When is it safe to play with a diabetic cat?
May 14, 2024 1:27 PM   Subscribe

My handsome boy Jasper is diabetic (and a host of other health concerns). I worry about playing with him because I read that the exercise affects blood sugar levels. He gets his insulin at 6am and 6pm - when is the best time of day for us to play without me putting him in danger?
posted by She Kisses Wyverns to Pets & Animals (3 answers total)
I would love to recommend the incredible online forum Feline Diabetes. https://felinediabetes.com

This wonderful group of people helped our cat into remission. That isn't guaranteed with feline diabetes, but these are some of the most thoughtful, helpful, cat enthusiasts I've ever encountered. They would absolutely be able to help with your question. Good luck!
posted by Sreiny at 2:11 PM on May 14 [6 favorites]

What kind of insulin is he getting?
posted by mandanza at 4:57 PM on May 14

I am not a vet, nor any kind of animal health expert, merely a parent whose human child was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at two. She's now 19. Here's what I know about insulin and hypoglycemia.

The way exercise affects blood sugar levels is by modulating effective insulin sensitivity. If a bolus of short-acting insulin has just been given to compensate for the expected glucose level rise caused by a meal, and has begun to bring that glucose out of the bloodstream into the cells as it should, and the patient then performs some heavy exercise, there will be more insulin in circulation than is required for that job and the blood glucose level might drop too low to feed the brain properly, bringing on a hypo.

If Jasper is on just the two regular daily insulin doses, the insulin will be a long-acting type and once he's been on it for more than a few days the level of insulin in his bloodstream will be pretty consistent. Peak availability for long-acting insulins usually happens two to four hours after injection, but each dose takes about two days for the body to use up altogether, so at any time he'll be working with multiple overlapping doses and none of those peaks will be particularly high.

The level of long-acting insulin in his bloodstream also won't be enough to lower his blood glucose level quickly after a meal, so I would expect the risk of hypo events to be low unless his regular dose is too high for his overall lifestyle.

If Jasper lived at my house I'd be monitoring him for hypo symptoms - in a cat I expect these would present as if he were heavily drugged or drunk - and if I wasn't seeing them I'd play without worry. If you do see a hypo, offer him some of his regular food. If he eats a few mouthfuls of that he should come good pretty quickly. If he won't, see if he'll lick up a bit of honey while you call his vet.
posted by flabdablet at 10:00 PM on May 14 [6 favorites]

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