Giving Insulin Injections in your Diabetic Cat

Here is a step-by-step illustrated guide to safely injecting insulin into your diabetic cat.


[From Tufts January 2011 Issue]

Diabetes ranks as one of the most common health conditions in cats, especially for those who are overweight. As treatment, many cats will require twice-daily insulin injections.

giving insulin to cats

In two recent issues, we provided step-by-step guides to administering pills and liquid medicine. Now, our experts offer tips on developing confidence and proficiency in administering insulin injections to your diabetic cat.

“It’s important to recognize that animals do not have anxiety about needles — people have anxiety about needles,” says Scott Shaw, DVM, Assistant Professor at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. “The gauge of the needle is very small and your cat will feel just a prick in her skin. It should not be painful to your cat.”

giving insulin to cats


Matching the Syringe with the Insulin

Make sure that you match the right syringe with the right insulin. Use U40 syringes with U40 insulin; use U100 syringes with U100 insulin. Never reuse needles because bacteria from a cat’s skin can contaminate the remaining insulin in the vial.

giving insulin to cats


It is vital that you make this a rewarding, calm experience for your cat. She should equate receiving her injections with rewards, such as healthy treats or affection. Don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian if you have any questions about administering the insulin at home.

Keep the insulin in your refrigerator. At dosage time, gently roll the vial between your palms to re-suspend the crystals. Insulin is fragile, so do not shake the vial, cautions Dr. Shaw.

Withdraw the specific dose into the syringe. Calmly and confidently approach your cat and establish the connection between injections and rewards by offering tuna or canned food.

giving insulin to cats

Building Positive Associations

“The trick is to pinch and move the skin just enough so that your cat doesn’t care about this action and just cares about eating,” says Sophia Yin, DVM, the author of Low Stress: Handling, Restraint and Behavior Modification of Dogs & Cats (CattleDog Publishing). With more than 1,600 how-to photographs, the book is a resource for veterinarians and veterinary technicians.

She continues, “Pinch for a few seconds, give the injection and pinch the skin again for a few seconds after you give an injection while your cat continues to eat. The goal is for your cat to understand that pinching is associated with good things, like receiving food rewards.”

The photographs accompanying this article illustrate the proper technique for injecting insulin.


  1. I’ve rescued animals for years. I’ve had to stop a few years ago due to poor health. One of the last rescued 4 week old kitten is now 12 years old. She was so young and found alone I had to provide extra care for her to survive. A bond developed that is as close as with my children. She was recently diagnosed with diabetes, hypothyroidism, and neuropathy. I’ve began insulin twice daily, thyroid med. twice daily and b-12 weekly. She has slept on my pillow with me since I found her. She follows me everywhere I go, including potty. We eat together. After I began all the sudden meds she no longer does anything with me. I know, and have used all the injections tricks, oral med tricks and now she want eat treats or even her food unless I leave the room. Then she chows down. All the helpful tricks have done is teach her love, kindness, treats and food mean pain. And who ever said insulin injections don’t hurt are full of malarkey. They do ! Maybe not to the extent we feel them, but they do hurt us. If she is as hurt emotionally and suffering from a severe depression and this has caused me, then I need to get her on antidepressants. Oh, in addition to the meds I take, I’m now on 3 different kinds of antidepressants. That’s just what it took to help me stop crying and sleeping all the time, but I’m still in a bad way.

  2. I am very sorry this has happened to you and your precious cat, and I also have to give Rose two injections a day. I try to do all i can , even saying a prayer for precisness and painfree for her. Then I give her a treat or food. It is not an easy situation to be in, but we must carry on. Prayers to you and your Kitty.


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