Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar) in Cats

Overview of Hypoglycemia in Cats

Hypoglycemia is defined as a blood glucose (sugar) concentration of less than 70 milligrams per deciliter(mg/dl) of blood. Symptoms depend on how quickly the blood glucose concentration decreases, but rarely occur until it falls below 50 mg/dl.

Below is an overview of Hypoglycemia in Cats followed by detailed information about the causes, diagnosis and treatment of this condition.

Symptoms reflect the rate of decrease of the blood glucose concentration, the underlying cause of hypoglycemia, and the chronicity of the problem. One common form of hypoglycemia is called juvenile hypoglycemia because it occurs in kittens less than 3 months of age. Juvenile hypoglycemia is common in kittens because they have not fully developed the ability to regulate their blood glucose concentration and have a high requirement for glucose. Stress, cold, malnutrition, and intestinal parasites are problems that may precipitate a bout of juvenile hypoglycemia.

Other Causes of Hypoglycemia in Cats

What to Watch For

Diagnosis of Hypoglycemia in Cats

Diagnostic tests are needed to identify hypoglycemia and determine its cause. Your veterinarian may recommend the following diagnostic tests:

Treatment of Hypoglycemia in Cats

Ultimately, treatment for the underlying cause of hypoglycemia is necessary, but initially, your veterinarian may administer glucose orally or by intravenous injection to increase blood glucose concentration.

Home Care and Prevention

At home it will be necessary to observe your cat’s general activity level, appetite and attitude. If you have reason to suspect hypoglycemia, you should rub Karo® syrup or other high sugar concentration syrup on your cat’s gums and call your veterinarian immediately.

Some preventative measures can help. Provide a warm environment, frequent feedings, routine vaccinations and de-worming procedures for kittens as recommended by your veterinarian. Also, provide frequent, regular feedings. Young kittens should be allowed to eat as much as they want. Be sure to feed a high quality pet food.

In-depth Information on Hypoglycemia in Cats

Common causes of hypoglycemia include the following disorders:

In-depth Information on the Feline Hypoglycemia

Other medical problems can lead to symptoms similar to those encountered in cats with hypoglycemia. It is important to rule out these conditions before establishing a definite diagnosis:

Diagnosis In-depth

Diagnostic tests must be performed to confirm the diagnosis of hypoglycemia and exclude other diseases that may cause similar symptoms. Your veterinarian will probably recommend the following:

Your veterinarian may also recommend additional diagnostic tests to exclude other conditions or to better understand the impact of hypoglycemia on your cat. These tests ensure optimal medical care and are selected on a case-by-case basis. Examples include:

Treatment In-depth

Optimal therapy of any serious or persistent medical condition depends on establishing the correct diagnosis. There are several potential causes of hypoglycemia and the underlying cause of hypoglycemia must be determined before definitive treatment can be recommended.

Initial therapy should be aimed at diagnosis and treatment of the underlying causes of hypoglycemia. Your veterinarian may recommend or perform the following treatment measures:

Your veterinarian will attempt to identify the underlying cause of hypoglycemia and treat it appropriately, such as removing the tumor associated with hypoglycemia, providing frequent small meals, and treating body wide infections. Treatment measures after emergency care may include:

Prognosis for Feline Hypoglycemia

Appropriate diagnosis and treatment of the underlying disorder will assure the best possible prognosis, which is dependent on the cause of hypoglycemia. In cases of juvenile hypoglycemia and insulin overdose hypoglycemia, prognosis is generally good.

The prognosis for cats with hypoglycemia associated with body wide infection (sepsis) is dependent on the underlying cause of the systemic infection and how effectively it can be treated.

Follow-up Care

Optimal treatment for your cat requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be crucial and may include the following recommendations: