Feline diabetes is very treatable, and very manageable as long as you are armed with the right tools, vet, and knowledge. It is also something you often must take into your own hands, since many veterinarians are not up to date on the latest research and treatments.
I'm dividing this page into segments, each with links (more to come) to more information. Simply scroll down or click on:
Diet and Nutrition
Food Carb/Protein Charts
Innova Evo & Nature's Variety
Syringes and Insulin Types/Duration
Glucose Meter Information
Hometesting and Diabetic Supplies
Feline Diabetes Communities
Specific Diabetes Information:
~*~DIET AND NUTRITION:
Diet plays a vital role in diabetes management. Many cats can be controlled by diet alone, but unfortunately, many vets are seriously misinformed about new diet information for diabetics. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, most veterinary nutritionists now recommend the "Catkins" diet for diabetics. High protein, low-carb food WILL result in lower insulin doses and sometimes, remission. High-fiber, high carb diets such as Hills W/D, are outdated and poor choices. Hills M/D and
Purina DM are better choices, but are still relatively high in carbs and made with inferior quality ingredients.
In addition, feeding an exclusive diet of dry food is a poor choice for any cat. Dry foods are, with very few exceptions, high in carbs and made with poor quality ingredients, including undigested grains, which no true carnivore needs. The use of dry foods has been linked to many diseases, including diabetes, feline urinary syndrome, urinary tract infections, irritable bowel syndrome, and chronic renal failure, to name a few. For more information, click on the links below.
Feeding Your Cat: Know The Basics Of Feline Nutrition
Feline Diabetes And Diet: The High Carbohydrate Culprit
Feline Diabetes And Obesity: The Preventable Epidemics
Commercial Canned Foods
~*~FOOD CARB/PROTEIN CONTENT CHARTS:
You can see how different varieties of canned and dry foods compare, nutritionally and carb-wise with these charts. Print them out and take to the store with you to help choose low carb varieties of canned food.
~*~INNOVA EVO & NATURE'S VARIETY INSTINCT:
These are the two dry foods I recommend and use (in addition to canned food.) These dry foods contain only 7% carbs, and NO grains. Best of all, they cost around the same as the big company "prescription" diets. NOTE: If your diabetic cat will eat low-carb canned food only, then it's probably best not to introduce any dry food. EVO and Nature's Variety are much better alternatives than other drys, however, but a word of caution: They MUST be introduced into the diet gradually–as in, a few pieces at a time, mixed with the usual food–and never on an empty stomach. These foods are super-concentrated and very rich, and may cause stomach upset. Also, dry shouldn't be fed as the primary part of the diet — that should be canned, which is both low in carbs, and provides extra moisture cats need to prevent urinary crystal blockages.
Hometesting is one of the most important things you can do for your pet, and it saves money and lives EVERY DAY. Performing your own curves at home can help you regulate your cat MUCH more quickly, safely, and cheaply than taking your cat to the vet every few days. Testing before every insulin shot can prevent a hypoglycemic episode.
Why is hometesting so important? Because every time your cat hypos, permanent damage is done to the organs and tissues. She may recover well after a few days of being sick and miserable–and after a few days of no sleep for you because you are up all night syringe-feeding and cleaning up the diarrhea caused by the Karo–but she'll pay for the hypo with illness eventually. I lost my cat way too early because of the damage done by two hypoglycemic episodes…back before I took her health care into my own hands and found a vet who finally understood diabetes. I went through FOUR vets who either were dead set on outdated, ineffective methods of treatment or who were opposed to hometesting before I found a feline nutrition specialist who helped me understand how diet and hometesting can make huge differences in your cat's life.
Common reasons for not hometesting include:
"I might hurt my cat." Unlikely. Testing is pretty much painless. I tried it on myself to make sure. Cats who hate the insulin shot (mine) often don't even notice the prick in the ear. I've heard that many even purr through the whole procedure, which takes only seconds from start to finish.
"It's too stressful on me and my cat." It's a LOT less stressful than stuffing your cat into a carrier and hauling her to the vet, where she will be kept for an entire day in a little cage and then held down every two hours to have a big needle jammed in her leg veins for curves. And it's a lot less stressful to test before every insulin shot than it is to treat for a hypoglycemic episode. Trust me.
"My vet doesn't support it." I had that problem too, but ultimately, you don't need your vet's permission. Your vet may very well change his mind when you walk in with your little booklet of blood sugar numbers and records. If your vet gives you a hard time, consider WHY he's giving you a hard time. He may not want to lose the gold mine he found in constantly testing your diabetic cat and selling you crappy prescription dry food. Or maybe he isn't familiar with hometesting or thinks you won't test properly, but millions of human diabetics test on themselves with no problems. In any case, you may need to find a new vet.
"My vet says it isn't accurate because meters are made for humans."
Meters test blood sugar, not DNA. They don't know the difference between human and animal blood. Need proof? Many users, including me, have tested their meters against their vets' tests and have found nearly identical numbers. Need veterinary proof? Click here
and here. Print out and give these articles to your vet, if needed.
"It's expensive." It's more expensive to take your cat to the vet for tests. Testing might ultimately get your cat off of expensive insulin as well. And you can almost always get the meter for free.
Even if you don't plan to test before every shot or perform your own curves-heck, even if you don't plan to use a meter at all, you should still have one around for emergencies. If your cat is acting strange, test him! He may be experiencing a hypoglycemic episode. It can't hurt, and may save his life.
There is no excuse not to have one when you can obtain them for free. Often they are free with the purchase of strips, and even more often you can buy one that comes with a rebate for the full purchase price…meaning that it's free after the rebate.
Please, please, please, consider learning to hometest before every shot and to do your own curves. But even if you can't or won't do that, at least secure a free monitor and keep it around for emergencies. There's no reason not to, and the first time you use it, you'll wonder why you waited.
Home Blood Glucose Testing Of The Diabetic Cat
Home Blood Glucose Testing Information
In-Home Blood Glucose Monitoring
How To Do An Ear Prick On A Cat To Test Blood Glucose
Lancet And Ketone Test Strip Information
How To Test Your Pet's Blood Glucose At Home
~*~GLUCOSE METER INFORMATION:
As far as glucometers go, there are many brands and features to consider when buying one.
- Accuracy: Because meters are designed for human glucose levels, some aren't as accurate at high numbers that cats see, but humans don't.
- Sample Size: Some meters require large sample sizes, which can be difficult to get from a cat's ear. Many people have success with meters such as the One
Touch Ultra that requires only 1 ul. of blood. However, my cat isn't a "bleeder," and I can't get that amount unless I prick her poor ear several times. I have found great success with the Freestyle Flash, which requires 2/3rds less blood, the smallest sample in the world. One prick gets me enough every time.
- Ease of use: Purchase a meter that uses "sipping" strips that suck up the blood as you hold it to the drop. Other kinds of strips must have blood added, which can be next to impossible to do.
My personal favorite monitor is the Freestyle Flash for several reasons, including the fact that it allows you to take blood on both edges of the strip, so no matter at what angle you're holding it, you can get the sample. Also, if, for some reason you don't get enough blood on the first prick, you can prick again and add blood to the FF strip, where with most other meters you cannot, which wastes the strip. Keep in mind, however, that users have reported that the Freestyle meters may be inaccurate at higher numbers. If you are going to keep one around for emergencies or spot checking or testing your "honeymooning" cat, though, this is a perfect monitor to have.