Q: My cat Gretchen was just diagnosed with diabetes and I feel totally overwhelmed! I’ve read so many different things that I’m completely confused. Where do I start?
A: You don’t need to have a meltdown! Even if you’re already wringing your hands over terms like glucose curve and glucometer, you can do this!
Sure, it may seem as if everyone around you has started speaking a strange new language. But try not to stress. If you’re like most of my feline diabetes people, you will eventually start to feel less like you’ve if you’ve entered a new dimension where everyone seems to expect you to do superhuman things like give shots, take blood samples and use high tech medical equipment.
For starters, depending on your diagnosis, you may not have to do any of the above things (though you’ll probably want to at some point). You will, however, have to do some homework.
To get you started, here are a few tidbits of advice:
▪ Listen carefully to your veterinarian and his/her team.
Ask questions! Take notes! Request handouts! Pick a veterinary technician and ask if you can call them with any questions.
▪ Do some online research.
You can read the basics at Cornell Vet School’s feline diabetes page. For a deeper dive, I recommend FelineDiabetes.com. FYI, the fundamentals include a diet change and twice daily insulin administration.
▪ Take it slow.
A diabetes diagnosis doesn’t mean you need to down the encyclopedia of diabetes in one gulp. Though you should learn how to give insulin, don’t worry overmuch. You’ll soon learn that injections are easier than pills (by far!). And don’t stress about all the other stuff yet. Getting the basics down is all you need concern yourself with.
▪ Ask for an estimate.
Diabetes can be an expensive condition. The new diet may be pricier than your previous one, the insulin is spendy, and you’ll need many follow-up appointments for monitoring. (If you’re willing to learn how to do some of the monitoring at home you’ll find that your expenses will go way down.)
▪ Stay positive.
Diabetes is a totally manageable condition in most cases. Even if your pet is sick enough that she has to be hospitalized for a few days or more, you should know that the majority of even the sickest diabetes patients tend to thrive. Some cats can even recover completely. Be brave!
Dr. Patty Khuly has a veterinary practice at Sunset Animal Clinic in South Miami. Her website is drpattykhuly.com. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.