How to Care for a Diabetic Cat
You've just been told that your cat is diabetic and you're probably panicking because you don't really know what this means. The first thing that you need to do is to relax and start calmly thinking about how you're going to deal with this. Gaining a full understanding of what it will mean to care for a pet that is diabetic can help you make the choice as to how to move forward. In doing so, you will need to learn how to properly care for the cat but this is something that isn't really that difficult as long as you've made the commitment to do it.
Here are the steps that you should take to start properly caring for a diabetic cat:
- Do your research. Start reading about what it means for an animal to be diabetic. The better an understanding that you have of the situation, the better you're going to be able to care for your cat.
- Make an informed decision about whether or not you want to care for the cat. The reality is that some people don't have the time or inclination to care for a diabetic pet. After reading about what it will take to care for the cat, decide whether or not you're really willing to make this commitment. If you aren't, you need to take responsibility for finding a great new owner or no-kill shelter for the cat. Otherwise, make the full commitment to caring for your sick cat so that you can move forward with providing proper care that comes from your whole heart.
- Get a great vet. There will be a lot of things that you're going to do in the home to care for the cat but there will also be plenty of things that require a vet. Make sure that you have a great vet that can help you through this issue. If your current vet doesn't have experience with diabetic pets then ask for a recommendation to someone who does.
- Invest time in the early stages. It is the first few weeks or months that are going to be toughest as you adjust to this new change in your life. First of all, the cat is going to need to start medication and may even need to be hospitalized to get the diabetes under control. Sometimes this is simple; the vet gives you medicine and the cat takes to it perfectly. Other times, it's more complicated with repeated trials of medication and doses having to be tried out before the right combination is found. Make sure that you have the time to deal with these first few weeks; cut back on other commitments and even consider taking time off at this time.
- Start your cat on a healthy diet. The thing about diabetes is that a cat needs to eat right to prevent the disease from getting out of control. Your vet will prescribe a diet based on the information uncovered during those first few weeks. It is going to be your responsibility to purchase the right food, measure out the amounts that are given to the cat and make sure that the food is given at the right time of day. You will also need to monitor the cat's eating to make sure that your pet is getting the right amount of good food.
- Regularly give your cat medicine. In most cases, this is going to mean that you have to give a daily shot of insulin to your cat. Have the vet train you as to how to properly do this. Make sure that you understand the time of day and amount of insulin that is supposed to be given.
- Monitor the cat's urine glucose. This isn't fun but it's part of the job when you're caring for a diabetic pet. You will need to purchase glucose test strips and catch the cat's urine on them to monitor glucose. This needs to be done regularly but not daily; ask your doctor about the exact plan for this type of monitoring.
- Monitor the cat's blood glucose. This is done more rarely but is important to giving you updated information about the status of the cat's health. You can pay to have the vet do this (it's done two or three times per year) or you can get a kit that lets you do this at home.
- Spend time with your cat. Basically, the only way to really know if your cat is getting better or worse is to spend time with your cat. This will allow you to notice changes in the daily habits of the cat. Changes should alert you to the fact that something might be wrong. Medications may need to be changed or there may be other health complications that occur in conjunction with diabetes.
- Get help. The reality of your life is that you're probably not going to be able to do all of this stuff every day without a break. You need to keep other appointments and take vacations. Make sure that you have someone in your life who is reliable to take care of the cat when you need to be somewhere else. A spouse, an older child, a good friend or a paid pet sitter can help out in this way. Make sure that they are trained in advance to take care of the cat in case an emergency comes up that requires you to leave the cat.
Taking care of a diabetic pet isn't easy but it's really not all that difficult either. You'll get used to measuring out the right kind of food. You'll adjust to giving insulin to your cat. You'll become conscious of changes in the cat's behavior that indicate that there may be a problem. And you'll probably continue to have many good years with your cat. Be aware that it's time-intensive and that it can get expensive. (You might want to look into options for pet insurance if you don't already have that.) But as long as you're willing to make the commitment to caring for the cat, it shouldn't be a problem that you can't handle.
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- Diabetic cat care | Ask Metafilter