Diabetic Cat Care
I first met Neko over Thanksgiving break, in 2012, when his owners needed somebody to take care of him while on vacation. Neko, like thousands of other cats, has feline diabetes. About 1 in 400 cats has diabetes, however, like any other cat, Neko likes attention, dinner time and taking naps. These special cats, albeit needing daily care, lead fairly normal lives.
Caring for a Diabetic Cat
At first, I was incredibly nervous about taking care of Neko. He needs two shots of insulin per day, one at breakfast, and one at dinner, about 12 hours apart. I myself have never been comfortable with shots and even recall a time bursting into tears and needing to hold the nurse’s hand while getting a shot. I was 21 and a senior in college. If you are shot-queasy like me, and have the opportunity to care for a diabetic cat, here are some things to consider:
- You can’t see the shot enter the skin through the cat’s fur.
- You can give the shot anywhere on the cat’s body.
- The shot is very quick, as it is such a small dosage.
- If I can do it, you can do it.
When to Give the Insulin Shot
Be sure to follow the instructions given to you by your vet, and also on the insulin packaging. Generally, insulin shots are given at 12 hour intervals, and the cat must be eating. If the cat isn't eating his dinner, then he doesn't get a shot. The good thing? When the cat is eating, the cat is distracted. Some tips for insulin shots:
- Prepare the shot prior to feeding the cat. This makes things easier and quicker, and doesn't allow much time for the cat to notice what you are doing. I don't know of any cat, let alone person who actually likes getting a shot, so keep it quick and discrete.
- Prepare a couple dosages ahead of time and keep them in the refrigerator. This makes things easier early in the morning, and also there will be an extra one ready, if you happen to waste a dosage.
- Have the shot in one hand while you place the food down in the other. This allows for one swift movement.
- Make sure the shot is clean and sterile. Do not reuse shots. If you miss, or hit the floor with the needle, you must get a new one.
- Do not shake the insulin bottle, as this will break down the insulin.
- When feeding and medicating your cat, make sure he is in a comfortable place. It is harder to do this when there are other cats or people around.
- Make sure there are no bubbles in the insulin. Air in the bloodstream is bad. You can get rid of bubbles by lightly flicking the insulin shot while it is in the tube, as seen in the video below.
- Cap the used insulin shots, and put them in a bag labeled clearly as "USED." This avoids any and all confusion, and you can take this bag and dispose of it at pharmacies if you aren't comfortable with putting it in your trash.
- Give your cat some love. Talk nicely to him or her, and give them a scratch behind the ears. Cats need some comfort and to know everything is alright, too.