Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Blog the Change for Animals - Diabetic cats need your help


Blog the Change

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..

Chandler
Abby
Chandler and Abby were both surrendered to the shelter because they became diabetic. Sadly vets often do not know how to properly treat diabetic cats and make their care nearly impossible for the average pet owner. To make it even more difficult, the cost of the diagnosis and initial care and regulation can be impossible for even the most loving of pet owners.

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"

33 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for this post. The scary factor of feline diabetes needs to be stopped. Education and a proper diet can do so much!

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  2. What a great post. One of the cats who came before us, Louie, became diabetic, and we think that if we had understood about home testing and knew to ask a lot of questions of the vet we didn't know back then, he could have had a much better quality of life. Knowledge is so important.

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  3. Thank you for your post, we learned a lot ! Purrs

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  4. This is a great post. My heart breaks to see cats like Chandler and Abby, who still have lots of love to give.

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  5. Wonderful post! I treated my Tara for 2 years with insulin and home testing and as scary as it seems in the beginning, it is completely do-able!

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  6. great post - as with anything, knowledge is a powerful thing to remove the "scary"

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  8. Oops...found a typo. I adopted my first diabetic in Sept. 2012 (he was 13) and I went through the learning curve with him. He was the perfect cat to learn on. I adopted another in Jan. 2013 (also 13). The first one died in Sept. 2013 for another disease and a few weeks later, I rescued a 9 year old diabetic from death row. It turns out he is diet controlled. Two at once is enough but I know more diabetics will be in my future. It really is not hard to manage them once you know the ropes. I highly encourage people to open their hearts to these "sugar" cats.

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  9. Such wonderful information. We sure hope we don't have to use it, but if we are ever in that situation we will deal with it, wisely I hope!

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    1. Being able to determine your cat's blood sugar level is good even if the cat isn't diabetic. I had a cat once that I thought wasn't feeling well, but it was hard to tell if he was just being grumpy or really not feeling well. For the fun of it I tested his sugars, and they were really high, so I knew it was health and not attitude and got him right to the vet.

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  10. Great post. Even though my guys are not diabetic, it is good information to have.

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  11. Thanks for a great post. We adopted an older diabetic cat a few years ago from the shelter. It was a little extra work but well worth it. Thanks for sharing such great information

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  12. This is a great post...thank you for advocating for diabetic cats and so glad that Abby and Chandler are in your care for a bit so they can be helped out by you. You rock, Connie!

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  13. Brilliant post. We were involved in helping find a home for Mimi a lovely little cat who had diabetes, yes we say had because as some cats do she finally grew out of it. Abby and Chandler are lucky to have you!!

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  14. Great post and great info! Thanks for sharing and thanks for joining the Tuesday's Tails Blog Hop!

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  15. This is a wonderful post! I've never owned a diabetic cat, so I've never been very educated on what it entails. This post was very informative. I can definitely understand how the bond between a diabetic cat owner and the cat would be strengthened and very deep. Having two special needs cats myself, though not diabetic, I think that statement is very true.

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  16. I had a cat that born diabetic. I had him for 17 years. All I have to say is ....the effort involved in caring for a diabetic cat is minimal. My kitty was a 1 shot a day for the first 10 years (then he became insulin resistant) and was a 2 shot a day kitty for the next 7. I did the ear pricks (glucose testing) etc. Easy-peasy. I have to commend my little man, because if his glucose went too low, he would actually come to me and meow at me and show me his quivering paw. A bit of Karo syrup...and I would get him back leveled out. When I traveled, I would have the syringes pre-loaded and my kitty sitter would do the rest. "Training" someone to take care of them when you are gone is easy. I found that if I boarded him it caused him stress so staying home was the best route to go as everything stayed the same for him. I would encourage everyone to foster/adopt diabetic kitties...
    He was such a love...that every penny and every moment was worth it. I knew God gave him to me (I picked him out when he was 7 days old...a rescue...out of a litter of 8) because He knew that I would love and care for him always.

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  17. I want to add, that the video did not mention a nice little trick. If you swipe a tad of Vaseline on the ear spot where you are going to prick, it helps the blood ball up if your kitty has floofy ears and not get absorbed by the fur.

    I call it "milking the ear" when you massage it to get the blood out of the prick sight! :)

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  18. It's so sad peoe don't wasnt diabetic animals. It is really ahrd work, I had a diabetic and we could never get him regulated (this was in the early 90s). His blood sugar was one thing at the vets and another at home. When I went into labor early with The Girl, I had to walk my mom through giving him his insulin shot between contractions.

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  19. great info Connie,xx Rachel

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  20. You have done a beautiful job fostering and talking about feline diabetes - it's not talked about enough and just as it's important and now has a spotlight on it for humans….it needs to for felines as well!

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  21. This was so informative. Thank you. How come a cat becomes diabetic? XO, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

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    1. Why some cats become diabetic and others do not is the big question. We do know that cats who become diabetic are often over weight, do not get much exercise and are fed a diet high in carbohydrates and other plant based ingredients.

      Getting a diabetic cat on a 'low carb' diet often improves blood glucose levels so much that they don't need insulin at all.

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  22. If I could learn how to do this, I would consider adopting a cat with diabetes. (See how I am using cat-first language here? LOL!) But I am not sure I'd be able to do it. I have a hard time even WATCHING my pets get shots without crying!

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    1. That is the thing, most people are so very afraid of hurting their cat when they do this, that they don't treat the cat. The insulin needles are so thin and the amount of insulin so little that often the cats are unaware they are getting a shot... especially if you are patting them while you do it.

      Poking the ear and drawing blood doesn't garner the reaction you would think it should. Sometimes the cats flinch a wee little bit but most of the time they are more annoyed that you are holding their ear.

      You could so totally do it!! I promise!!

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  23. I had a diabetic cat for a little while. It went away. She had the weakened hindquarters and threw up bile, took her to the vet, she was diabetic. We bought all the supplies and he told us not to give a shot until she ate because she just wasn't eating. A couple of days later, I coaxed her into eating, gave her a shot. A little while later, spouse finds her unconscious hanging upside down off a cat castle. Rush her to the vet, saved her life, oh, she's not diabetic anymore. She lived several more years (21 years old) and she was never sick again. That's my sole experience with a diabetic cat. I think I'm too scared to ever try fostering one. Just giving a shot to a poor defenseless little kitty, maaaaan, I had to pill a sick foster a couple of weeks ago, well that kit turned around and gave me Puss N Boots eyes! Big sad weepy eyes of dejection! A shot? Nope.

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    1. And that is why testing the kitty's blood glucose levels are so very important. It is sad more vets don't encourage it - and actively discourage it..

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  24. What adorable sweeties! We need more people like you, educating the masses So many of us know so very little about diabetes in cats, and yes, we become overwhelmed and sure we can't manage it. Just imagine how many more lives could be saved, how many cats could remain in their homes, if more people understood your message here!

    Keep educating, and kudos to you for being a hero and fostering!

    Thank you for blogging the change for animals,
    KimT
    www.btc4animals.com

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  25. Chandler and Abby are so cute! You're awesome for fostering these two sweethearts. Thank you for a educational post and for joining us to Blog the Change!


    A.J.
    BtC4Animals.com

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  26. Great post! I wish I had sites like yours when my cat was first diagnosed in 2004. Diabetic cats are a bit of extra work, but it's more than worth it. Check out Nala's story if you like, right here: http://nalakitty.wordpress.com/. Take care :)

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