Do Cats with Diabetes Drool More? The Surprising Link Explained

What is Feline Diabetes?

Feline diabetes is a chronic disease in which the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin or the body cannot properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose from food to enter the body’s cells and be used for energy. Without enough insulin, glucose builds up in the bloodstream while the body’s cells starve for energy (1).

The exact cause of feline diabetes is unknown, but obesity, pancreatitis, chronic inflammation, and certain medications may play a role. Genetics may also be a factor, as some purebred cat breeds like Burmese and Russian Blues have a higher risk (2).

Feline diabetes affects approximately 0.58% of cats, based on a 2016 study that analyzed medical records from over 190,000 cats. The disease typically develops in middle-aged and older cats, with an average age of onset around 11 years. Male cats are 1.5 times more likely to develop diabetes than females (1).




Common Symptoms of Feline Diabetes

There are several key symptoms that may indicate a cat has diabetes. The most common early symptoms of feline diabetes are:

  • Increased thirst – Cats with diabetes will drink significantly more water than usual and seem constantly thirsty. This symptom is known as polydipsia. The excessive urination caused by diabetes leads to dehydration, causing the cat to drink more. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, increased thirst is one of the four main symptoms of feline diabetes.
  • Increased urination – Along with increased thirst, diabetic cats will urinate more frequently and in larger volumes. This symptom is called polyuria. The cat’s body is trying to flush out excess sugar in the urine, resulting in the need to urinate more. Per Cornell University, polyuria and polydipsia (PU/PD) are key clinical signs of diabetes in cats.
  • Weight loss – Despite an increased appetite, cats with diabetes often lose weight. This is because the diabetes prevents the body from properly processing and storing glucose from food for energy. The body starts breaking down fat and muscle for fuel, causing weight loss. According to VCA Hospitals, weight loss is another main symptom of feline diabetes.
  • Increased appetite – The uncontrolled diabetes makes the body less able to utilize glucose, causing persistent hunger as the body tries to get needed energy. The cat may seem constantly hungry and beg for food more often. Increased appetite is the fourth main symptom of feline diabetes highlighted by VCA.

Catching these symptoms early and having your cat evaluated by a vet is important, as diabetes can worsen if left untreated. VCA notes the symptoms may become more severe over time if diabetes progresses.

Why Cats with Diabetes May Drool

Diabetic cats may exhibit increased drooling for a few potential reasons related to their condition.

One is nausea and acid reflux. According to the forum (, diabetes can cause gastric issues that lead to nausea and vomiting. The nausea stimulates drooling, as the cat produces extra saliva in response. Acid reflux from the stomach can also cause oral irritation and drooling.

Dehydration is another culprit. Uncontrolled diabetes leads to increased urination and fluid loss. According to (, the dry mouth associated with dehydration can cause drooling as the cat produces more saliva to try to moisten the mouth.

Finally, dental disease is more prevalent in diabetic cats. The bacteria from dental infections, inflamed gums, and other oral cavity issues can cause pain and discomfort that leads to excessive drooling. Cats may have undiagnosed dental problems that only become evident after developing diabetes.

Getting the diabetes under control with insulin and addressing any nausea, dehydration, acid reflux, or dental disease can help reduce unwanted drooling. It’s important for cat owners to monitor their diabetic cat’s drooling and alert the vet to any significant changes.

Diagnosing Feline Diabetes

Diagnosing diabetes in cats begins with a complete physical exam by a veterinarian. The vet will check for signs and symptoms of diabetes, including increased thirst, increased urination, increased appetite, and weight loss. Blood and urine tests are critical for diagnosis.

A urinalysis is necessary to check for glucose (sugar) in the urine, which is a classic sign of diabetes (VCAAnimalHospital). Elevated glucose in the urine, along with corresponding high blood sugar levels, confirms a diabetes diagnosis. Vets may recommend running a blood glucose curve, which involves checking the cat’s blood sugar every 2-4 hours over a 12-24 hour period. This helps determine if blood sugar spikes are occurring.

Additional bloodwork like a chemistry panel and fructosamine test can evaluate impacts diabetes may be having on kidney function, liver function, electrolyte levels, and proteins (Merck). Thyroid testing may also be recommended to rule out hyperthyroidism as an underlying cause.

Treatment Options

The most common treatment for feline diabetes is insulin therapy. Cats with diabetes require injections of insulin to manage their blood glucose levels. Most cats will require insulin injections twice per day, approximately every 12 hours. The dosage and type of insulin are determined by a veterinarian based on the individual cat’s needs. Examples of insulin used to treat cats include glargine, detemir, and PZI.

Making dietary changes is another critical part of managing feline diabetes. Cats with diabetes need a high protein, low carbohydrate diet to help regulate blood glucose. High fiber diets may also aid in stabilizing blood sugar levels. Cats should be fed the same food at the same times each day. Avoid feeding high carb treats and human foods.

Regular veterinary monitoring is essential when treating a diabetic cat. Blood glucose curves and fructosamine tests help vets determine if the insulin dosage needs adjusting. Annual bloodwork, urinalysis, blood pressure checks, and eye exams allow early detection of secondary complications. Weight and food intake should also be closely watched.

Treatment aims to regulate blood glucose levels and avoid dangerously high or low readings. With proper insulin therapy, diet, and veterinary care, many diabetic cats can live happy lives for years after diagnosis.

Tips for Caring for a Diabetic Cat

Caring for a diabetic cat requires dedication, but it is very manageable with proper treatment and monitoring. Here are some important tips for caring for a feline diabetes patient:

Administering insulin properly is crucial. Work closely with your veterinarian to understand the type of insulin, dose, and schedule recommended for your cat. Administer insulin at the same times daily and follow specific storage instructions for the insulin. Give insulin injections in areas with loose skin like the scruff of the neck. Rotate injection sites to avoid irritation.

Feed your cat a consistent, scheduled diet optimized for diabetes. Feed the same food in the same portions at the same times every day. Diabetic cats do best on high-protein, low-carbohydrate cat foods. Avoid high glycemic foods like kibble. Providing canned food is ideal. Work with your vet on an optimal meal plan.

Provide plenty of fresh, clean water at all times. Increase water intake by feeding wet food and using cat fountains. Make water easily accessible around the home. Increased hydration supports diabetes treatment.

Monitoring for Complications

Managing diabetes in cats often requires vigilance to monitor for potential complications that can arise. Some of the most common complications to watch for include hypoglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis, and cataracts.

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can occur if too much insulin is administered. Signs of hypoglycemia include weakness, unsteadiness, tremors, and seizures. It’s critical to catch hypoglycemic episodes early and address them by feeding a small meal high in glucose. According to DVM360, mild to moderate hypoglycemia can often be treated at home, but immediate veterinary care is needed for severe cases.

Diabetic ketoacidosis develops when diabetes is uncontrolled and the body breaks down fat for energy, creating ketones. This life-threatening complication causes symptoms like vomiting, rapid breathing, weakness, and unconsciousness. Diabetic ketoacidosis requires emergency veterinary treatment with fluids, insulin, and electrolyte monitoring. Preventing gaps in insulin treatment is key to avoiding this dangerous complication.

Cataracts are a common long-term complication, affecting over 80% of diabetic cats. High blood sugar damages the lens, leading to cloudiness and eventual blindness if untreated. Cataracts tend to develop relatively quickly in diabetic cats, often within the first 6 months after diagnosis. Vision loss can be managed by monitoring for early signs of cataracts and pursuing surgery if needed. According to Merck Animal Health, cataract surgery has a good success rate for restoring vision in diabetic cats.


With diligent at-home management and owner commitment to treatment, the prognosis for cats with diabetes is generally positive, with many cats living for years after their diagnosis. According to research published in Veterinary Sciences, of cats diagnosed with diabetes mellitus, 85% survived for more than 4 weeks and 63% survived for more than 1 year with proper treatment and care[1]. However, diabetes does shorten the lifespan and infected cats are at higher risk for complications like diabetic ketoacidosis, cataracts, and infections[2].

While the prognosis is generally good with treatment, it does require a strong commitment from cat owners to administer insulin, monitor blood glucose, and work closely with their veterinarian. Cats with unregulated diabetes can deteriorate quickly. So early intervention, follow-up vet care, and diligent at-home monitoring and treatment by owners are key to ensuring the best possible prognosis.


One of the best ways to help prevent diabetes in cats is to maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is a major risk factor for feline diabetes, so keeping your cat at an ideal weight can help reduce the chances of developing the disease. This involves measuring your cat’s food portions based on their age, activity level, and health conditions. It’s also important to feed a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. According to, diet is one of the best ways of preventing diabetes in cats.

Regular exercise is another component of diabetes prevention for cats. Try to set aside time for interactive play and activity with your cat each day. Cat towers, toys, and activities like fetching help keep your cat moving and engaged. Exercise helps regulate blood sugar and insulin levels. Consult your vet for tips on appropriate types and duration of activity for your cat.

Bringing your cat in for routine veterinary exams can also help with early detection and prevention. Your vet can check for signs of obesity, perform bloodwork to look for elevated glucose levels, and monitor your cat’s overall health. Catching diabetes early on gives you the best chance at effective management. Discuss your cat’s risk factors with your vet and determine an appropriate checkup schedule.

The Takeaway

Diabetes is a serious but manageable condition in cats. The main points to remember are:

  • Diabetes in cats is caused by insufficient insulin production, leading to high blood sugar.
  • Increased thirst, increased urination, weight loss and increased appetite are common symptoms.
  • Drooling can also occur as a symptom, due to nausea or other mouth issues caused by high blood sugar.
  • Diabetes is diagnosed through blood and urine tests and managed with insulin injections, diet and exercise.
  • With proper treatment and monitoring, most cats with diabetes can live happy and healthy lives.

While diabetes requires dedication and care from pet owners, it does not have to reduce quality of life for cats. Proper treatment and lifestyle management allows diabetic cats to thrive and enjoy many more healthy years.

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