Owners of diabetic cats are frequently willing to monitor blood glucose at home.

Currently, a handheld glucometer is used and samples are collected via the marginal ear vein nick technique or the vacuum lancet. However, sampling is not always easy, and owners often discontinue testing because of an inability to secure a blood sample from the ear. In this study, the authors investigated an alternative sampling site in 75 hospitalized cats (fewer than 10% were diabetic). The authors compared the feasibility of obtaining blood glucose measurements from footpads versus ears. Blood glucose was measured using The FreeStyle Freedom glucometer (abbott.com) and samples were collected using a standard lancet or lancing device. A maximum of 3 attempts per site per cat were made. The authors found that sampling the footpads with a lancet was surprisingly well tolerated. In addition, cats that tolerated sampling from footpads tolerated sampling from ears as well. There was no difference in twitching or vocalizing between footpad sampling and ear sampling. There only were minor differences in blood glucose measurements between the ear and the pad. The study was originally designed to sample from the metatarsal pads of 50 cats; however, this was discontinued since approximately 1/3 of cats vigorously resisted hind leg manipulation. The authors concluded that footpads, particularly metacarpal pads, are a feasible alternative to ears for blood sample collection.

Commentary: Study results suggested that metacarpal pads may be a reasonable option for blood glucose sampling in cats. Metatarsal pads were less useful in this study as cats did not tolerate hindlimb manipulation as easily as forelimb manipulation. Fewer than 10% of cats in this study actually had diabetes mellitus, and further validation of ear and footpad sampling is warranted. There are currently marketed glucose monitors that have been calibrated for veterinary medicine; this is another important consideration when monitoring blood glucose at home.—Karen A. Moriello, DVM, Diplomate ACVD

Alternative sampling site for blood glucose testing in cats: Giving the ears a rest. Zeugswetter FK, Rebuzzi L, Karlovits S. J FEL MED SURG 12:710-713, 2010.