My kitty needs insulin

So it’s official - Ariel the Wonder Cat most definitely has diabetes.

The good news is that a special diet is working nicely to bring her glucose levels down to more manageable levels. The bad news is that the vet feels that her glucose is still a little bit too high, which means that insulin is definitely on the horizon… probably sooner rather than later given that her glucose is still on the high side of normal (and at 7 yrs, she’s not getting any younger).

There is some abuse in her past, which means she usually won’t consent to being touched under the best of circumstances. I’m concerned that this means she’ll react very badly to being held down to play Kitty Pincushion every 12 hours, whether it’s for her own good or not.

On top of that, I have to admit that part of me is really concerned about whether I can accommodate for something like this, since my work often involves travel and/or long hours. Somehow, I don’t think my employer would necessarily give a diabetic pet the same consideration as they would a diabetic child. Part of me is seriously considering giving her up to a foster home or cat rescue to see if she can be placed with someone whose lifestyle is better suited to her needs… though I know it would break my heart to give her up, knowing it would bring back all the abandonment issues she had and that I’ve done my best to chase away.

Has anyone had any experience with this? Please tell me it’s not nearly as scary as it all sounds.

My sympathies.

I have no experience with what you are going through. But to me, there is a point where pets exist for our convenience and comfort, not for theirs. Although I don’t exactly sanction putting a pet to sleep because it doesn’t match the new furniture, either.

And so, if you try the insulin, and your cat won’t tolerate the kitty pincushion thing, or it proves impossible for you to consistently provide the care your cat needs and too difficult to get someone to help you out; I will feel nothing but sympathy for you. If you give up without trying the insulin, I will feel sympathy mixed with a pinch of irritation for failing to provide the care that your cat needs.

Best wishes.

Our Majyk was diabetic. Same deal – a shot of insulin, twice per day. It really wasn’t very hard to do, and after a short time it became extremely simple.

We were showed how to do it – grasp the scruff of the neck like a mama carrying her kittens, which creates a little pocket of loose skin. Stick the needle in the pocket at a shallow angle, hit the plunger, and you’re done. With practice, the whole process took under five seconds.

While I know he didn’t understand what we were doing, it would seem that he was aware that it made him feel better. After a few weeks of doing it, whenever we pulled the bottle out of the fridge he would come running, meowing for his shot.

Hope everything works out for the best for you both!

Poor kitty. I hope she’ll get used to the treatment.

I have to say, though, Ariel is one beautiful cat!

One of my best friends has a kitty who needs insulin shots, and I’ve looked after her (the kitty, not my friend) on occasion. It really is as simple as Hal Briston describes. Since the kitty is a curmudgeonly old calico (14 years old), she doesn’t come running for her shot… instead, I give her the shot while she has her face planted in her food dish (the diabetes makes her hungry all the time, it seems). She growls a little but is so busy stuffing her face that it’s perfectly safe. :wink:

The shot frequency is a bigger issue. Ariel can probably miss a shot once in a while, but not on a regular basis. I’m guessing you don’t have a friend or neighbor at hand who would be comfortable giving a shot to Ariel if you can’t be there…? If you seriously need to consider giving her up, you might think about placing a classified with PetFinders ( There are lots of special needs animals listed there, so people combing the listings are likely to be willing to take a kitty as beautiful as yours. Best wishes.

Sorry, that should be

I would occasionally pet sit for a friend who had a kitty with diabetes. Lily associated her yummy special food with the shot and knew she got the shot first, then the yummy special food. She got to lick the spoon used to scoop out the food while she got her shot and there was never an issue.

ah yes. the big stick. :stuck_out_tongue:

i had to do it for a time for a previous cat from many years ago. it’s not difficult at all to do, but i recommend having treats on hand while doing the injection. in sir william’s case, it was a systemic infection which required antibiotic injections for about six weeks.

we provided him catnip and other tasty delectables and after a short time i got really good at the needle sticks, so the whole thing went very well.

also, have your vet or one of the techs show you how to do it ***before * ** you have to do it alone. no sense in gumming up the works first time out if you don’t have to.

best of luck and and an extra hug for the wonder cat.

Hmmm… I hadn’t thought of this approach, though it would probably work quite nicely as there’s no power on earth that would move Ariel when she’s face down in her food dish (and yes, the diabetes turns them into voracious little buggers - she’s been known to nip your fingers if you’re not fast enough getting treats out of the pouch, just to let you know she’s not the patient type)

It might be a bit painful to adjust the feeding times to line up with insulin time, but that’s not nearly as big of a worry.

I’ve done about eight different diabetic cats while pet sitting. It isn’t very hard most of the time. They almost don’t seem to notice getting a shot. If she doesn’t like being touched much, that’s likely to be the difficult part, not the shot. Ask your vet for advice on helping her get used to being handled, maybe? See if she can have a treat or two when she lets you pet her and pull up the scruff of her neck. Start trying to get her used to that now, before she needs insulin.

Good luck to you and beatiful Ariel.

Insulin shots are easy. You can do it. My experience has been like Hal Briston’s: takes a few seconds, the cat doesn’t even notice. It’s a short sharp needle: nothing scary-looking.

I had a diabetic dog also and he never even noticed the shot. It was much more “traumatic” for us thinking we couldn’t do it. It was far easier than pilling him! Give it a try. It really is easy. I’d give insulin shots any day of the week over trying to get a cat to eat a pill that he does NOT want to eat.

That’s an excellent photo of her, by the way. Very beautiful kitty.

My cat Dino developed diabetes too, Hal is right on the money. I swear Dino knew it made her feel better. No problems at all really, you can do this, they hardest part is getting over the mental block of YOU having to give the needle. A couple days of doing it though, and you will be a pro. Good luck.

My cat, Lady, was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 15 or so.

I did all the investigating I could about diabetes in pets - especially in felines. My vet was so impressed with what I did that he asked me to show another client all the steps I took to ensure that Lady’s insulin was monitored, etc.

Basically, I did the things that we people would do - I would test her blood sugar with a blood glucose monitor twice a day before each insulin shot.

I would also take a day out of the month to do a blood glucose curve on her, because doing one from home was a much more accurate picture of what her body was doing when at ease and relaxed as opposed to being upset at being at the vet’s all day. Sounds like a lot, but really, it wasn’t. I just scheduled that day to be the day that Lady and I spent time together.

She began to feel better after we got her blood sugar regulated. It was amazing. I lost my nervousness at pricking her ear for blood testing and for giving her a shot in the scruff, and she learned to just relax while I did those things because she knew that after all that, she’d get loved on and fed, and maybe would get a special treat.

She lived to the ripe old age of 21… but she had a great life!

I’m not at home now, but if you’d like, I can give you more information via e-mail when I get home. I fly home tomorrow night. PM or e-mail me if you like.

ETA: Did your vet mention anything about the possibility of using glipizide? It’s an oral treatment for diabetes - Lady’s blood glucose levels were just too high and it wasn’t effective, or we would have stayed with it.

My 10 year old neutered male kitty developed diabetes. I read up on alternative treatments (there is a link to some infohere). I gave him Vanadium and a high protein diet, and after about 8 or 9 months he is fine. He did lose about 4 pounds over the course of about a year, but weighed 20 at the start so I suspect the weight loss has helped his health. I was concerned about the difficulties of monitoring blood sugar etc. and decided to try this approach for awhile to see how he did and he did very well. I am glad I did. You might discuss it with your vet. There is quite a bit of info out there on the high-protein diet (Fancy Feast chicken is your firiend!) as well as other alternatives to insulin. I’m sure the shots are easy but obviously if you don’t have to do them it’s all good.

I had a Himalayan kitty who wasn’t diabetic, but had kidney problems requiring daily fluid injections. Those were a little more involved than a quick shot: get the needle in, and hold her still for about five minutes while the fluid in the IV-type bag went in.

When we first found out we had to do it, BF and I were pretty freaked. Ok, I will even admit we really blew it the first time and felt bad about it, so we practiced a couple of times on a teddy bear to work out the logistics.

But once the stupid humans were over their initial clutziness, it was a breeze. According to the vet, cats apparently don’t have a whole lot of feeling in the scruff area, and the needle stick doesn’t hurt them like we are afraid it will.

You can do this. Best of luck to you and Ariel.

Thanks for the encouragement, everyone. It definitely isn’t sounding nearly as scary as it did when the vet first brought up the whole idea.

I’m not quite sure I have it in me to go to the lengths you did, Dazzling White Diamonds, though I tip my hat to you for being so actively involved with your pet’s health. I’ll definitely do some research on glipizide, as this might be a less traumatic process - I’ve never had problems with getting her to take pills so long as I tuck them into a pinch of wet food, since she’ll whomp it down too fast to notice the surprise in the middle. :slight_smile: Thanks for the suggestion… it’s nice to know there are non-injection alternatives.

For the moment, we’re going to stick with the combo of Purina M/D dry and Prescription Diet M/D wet foods. She’s responded very positively (blood sugar down from 25 to 14 in the last two months), but we’re probably just buying ourselves another year or two of time before her pancreas gets wise to our little tricks. I’m just prepping myself for the inevitable in the meantime and trying to learn as much as I can.

I have had two diabetic cats on insulin, for overlapping time periods.

One was diagnosed at age 7 and lived to 17. He was much happier when treatment started, and would usually come meowing for his shots twice a day. The vet demonstrated giving shots with the cat ideally located on the right height countertop in excellent lighting and so forth, but after a while I could do him while he was curled up under the coffee table. I was surprised how easy it was.

The other cat died suddenly after a couple years of treatment, and I don’t know if the diabetes contributed. He was less cooperative - a very friendly cat, and pretty easy to handle, but he’d sometimes disappear at shot time. He didn’t especially fight the shot otherwise.

We go away for a week or two each year, and have had several different housesitters take care of them. None of them reported any problem. One of them I remember carefully teaching how to prepare and use the syringe, at great length, and he is just saying “Yes, yes, sure, OK” the whole time. Found out later he had spent most of his teens as a heroin addict. I should have been asking him for tips instead.

Yeah, you’ll do great. I’ve been giving my Marion shots for 4 years now. It helps that she is a very mellow cat, but she has liked it from the beginning. I feed her twice a day, approximately 12 hours apart, and give her a shot afterwards. After she eats she walks a little ways from the dish and slays down waiting for me. If I get distracted and don’t do the shot quickly enough, she will give a little “mew” to remind me.

She does seem to like it. My theory (likely wrong) is that it may be similar to a the nip a male cat will give during mating, although she is neutered and shouldn’t be thinking about that sort o stuff. All I know is that she has always been OK with the shot.

As for timing, that could be a problem if you are out of town a lot. The long hours are OK, at least Marion does not seem to have problems when I’m home late. It has caused problems with going out of town. Pre-diabetes I never had a problem with leaving her at home with extra food and water for a weekend. Now when we leave for a weekend we need to take Marion with us or, for longer vacations, leave her with my sister.

My cat Lucia nearly died of pancreatitis back in August, and has been diabetic since. She gets 2 little shots a day, but doesn’t mind them; the needle on the syringe you use to inject the insulin is very fine. Plus, she gets a treat after a shot. What she hates are the pin-stabs in her ears to get the drop of blood to monitor her blood glucose levels, which we used to have to do every day when she was first diagnosed, and the vet and I were working out how much insulin she ought to have; now that we’ve settled, the ear-stabs are only every few weeks.

I was used to giving her subcutaneous injections before this for her weekly allergy shots–those are tougher, since the syringe needle isn’t as fine and there’s a lot more liquid involved.

I’ve only been out of town once since she was ill, but left her kenneled at the vet’s for a week. I thought that safest, since she was still fragile after being so ill, and the vet staff knew her and her history and would be able to take care of any emergencies that might arise. Since I plan to be away again this spring, I’m looking into other kennels or trying to find a pet-sitter who’s experienced with diabetic kitties and giving shots.

I’ve been giving my ferret subcutaneous fluids for the past 2 weeks. Not fun. I have to pump in 50 ccs once a day. It takes a full minute. He hates it, as do I. But thank god scruffing a ferret basically paralyzes them. I can’t imagine what you cat people do.