Diabetes is common in cats, as it is in humans. And diabetes leads to nerve damage called “neuropathy”. Diabetic neuropathy in cats typically makes its first appearance in the legs (“peripheral neuropathy”) — the cat loses strength in the legs and has difficulty jumping or walking. But nerve damage also takes place in the brain, and may reveal itself as confusion and and abnormal behavior.
The standard treatment for diabetic neuropathy is vitamin B12 — also known as “cobalamin”. Since diabetes is still an incurable ailment, some form of vitamin B12 supplementation will be needed for the rest of a diabetic cat’s life.
Several forms of B12 are available:
These are available both as subcutaneous injections and as oral tablets.
Which B12 treatment is better for cats — injections or oral tablets?
If your budget and your time are of no concern, then you can take your cat to the vet every week for an injection. It makes little difference whether the cyano, hydroxo, or methyl form is used for injection. All of them will work.
But if your resources are limited, or if your cat doesn’t appreciate being “needled” every week, then your best option will be an oral high-dose cobalamin supplement such as Zobaline.
Studies in humans have shown that high-dose oral B12 is just as effective as B12 injections. Similar studies have not been done for cats, but since humans and cats share the share the same system for absorbing and processing B12, it makes sense to use human treatments as a guide. Indeed, Zobaline users report that their cats typically respond well to Zobaline treatment in about three weeks.
Which oral form of B12 is best — cyano-, hydroxo-, or methyl-cobalamin?
When using oral vitamin B12, it makes a huge difference what kind of B12 is used. The cyano and hydroxo forms are far more prone to destruction by stomach acid than is the methyl form. Consequently the methyl form has better and more reliable absorption from the digestive tract into the bloodstream.
Furthermore, any cyano-cobalamin that does manage to get into the bloodstream is quickly taken up by the kidneys and gotten rid of. Methyl-cobalamin stays in the body much longer.
So, it is not surprising that Zobaline users report that their diabetic cats respond well to Zobaline (methyl-cobalamin) but responded poorly to previous treatments with cyano-cobalamin. Zobaline is absorbed better and stays in the body longer.
How to administer a Zobaline tablet to a cat
Cats differ in their attitudes toward food and medication, but they will not object to medicines that they cannot detect. Fortunately, the doses involved in B12 supplementation are small — even “high” doses contain only a few milligrams of B12. Furthermore, B12 itself is virtually tasteless and has no aroma. Even if cats were able to detect its presence, they would probably not find it unappetizing — after all, it is present in all meats, which cats generally consider to be quite tasty. Most Zobaline users find that they can crush a tablet and mix it with cat food without the cat even noticing that it is there.