One of the major reasons diabetic cats lose their lives is because people find treating diabetes so incredibly intimidating. I would like to take a few minutes to try to explain to you why it isn't, and why it is such a great live skill to have. If you can home test a cat's blood sugar levels you will have one incredibly useful skill. One that could and easily can save a life. A life like Abby.
A lot of people when faced with the idea of home testing, they are introduced to it by a vet who wants to sell their client a pet glucometer. These glucometers are generally very expensive and you have to go back to the vet to buy even more expensive strips for the meter. Since you normally want to test your cat twice a day when giving insulin (once before each shot) and occasionally you will want to do 'curves' - where you test ever two hours between the two shots - so you can see how quickly you will go through strips.
There are many inexpensive glucometers at your local megamart. I tend towards the Relion brand sold at Walmart, because that is what is sold near me. The last time I talked about this meter a very kind reader, Jamie Kowatch, offered to send me an Accucheck meter to see if the issues I was having with Abby's numbers was the meter or not. Each meter has it's own quirks and personality, so if you are going to use more than one meter it is helpful if you get a few 'duplicate tests' (a test on each meter) to see where it falls. Meters in the US are regulated by the FDA to an accuracy of has set accuracy criteria to ±20 mg/dl for levels less than 100 mg/dl or ±20% for glucose levels greater than 100mg/dl for at least 95% of results. If this is good enough for people, it is good enough for cats.
|Three different human glucometers|
|lancets - for poking the ear and making it bleed|
The general recommendation for giving insulin is to start low and go slow. A lot of vets will prescribe multiple units of insulin to start your cat off, but it is always best to start off giving one unit. Your cat is far better off with too high blood sugars for long periods of time then going too low even for a moment. Doing a curve will help you understand how that unit of insulin is working in your cat and what the lowest point in your cat's blood sugar is - usually six hours after giving insulin if you are using a 12 hour insulin. Now you can do 'spot checks' to see where your cat falls throughout the day. This will help you catch any problems such as going too low or not going low enough.
I'm sure all of this seems incredibly time consuming and not something you can do, but trust me it isn't and you can. I recorded a video of my testing Abby twice. The first time I didn't angle the camera down enough so you don't get a full view of what I'm doing, but I am sharing it here to show you how little time testing takes.
I have found, after testing almost a dozen cats, that the cats do not mind being pricked in the ear with the lancet nearly as much as they dislike having their ears held. I have found using a tissue behind the ear makes it easier for me because I am less fearful that I am about to poke myself through the cat's ear. Cats generally are not a fan of the feel of the blood pooling up on their ear and will want to shake their head to get rid of it. This is another reason why I like using a tissue, because as soon as I have done the test I can use the tissue to staunch the flow of the blood. Some people like to warm the cat's ear prior to testing with a baby sock filled with rice microwaved until warm to help increase blood flow to the ear.
I have used my knowledge on how test the blood sugar to not only treat diabetics, but I used this on my own non-diabetic cats when I wondered if they weren't feeling well or if I was over reacting. High blood glucose levels often accompany illness because of stress. I was very glad to know how to do it.
No one ever wants their cat to have diabetes, but most people who have ended up with one report that it really strengthens the bond they have with their sugar kitties. It is a rare person who is willing to take on a cat with diabetes, mostly because they do not understand how little it takes to save their lives.