Data from intravenous (i.v.) glucose tolerance tests suggest that glucose clearance from the blood is slower in cats than in dogs. Since different physiological pathways are activated following oral administration compared with i.v. administration, we investigated the profiles of plasma glucose and insulin in cats and dogs following ingestion of a test meal with or without glucose. Adult male and female cats and dogs were fed either a high-protein (HP) test meal (15 g/kg body weight; ten cats and eleven dogs) or a HP+glucose test meal (13 g/kg body-weight HP diet+2 g/kg body-weight d-glucose; seven cats and thirteen dogs) following a 24 h fast. Marked differences in plasma glucose and insulin profiles were observed in cats and dogs following ingestion of the glucose-loaded meal. In cats, mean plasma glucose concentration reached a peak at 120 min (10·2, 95 % CI 9·7, 10·8 mmol/l) and returned to baseline by 240 min, but no statistically significant change in plasma insulin concentration was observed. In dogs, mean plasma glucose concentration reached a peak at 60 min (6·3, 95 % CI 5·9, 6·7 mmol/l) and returned to baseline by 90 min, while plasma insulin concentration was significantly higher than pre-meal values from 30 to 120 min following the glucose-loaded meal. These results indicate that cats are not as efficient as dogs at rapidly decreasing high blood glucose levels and are consistent with a known metabolic adaptation of cats, namely a lack of glucokinase, which is important for both insulin secretion and glucose uptake from the blood.