Sunday, March 05, 2006

Getting Started with Feline Diabetes

The initial diagnosis of feline diabetes (FD) can be overwhelming. It adds a new dimension of caregiving to the relationship we have with our cat as well as changing the day-to-day routine we have all established around feeding. But FD is not a death sentence and the changes it introduces into our households can be routinized fairly quickly. It is a complex disease though, and there is a lot to learn. The best sources of information are the Feline Diabetes Message Board FAQs and the Pet Diabetes Wiki.

You should also read and post on the message board. Ask questions, then ask more questions. Also check out Making the Most of Your FDMB Experience.

In the meantime, you must still care for your sugar cat. Here are a few tips to help you get started. As you learn more about feline diabetes, each of these tips can be customized for you and your cat.
  1. If you are already using insulin, don't switch your cat to low carbohydrate diet unless you are hometesting. A low carbohydrate diet has a high probability of reducing your cat's insulin needs so when and if you do decide to switch, do so carefully. For details, read 10 Good Reasons NOT to Change that Diet Just Yet!

  2. If your cat is on insulin, don't adjust dosages upward until your cat's body has had time to adjust to the current dose. This usually requires between 3-5 days. You can adjust downward at any time. Dose adjustments should be made in .2 or .5 unit increments.

  3. Most FD cats benefit by being on a schedule, but don't be daunted by the prospect; most of us work and have a life, yet are able to manage our FD kitty by making a few adjustments in our day-to-day lives. If you choose to hometest, you can either test, feed, shoot OR feed, test, shoot. With fast acting insulin, such as NPH, you may need to wait for 30 minutes to an hour after feeding before shooting. Over time, you may refine this sequence to meet the needs of your unique kitty.

  4. If you choose not to hometest, don't expect your vet will do everything for you. At minimum you need to know the clinical symptoms of hypoglycemia and be prepared to act quickly. Following a set schedule will help you recognize any odd behavior following an insulin shots.

  5. Don't forget to test urine for ketones (weekly). If your cat has had ketones or DKA, you should test daily or every other day. Ketones and hypoglycemia are the most dangerous side effects of feline diabetes. Be sure to learn about both early on in your studies. -

  6. Don't hesitate to ask lots of questions on FDMB. We've all been in your shoes, we like to share our experiences!

  7. FDMB members have varying degrees of experience and knowledge regarding feline diabetes and often have differing opinions. Don't assume that what someone says is the one and only "right" answer. If you are asking for advice and getting divergent opinions, ask posters to explain why they are recommending a certain course of action. "Why" is an excellent question. Only you can decide what is right for you and your cat.

  8. Don't piss off your vet over diet or hometesting. Your cat will need medical care beyond what you can do at home. Of course it is better to have a vet who will work with you on hometesting and dietary adjustments, but if you live in a small town and don't have choices, you need to find a way to work with the vet you have.
    Interviewing Vets for the Treatment of Your Diabetic Cat and
    Questions for Vets.

  9. Don't feel like you are in this alone. FDMB is a community. We care about you and your cat. If someone doesn't answer your question right away, it only means no one is around who knows the answer. Be patient. If your question gets lost, repost it. Be persistent!

  10. Don't worry yourself sick about feline diabetes. It is a manageable disease, especially if you don't stress yourself out. Go to the movies now and then. Take walks. Have fun. Your cat will be OK and you'll both be happier if you take as good of care of yourself as you take of your sugar kitty.

Remember, this is just a quick reference to help you start caring for your diabetic cat until you have time to read and understand the more technical information contained in the FAQs and the Pet Diabetes Wiki.

1 comment:

KIC said...

Like me, you need to change your FDMB link to: