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Interview with a Cat Owner: Life With a Diabetic Pet

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Hello everyone!

Today we are talking with Patty, the owner of Whiskey, a diabetic cat, and here’s what she has to say about it.

Hi Patty, thank you for taking the time to talk with us here at Live Love Meow.
Hi Sass, Thanks for asking me to participate in this interview. This issue of taking care of special needs pets is very near & dear to me for many reasons. I started and ran a no-kill animal shelter in my small town over 10 years ago, and I have seen both sides of this issue. The people who dump their special needs pets at the shelter and the lucky ones who discover the joy of having a special needs pet in their family.
 I  understand that you have a diabetic pet.
I do, my 12 year old cat named Whiskey he is a Maine Coon mix that I rescued 11 1/2 years ago.
How did you discover that your pet had diabetes?
About 2 1/2 years ago, I saw that Whiskey was drinking lots of water, was lethargic & losing weight very quickly. I immediately called my vet & took him in where he was diagnosed with diabetes.
How is your pet’s diabetes managed? (insulin, food, exercise, etc)
He is getting insulin 2 times a day (morning & evening) Luckily, Whiskey can eat his regular food and he is still active. His diabetes was not brought on because he was an overweight cat. I am very vigilant for all my animals (both dogs & cats) to maintain a very healthy weight for them. Whiskey’s diabetes was brought on through a genetic predisposition. I have learned a lot about diabetes in cats since Whiskey’s diagnosis. I am blessed with an amazing Vet and I have made it a priority to go online and do lots of research on feline diabetes.
Did you find it difficult to learn to manage your pets’ diabetes?
Only in that Whiskey has had a VERY hard time regulating his blood sugar. For about 6 months we had to go once a week to the Vet’s to get blood glucose checks. His blood sugar numbers were all over the place, which meant we had to keep adjusting his insulin. For most of the time his numbers are off the charts, so it has made his treatment difficult. Plus my poor boy was getting stressed going to the Vet’s so much, but he was ALWAYS so good in getting his tests. (The tech’s at the Vet’s have fallen in love with him cause he is so good about getting “jabbed” LOL)
The only difficulty in feline diabetes is that it is harder to regulate than with canines. It is just their genetic make-up that makes it harder for their bodies to cope with this disease. Other than just spending the time & effort in learning as much as I can for Whiskey’s sake there hasn’t been any hardship on my part – I love my cat, so it is just second nature to want to do what I can for him.
Have you experienced a blood sugar (blood glucose) -related emergency? If so, how did you and/or your vet handle it?
Luckily no, we have come close a couple of times. But through good preparation from learning what to expect and more importantly what symptoms to look for, we have avoided these type of emergencies. I keep syrup on hand in case he gets too lethargic & I monitor his water intact etc….
Is there anything you do for your diabetic pet that you don’t do for healthier pets? Is it difficult?
Other than just watching for symptoms, and giving Whiskey his insulin shots 2x’s a day, there isn’t anything that I have to do different for him that I do for my other Furbabies.
Is the insulin, or the special diet (assuming there is one) expensive?
Well, here is the tricky part. Yes, the insulin is expensive. This has been an issue for me. But just recently I talked to my Vet and we actually came up with a new treatment plan. So now I am paying a fraction of the cost for the insulin & needles than I used to. It is a matter of being vigilant and asking questions and coming up with a treatment plan that works for my Whiskey (first & foremost) and for me. What I would also like to let your readers know is: talking to your Vet is KEY in helping a special needs pet. I don’t have to bankrupt myself with affording Whiskey’s treatment. My Vet has allowed me to set-up a payment plan where I can bill Whiskeys expenses and pay on them monthly. A lot of people don’t realize they can ask to do that. I feel that may be one of the reasons why people dump their pets at shelters (both kill & non-kill shelters) They don’t realize they can work out the financial part of dealing with their pets medical issues.
Is there anything else you would like folks to know about the care and feeding, or daily routine, of living with a diabetic cat?
Yes, I would just like to tell everyone who has or may have in the future a special needs pet: Your pet doesn’t know what they are going through when they develop a disease like diabetes (or any other major health issue). They rely on the person they love the most in this world to help them cope & survive what they are going through. They may be scared or develop behavioral issues due to the disease. Please take the time to LEARN as much as you can about whatever health problems your pet has. It cuts down on the stress level for both you & your pet. In Whiskey’s case, STRESS can be a MAJOR factor in affecting his diabetes. For example, going to the Vet’s so often gave him stress, which raised his blood glucose levels. So I was able to do a very simple test at home that gave my Vet the info she needed to determine his insulin intake. This made it less stressful all the way around for both Whiskey and myself. A very easy fix.
Lastly, everything you go through dealing with your special needs pet boils down to one simple thing: LOVE, if you love your pet enough to be willing to go through a little inconvenience (at first) a little more expense (at first) and a little time spent learning what you have to do (at first) there is NO difference in having a special needs pet. Whether you have a blind, deaf, heath related issue or whatever else, pet ~~ you simply have to LOVE them enough to be willing to help them through it. It really is the least we can do for them, considering ALL the gifts they bestow on us. Ask yourself this: What is the cost of the UNCONDITIONAL LOVE & TRUST they give to us every day of their lives? To me, it’s PRICELESS and compared to the little bit of extra money, time, inconvenience there wasn’t any question that I would do whatever I could to make my boy, Whiskey have as long & healthy a life as I could! You won’t regret it.
Patty, thank you so much for helping us out here at Live Love Meow.  Your generosity in sharing your experience is much appreciated.

Follow this author Sassenach MacConney on twitter @livelovemeow

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