by Janea Kelley
When I adopted my cat, Belladonna, I knew she had diabetes. That made it easier for me to learn what I need to do to keep her healthy and be emotionally and financially prepared to take care of her special needs. However, a lot of people find out their cat is diabetic because they have a medical crisis or because routine blood work shows something out of the ordinary.
For these people, a diabetes diagnosis can often be overwhelming. Sometimes they may even think they have to have their cats euthanized because the disease is not curable and they don’t think they can manage their kitty’s care.
But the good news is that diabetes is not a death sentence! It’s a very manageable disease, and there are groups out there that can help you get through the difficult time of diagnosis and adjustment to the lifestyle changes inherent in taking care of a diabetic cat.
One of those groups is Diabetic Cats in Need. I’ve been volunteering for DCIN for the past couple of years, and I’ve seen firsthand what they do to help diabetic cats and their people.
I first learned about DCIN when I adopted Belladonna. DCIN contributed testing supplies, syringes and insulin to the shelter, and everyone who adopted a diabetic cat was gifted with all of those things as a “starter kit” to help them get off on the right foot caring for their “sugar kitty.” Bella’s been in remission since about two weeks after I adopted her, and I wrote about how I got her “off the juice” in a post in my own blog.
DCIN offers education to people whose cats have diabetes. Volunteers are available to help with understanding the illness and find diabetic cat caretakers who can provide lessons in home blood glucose testing (which is a crucial part of keeping a diabetic cat healthy).
Another important part of DCIN’s work is financial assistance through our Compassionate Assistance Program. Often, the first we hear of a diabetic cat is when the cat is at the emergency clinic with diabetic ketoacidosis, a severe complication of untreated diabetes. When people meet our income guidelines, we are able to pay the clinic for the cat’s treatment. We also offer short-term financial assistance for things like buying insulin or testing supplies.
DCIN also assists with transportation of diabetic cats. When we find out about diabetic cats who are in high-kill shelters, where their chances of making it out the front door are slim to nonexistent, we coordinate with local rescue groups to pull them and get them safe. Then we get them whatever medical care they need and transport them to forever homes, foster homes, or shelters where they will be well cared for until they’re adopted.
All this work is done by volunteers throughout the U.S. and Canada. DCIN has no paid staff. We’re lucky to have a dedicated core group of board members, case managers (who work with caretakers of diabetic cats to make sure they get the support they need), and transporters.
If you’re interested in volunteering with DCIN, please message us through our Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll let you know the next steps. We’re entirely internet-based, so you could live anywhere in North America and work with us.
As you can imagine, all this education, transportation and financial assistance can get pretty expensive. If you’d like to donate to support DCIN, we’d be very grateful for anything you can give. We have a Critical Care Fund, which we’re building so we can have a reserve available to help cats in crisis, and you can also donate to our regular expenses through PayPal or by check or money order. Learn how here.
I’m grateful to Diabetic Cats In Need for helping me get started with Bella’s care, and I returned the favor by volunteering. I hope after reading about the work we do, you decide you’d like to volunteer or support us, too.
More information about feline diabetes
JaneA Kelley is the webmaster and chief cat slave of the award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect. She is a contributing author for Catster.com and Catster Magazine, and Board Secretary and Social Media Manager for Diabetic Cats In Need. When she’s not writing about cats, she enjoys fantasy role-play games and other nerdy pursuits.