay the progression of disease. So, the sooner you take her to your vet, the better her long term prognosis.

Good luck and schedule an appointment with your family veterinarian.

Have a question or comment? Then post below! I always enjoy hearing from my readers!


NOTE: Consult your veterinarian first to make sure my recommendations fit your pets special health needs.

Dr . Joi Sutton

Dr . Joi Sutton

Dr. Joi Sutton is a 1993 graduate from Oregon State University. She has practiced both in emergency medicine and general practice. Dr. Sutton has done extensive international volunteer work though Veterinary Ventures, a nonprofit organization that takes teams of veterinarians to undeveloped countries for humane medical care. She also runs a small animal practice in South Florida.
Dr . Joi Sutton

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