Anti-social cat, help w/insulin regimen/travel/sociability?
August 31, 2008 10:53 PM   Subscribe

Anti-social cat that needs twice-daily insulin shots and oral meds; solutions for travel?

I have an older cat that has developed diabetes. She needs insulin shots every 12 hours, and oral meds every 24 hours.

I can provide these with no problem. My cat is comfortable with me, and lets me pick her up, etc. Also, if you haven't seen a cat get an insulin shot--mine, at least, doesn't even notice. The needle is tiny and goes in to a pinch of skin. Painless.

The problem is this: at her best, my cat flees from strangers. At her worst, she hisses at them. In either case, she won't allow a stranger to pet her unless she's gotten used to the person being around a lot. I think it's partly from all the trips to the vet for blood draws and other discomfort.

Needless to say, this constrains my life somewhat, as I can't be out of my house for more than 12 hours, and it makes travel very difficult. For trips of a few hours, I can bring her with and medicate her myself, but that means finding a hotel that both accepts cats and is not a noisy dump.

So, ideas for:

Better socialization and/or travel?

posted by 4midori to Pets & Animals (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: P.S. I left her at a kennel recently, and she was very unhappy and hard to medicate. Don't put a testy cat in a room full of other cats, even though they're all in separate cages.
posted by 4midori at 10:56 PM on August 31, 2008

Aww poor kitty. Obviously she's not going to do well in strange surroundings, but have you considered hiring a reputable pet sitter who would come to your home to give her her meds if you need to be away? That way, she'd be in her own surroundings and might be more comfortable and accepting of a stranger taking care of her.
posted by amyms at 11:24 PM on August 31, 2008

I know she's your friend, and you love her, and will miss her terribly when she's gone.

But maybe you should consider having her put to sleep.
posted by Class Goat at 12:03 AM on September 1, 2008

That's not helpful, Class Goat. The cat's medical condition isn't terminal (diabetes is easily managed). The OP is simply asking for help in finding ways to take a break as a caregiver without traumatizing the cat. It's not a "life or death" thing.
posted by amyms at 12:15 AM on September 1, 2008 [2 favorites]

We boarded our cat at a local vet's office that does boarding a few times when she required medication. It didn't cost much more than the kennel, having a vet on duty was nice, and there were very few other cats to bother her.
posted by mmoncur at 12:32 AM on September 1, 2008

Most veterinarians offer sitting services for special needs animals or will most likely point you in the right direction.
posted by docmccoy at 12:42 AM on September 1, 2008

I have personally injected insulin and given meds to anti-social cats. Most any experienced pet sitter (or vet tech who does petsitting on the side) should be able to do it. Some may charge extra, though. Good luck finding a good sitter in your area!
posted by majikstreet at 3:36 AM on September 1, 2008

Definitely a pet-sitter/vet tech, one you can call when they're at your place so you can be assured everything's well.

(And Class Goat, really, if that's what you have to offer as advice, you should learn to keep it to yourself. Not only is it not helpful, it is also fundamentally wrong.)
posted by neblina_matinal at 3:54 AM on September 1, 2008

I completely understand - I also had a diabetic cat who needed insulin shots twice a day. This put a damper on any plans I wanted to make for travel.

I don't have any advice for you regarding how to take care of your cat while you're away. Just something to think about: When I was gone for a week, my cat became stressed out and stopped eating. This of course led to problems with her blood sugar, and eventually to problems with her liver, and she died shortly there after. If you think your cat might become stressed out with you away for an extended period of time, you really should reconsider leaving, for the cat's sake and health.
posted by at 7:28 AM on September 1, 2008

Call your vet and ask if they know anyone who can come and feed/water/medicate kitty while you are away. Many vet clinic employees do pet sitting on the side. Cats generally do better when they can stay at home, especially cats with medical issues.
posted by biscotti at 8:35 AM on September 1, 2008

We had a diabetic cat for a few years. Just hire a tech from the local vet to cat sit (techs don't make that much money, so they typically do like to earn a bit on the side). The tech will be more in tune with warning signs should there be a problem, and if you have hired a person from your regular vet, they will be able to take your cat directly to the right place where they have the cat's complete medical history. Another bonus - you know where this person works which is nice when having a stranger in your home.

Pay a bit more than the person asks for.
posted by chuke at 9:04 AM on September 1, 2008

Some vet tech or first aid/cpr trained pet sitters know a trick for cats who won't eat - smear wet food on the paws. a cat who is too upset to eat is frequently not too upset to keep clean.

If you have a slob cat (and they're out there) this won't work.

Get a vet tech or someone with a good relationship with your vet. Have an agreement that if while you're gone, you decide by phone the cat needs vet care for not eating or being too difficult to medicate, she goes to the vet.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 11:20 AM on September 1, 2008

Have you considered training a friend of yours to give the cat her shots?

My most-squeamish friend is the friend who clips my kitty's nails - I can't bear the stress of it! My point being, you never know who's-chill-with-what until you ask.

I mean, I think that's a better suggestion than putting your pet down permanently so that you can have a holiday. (I think this, of course, as I give Class Goat a sidelong stare ... defective much, CG?)
posted by heyho at 1:02 PM on September 1, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks all. I've considered having a Vet Tech come to my house to give the shots, but the cat is liable to scratch or bite a stranger.

I have tried Feliway, a cat pheromone dispenser that is supposed to make kitty more comfortable, but it didn't do much.
posted by 4midori at 1:55 PM on September 1, 2008

Before everyone ties ClassGoat to a stake and burns them, I have to say my grandmother was in the same position. She had a cat (who used to be mine, but our family cat didn't agree with that placement) who she loved dearly, but, at age 14, that cat got diabetes. She tried earnestly to give the cat his medications, but was unable to do so (she was seventy or so at the time). My father stopped by every single day, sometimes twice a day, to administer the shots and meds.

This was an impossible situation to maintain. My family goes on vacation often, and my grandmother had several multiple day visits to the hospital. After trying to place the cat for a few months, we ended up making the extremely difficult decision to put him down. He had a great life, and we were unable to keep his quality of life high enough on a day to day basis to justify keeping him in our lives. It was not simply a matter of inconvenience, it was an impossibility.

However, it sounds like your cat is young enough that you might be able to properly socialize him to others. It may feel impossible, but keep trying. All options must be considered and exhausted before going with a life and death decision.
posted by nursegracer at 2:44 PM on September 1, 2008

I'm not a vet tech myself, but I'm usually the go-to person that my friends call for pet sitting. I take it as a given that I will be at the very least scratched at least once if I'm medicating a strange animal. If blood isn't drawn, I consider it a good day. Vet techs especially are used to this, as dealing with upset animals are a part of their jobs. Please don't cross techs/sitters off the list because of the potential for your cat scratching or biting during the administration of her meds.
posted by crankylex at 7:12 PM on September 1, 2008

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