Are You Considering Euthanasia For Your Diabetic Cat?


Are you considering euthanasia for your diabetic cat? This is something that I would only consider if the pain and suffering got to a level were the most humane thing was euthanasia. However with a  proper treatment plan there is no reason why cats should not be able to lead a normal a life as possible for many years. But I can understand why many owners might feel daunted by the prospect of looking after a diabetic cat and consider euthanasia as a first choice. Author Sarah Ettritch in her latest blog post which this month is about her personal experience with feline diabetes states:-

“The number one cause of death in diabetic cats isn’t diabetes, or the hypoglycemia that can occur when cats are receiving insulin. It’s euthanasia. Caring for a diabetic cat requires a serious commitment. Your life pretty much revolves around the shot schedule, and going away on vacation (or even a weekend) is problematic.”

The fact that euthanasia may be the number one cause of death amongst cats with feline diabetes really is an eye opener and if true, that is really sad. Yet you can understand that looking after a diabetic cat may not be straightforward and every one’s cup of tea.  So are you considering euthanasia for your diabetic cat? What I believe is that once you get over the initial teething problems, looking after a diabetic cat can become straightforward but of course you do need to keep an extra eye out as you would for a sick loved one.

Blood sugar checking and the insulin shots again should not be too time consuming and again once the teething problems have been resolved they should become routine. If you have more than one responsible member in the family make sure that you all are able to do these tasks and share them out. But I can understand that this may be all too daunting for some owners and it is a lot easier to throw in the towel.

There comes a time when to end suffering cats sometimes need to be put down. Normally this is a very painful decision but in the end do you prolong the suffering or allow the cat to go away peacefully. Generally vets do not put down animals unless they have to. In most cases cats can still have a good quality of life if the diabetes is treated and the cat kept an eye on. It is also worth remembering that about 20 percent of cats with feline diabetes go into remission. This occurs because after resting, many pancreatic beta cells regain function and produce insulin again.

I’m sure another factor for some cat owners is the cost of looking after a cat with feline diabetes and the large expected vet bills. Well to keep the costs down, you must learn to home test. This is discouraged by some vets and if your vet is not in favour of you doing your own home blood sugar testing then change your vet.

I came across the following post from 2006:-

“I had a diabetic cat who died about 10 years ago. If another pet of mine ever develops this disease, I will take it to the vet for euthanasia as soon as it’s quality of life suffers. Unless things have greatly changed since my experience, the constant vet visits trying to stabilize the blood sugar and the many complications of diabetes are too cruel. There is no cure, only fast or slow deterioration, and I am convinced that I tortured that cat trying to prolong it’s life, albeit with the best intentions in the world. I now believe that euthanasia would be a kindness.”

Well, what can I say apart from the fact that some cats do go into remission and reverse their diabetes, and now there are also long lasting insulins and home testing kits which make looking after  a cat with feline diabetes a lot easier.

Here is another post from the same thread:-

“When my cat was diagnosed, I thought I would never be able to handle it. The expense, the timing, the glucose swings…… but right now the cat is a hell of a lot easier for me to deal with than the dog (whole other story). It is expensive and it is a pain the butt, but it is so worth it. My cat was very ill until he stabilized (it took a couple of years for this to happen), but now the shots are just part of his feeding ritual. The 12-hour thing is tough. It means no over-night trips, scheduling late nights just so, begging my parents to take him in one more time….. And, by the way, by 12-hours they really mean between 11 and 13 hours. And there are ways tweak the system even further if the cat is basically stable (not exceptionally good for the cat’s health). “

In my opinion if you initially decide to keep a pet cat then you take the responsibility of trying your best to look after it, in sickness and in health, in the same way you would look after a sick child or another member of the family. So, are you considering euthanasia for your diabetic cat? If so, please only make it a last resort, at least put in a little extra effort and try and follow a treatment plan. As I have said before, it won’t be easy at first but eventually will become routine and your cat may enjoy many many more years of joyful living.

15 Responses

  1. Christine Atchison says:

    Thomas was my hero….we lost him..had him put down 3 years ago..but only when we could ask no more of him,..due to the illness he lost an eye but never his love and zest for life. It was difficult and at times expensive but we loved him and gave him the best we could..he in return gave us some happy and loyal years. we all miss him still.

  2. Aaron Cohn says:

    Most cats can achieve remission with proper dietary modification and a period of tight regulation with glucose testing and insulin. It may take a month or two of testing 3 or 4 times per day with insulin dose given at that time. But after that most cats can live insulin-free with dietary management only. Even in those few who can’t go completely “off the juice”, you reach a point where twice daily testing is more than sufficient. The best way to treat feline diabetes is early and very aggressively. Your best chance at arresting the disease is in the first month or so after diagnosis. Time invested early is repaid with dividends usually in a disease-free cat. It all comes down to how much you love your cat.

  3. Amanda S. says:

    Our 12 yr old cat was recently diagnosed with diabetes. This has been very difficult for us to deal with, and unfortunately has forced us to consider euthanasia. We are currently having her thyroid tested as well as having her insulin levels adjusted to the proper levels. I have no problem with making the commitment to treating her, however the cost of treatment is overwhelming. We have four children and the vet bills are adding up, within one week we have spent nearly $500 and if we want additional blood work that another$200. With a family to support I don’t know if I can afford the treatment. Now having said that , I would also mention that our cat’s constant urination on our clothing, bedding , and carpet, have made it impossible to keep living conditions clean (and sanitary). My two smallest child are 3 and4 and play on the floor w/ their toys and I am at the end of my rope with this situation. I feel HORRIBLE about having to do this so if anybody has any advice to give it would be really appreciated.

    • Karen Radzik says:

      We should not be made to feel guilty about considering euthanasia. I have had diabetes for 36 years and have spent considerable time, money worry for myself. I love my cat but I don’t know if I have the energy to care for 2 of us.

  4. Wendy Panaro says:

    We adopted our first diabetic, on purpose, in 2012. To date, we have adopted 6 senior male diabetics. 4 have passed from other issues and we currently have 2. We did not know anything about diabetes when we started but there are many resources available that teach you about proper feeding and home testing and there are groups out there where the only purpose is to work with diabetic cats. Of the 6 we have had, 3 have been diet controlled (remission as mentioned in the article) so it is possible. It all revolves around how they are fed. Yes, we home test and we give shots every 12 hours but it fits well into our lifestyle. I can verify that diabetics can live very normal lives after diagnosis and it should not be a death sentence.

    • Veronica says:

      Is there any rescues for diabetic cats my daughter cat is 2 spayed up to date on shots no behaviors sweet kitty she is going away to college and has searched for someone to help with her baby and it’s not happening she is becoming aggressive weave the twice a day shots and we don’t know what to do !

    • Tracie says:

      Would u consider taking Sheldon. I’m at the end of my tether.

  5. Susan says:

    Jasmine is 13 and was diagnosed a little over a year ago. She is on 10 units twice daily but still as recurring UTI’s usually every 3-4 months. I keep Clavamox on hand at all times. She just got over a UTI last month and today is showing signs of another one so I started her on the Clavamox again. I don’t know what to do at this point. I can’t afford the cost of frequent vet visits and testing and it’s costly enough to me to keep up with the insulin, syringes and the antibiotics. I hate that she has to suffer like this even though the Clavamox works very quickly, it’s still very painful and it can’t be good for her to continue to go on this way. I love her so much and will be devastated when I don’t have her in my life anymore, but I need some clarity as to whether or not I am looking at a situation where I would be wrong for even considering putting her down under these circumstances? I don’t know what to do!

  6. Maritza E. says:

    My 9 and a half year female cat was diagnosis with diabetes May 2017, however I did start noticing changes December of 2016. Lost my job, no pet insurance and didn’t have the funds to take her to vet. As time went by and when I came into funds to take her that was when she was diagnosis but I feel have gotten worse. She has lost weight prior to her diagnosis like literally she went from 12-5 half lbs. still active but slowing diminishing. After the vets visit finally, I was told she was a complicated diabetic where as she would need extensive care and expensive care at the hospital. I did not have the funds again to do so but I still started her on her 12 hours insulin shots for three weeks. It was hard but the dedication was put in. I had plans for room and board for her in September because I would be going to a wedding. I changed her food, watched her closely and just made her as comfortable as I could. There have been times where I wanted her to stop suffering if she was, but I think I was more in denial thinking that she will overall be okay and continue to live a loving life with my support. She has started gaining the weight back I noticed and started eating more which was great! Still a little depressed looking and sad but sometimes would still noticed that she couldn’t move, walking staggering movements and this final time the end of May she went into a very bad seizure and did not snap out of it for 2 hours. Rushed her to the hospital and doctors came back and told me that one pupil was dilated more than the other which I have noticed but her regular doctor said it was nothing. They told me that she looks as if she has other underlined issues and maybe neurologically problems because of her eye and that she may have to stay a couple of days for $5000. Honestly I was prepared to put her down but bringing her to the emergency I was prepared to take her back home and didn’t think she would have to stay. Again the funds I did not have which broke my heart for her. I was able to take her if I wanted to because when I saw that she was awaked, I just wanted to take her back and feed her and comfort her. At that moment and asking the doctor was she suffering and they told me no but she’s not happy. I felt that she could still have a chance. Again maybe I was in denial and probably wanted to hear that she was suffering so I could feel ok with putting her down but I will never know if I did the right thing or not. No she was not happy but I could sense that she wanted her to live and I wanted her too. I made the decision to euthanize her and stayed with her till the end. Before so, I played calming music, spoke to her, sung to her, kissed her tremendously, groomed her and just held her tight. It was time to put her down and I cried like a child. I also felt her last breath and that took a toll on me, my baby was gone! I will blame myself for a long time, I can’t explain it but it feels like I lost my child, I will blame myself for not having the funds, but still researched things of how to change her food and make her comfortable. I will blame myself because I will feel that I gave her too much insulin at one time I didn’t think it went through on the first poke. I will blame myself for not knowing since she was gaining the weight to my eyes and my daughters that maybe she needed more insulin. I will never know now, plus prior to this all this happening her doctor wasn’t in office that day for me to bring her in and I will just never know. I still haven’t eaten and been crying since she passed today is day two and I miss my cat sooooooooooo much. The pain and mourning that I’m going through is unbearable. I don’t even want to look at another animal because I’m jealous of them and my baby is not hear, I ill always think that she could have lived longer, my daughter wants another but that will not happen any time soon. I still have her toys litter box in the bathroom, water bowl out and recently put up her food to give to another cat in the street that need. I miss her and I pray to see her again she was a Blessing to my family and my other child. So every situation is different but I will be in denial of not knowing that maybe she was suffering and probably had other complications that could have arise later on. But I will never know and this is the first diabetic patient I have ever been around, I mean I don’t know of any family members or friends that experience it. So this was hard for me and was willing to fight for her till the end. I do feel that there was all I could do but it probably would have been worse for me if she went into another seizure and died at home. I just will never know and because of that I will be sad for a while and will seek closure but not right now. Also, I sensed her around the house last night, jumping on my bed, opening the bathroom door while I was in the shower, or hearing little footsteps through the night. I really miss her and can’t wait to see her again. To those who are going through this with their animal, just love them and do what you can for them till the end. My heart is broken and empty and I miss my friend, my baby, my love.

    • Alison says:

      I read your story. It brought tears to my eyes. I have a 15 yr old cat that is showing signs she is diabetic. I dont have the funds to care for her with a doctor. I have to put her down some time this next yr. I am heart broken

  7. Jami says:

    My cat was diagnosed diabetic 5 years ago. After witnessing the worst that insulin can do to another cat, I chose to treat my cat naturally. She was put on a wet food diet 2-3 times a day which helped immensely. I also gave her a natural supplement for diabetic cats in that time. She was very healthy until the last year when old age and hyperthyroidism have helped to take her down. I’m putting her down today. Don’t forget that it is possible to manage diabetes in other way than immediately resorting to insulin. Try other routes before insulin and before euthanasia if possible.

    • Natasha King says:

      Hi Jami, what does the wet food help with?
      Ive been trying to find answers to help my diabetic cat, she has severe neuropathy in all 4 legs so she cant jump at all and cant walk properly so she sleeps all day.
      The vet said it wouldnt be unjustified to put her to sleep cos she also has a huge ketone build up and the therapy required is 2000 dollars which mighht not even help anyway.
      If anyone can help especially with the legs issue please do write back to me xx

  8. Alison says:

    I read your story. It brought tears to my eyes. I have a 15 yr old cat that is showing signs she is diabetic. I dont have the funds to care for her with a doctor. I have to put her down some time this next yr. I am heart broken

  9. Carol says:

    My catty was 16. About a month ago was diagnosed with diabetes. We followed the treatment to a T, but never saw great improvement. About the third week in, he became very, very lethargic and stopped eating and drinking. We took him back to the vet. He had diabetic ketoacidosis. He stayed all day at vet, was fully hydrated with IV, had his sugar regulated with fast acting insulin…but no change. Brought him home, he still didn’t eat or drink. He was even refusing water/food with a syringe. For days he laid lifeless in front of his food and water bowl. Many times his head was actually hanging in his water bowl, his chin in the water, but he would NOT drink. He would only walk about six inches and then lay down. His back legs started giving out. I asked the vet if he was dying. The vet said he didn’t think so, just that he was very sick. This made it hard for me to make a decision. After five days with NO food and only a bit of water, and no activity from him – I decided it was time. He started at 14 pounds and was now down to 9. If he wasn’t dying, I don’t know what was happening. We had him euthanized last night. The whole family went and we cried our eyes out. In the back of my mind, I keep hearing the vets words “he is not dying, he is just very sick”. I am consumed with guilt, but at the age of 16 and all these other symptoms, I felt it was cruel to keep him alive. I read where someone wrote “I would rather euthanize a day or week too early than a day or week too late”. But I keep feeling like maybe he could recover. But he was so old. And had not eaten for five days.

    • June Smith says:

      You did the right thing, he was suffering tremendously and your vet was cruel to suggest your kitty wasn’t dying if it had not eaten or drank for even 3 days! My diabetic cat is doing okay, but I have Stage 4 cancer and it’s hard to care for and pay for my own medical expenses. I keep paying for the cats needs at $300 a month and it makes it very hard for me to afford what I need to for myself. Yet I love the cat. It’s very difficult to know what to do. I don’t think vets should push the insulin route on us, we love and care for them the best we can, but we have to consider our own well being as well. At this time, I am just making it caring for the expense, but at the same time, I have elderly parents who need money as well, life is so hard. I will never own another pet, as I am in such bad shape myself. I pray when the cat goes, peacefully in his sleep, but if the time comes that I cannot pay a necessary bill over treating a 16 year old cat, I may have to choose euthanasia as well. I would definitely have done the same thing in your situation.

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