Diabetes is a common disease in cats. Routine monitoring of blood using a glucose curve can help your veterinarian determine if the insulin dose is appropriate, too high, or too low, or if a different type of insulin is needed.
The glucose curve will reveal at what time the cat's glucose level is the highest (also referred to at the peak) and when it is lowest (also referred to as the trough) relative to diet and insulin administration. If the glucose levels always register too high or too low throughout the curve, their insulin level needs to be adjusted.
A glucose curve will also help your veterinarian determine how long the insulin is lasting, when the insulin peaks and, ultimately, whether your pet is receiving the proper type and dose of insulin.
A glucose curve should be done as a matter of routine approximately one week after the patient starts insulin treatment or has any change in dosage of insulin. It should be done monthly for the first several months of treating the diabetes or any time your cat is having health issues that may suggest a problem. For example, if a cat is drinking more, urinating more, vomiting, or losing weight, it's a good idea to have a curve done.
How is a Glucose Curve Performed at the Hospital?
IMPORTANT: Check with your vet clinic to confirm how they want to do the glucose curve on your cat! Some clinics want you to give the insulin at home and others do not. Both approaches work well as long as the process between you and your veterinarian is clear.
A glucose curve generally takes 12 to 24 hours depending on the type of insulin being used.
Common instructions used in veterinary clinics include the following:
- First, prepare for the day. Your cat will need to be dropped at the veterinary clinic early after you feed them breakfast. You will need to pack the insulin, syringe, and any meals or food your cat should get during the hospital stay.
- Feed your cat as usual.
Following your cat's meal, either immediately take your cat to the veterinary clinic with his or her insulin, meals, and treats OR give the insulin and drop your cat off. Which option you choose depends on the plan given to you by the vet. When you drop your cat off:
- confirm with the clinic when and what your cat ate, and
- confirm what dose of insulin your cat got or should get and when.
- The clinic will take a blood sample from your cat immediately upon arrival.
- A technician will give your cat his or her insulin dose (if you didn't give it already).
- The staff will take blood samples every 1 to 2 hours for 12 to 24 hours depending on the insulin type and dosage used.
- The blood results will be recorded and interpreted.
- At the end of the curve period, you will take your cat home and feed them and/or give them their insulin dose as directed by your veterinarian.
The clinic may take the blood samples from the leg or ear or put in an IV catheter. The preferred option will be determined by your veterinarian and your cat's overall condition, response to insulin, and temperament. For information about symptoms of diabetes, go to Diabetes Mellitus in Cats.
Some pet parents prefer to perform their own glucose curves. For more information on this process, go to How to Perform a Glucose Curve at Home.