Diabetic cat parents have a new treatment option for their fur babies. The FDA authorized the first oral medication for feline diabetes mellitus in December 2022.
Is the new drug suitable for all diabetic felines? What are its benefits and composition, and what distinguishes this from insulin injections?
Dr. Audrey Wystrach, CEO and co-founder of Petfolk, is a Charlotte veterinarian and pet specialist with over 25 years of experience. She explains what cat owners should know about the new pill for diabetic cats.
Bexacat and How It Works
Previously, twice-a-day insulin injections and strict diet regimens were the most common treatment for cats with diabetes mellitus. But Bexacat (bexagliflozin) is a tablet; the first FDA-approved sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor novel animal medication for any animal species. According to Wystrach, this novel oral medicine for cats improves glycemic (sugar) control in otherwise healthy cats.
She asserts that, like humans, the cells in a cat’s body require sugar in the form of glucose for energy. Diabetes mellitus, cats can’t create or respond to the hormone insulin, which aids cells in using glucose as energy for regular operation. Cats with diabetes mellitus have excessive glucose levels in their blood and urine when not treated. Diabetes mellitus comes with increased thirst and urine output, weight loss, and appetite.
Wystrach explains that Bexacat reduces blood sugar by stopping the kidneys of a diabetic cat from reabsorbing glucose from the blood into the body. This results in the cat passing the excess glucose in the urine.
Insulin Shot Versus Bexacat
Diabetes is a challenging ailment for pet parents to manage, and some cat species are more at risk than others. Wystrach observes that many cat owners may be afraid to give their animals insulin shots. The cost of treatment and potential complications also contribute to pet parents’ reluctance. Because the cost of insulin has soared recently, the financial ramifications of insulin injections can be significant.
“Other barriers to cat owners choosing insulin treatment, she suggests, include correct dosing, staying on schedule, and the potential risk of life-threatening hypoglycemia.” Therefore, the thought of a once-daily oral drug that does not involve as much risk of hypoglycemia is appealing.
Cat owners administer Bexacat as a flavored tablet that may be broken and put into food once daily. While proper case selection is critical, the veterinarian observes that Bexacat has a much lower risk of dangerous hypoglycemia than typical insulin administration.
Bexcacat is not without its risks. There are notable safety concerns with using Bexacat, the veterinarian notes, “But they can be reduced by carefully screening cats before starting the drug, continued diligent monitoring regardless of the duration of or response to treatment. And knowing how to recognize quickly and appropriately treat serious and life-threatening adverse reactions.”
With its approval, the US Food and Drug Administration issued a Veterinarian Letter, noting considerations for the safe prescribing and administering of Bexacat. Dr. Wystrach highlights several of these, including:
- When using this new pharmacological category, patient selection is critical. Potential patients must be carefully chosen and checked for kidney, liver, and pancreatic disorders, genetic disorders, as well as ketoacidosis (a high level of acids known as ketones, in the blood).
- If your cats have previously received insulin treatment, are now receiving insulin treatment, or have insulin-dependent diabetic mellitus, avoid administering Bexacat, as major adverse reactions can occur.
- If your cat shows any signs of dehydration, lethargy, anorexia, weakness, or trouble walking or standing, avoid administering Bexacat.
- Bexacat therapy may raise the chance of major adverse reactions, such as diabetic ketoacidosis or euglycemic diabetic ketoacidosis, both of which can be fatal. Cats with diabetic or euglycemic ketoacidosis should be handled as an emergency, which includes discontinuing Bexacat and initiating insulin therapy.
- Following the start of medication, inspect your cat and have blood tests at regular intervals. Monitor your cat closely for hunger, lethargy, dehydration, and weight loss should all.
- If you notice any of the symptoms above, immediately discontinue Bexacat therapy and take your cat to a veterinarian, who should evaluate the cat for diabetic ketoacidosis or euglycemic diabetic ketoacidosis.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,