DIABETIC CATS – IS IT WORTH THE EFFORT?

I have been reading and researching the web and many vet links to find out all the information that I can about treating diabetes in a cat.  As you might know from my earlier posts,   I have a cat that was diagnosed recently with diabetes.  Now we had to really bite the bullet and take the step that I personally feel is the correct step.  We decided to treat her with insulin and get her moderated to be healthy again.  

I know many people would not want to do this because the costs for treating a diabetic cat are not cheap.  I look at it from the viewpoint that this cat is under our guardianship and as such, needs every bit of help from us because we took her into our lives and hearts. I feel that she is part of our family and needs as much support as we would give a human that is part of our family.  

I have read some really good articles cats and diabetes and the debate whether to begin to treat or consider the other options:

  • a.  let her starve until she cannot function and then take her to the vet to be euthanized; or
  • b take her immediately to the vet and get her euthanized without considering medical alternatives.  

Well neither was a good option and although we are still figuring out how to balance our books and budget, the main thing is we love her, want her to be healthy and realize that life as a diabetic cat is not a death sentence.  

I want to quote from one of the online vet sites because what the doctor says is so real and honest:

Quoted:  from Pet MD, by Dr. Patty Khuly ,  http://www.petmd.com/blogs/fullyvetted/2011/june/stressful_diabetic_cat_encounters-11270#

  • “I just don’t get it. Here I’ve got the proverbial crazy cat lady seated before me. I mean, she’s long ago confessed to keeping ten cats in her tiny apartment. And don’t get me wrong — I adore her for it. Problem is, she currently says she’ll not be treating her just-diagnosed diabetic cat with insulin because (a) she has too many others to worry about, and (b) she doesn’t want to “put her through it.”

The first hint of what the lady is dealing with (not dealing in my opinion) is her inability to have the time to make a balanced and good decision.  The doctor goes on to state,

  • “Now, in case you’ve not heard my spiel on this before, lean into your seats and grab hold of your desk now: Who exactly are we putting through what? Because if I was nine-out-of-ten cats, I’d be loving life as a diabetic cat. That is, as long as my owner cared enough to coddle me through the process.”

Okay some semblance of rational thinking on the doctors part.  I agree with her on this point.  I coddle my cats because I love them and have made that choice to accept them as my family and in so doing, I am their caretaker no matter what might occur.  Dont’ get me wrong,  we have had cats that we had to say a very tearful goodbye to because they were too sick to help and the only alternative was to not let them suffer.  That is something I never get over well because they are part of my heart and soul and I love them very much.  I feel that a decision based on the level of illness is critical to make sure no animal suffers any more than necessary.  

As I continued to read the article I was happy that the doctor gave statistics regarding the ability for cats to recover to the point that insulin was not needed anymore within four months of beginning treatment.  The doctor goes on to voice her opinion quite clearly when she says,

  • “I’d say not wanting to “put her through it” would rank high among the crappiest reasons to let any animal die an uncomfortable death in the face of an eminently treatable disease.”

The doctor backed up this statement by clarifying the amount of times the vets hear this and shows the real reason most people do not want to go through with treatment.  She says, 

  • ” a large percentage of don’t-want-to-put-her-through-it cases are really just an excuse for economic euthanasia. Or more depressingly, don’t-want-to-put-her-through-it is the code for death offered by the I-just-can’t-deal-with-this-right-now mentality I encounter so often among my emotionally overwhelmed client base. This latter group means well. But they just. can’t. deal.”

The real reason is clearly now stated, But they just. can’t. deal.  I like this vet, I know she is correct in her diagnosis of us humans unable to deal with it.   I admit there are times when in absolute defeat and sadness and overwhelming frustration it might seem like the best option, but we are not thinking clearly, we are thinking emotionally.  I long ago promised myself never to let a cat suffer because of my emotional instabilities and insecurities.  I lost three wonderful cats because of a life situation and that was over 10 years ago and I still have not really forgiven myself or gotten over that loss totally.  This shed light on the fact that owning a pet is a HUGE responsibility.  

Through the rest of the article the doctor gives rational reasons and facts about diabetic cats and the owners reluctance to deal with it.  As the article sums up she states,

  • “My profession is about healing animals — mostly. But in a large percentage of cases I’m really just Tom Sawyering others into doing the healing for me. And nowhere is this more obvious in my version of veterinary medicine than when it comes to treating the diabetic cat. Sure, I can tell them exactly what to do, but unless I can persuade pet owners into believing that both they and their cats will be happier in the end … it’s all over.”

Her final paragraph sums up what I feel,

  • “What’s more, most cases of feline diabetes are incredibly rewarding adventures in what it takes to really love animals. Now, if only I could convince ALL my clients…”

I think that this article and website is a wonderful thing.  I know that I feel with my heart and try to think with my head when it comes to my cats, but in the end I believe that they deserve the best possible life available.  That comes with costs and consequences if one of them gets ill.  I will always consider the cats circumstances and see if there is a solution that will benefit them the best possible path.  

We have had to say goodbye to quite a few of our fur-babies and it never gets easy, we know they are no longer in pain and the ones that we treat today, they are happy, healthy and living a safe, loving live with us.  I guess it is how you look at it in the end.