Some of the important aspects of caring for your diabetic cat at home include understanding:
- Symptoms of diabetes in cats
- Timings and regularity of check ups
- Quality, amount and timing of meals
- Testing blood sugar levels at home and making a blood glucose curve
- Regularity of insulin injections and the manner in which to inject them
- Type of insulin to be used and the right syringe to inject it with
- The manner in which changes in diet and type of insulin should be made
While all the above are important, knowing the peak action of the insulin that has been prescribed is equally significant. Ignorance on this aspect of home care can lead to hypoglycemic episodes. Hypoglycemia is the opposite of hyperglycemia. It is abnormally low level of sugar in the blood. While hyperglycemia is manageable, hypoglycemia may be difficult to control unless immediate action is taken. A slight oversight can result in the death of the cat.
Adequate control of diabetes in cats requires long-lasting insulin injections once or twice a day. Individual cats respond to insulin differently. Once the veterinarian has fixed a dose after studying the blood glucose curve, it should not be disturbed since a higher dose or a missed meal can be dangerous.
Knowing the lowest level of blood sugar in your pet is necessary because you may be tempted to increase the dose on the basis of pre-injection glucose level. On the other hand even if the pre-injection level of blood sugar is high it can still drop to abnormally low level after the injection. Adjusting insulin dosage without knowing all the data and information about the type of insulin and its correlation to diet is something that you should never do.
Symptoms of low blood sugar include listlessness, confusion, convulsions and coma. If hypoglycemia develops there is no room for complacence. If the cat is able to eat then it should be fed its normal food immediately. If feeding is not possible the next best thing is to rub corn syrup on the gums. Attempts should be made for the cat to swallow it. Forcing fingers, foods and fluids into the mouth of a convulsing or comatose cat is not the right thing to do. Such actions can harm your cat to a large extent.
Cats that are otherwise healthy can be treated for hypoglycemia with oral medications like Glipzide. Glipizide acts to lower blood glucose and has little or no side effects. Some of the side effects that may surface in some cats include vomiting, loss of appetite and liver damage. If the condition persist even after two months of glipzide or the cat develops acute acidity (ketoacidosis), the drug should be discontinued and the cat should be put back on insulin.
Cats that require excessively high doses of insulin (more than one to two units per pound per day) should be checked for some underlying disease that might be behind the need for an increased insulin dosage. Sometimes the insulin injection and poor absorption may be the reason why your cat needs higher doses of insulin.