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February 16, 2006
Mycah is as polite and sweet-natured a cat as I've ever known (as long as other cats aren't around.) She doesn't like to be held, and she doesn't park her cat butt in human laps, but she is nonetheless a very very sweet furball.
So sweet, in fact, that after the initial disappointment had worn off, the diagnosis of diabetes she received yesterday seemed — in a funny/strange way — rather apropos.
My little sweety... sick. I'm pretty "down" about that. Not heartbroken, though — diabetes doesn't have to be a death sentence. Ask a human diabetic.
There's a ton of information on the web about feline diabetes, so much that I've barely skimmed the surface of it. But one thing seems consistent in what I've read thus far: with proper care, the cat can have a long and happy life.
Proper care is, for the time being, going to consist of twice-daily insulin injections, though we're going to make an effort to control the diabetes with diet, as well.
By "we" I mean me and the veterinarian. Though it's early in the treatment, it's plain to see that when one has a diabetic pet, working closely with the vet is not optional. For instance, less than 24 hours after the diagnosis had been made, I'd had a one-on-one training session with the vet, during which I learned a bit about the disease, learned how to inject insulin, was equipped with the necessary implements (meaning, insulin and syringes) and developed an action plan for the next two months.
The cats who live at the clinic serve as training aids for neophyte needlers. They get a kitty treat for their forbearance, e.g., not clawing the arms of the injection trainees like me. Since a cat feels little or nothing when an injection is done properly, the treat isn't so much a reward for being stuck, but rather a reward for being manhandled by a stranger and sitting still for a minute. Not a bad deal, if you're a cat.
I'm not going to say it'll be easy caring for Mycah, but neither am I going to bemoan my fate. I'm not the one who's sick, after all. Sure, the care will cost some, and I'll have to maintain a strict schedule for her injections, but that's all part of the deal when you accept the responsibility of caring for an animal.
I took up this duty of my own free will, and I will see to it that Mycah's life is as happy and healthy as I, my vet, and science will allow. Being a good steward demands no less.
Forget ye not the Friday Ark at The Modulator and the Century Edition of the Carnival of the Cats at Bloggin' Outloud.
Posted by Russ at 07:43 PM, February 16, 2006 in Animals
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Carnival of the Cats ~ Century Edition from Bloggin' Outloud
Bienvenidos al 100th Carnival de los Gatos! We had over 50 submissions. Enjoy all the links along with some Feline Facts and early Carnival Flashbacks at Bloggin' Outloud. [Read More]
Tracked on February 19, 2006 11:38 PM
I've never had a diabetic pet myself, but as the mom of a severly allergic dog, let me tell you that the needle sticks never get easier, but the treat or favorite toy really does help in getting some cooperation from your furry friend....
My dear friend's kitty has diabetes, and until he became fairly elderly was doing really well with close monitoring, some insulin, and diet restriction. Now his poor kidneys are shutting down, but that's as much because he's 13 or so as it is because he's been diabetic for a few years.
Good luck. Mycah is just lovely.
Posted by: Caltechgirl at February 16, 2006 08:09 PM
I am afraid I have no personal experience to share, but I do hope that everything goes smoothly for Mycah. She is very lovely.
Posted by: Gigolo Kitty at February 16, 2006 08:50 PM
I had a diabetic dog who lived happily for many years with the disease. The biggest adjustment for him was the diet--no more "people food". He had to be stuck once a day, and we always did it after dinner. He got trained soon enough, and when we were putting the dinner dishes away, he'd lie down and wait for his shot. He got a treat afterwards, so it was his only treat time and a great motivator. Good luck!
Posted by: Jennifer at February 16, 2006 10:00 PM
Sorry to hear your bad news. We went through kidney stone surgery on our dog last year. Not completely related, but they manage to get by and do their best live happy lives. There is a tremendous hysteresis effect in living organisms that allows us to adapt to trauma.
All the best,
Posted by: K T Cat at February 16, 2006 11:10 PM
My niece has a diabetic cat and we've (I'm the stand-in) given her shots for going on four years now. She has a little routine involving treats and pats and praise that has worked well. You just have to get over the initial shock of it, the cat is already over it.
Posted by: Retread at February 17, 2006 07:31 AM
I had a diabetic cat (also a beautiful tuxedo cat, but with long hair) who lived five more years after her diagnosis. She didn't die of diabetes-related problems, so as you have already heard, diabetes is not a death sentence and it's something that is manageable. We gave her 3 units of insulin twice/day, eventually backing off to only 1/2 unit twice/day. If she is prescribed much more than that, I would get a second opinion.
She did not do very well on the prescription food: she was plagued with one bladder infection after another and as a result was always on antibiotics. I was desperate enough to make home-made cat food for awhile, and eventually switched to canned all-natural cat food, and she never had another bladder infection again. She did well on the store brand from Whole Foods, which is relatively affordable, but I used other organic and/or all-natural brands as well. I really don't like the prescription cat "food:" look at the label and you'll find it's more science than food.
The biggest thing to watch out for is low blood sugars, which can be very dangerous. The main symptom is extreme lethargy (even for a cat); she may even wet herself for lack of energy to get up. I promise you it will completely freak you out the first time it happens, but it will happen so be prepared. Keep a clean eye-dropper handy, and if you notice symptoms then mix a spoonful of sugar in water and squirt one or two droppers-full in her mouth (lift up her lip and squirt just inside if you can't get her mouth open). You will usually see improvement within 10-15 minutes. If she's not so low that she can't get up, a little spoonful of ice cream works too, and she thinks she's getting a treat: just whatever you can do to get the sugar back from a dangerously low level.
If you are going to be gone all day, or outside of your normal routine consider giving her a lighter insulin dosage, especially if no one will be around to monitor her. It is much better to have the sugar a little high while you're gone than to risk it getting too low.
We had problems finding a pet sitter after Meesee was diagnosed, but we found out to our delight that she was a wonderful traveler! If you take her on road trips, make sure you pack a bottle of sugar-water and eyedropper along with her insulin and other supplies. If she's used to being boarded at the vet then no problem: they'll know exactly how to care for her.
Good luck! I know it's scary but it really is something you both can live with, for a long time!
Posted by: angie at February 17, 2006 06:08 PM
And............of course, take care of yourself so you will be around to treat Mycah!
Posted by: mom at February 18, 2006 12:37 AM