Treatment of Diabetes in Cats
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The initial shock and fear you feel when the vet tells you that your pet has diabetes can be overwhelming. Yet diabetes is a treatable condition and your pet can live a normal, happy, healthy life. Diabetes is not a death sentence for your pet!

Do you think treatment is too difficult?

A post from the Feline Diabetes Message Board (FDMB) by Allie and Myrtle may be helpful to you. This post was made way back in 2006 and you just can't believe how much progress has been made in treating diabetes in cats since then! These 5 year old words still ring true.

When we humans are diagnosed with an illness we head for the internet, and I'm sure it the same for many cat owners who hesitate about treating their cats. Let's say they put off the decision to put their cat to sleep until they have found out what treatment involves. Let's say they come here, and see the dedicated treatment given by everyone here – shots, home-testing, blood curves, ketone testing, spot checks, discussions about dosages of 1.2 units or 1.75 units, U40 insulins, gauges of needles. I'll call it the 5 star treatment (or even 5+ stars for those who do tight regulation – but let's not get into any controversy about that!!)

I'm not here concerned with those who KNOW they will treat their cat – these introduce themselves, they receive a lot of help and kindness and reassurance, and sooner or later they are on their way to becoming experts themselves. It's the ones who really aren't committed to treating that concern me here. How many of these people come to the FDMB and think ..... OMG !!!!!!!!!! and presume that it has to be “all” (represented by the treatment described here) or “nothing”. Maybe they go away because they are just not up for all that, and get the cat put to sleep (PTS).

People who are not sure they want to treat their cat have a variety of reasons (No more holidays? No more lie-ins? Cost? Work schedules? Pressure by other family and friends to PTS? Half-wild cat?) I'm not going to call any of those things selfish – it's not for me to judge. I just want to say to them (1) I also hesitated about treatment, not because I was unwilling/unable to devote time and money, but because I didn't think I stood a snowball's chance in hell of getting Myrtle to accept injections, let alone anything else. And (2) – it is NOT “all or nothing”. There are “degrees” of treatment. I myself do a sort of 3 star treatment, without home blood glucose testing! And I also believe some people just are not up for a total dedication and commitment right from the beginning, but may very well work their way up to it as they go along, once they have found out in a practical way what it might involve, and that it is not as difficult, time-consuming, costly, etc as they imagined.

Although everyone here is very kind and helpful to newbies who want to treat and who introduce themselves, the really wavering types usually never post at all, and one or two brave souls who are honest enough to say they are thinking of putting to sleep get pelted with bricks. Please, let's not drive them away unnecessarily, for their cat's sake.

I'm a believer in the expression “a spoonful of honey catches more flies than a barrelful of vinegar”. I want to say to the hesitant “Just try it! Give it a go, before you make a final decision!” I'm sure the reason why many vets start cats off on once a day dosing (SID to those unfamiliar with jargon who might read this) is just for this very reason – that even this is better than nothing to get someone on the insulin road (once it's clear that it's needed). I recall my own vet did this, and I was hugely relieved! I thought I'd be lucky to even do that! But he did say it would probably need to be twice a day soon ... within 3 weeks it was me who asked to switch from SID to BID (2 x a day).

I recall what he said to me when Myrtle was first diagnosed and I asked “What if I leave her untreated?” He did not say “She will starve to death” or put any such guilt trip on me; he said she would be more vulnerable to infections, especially urinary tract infections, and probably other things I don't remember. The thing that clinched it for me was when he said “I think if you at least just try it, you will feel better about yourself”. How true! I knew I personally would not have forgiven myself if I hadn't tried. And even though Myrtle doesn't get the 5 star treatment, she is so well and happy, and behaving like a much younger cat, that I can't help but thank God I DID give it a go!

It's NOT all or nothing – you can start with SID dosing if you can't manage more (yet). You can urine test if you or your cat can't or won't do the ear pricks and blood tests (yet). And be sure that this is a very treatable disease, and most rewarding for those who do start out on the “insulin road”. You may even have your cat go into remission! But you won't know unless you try!

Further Reading

Newly Diagnosed With Diabetes
Will my cat be doomed to a poor quality of life? How long will he live? Please begin here, feline diabetes is a highly-treatable disease.

An Introduction to Diabetes in Cats
What is feline diabetes? Diabetes mellitus, or "sugar" diabetes, is a common disorder in cats and dogs, caused by the inability of the hormone insulin to properly balance blood sugar (glucose) levels.

FDMB FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions by new users
Common questions from the FDMB covering life, treatment, more.

General Treatment of Diabetes in Cats
Our basic treatment page.

Recent Advances in Treatment of Diabetes in Cats
The treatment of feline diabetes is changing.

Learn the signs and treatment of this dangerous condition.

Hypoglycemia Quick Reference
During an emergency, this quick reference guide may save your cat's life. Post in a prominent place.

Inappropriate Urination
Urination problems like especially excessive urination are common for unregulated diabetic cats.

Dictionary of Diabetes terms
Medical terms and abbreviations you'll encounter.

12 Steps to Regulation

The "Start Low, Go Slow" Approach to Regulation
Developed by the general consensus of many contributing FDMB users

Last updated February 2012
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