Once a quarter I try to help highlight small things you can do to help the animals in need. I try to keep the ideas small and very doable to help encourage people that they can do something and not think it 'too small' because every little bit helps.
But this time I thought I would go big. Have you ever considered fostering or adopting a diabetic cat?
See this time BtC fell at a time when I brought home two new fosters..
According to this blog post, 800,000 cats are diagnosed with diabetes every year. When I was active on a message board for diabetic cats, I would quite often see owners of newly diagnosed cats absolutely overwhelmed with not only the idea of owning a diabetic cat, but the cost. A vial of insulin alone can cost $100 or more. Many people faced with this try to rehome their cats. Please know, there are ways of reducing the costs. Learning how to test the glucose levels of your cat's blood can dramatically reduce not only the cost, but also your own stress levels by giving you loads of data on your cat and how the insulin is working in your kitty.
I have often stated that the learning curve for diabetic cats is very steep, but it is very short. In most cases these days a simple diet change can reverse the high glucose levels and you can avoid the need for insulin all together. Changing the cat to a high protein "low carb" diet can dramatically lower high glucose levels in a cat, and should never be attempted on a cat that is actually on insulin unless you are home testing...
Do you get the feeling that I strongly recommend home testing? I do. I believe it is a vital skill to lean, even if your cat is not diabetic, and it takes about $40 to be able to do it. The most basic of glucometers at your local mega mart will work just fine. I tend to pick my glucometers based on the cost of the test strips, because they can range in price from $0.35 to $1.00 or more per strip... and the goal is to help make this affordable. Most vets require the cat to come in to the office and spend a day or more to be 'regulated' on an insulin dose. This is something you can do at home once you have the ability to test. This saves money and stress on the cat. Also, when you generate the data first hand, you have so much more control.
I tend to use a lancet not in a pen, and I use a tissue or a paper towel to 'protect' my fingers from being poked. If I am not worried about poking myself I am much more confident in poking the cat. I also tend to poke several times in one spot as I got my experience on a cat that did not like to bleed. Chandler is a nice bleeder and I only have to poke him once. Abby is not and takes several pokes and some 'milking' of the ear to get enough blood.
Knowing what the blood sugar levels are at gives me the knowledge of how much insulin the cat might need and when you do a 'curve' - testing every two hours - you can watch and see just how the insulin is working through out the day. Just as human diabetic glucose levels fluctuate, so do the cats, and having this information can prevent you from giving too much insulin - which is a life threatening situation.
Once you get the hang of testing, it takes no more than a minute or two. Giving insulin also takes but a moment. I generally give it while the cat is eating and you are often done giving it before the cat even notices.
Owning and treating a diabetic cat is not something I'd wish on anyone, but once you do it, you find the bond with you cat turns in a whole new direction and deepens quite a bit. Often the people who treat diabetic cats find themselves adopting additional diabetic cats because they have the knowledge and really appreciate that deep bond they have with their 'extra sweet' kitties.
Right now there are cats all over the world who need a home simply because they became diabetic. They need someone to step up and say "Yes, I am willing"