21 May Living With Your Diabetic Cat
Feline diabetes is a common hormonal imbalance among cats, with one in every 400 kitties being affected. If your feline friend is one of the lucky ones, remember that it’s treatable. In fact, it’s one of the easier chronic diseases to manage. And diabetic kitties don’t develop complications like blindness and circulatory problems that humans with this disease are prone to.
When your kitty is diagnosed, he’ll more than likely need to be hospitalised for a few days. He’ll be given fluids by IV and insulin injections. His vital signs, blood, and urine will be watched carefully until his blood sugar levels are stabilised. Once this happens, you and your vet can work together to develop a long-term treatment plan.
It’s important to develop a treatment plan you can live with. The biggest reason felines with diabetes are put to sleep is because their owners can’t handle the amount of time required by treatment and monitoring, not because the kitty doesn’t respond to treatment well. To manage this disease successfully, you’ll need to work out a schedule that you can actually stick to. Plus your kitty needs to be able to tolerate it, too.
There are several types of insulin, so your vet needs to find the best one for your kitty. He or she will determine the dosage, and how often it’s given to your feline friend. Most kitties will needs two injections a day, about 12 hours apart. Some will need only one shot a day.
Shots may be given in several different places. You may be injecting your kitty in the skin above his neck, or alongside his chest, or on the side of his body.
Many pet owners would rather give their kitties pills instead of shots. If your kitty is not overweight or underweight, has been stabilised, and doesn’t have any other health problems, this may be an option. These drugs don’t control diabetes as quickly as injections do. It may take several weeks before they work. Many cats don’t respond to oral medication, so if your kitty gets worse, you may need to use the injectable medication instead.
Diet and Weight Management
Managing your buddy’s diet will be an important part of his treatment plan. This is necessary both to maintain his ideal weight, and also to avoid the big swings in blood sugar levels that can happen when he eats. High-protein, low-carbohydrate diets are usually prescribed. It’s often recommended that you feed your kitty twice a day to synchronise with his shots.
Be sure to monitor your kitty carefully. Sometimes kitties who are being treated become non-diabetic again. If this happens, and you give him his meds, his blood sugar can drop too low, causing hypoglycaemia, which can lead to seizures and weakness. Keep some corn syrup where you can find it in a hurry if necessary. Rub it on your cat’s gums if he becomes hypoglycaemic. Don’t give him any more insulin, and call your vet right away. Your kitty may need immediate treatment.
Before your kitty comes home, your vet will show you how to give injections. This sound scary, but, believe it or not, most kitties would rather get a shot than have a pill shoved down their throats! The needles are very small, and it’s not very painful for your furry friend.
Don’t try to restrain your kitty. That’s more traumatic for him than the shot is. One pet owner always give a food reward when she give her kitty a shot. She says that when her kitty hears her getting out his treatment supplies, he comes running and sits there calmly while she gives him the shot. Then she pets him and praises him and gives him the treat. Just be sure to use healthy food treats and don’t overdo, since keeping his weight under control is imperative.
At first you may wonder how you’ll ever manage to do this. But it will quickly become part of your routine for both you and your fur-ball, and you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about!
Don’t try to reuse needles. They aren’t sterile after being used, and can contaminate the entire bottle of medicine if you stick it back into the vial. Needles also get dull fast, and it hurts to get a shot with a dull needle!
How To Cope
Living with a diabetic cat can be very stressful at first. You may be on the edge emotionally for a while. Feeling angry, frustrated, sad, and guilty goes with the territory. Don’t spend a lot of time feeling bad about the situation. Accept that you’re going to feel this way sometimes, especially if there’s a setback, but try to move on. Take care of yourself, and get emotional support from a family member or friend who understands what you’re going through. Oftentimes, another pet owner will be more sympathetic.
Some people won’t understand your commitment to caring for your kitty. They’ll make all kinds of unhelpful comments, and may even go so far as to say that you’re nuts to spend that much time and money taking care of “a silly cat” It hurts to hear remarks like that, but try to ignore it. You don’t have to justify yourself to these folks, and they won’t understand anyway, so don’t waste your time. Just smile and wander off. Your good friends will understand, especially if they are pet-lovers themselves.
Look online to find mailing lists and websites for people taking care of pets with chronic illnesses. A great website with lots of information is FelineDiabetes.com. They also have a forum where you can find lots of loving support.
Veterinary costs can be another source of stress for you. The bills can add up quickly, especially if your buddy needs to be hospitalised or his blood sugar is hard to regulate. We all want to do the best for our special kitties, but you need to be realistic, too. Talk to your vet about trying to keep costs down as much as possible. See if you can make payments on your bill, if necessary.
Supplements containing vanadium and chromium have been shown to help decrease the blood glucose concentrations. You may want to try GlucoBalance, a blend of herbs specially formulated for kitties with feline diabetes. Some owners have found that GlucoBalance, along with a healthy diet and regular exercise, has made it possible to reduce or eliminate the use of medications. Be sure to work with your vet to avoid complications if you make any changes to your kitty’s treatment.
Keep A Good Attitude
It’s important to have a good relationship with your vet, as you’ll be working together as a team to keep your furball’s blood sugar regulated. Be sure you feel comfortable asking questions, and that you’re satisfied with the answers you receive. If you don’t understand something, keep asking until you do.
The more you can learn about this condition, the better off you and your furball will be. There’s so much information online that it can be overwhelming at first. Focus on learning the basics first. Then you can begin studying other topics. Keep in mind that your vet may not have time to keep up with all the latest information. Do your own research and educate yourself.
Although there is no cure for feline diabetes, it’s neither fatal nor progressive with proper management. A diagnosis of diabetes can seem overwhelming at first. But once you understand the disease and develop a daily treatment routine, your kitty can live a long healthy life.