Is Your Pet Psychic?

(I’ve always loved that line.) But seriously, here’s something that blew my mind: my friend has a diabetic cat. She tests its glucose levels once a day with a standard-issue BG meter, and she gives it insulin injections twice a day. She says she can tell when it’s having a low because its paws splay out and it stands there looking idiotic, like a steer with Mad Cow Disease. She also says the hardest part is getting enough blood for testing through that thick hide. She has to poke the poor cat’s ear, which requires a vigorous chase and wrestle. (The cat’s name is also “Chaos,” but that was pre-diagnosis.) Can you imagine caring for a diabetic pet?Cat

Apparently a whole heck of a lot of people do. In fact, I must have had my head in the sand not to have noticed this; Google coughs up 1.3 Million hits for “diabetic pets”! I had no idea. Lots of sites give step-by-step instructions on how to care for your little diabetic.

I even found support group sites for harried pet owners. One of my favorites states: “Diabetic Pets Around the World: Unite In a Common Goal to let the World Know that Diabetes in Pets is Treatable!” What passion! Where there’s a cause, people will rally, ay?

But then it gets eerily familiar…

A support group called Muffin Pet Diabetes Group states:
“At first you are going to be faced with frustration, anger, exhaustion, sadness, fear, and guilt — these are all part and parcel of caring for a pet with a chronic health condition. As frustrating as it may be, the time will come when you will be able to cope with the restrictions, the pills, the new diet, the exercise regime, and all the other things that you are now faced with.”

And FeelineDiabetes.com says: “The initial shock and fear you feel when the vet tells you that your pet has diabetes can be overwhelming. Yet diabetes is a treatable condition and your pet can live a normal, happy, healthy life. Diabetes is NOT a death sentence!”

As noted here, we human diabetics tend to be pretty self-absorbed… If you’re in the market for a companion that truly UNDERSTANDS your plight, you can adopt a diabetic pet at petdiabetes.org.

And no worries about health insurance! The California-based Veterinary Pet Insurance Co., the first and largest outfit offering pet insurance, is prepared: in the last two years, the company says, claims for diabetic pets rose by 17 percent.

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11 Responses

  1. JustLinda
    JustLinda October 24, 2005 at 3:05 pm | | Reply

    My husband (a diabetic) looks that way when he’s low. LOL

    But speaking of pets… the last two times my husband has had severe nighttime hypoglycemia, the dog MIGHT have predicted it. She seemed to have barked advanced warning. That’s what we think, anyway. I wonder how come that is?

  2. Kirk
    Kirk October 25, 2005 at 8:10 am | | Reply

    It is a proven fact that animals can sense lows and also other medical conditions. For example there has been study of animals ability to detect cancers.

    My wife thinks she has a diabetic animal (me…)

  3. Nick
    Nick October 25, 2005 at 10:57 am | | Reply

    I heard that dogs don’t have pain receptors in their skin. That would make giving injections easy. (I don’t think the dog would hold still for a second injection if that weren’t the case.) I wonder if this is also true of cats? I have neither at this time, so I cannot experiment.

  4. Kerri.
    Kerri. October 25, 2005 at 1:08 pm | | Reply

    I’ve written about my cat, Abby, on my blog before. I swear that cat never misses a low bloodsugar reaction. She always meows at me until I stumble into the kitchen for juice. Can she sense my body starting to fail? Can she tense the sweat on my brow from the low? Do I smell different or taste different when I’m low? Whatever the case, my old cat Abby always saves me. I’ve had a few close calls but the reason I woke up those times was due to her insistant meowing.

    I realize this sounds borderline ridiculous, but she really is in tune with my sugar level.

    I’m consdering having her cloned. :)

  5. AmyT
    AmyT October 26, 2005 at 8:41 am | | Reply

    Hmm, interesting. This is a whole other take — the idea that animals can sense their owners’ troubles.

    Thanks, you guys.

  6. Martha O'Connor
    Martha O'Connor October 29, 2005 at 8:18 pm | | Reply

    http://www.dogs4diabetics.com

    For me, I find it very annoying when people tell me they know JUST how I feel (as a mom of a child with diabetes) because their freaking CAT has diabetes. KAY, I like cats, but my son is a human. And I’d kill their cat myself if it were needed for research for a cure.

    {{donning flamesuit}}

  7. Martha O'Connor
    Martha O'Connor October 29, 2005 at 8:18 pm | | Reply

    http://www.dogs4diabetics.com

    For me, I find it very annoying when people tell me they know JUST how I feel (as a mom of a child with diabetes) because their freaking CAT has diabetes. KAY, I like cats, but my son is a human. And I’d kill their cat myself if it were needed for research for a cure.

    {{donning flamesuit}}

  8. Martha O'Connor
    Martha O'Connor October 29, 2005 at 8:18 pm | | Reply

    http://www.dogs4diabetics.com

    For me, I find it very annoying when people tell me they know JUST how I feel (as a mom of a child with diabetes) because their freaking CAT has diabetes. KAY, I like cats, but my son is a human. And I’d kill their cat myself if it were needed for research for a cure.

    {{donning flamesuit}}

  9. Bruce Small
    Bruce Small November 1, 2005 at 8:19 pm | | Reply

    My late mom’s dog, Billy, had diabetes for years, which meant that twice a day I went over and gave him an injection. The hardest part was making sure ancient Granny (my mom) didn’t slip him forbidden treats “just this once.”

    He eventually died of lung cancer, poor old guy. Yeah, we’re soft on animals. Once they get in the door they are family for life.

  10. Kim
    Kim November 3, 2005 at 11:32 am | | Reply

    I have always had animals, cats and dogs. We’ve dealt with some health issues, but I always thought that if I had to deal with diabetes that it wouldn’t be possible. I had no idea you could check blood sugars – I thought it would just be hit and miss with injections. Very interesting!

  11. mark
    mark November 4, 2005 at 7:47 pm | | Reply

    Our dog contracted diabetes at about age 9, and we cared for him until his death at age 12. He did not die of diabetes-related problems. It was actually very easy to care for a diabetic dog since they take the same insulin humans can (usually cheap and easy to obtain at the human pharmacy) and they are typcially insensitive to injections due to their loose skin. Also, consider this: It is very easy to strictly control the food intake of a pet dog, and they naturally don’t need to eat as often as humans. Our dog was fed twice a day, and received his insulin injections while he was having his meal. As others have indicated, his behavior was enough (once we got into the routine) to let us know if there was any small problem or if a dose adjustment was in order, so we rarely had to do glucose montoring, actually.

    Many people who love their pets would gladly, like us, help their pets out by managing their diabetes. (We also treated him for glaucoma and Cushing’s disease, sadly). And it certainly is not uncommon; our veterinarian and pharmacist considered it quite routine. We actually We miss you, Beethoven!

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