insulin needle

This is an insulin needle. See how small it is? Photo by Sarah G at

When one of my cats was diagnosed with diabetes, I panicked. When I found out he could get insulin and it wasn’t a death sentence, I relaxed a little. When I learned that I would have to give him shots of insulin, I panicked again. The thought of giving shots made me weak in the knees.

You have to understand that I am a wimp when it comes to medical stuff…I hate it and am not good at dealing with it. I also have had a lifelong fear of needles. Just seeing someone get a shot on TV would make me turn my head and feel shaky. So when I realized I would have to give Fluffy (I know, I couldn’t believe I named him that either!) shots of insulin, it was a terrifying moment.

My mom always said, “You do what you have to.” To be honest, I never really grasped what she was saying until this happened with Fluffy. So, I learned how to draw up the insulin and how to give the shots. I would do anything necessary for my babies and this was the “I have to do this” moment.


The vet instructed me to pinch some of Fluffy’s skin between my fingers and then stick the needle in there. Right. I ended up sticking myself more times than him. I found a wonderful method in a book I had that shows you how to grasp the skin and gently pull up, making a tent of sorts and then sticking the needle in that tented area. I also learned to gently pull the skin up and down a little while I was doing it. It worked beautifully and my fingers were protected too.

When I first started I would shake so uncontrollably while pulling up the insulin into the needle that I could hardly do it. Sounds silly, but that’s how nervous I was. I knew, however, that when I went into the room to give him his shot, I had to be very calm, for his sake. This is where you learn to “do what you have to.” Not sure how I did it, but I would take a deep breath and walk into that room as calm as a cucumber. Later it became so routine that it didn’t bother me at all.

giving a cat an insulin shot

Giving Honey an insulin shot.


One thing that helps is that the needles used for this are very small and very thin. I later had to give the same cat subcutaneous injections every day, but that’s another story (or post) entirely. Because of the size of the needle, I honestly don’t think he even felt it most of the time. Another tip is to put down some treats while giving the shot. They are distracted by eating and don’t notice as much. Another tip is to pull the skin toward the needle, while pushing the needle into the skin…sort of a dual action that makes it better than just poking the needle into the skin.


While not everyone is as afraid of doing this as I was, I hope this helps anyone who is! Believe me, you can do it and it will become second nature to both you and your cat. Funny how life works. As a result of this I am not as queasy about needles anymore. I still don’t like being stuck by one, but I can see a needle on TV and not feel faint, a big accomplishment for me! Thank goodness we can control diabetes in our animals and it’s not an incurable disease. So if your cat is diagnosed, don’t panic…you will “do what you have to do” and it won’t be as hard as you think.


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