Diabetes in cats is becoming more and more common. When it comes to testing your cat’s glucose levels, sometimes cat owners choose to use regular human blood glucose meters instead of one specifically designed for a cat. The downside is that the meter is not properly calibrated for a cat and can result in a false reading.
This is where a blood glucose meter for cats comes into play. The meter is specifically calibrated to the blood concentration in cats to help give the most accurate reading possible.
To help you find the best glucose meter for cats, I’ve listed a few of the best options. At the end of the article, I’ll also go over a few tips as well as some frequently asked questions about cats and diabetes.
What to Look for in Blood Glucose Meters for Cats
As you look over the blood glucose meter products we’ve listed below, there are a few features you’ll want to pay attention to specifically. I’ve put together a quick list for you to reference as you shop. The best blood glucose meter should combine these features for the best overall experience.
Ease of Use
The best glucose meters for cats are those that make it easy to both draw blood as well as obtain accurate results. We’ll talk more about accuracy in a minute, but having an easy-to-use glucose meter for cats can make a huge difference in your (and your cat’s) overall experience.
The best glucose meter for cats works with you as you try to test your cat’s blood sugar levels. It only takes a few moments with a cat to learn that they don’t particularly like to be held down and pricked. Who would be? But the ability to not only require a small blood sample but also operate in a straightforward manner can make for the best glucose meter for cats.
The accuracy of a blood glucose test is imperative when it comes to your feline friend. After all, you may need to introduce measures to regulate your cat’s blood sugar levels, so relying on the results to be accurate is a huge deal.
Lancets are the small needles required to obtain a blood sample to test. The lancet must retrieve enough blood to place a small blood drop on the testing strip, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a painful experience.
Many of the best glucose meters for cats include a lancing device that can be adjusted for various depths. Since you are testing for blood within the cat’s delicate ear, you’ll want to have this adjustability to make the experience as pleasant as possible for your feline friend.
While the lancing device doesn’t typically change much from one glucose meter to the next, a proper lancing device takes a blood sample in the safest and cleanest way possible.
Cost of Test Strips
Investing in a glucose meter to test your cat’s blood sugar is one thing, but having to purchase a supply of replacement strips can often be a larger investment altogether. These testing strips can be unique to that particular glucose meter, which may or may not affect their pricing.
Testing strips are also not something you can replace easily, at least when it comes to substituting a lower-cost product. Glucose meters are typically calibrated specifically to certain testing strips, and changing the replacement strips could affect the accuracy of that particular glucose meter.
The Alphatrak2 glucose system is probably one of the best glucose meters for cats on the market. The numbers are both accurate and easy to read with this blood glucose meter. There are instructions included in the box that shows you how to use the meter.
You can reach out to AlphaTRAK with any questions or concerns regarding their product. You can also find instructional videos on the internet on how to calibrate the meter, how to get a sample, and how to get a reading.
There are many positive reviews regarding this product. Many people have commented on how fast and accurate the readings are from this glucose meter. Many owners have stated that only a small amount of blood is needed to get an accurate reading in seconds, which is especially useful for cats. After all, it isn’t always easy to keep your cat calm and under control.
One complaint most owners have about this glucose meter for cats is that the test strips are expensive. The kit does come with 25 test strips, but most people have found the test strips for this kit are more expensive than other test strips for other kits. All in all, this is still rated as one of the best glucose meters for cats on the market and will not disappoint.
Here is a very helpful video I found showing how to use the Alphatrak2 glucose meter for your cat.
Testing your cat’s blood glucose levels doesn’t have to be a huge production. In fact, with the Pet Control HQ glucose monitoring system, at-home testing is possible and easier than ever.
For example, this testing device allows you to choose between the cat and dog programs with two different code-chip test strips. Simply calibrate the testing device to the proper animal setting and you’re ready to go.
You won’t need any more blood than 0.6 microliters and you can get your results in about 10 seconds. This makes it easy to only take a little bit of blood from your feline friend, as well as get the results you need in order to make any changes necessary.
Pet Control HQ includes 50 test strips, a logbook, 50 lancets, a lancing device, the control solution, a carrying case, and a quick reference guide. The premium test strips are stored in a temperature-controlled container to ensure accuracy. With all these materials, you should have plenty of supplies to start monitoring your cat’s glucose levels at home.
Advocate Pet Test Blood Glucose Monitoring System
The Advocate Pet Test Blood Glucose Monitoring System can be used for both cats and dogs. This design allows you to switch between these settings, so you only have to buy one blood glucose monitoring system for your pets. Plus, there’s no coding required.
This glucose meter for cats provides test results within 5 seconds. The glucose meter will also automatically record the last 400 test results with dates and times, so you don’t have to keep a diabetes diary for your cat’s blood sugar. Advocate even includes a data management system that allows you to share this data with your veterinarian to ensure a team effort in your cat’s blood glucose monitoring.
Included with this glucose meter for cats are 25 test strips, 50 lancets, a red dot lancing device, and the glucometer with a carrying case. You’ll also receive batteries to power the meter as well. This meter allows you to set up to 4 alarms to remind you when to check your cat’s blood glucose levels, which can be handy for busy pet owners.
Your diabetic cat will be thankful for this blood glucose monitoring system, which only requires 0.3 mcL of blood. The 21 gauge needle includes a tri-bevel tip for comfort. Test strips are wrapped in foil to ensure accurate results.
There are 10 butterfly lancets included with this glucometer. The lancets have 6 depth adjustments and a large display showing the depth setting. These lancets are ergonomically designed with a safety switch that locks when uncapped.
Advocate also sells a painless blood glucose monitoring system that you can upgrade to if your diabetic cat won’t tolerate the red dot system.
iPet PRO makes it easy to monitor your cat’s blood sugar with this glucose monitoring system that analyzes both venous and capillary blood samples to give you an accurate reading. In fact, this accurate device displays your results in just 5 seconds, so there’s no waiting around.
When it comes to feline diabetes, the lancing device used to obtain a blood sample can be critical. How much blood you need for an accurate test is also important, and with the iPet PRO, this amount is less than with other glucometers.
The lancets included in this glucose monitoring system are 28 gauge. There are also 25 test strips included to get you started. To turn the glucometer on, simply insert a glucose testing strip. Apply the blood sample to the glucose test strip, and then reinsert it to obtain your results.
The large display on this accurate device provides accurate readings you can easily identify. The up and down arrows make for easy navigation, and plus, the system stores up to 500 readings so you can share them with your vet. The system will also display the 7-, 14-, and 30-day averages, which you can write down in the included logbook to keep track of your cat’s blood sugar levels.
iPet includes a user guide, control solution, and carrying case, as well as enough AA batteries to power up the glucometer as soon as you receive it.
How to Tell if Your Cat is Diabetic
If you’re not sure whether or not your cat is diabetic, here are a few symptoms you can keep an eye out for if you notice your cat’s behavior has recently changed. I also recommend seeking out veterinary guidance if you have pressing concerns.
Loss of Weight
A cat with diabetes cannot process and break down glucose properly, which in turn deprives their cells of the needed nutrition. To make up for this lack of nutrition, the body will break down fat and muscle tissue in order to get the nutrients needed. This can reduce your cat’s weight in an unhealthy way.
Change of Litter Box Routine
Diabetes causes excessive thirst. Your cat will most likely be making more bathroom trips due to the increased water intake to compensate for being thirsty. Another thing to look at is where they are going to the bathroom. A sick cat will most likely be defecating outside the litter box or not covering its bowel movements with litter. These are big signs of an illness or poor health.
Many cats will stop eating if they do not feel good, while others may eat everything in sight. This will vary from cat to cat. It is possible for a cat to experience both of these symptoms at the same time, which can really cause some erratic behaviors. This is due to the body trying to adjust to the inability to process glucose and extract nutrients properly.
Vomiting due to diabetes is a sign of waste build-up in the body. This happens when your body starts to break down fat for energy due to lack of nutrients from food.
Diabetes can also affect the way your cat walks or moves. It affects the nervous system of your cat, which can lead to unsteadiness or odd walking.
Your Cat Looks Ill
Your cat will generally look sick. A formerly bright and healthy coat may look dull and lifeless. Your cat’s eyes may also be dull and not as bright as they used to be. Your cat will also struggle to fight off other minor infections and illnesses. They may be slow to respond or seem sluggish as well.
How to Collect and Test a Blood Sample from Your Cat
It’s a good idea to keep a log of all the tests you do on your cat to share with your vet at a later time. Here’s a quick reference guide on how to test your cat’s blood glucose level.
- Once you have a glucose meter and glucose test strips, you are ready to collect and test a sample from your cat. Make sure you lay the kit out with everything you need within reach. Much like with a human glucometer, you’ll need to obtain some blood from your cat. The best place to collect the blood is from your cat’s ear flap, which is also called the pinna.
- Before trying to collect a blood sample, make sure that your cat’s pinna is warm. Simply hold it gently between your hands for about a minute or two. Warming up the pinna helps circulate more blood to the area, which will make collection easier.
- Quickly take the lancet and quickly prick your cat’s ear. Make sure the area you prick is a hairless part of the ear. Always make sure to use a new lancet and never an old one. The last thing you need is to give your cat a skin infection from a dirty needle.
- Once you see a small drop of blood appear, collect it on the test strip. After you have collected the blood, make sure to gently apply clean cotton or a gauze onto your cat’s ear to help reduce and stop the bleeding.
- Insert the test strip into the glucose meter as instructed. Once the reading appears on the screen, compare it to the normal level for cats. Note the reading and contact your local vet if the glucose levels are highly irregular.
Who should purchase a blood glucose meter?
Purchasing a glucose meter for your cat can save you a lot of money in the long run. Let’s face it, trips to the vet for your cat are not cheap. Being able to monitor your cat’s glucose levels from home will save you money and put you in control of your cat’s health. Being proactive is the best way to keep your cat healthy. If you feel confident and responsible enough to monitor your cat’s blood sugar, then this is the right purchase for you.
If you feel that you will forget to test your cat, or simply cannot do it, then the best bet is to continue taking your cat to the vet for monitoring. Letting blood glucose get out of hand can be very dangerous and potentially fatal if not properly monitored.
What are the differences between a human glucose meter and a cat glucose meter?
While it might seem tempting to invest in a human glucose meter instead of one for cats, there are a lot of differences between the two glucose meters that could affect not only your results but the actions you take based on those results.
For instance, the blood sample required for a human glucose meter is much more than is necessary for a cat glucose meter. After all, most cats are relatively small compared to the average human, so the ratio of blood required adjusts accordingly.
Cat glucose meters are also calibrated specifically for feline diabetes. A human glucometer may technically monitor some of the same markers, but in order to get the most accurate readings, you’ll want to invest in the proper glucose meter.
How do I calibrate my cat’s glucose meter?
Cat glucose meters come with a control solution you can use to calibrate your glucometer. This solution should be applied to test strips at least once a month in order to make sure your cat’s glucometer is reading accurately.
Most manufacturers will list a control solution range on the bottle of the control solution or on the test strips box. As long as the control solution reads in this range, your cat glucose meter should be calibrated properly.
What should my cat’s glucose level be?
The normal level of glucose in the blood is 80-120 milligrams per deciliter or mg/dL. After a large or high-calorie meal, it may rise up to 250-300 mg/dL. If your cat has diabetes, the blood glucose level can rise to above 400 mg/dL.
In fact, it is not uncommon for some diabetic cats to have glucose levels as high as 700-800 mg/dl. More commonly, they will be in the range of 400-600 mg/dL.
How does anemia affect my cat’s blood glucose levels?
If your cat is anemic, this can affect the results of testing their blood sugar. For example, in order to return accurate results, glucose meter manufacturers determine a general hematocrit level, which denotes the number of red blood cells in the blood.
If your cat is anemic, the number of red blood cells in the blood can be different than this general level. This could cause the test strips to read inaccurately.
Diabetes in cats is a serious health condition. When purchasing the best glucose meter for cats, you want to look out for its accuracy. If you have an accurate reading, you will be able to properly monitor your cat’s blood glucose levels without any expensive trips to a vet.