Hypoglycemia In CATS – What to Do When Your Cat Has Diabetes?

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Hypoglycemia In CATS

Your Cat Has Diabetes. Now What?

Learning that your cat is diabetic can come with an initial overwhelming

sense of panic. Your mind races ahead to all the horror stories you’ve ever heard and every worst case scenario you can imagine.

Take a deep breath and let me share with you some things that I wish someone had shared with me a year ago when my cat Guinness was diagnosed with diabetes.

Knowledge is power. And comfort. And quite handy, as well.

Educate yourself. Research feline diabetes on the internet. Ask your vet for information. Talk to other owners of diabetic cats. Diabetes in cats is more common than you might think. There are plenty of people experienced in taking care of a diabetic cat.
Keep an open but skeptical mind. Double check your research. Be wary of miracle cures. Search for scientifically sound advice, not anecdotes.Find a supportive veterinarian who is committed to providing your cat with the best treatment for his condition. When my cat was diagnosed, one of the first things my vet did was try to politely offer me an acceptable “out” through euthanasia. I switched vets to one willing to work with me.

Now that you have a little knowledge, practice using it.

There are some topics that you can study for a lifetime but never grasp until you actually DO something with them. Caring for a diabetic cat is one of those. Let’s break that down into a few initial things that you need to learn in a short amount of time.

Hypoglycemia In CATS

Diet

The proper diet is crucial to improving your cat’s health. Your vet will probably recommend a diet high in protein and fiber, and low in carbohydrates. Dry food is high in carbs, and most varieties are packed with corn. Cats are meat-eaters. They don’t need corn, and they don’t need vegetables. Your vet may also recommend a feeding schedule. Make sure whatever schedule you use works for you and your cat.

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Feed your cat quality wet food. Your vet may advise a prescription diet. Research this option to make sure it is what your cat really needs. Read ingredient labels, and do a web search on the nutrition in various brands of cat food (try using search words like “cat food nutritional information”). Most canned varieties average between 9 and 11 percent protein, even the expensive ones. The best choice is one that has meat as its first ingredient, does not include cheap fillers, and above all, is something your cat will eat. That $2 can isn’t going to do your cat any good if he snubs it. A quality 50 cent can even be healthier. Read the labels.

Regulating your cat’s blood sugar

Giving insulin and testing blood glucose

Learn how to give your cat shots if insulin shots are prescribed. It really isn’t hard. Make sure your vet trains you and allows you to practice in the office under observation. You can find how-to videos on the internet. Once you get the hang of it, it hurts the cat little or not at all. It’s scary at first, but you and your cat will both get used to it.

Make sure you and your cat both keep a positive attitude. Buy or make healthy all-meat treats and turn shot time into snuggle-and-treat time. When my cat sees me sit down on the living room sofa, he jumps up beside me and starts purring because he knows it’s time for treats. He purrs through the shot and even purrs when I prick his ear to test his sugar.

Ask your vet for your cat’s target blood glucose levels. Normal feline blood sugar levels are similar to human’s: 70 to 120. Blood glucose varies over the course of the day, so a good target range is usually between 100 and 200 to avoid allowing the level to drop dangerously low.

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Learn how to test your cat’s blood glucose. Your vet may instruct you in this or may tell you it’s nothing you need to do. But it’s very important you know what’s going on with your cat. A severe drop in blood sugar sometimes has very obvious symptoms, but it can also sneak up on you without warning. Your cat’s life could depend on you taking immediate action to raise his glucose level quickly. Pricking his ear hurts very little. If your vet doesn’t teach you how to do this, do a YouTube search for how-to videos and watch several of them.

 

Hypoglycemia In CATS

Learn what to do if your cat’s glucose level drops too low. Your vet may advise keeping corn syrup or honey handy or may suggest other ways of bringing the level up quickly.

Do a “curve”. Your vet will probably do a curve where your cat’s blood glucose is tested at two-hour intervals and charted to show his high and low periods. Ask for the results of this and note when the high and low points occur. After you and your cat have settled into your new treatment and diet routine, do a curve of your own at home. You need to know how his blood sugar varies over time and in relation to his dosage and meal times. Find the time of day that his blood sugar is the lowest. This is the period when he needs to be watched the closest. Try to arrange his schedule so that this period coincides with your availability. The curve may also show you where you may need to adjust his mealtimes to prevent any spikes or drastic drops. After more time has passed, do another curve to see if your cat’s blood glucose is being controlled. You may find that his dosage needs adjusting. After six or eight months on insulin, I had to cut my cat’s dosage in half because his sugar kept dropping too low.

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You don’t need a special glucose monitor to test your cat’s sugar. A monitor for humans works just fine. If you already own one, use it. One that uses a very small drop of blood is preferable.

Note: The biggest expense in monitoring is not the cost of the monitor, but the strips that are used with it. Some glucose monitors are often advertised as free or deeply discounted with a coupon in order to lock you into using certain expensive monitor strips. When shopping for a new monitor, compare the total cost of monitor + strips. Until you cat’s blood glucose level is under control, you may be using as many as two or more strips per day.

While you must use the test strip required by your monitor, you do not have to use the same brand lancet. Because you are aiming for a very small spot on the edge of the ear, you will probably want to hold the lancet in your fingers rather than use the pen designed for pricking human fingers.

Hypoglycemia In CATS

Learn to Read Your Cat

Know what is normal behavior and what isn’t.
A cat eating wet food diet will have most of his fluid needs met by his diet. If he begins drinking more from his water bowl or urinates more than usual, his sugar is probably high. Adjust his diet and/or increase his insulin as needed or as directed by your vet.If he seems weak, is ravenously hungry, starts acting crazy, or just doesn’t seem right, check his sugar. He may be hypoglycemic, which is when his blood glucose drops too low.

Just like in humans, feline diabetes can be managed, but it will take effort. But as your best buddy starts to feel healthier and happier, you will find that it is very much worth it.

Is your cat diabetic?

 

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