We have just come across a blog post from a cat owner whose cat has just been diagnosed with diabetes and the owner can’t afford testing and treatments. It appears that the owner is a student and has limited funds. The vet is recommending regular checkups at the surgery to determine the amount of insulin that needs to be administered. This is all adding up to costs above $1000. Indirectly the vet also appears to be advising euthanasia.
“I adore my cat, but I am a grad student living in Boston. I am a full time student, I have an unpaid internship 25-30 hours a week, and I’m writing my dissertation. I live on $600 a month. If I had the money, I would pay as much as I needed to in order to get the best care possible for Pandora. Unfortunately, there is no way I can afford to spend another $1,000. As I was trying to get an estimate from Dr J on how much it would cost to stabilize Panda and if there were any things I could do at home with a glucometer to save money he said “Well, if you put her down you wouldn’t be the first one.” Then he launched into this story about a rich client he had who put her diabetic cat down because she couldn’t be bothered to deal with it. It kind of sounds to me like he is the one who doesn’t want to deal with it.
I am completely willing to put forth the effort and lifestyle changes needed to manage diabetes, but I don’t have that kind of money. I tried asking him about Panda’s quality of life, and he basically said he couldn’t make any guarantees because she has a strange presentation. He has never seen a diabetic cat who is under weight, which she is (6.6 pounds; should be 8 or 9). She has never been obese. He said she is fragile and frail and “very sick”, and I feel like he is angling for me to just put her to sleep, although he hasn’t actually advised me to do so. I can’t even adequately write a sentence to convey how much I do NOT want to put Pandora to sleep. It’s unthinkable. But I also can’t let her go untreated.
On Sunday, an acquaintance told me about her diabetic cat who is now in remission. She used a glucometer and did the glucose curve at home by herself in order to figure out how much insulin to give her cat. From what I have read while researching feline diabetes, others have done the same thing. Dr. J didn’t seem to be a fan of this approach though. I feel like my options with him are to either do it the expensive way or put Panda down.
I think that putting Panda to sleep without trying to do SOMETHING is ridiculous. Even if it isn’t the ideal method, if it is possible to do a glucose curve myself and figure out the insulin dose with a means that I can afford, isn’t that better than just giving up on her without trying? It’s pretty messed up to have to put my cat down just because I can’t afford fancy testing, and I’m not ok with that, especially if there is another option.
I feel like I should tell the vet that this is what I want to do and he can support me in this, provide guidance around the results I get, and advise me on a dose based on that or I can take Panda’s records somewhere else where they will support me in this process. From what I have read and heard, this sounds like a possibility. Am I way off track here? Am I missing something or being unrealistic? I don’t really know what else to do. “
The owner is absolutely right. It is possible to check your cats blood sugar levels at home. This is far far cheaper than going to a vets and in addition you will be able to do it more often which means the cat will be getting a more accurate insulin dose. However there are many vets against home testing. You can make up your own minds as to why this is so! A ‘caring’ vet knowing the financial situation would support the owner all the way in this. If the vet is not interested then find another vet!
There are two aspects to the treatment. The first is the correct insulin dose to manage the diabetes and then a radical change in diet that hopefully over time should lead the cat into remission and a reduction in insulin administration. We have a number of reports about owners whose cat has just been diagnosed with diabetes and the owner can’t afford testing. Please check out other posts under ‘Costs Of Treating Cat Diabetes’.