Cat Health

Say Goodbye to Syringes! New Oral Meds for Diabetic Cats Are Available

oral drugs for diabetic cats

Cat owners with diabetic cats, rejoice! Two new FDA-approved drugs offer a convenient and potentially life-changing alternative to traditional insulin injections for managing feline diabetes.

This article dives into Bexacat and Senvelgo, exploring how they work, their benefits, and some important considerations for their use.

What Is Diabetes Mellitus?

First, let’s talk about blood sugar (often called blood glucose) and how it’s normally controlled in your cat’s body. When your cat eats, her body breaks the food down into different molecules. One of those molecules is glucose, a type of sugar. Glucose is an important source of energy for cells in her body.

The pancreas is the part of the body that makes insulin, a hormone that helps control the amount of glucose in your cat’s blood. It does this by helping the cells use glucose when they need energy. It also tells the liver to store some of that glucose, so it can release some later if blood glucose levels get too low.

Sometimes, though, blood glucose levels rise higher than they should. If your cat’s pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin (Type I -insulin dependent diabetes) or your cat doesn’t respond to the insulin it makes properly (Type II-insulin resistant diabetes), the cells can’t use glucose in the blood for energy.

The glucose stays in the blood and the cells don’t get the energy they need.

Cats with diabetes most commonly suffer from the Type II form of the disease.

What Are the Signs of Diabetes in Cats?

If your cat has diabetes, you may notice that she is:

Your cat may also show signs of a urinary tract infection. Urinary tract infections are common in cats with diabetes because bacteria thrive in the sugary environment caused by high glucose levels in the urine. Signs of urinary tract infection in cats can include:

new oral meds for diabetic cats

How Is Diabetes in Cats Diagnosed?

Your veterinarian will ask you questions about your cat’s behavior and examine her for signs like weight loss and dehydration. If diabetes is suspected, they will recommend blood and urine tests to check for high blood glucose and glucose in the urine. Diabetes often occurs in older cats that may have other health issues, so it’s important to get a complete picture of your cat’s health.

How Is Diabetes in Cats Treated?

Diabetes usually requires lifelong treatment and regular monitoring. Treatment may include:

Feeding your cat a prescription diet specifically for diabetic cats.

Encouraging weight loss if she is overweight, as being overweight can predispose your cat to diabetes.

Insulin shots for insulin-dependent diabetic cats who do not make enough insulin.

 Insulin injections have long been the mainstay of diabetes management in cats. While effective, injections can be a hassle for both cat and owner.

Now that you know more about diabetes mellitus, and how it’s diagnosed and treated in cats, let’s talk a little bit about Bexacat and Senvelgo, the two new FDA-approved drugs to treat diabetes in cats.

How Do Bexacat and Senvelgo Work?

Your veterinarian may prescribe Bexacat or Senvelgo for your diabetic cat. These drugs belong to a new class of diabetes medications called SGLT2 inhibitors. Unlike insulin, SGLT2 inhibitors do not help a diabetic cat’s cells use glucose for energy. Instead, they lower blood glucose levels by helping the kidneys excrete glucose.

 

What Are the Side Effects of Bexacat and Senvelgo?

Both Bexacat and Senvelgo have important safety considerations. Your veterinarian will carefully screen your cat before starting either drug and will monitor her health, blood glucose, and other blood and urine tests regularly to ensure the medication is working properly. This helps quickly identify and treat any serious side effects.

Common side effects of Bexacat and Senvelgo include:

Vomiting

Diarrhea or loose stools

Reduced appetite or no interest in food

Dehydration

Lack of energy, hiding, or decreased grooming

Continued weight loss

Increased drinking

Increased urination

Ketonuria (a buildup of ketones in the urine)

Serious side effects, such as diabetic ketoacidosis and pancreatitis, can occur without warning, even if your veterinarian has screened and monitored your cat appropriately. These serious side effects can happen even if your cat has had stable blood glucose levels while taking the drug. This is why careful monitoring is important, no matter how long your cat has been on Bexacat or Senvelgo.

What Is Diabetic Ketoacidosis:

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition that can happen with diabetes. When the cells can’t use glucose for energy, they can become so starved that the body starts to break down fat for energy, creating molecules called ketones. Too many ketones can cause your cat’s blood to become very acidic, leading to “ketoacidosis”. Signs of ketoacidosis can include 

  • bad (worse than normal) or sweet-smelling breath 
  • not wanting to eat or drink 
  • acting more quiet than normal 
  • vomiting and/or diarrhea 
  • weakness 
  • trouble breathing 
  • collapse and coma (this is a sign of severe diabetic ketoacidosis)

Diabetic ketoacidosis may happen more often during the first week of treatment with Bexacat or Senvelgo, but it can occur at any time. Cats that have previously been given insulin shots should not take Bexacat or Senvelgo, as these cats have a higher risk of developing diabetic ketoacidosis.

Pancreatitis Explained

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, which can sometimes be serious and life-threatening. Signs of pancreatitis can include: 

  • a painful belly 
  • not wanting to eat or drink 
  • lack of energy 
  • hiding or acting more quiet than normal 
  • vomiting and/or diarrhea 

Pancreatitis is diagnosed based on your cat’s signs, physical exam findings, blood test results, and X-ray or ultrasound findings. 

oral drug for diabetic cats

Bexacat and Senvelgo For Cats

Unlike insulin shots, Bexacat, a flavored tablet, and Senvelgo, a liquid solution, are given by mouth once a day. The drugs should be given at approximately the same time each day, with or without food, and regardless of the cat’s blood glucose level.

If you forget to give Bexacat or Senvelgo to your cat, you should give a dose the same day, then continue giving the drug on your regular schedule.

It’s extremely important that if your cat shows less interest in her food or she stops eating, her activity level decreases, she starts vomiting or having diarrhea, or she has weakness or difficulty walking, stop giving the drug and contact your veterinarian immediately.

Benefits of Oral Medications

Convenience: No more injections! These medications are administered orally, once a day, with or without food.

Reduced Stress: Both for you and your feline friend! Oral administration can be a calmer, less invasive experience.

Potential for Improved Quality of Life: Easier medication management can lead to a more relaxed routine for you and your cat.

oral drug for diabetic cats

Which Cats CANNOT Take Bexacat And Senvelgo?

Some cats can’t take Bexacat or Senvelgo:

  • Cats that have been treated with insulin in the past or are currently on insulin.
  • Cats that are lethargic (less energy than usual, laying around), dehydrated, or aren’t eating.
  • Cats that have other health problems, especially disease of the kidneys, liver, or pancreas.
  • Cats that have diabetic ketoacidosis.
  • Cats that don’t meet the required weight for the drug.

Based on your cat’s medical history, overall health, and the results of blood and urine tests, your veterinarian can decide if Bexacat or Senvelgo is a good choice to treat her diabetes.

Final Notes – Oral Drugs For Feline Diabetes

Bexacat and Senvelgo can be effective in treating diabetes mellitus but are not right for every diabetic cat. The drugs can be used to treat certain cats with diabetes that don’t require insulin shots.

With proper management, cats with diabetes can live long, happy lives. These new oral medications offer a welcome addition to the treatment options available. By working closely with your veterinarian, you can ensure your feline friend receives the best possible care and enjoys a fulfilling life, free from the burdens of uncontrolled diabetes.

 

Frequently Asked Questions )FAQs)

Can diabetic cats currently being treated with insulin switch to Bexacat?

No. Do not use Bexacat in cats who have previously been treated with insulin, who are receiving insulin, or in cats with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

The use of Bexacat in cats with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, or the withdrawal of insulin and initiation of Bexacat, is associated with an increased risk of diabetic ketoacidosis or euglycemic diabetic ketoacidosis and death.

Does Bexacat have to be given with food?

Bexacat can be given with or without food.

How do I store the SENVELGO oral solution?

SENVELGO oral solution does not require any special storage conditions. A bottle of SENVELGO oral solution is good for up to 6 months after it is opened.

What is the onset and duration of action of SENVELGO oral solution?

SENVELGO oral solution is rapidly absorbed with maximum plasma concentrations reached in under 3.7 hours in fasted and fed cats. Thus, SENVELGO oral solution causes glucose in the urine from the first dose onwards. This leads to glycemic control with a sustained decrease in blood glucose throughout the day within one week.

Are cats treated with SENVELGO oral solution at higher risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs)?

Urinary tract infections may occur as part of the underlying disease. Urinary tract infections are common in feline diabetic patients, but the frequency of UTI in cats treated with SENVELGO oral solution is similar to that in cats treated with insulin.  Standard UTI treatment should be started if there are symptoms of bladder inflammation or infection. 

administrator
Dr. Georgina Ushi is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer. She received her Doctorate from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2009. She currently works in the Tampa Bay area, providing compassionate care to dogs and cats. Alongside her clinical work, Dr. Ushi consults for pet well-being brands and writes health articles for her blog, Pet Health Love. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge to educate and inspire fellow pet owners. Dr. Ushi’s professional interests include emergency and critical care, wildlife medicine, nutrition, and hospice and palliative care.

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