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How to do an Ear Prick on a Cat to Test Blood Glucose

Illustrated with a LifeScan FastTake on the front of the ear.

LifeScan will no longer make the FastTake Blood Glucose meter effective November 10,2001.  Consider the LifeScan Ultra model, which has received excellent reviews.

Little Guy non-diabetic stunt double, 13 yrs.

Little Guy, our 13 year old, non-diabetic "stunt double" for the FastTake pictures.




FastTake Meter, strips, Penlet II lancet deviceStep 1. Gather supplies in an area with strong lighting.

Step 2. Inset lancet into lancet device, remove the lancet needle cover, replace the lancet device end cap, and cock the device.

Lancets may be hand held, and used to prick manually, without a device.

Step 3.  Warm washcloth (~15 sec in a 1000 watt microwave or use hot water).


Little Guy - all ears, ready to testStep 4.  Sit comfortably with your cat facing you. Or place cat on a counter or table.

If your cat will lie down, it has less range of movement and is easier to prick. You may need to gently restrain your cat until he gets used to being placed in position for an ear prick.

Step 5. Insert the test strip into the meter to turn it on.

Check that the code displayed matches the one on the test strip vial. If it doesn't, you will need to turn off the meter and re-code it before proceeding. The FastTake gives you 2 min. to get a sample before it automatically shuts off.


Cat's ear from back showing vein

This shows the vein along the outer edge of the ear, from the back side. With the new FastDraw strips for the FastTake, you can easily test a blood drop from either the front of the ear or the back. Have the cat face you to prick and sample the blood drop from the front side of the ear. You will be aiming for the upper outer edge of the ear (anywhere from midpoint to 3/4 of the way to the tip). Since the front side of the ear is not furry, you don't need a thin coat of Vaseline to help the blood drop bead up, which helps when sampling on the back side.



Step 6. Apply the warm washcloth until the ear is really WARM, almost HOT!

Use damp washcloth in plastic to warm earThe ear should be clean and dry. Check the temperature of the washcloth before applying it to the ear.  It must be very warm, but not so hot that it would be uncomfortable or burn.  Wrap a corner around the front side of the ear to warm both the front and back sides at once.  If the ear still feels cool to your touch, it isn't warm enough to bleed easily.  Don't try the prick until the ear is good and warm, it'll just be frustrating for both you and your cat.

Another approach is to use a 75 watt bulb in a lamp you can position close to the ear to warm it--less intrusive than the washcloth.
Remove and re-insert the test strip if your 2 min is almost up, you don't want the meter to automatically shut off before you get your reading.


Use protective backing with lancet deviceStep 7. Hold a folded paper napkin, gauze pad, or cotton ball on the back side of the ear where you prick

Step 8. Line up the lancet device & prick

The front side of his left ear, upper, outer edge area is shown here. This older model of the Penlet II does not have adjustable depth settings and goes all the way through the ear. Most newer lancet models offer adjustable depth settings

Step 9. Blood drop should well up.  Slowly stroke ear, if needed.

Stroke, wait a few seconds for the capillaries to refill, then stroke again.  If you don't get a big enough drop before it starts to coagulate, you will need to prick again.  The drop in the close-up is actually about 4 times what we need for the FastTake, which requires a 1.5 microliter sample for the FastDraw strip.  The lancet you use does make a difference.  We get no blood with a Liberty New Thin Lancet, but lots with the B-D Ultra Fine II or the Ulster Gentle-let Fine Point type.  If you are sure you are getting the ear warm enough, try a different lancet or different depth setting on your lancet device. Examples of different size drops in microliters

Touch end tip of strip to blood drop and allow it to sip-up into FastDraw strip

Step 10. When drop forms on inside of ear, touch the end tip of the strip to the blood drop and allow it to sip-up into the white test area of the FastDraw strip."

Step 11. The meter starts to count down when it detects blood in the reaction chamber, and after 15 sec, a BG reading or an Er message is displayed. If the sample is sufficient, you will get a BG number. If the sample was not sufficient, you may get an unusually low reading or an Er message and you should re-test with a new strip.


Last updated 10/23/01