Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Kitties with Diabetes Store

There is only one diabetic cat remaining in DCIN foster care available for adoption. Click on Sunshine's linked name under her photo for the full scoop.

If you can't adopt, foster. If you can't foster, volunteer. If you can't volunteer, donate. If you can't donate, share. Every action helps and each one is important.

Sunshine in VA
In foster since January 2013

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Why is our main page called The Kitties with Diabetes Store? This story is from a woman who was going to soon adopt one of the DCIN cats. My 3 y/o son just asked me "Can we get a kitty from the kitty diabetes store?" I said, "The kitty diabetes store?" and he said, "Where kitties with diabetes that don't have homes come from!!" (kind of in that exasperated "DUH, Mom!" tone.) I said, "Why do you want another kitty with diabetes?" and he said, "Because we can take extra-good care of them since we know how." Boy, won't he be surprised when our "new" diabetic kitty arrives from "the kitty diabetes store" (aka: DCIN) hopefully next week! I can even tell him that I ordered the kitty online and had to wait for shipping! ~Venita

Friday, July 10, 2015

My kitty was just diagnosed with diabetes. I read a lot of stuff on the internet but what do YOU do?

I get questions like that via email/Facebook PM several times per week.  While everyone has different experiences because every cat is different, I can share my experiences.  I will do my best to answer the most common questions I get.  This post is about insulin questions.

What insulin do you use?

I have three diabetic cats and I use three different types of insulin.

Pumpkin was my cat before he had diabetes.  I tried him on Prozinc and Novolin N and neither worked for him.  He has done very well on Lantus.  He did have several months of being in remission (aka "off the juice" or "OTJ) but after a third bout of nearly life-ending pancreatitis, his pancreas has not recovered and likely never will.



Tucker came to me for care after he was already diabetic.  I tried him on Lantus and it didn't work well for him.  I switched him to BCP PZI and it did work well.  I then tried Levemir and it was not good for him so he is back on BCP PZI.  He has periods of being OTJ that ranges from a couple of days to a few weeks.



Sunshine came to me twice.  I had her while her foster mom was on vacation.  She had been on Lantus for several years.  It didn't seem to be the best insulin for her and I switched her to Levemir.  She did great with Levemir and went back to her foster mom on it.  Unfortunately for Sunshine, she went into a very severe DKA and nearly died.  I took her home with me as a "last chance" and treated her as aggressively as possible.  Today, she is OFF insulin and has been for several months.



(Side note - switching insulin should be done in consultation with your veterinarian.  Your data from home testing, along with behavioral observations, is what will be used to explain why a particular insulin may not be working for your cat.)

While Novolin N and Vetsulin/Caninsulin are NOT recommended insulins for cats, with proper guidance from an experienced caregiver, they can be used and get a cat into remission.

So to sum up, the right insulin is the one that works for your cat.  There are several to try.  Don't be discouraged if the first one isn't working the way you expected.

(Another side note - Regular or R insulin should NOT EVER be used as a basal insulin and should be used with extreme caution under the direction of a veterinarian along with receiving guidance from an experienced caregiver.)

My cat is on ___ units of insulin and my vet says I can't go any higher.

Well, no, that's not true. A dose can always go higher but you need to look at anything contributing to a lack of results.  A higher dose isn't always the answer.

Is your cat completely off of dry food?  
Are you only feeding low-carb canned food?
Does your cat have bad teeth or an infection?
Is your cat secretly stealing high-carb dog food or people food?
Is your insulin expired?
Have you been using the same vial of insulin for more than 4-6 months?
Are you doing curves at home to see how your cat responds?

If you are literally doing every single thing "right" for your cat and can answer:
YES
YES
NO
NO
NO
NO
YES and they are ________ (flat, sharp, early nadir, late nadir, etc,), then you need to start looking for answers.  The curve can tell you a lot.  Maybe it's the wrong insulin for your cat.  Maybe the dose is too high.  Maybe it's too low.  Maybe your cat has another condition such as insulin resistance or acromegaly.

If your answers are something different, then post on one of the forums for caregivers of diabetic cats, send us a message. or post a question on our page.

My vet/pharmacist says I HAVE to use the pen needles for Lantus/Levemir.

Your vet/pharmacist is wrong.  The pens were designed for people.  They only can dispense whole units and their accuracy is not as precise as when correctly dosed in an insulin syringe.  

Pens must be primed before every use with the pen needles.  If your cat is getting 1u twice per day, you are literally wasting HALF of the pen on priming.  Lantus is insanely expensive.  Price wise, it's almost worth its weight in gold.  When you use insulin syringes, you waste a drop or two and can use every single drop of insulin in the pen.



When you correctly use an insulin syringe, your dose will be infinitely more accurate than using the pen needle would be.

If you have another question about insulin, please let me know and I'll answer you!  I would love to read your comments and questions.

Stay tuned for "My vet told me dry food is fine but the internet says 'No.' What do you feed your cats?"  -Jenna

Thursday, June 11, 2015

$1,200 Challenge Grant

June 11, 2015--



Are you up to helping with this challenge? 

An anonymous donor will match 50 cents on the dollar for any new or increased monthly sponsorships made to DCIN's general fund in June and July 2015. The donor will match up to $100 a month for a year.

That means that DCIN will need to obtain at least $2,400 in new or increased sponsorships by July 31, 2015, and those sponsorships need to stay in place for a full year, for DCIN to capture the full $1,200 challenge grant. 

If you would like to help to accept this challenge to benefit DCIN, please use the subscription box below to set up a new subscription by a Paypal payment. You can select from various levels of donation from $5 to $100. If you would like a donation amount other than what is shown in the drop-down menu, you want to increase a subscription that you already have, or want to make your donations by check, please contact Venita@dcin.info or Amy@dcin.info. ~Venita



Amount of Monthly Sponsorship



Saturday, March 21, 2015

DCIN Logo Competition

This is DCIN's current blue cat logo. Sadly, for a couple reasons, DCIN needs to replace its logo. To replace the logo, DCIN is holding a logo competition. We invite all artists -- those who draw or paint, computer illustrators, graphic designers, photographers, and others with those skills and talents -- to participate in this competition. The DCIN Board of Directors hopes to select a new logo from among the entries it receives in this competition.

The logo we want is the logo we have, but we can't have that. Therefore, this is our list of requirements, possibly subject to revision and additions as we advance through this process:
  • An image that is simple, memorable, classic, and timeless (we hope the new logo will be DCIN's forever logo)
  • Muted rather than overly bold colors
  • Any color scheme is welcome (although I will say that one Board member opposes pink for a logo and another opposes yellow)
  • An image and colors that are evocative of DCIN's mission and core values, including cat rescue, compassion, trustworthiness, respect, transparency, and community involvement
  • Not cartoonish
  • Image only; no words or letters
  • Presented on a white or transparent background so that the image stands alone
  • If an image of a cat, it should be a mature cat, not a kitten
  • Something unique for DCIN and nothing often used by other rescues such as a paw print
  • Because DCIN works in both the US and Canada (and is willing to work in other countries), an image that is not US-centric or Canada-centric
  • An image that is square or a horizontal rectangle; not a vertical rectangle
  • Creation of the image in an Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) format, which will allow DCIN to make the logo as big or small as it wants without loss of resolution
  • Submission of the image to DCIN for the competition selection in a JPG format
  • Assurance and a liability guarantee from the artist that his/her submission is original work, does not replicate and is not drawn from another artist's work, and does not infringe on another artist's intellectual property rights (see the submission form at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1QMd4_-q22JKfWTDLuSSpxwlTjS1tI9oWuK950XirCzI/edit?usp=sharing)
  • Donation by the winning artist creating the logo of the copyright on the image for DCIN's exclusive use, with no limitation on DCIN's use of or payment from DCIN for the image (see the submission form at the link above)
Artists are welcome to submit more than one image to the competition, but each submission requires a separate submission form (see the submission form at the link above). The deadline for submitting images for the competition is May 1, 2015. The DCIN Board is not restricted to selecting a new logo from the submissions received from this competition. If nothing strikes our fancy, we will post another competition. However, if we see one or more submissions that we like, we may ask the artists for adjustments to the artwork.

DCIN will initially and periodically thereafter publicly recognize the artist creating its chosen logo. It also will publicly recognize all artists who enter the competition with images that meet the criteria above. We hope that public recognition (along with a link to your website) will provide encouragement for you to create, submit, and if chosen donate your art to DCIN, a great special-needs animal rescue, helping several diabetic cats every day.  

Please direct any questions about the this competition and the nature of the image the DCIN Board is looking for to Venita@dcin.info. Please also make all submissions to that email address.

 ~Venita

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Why it is Satisfying to be the DCIN Fundraising Director


February 3, 2015--My name is Venita, and I am an introvert. My first big job-related public speaking assignment was in front of a conference hall of about 1,800 people in Minneapolis, MN. I sweated profusely and my tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth. I drank a full pitcher of water during that hour-long presentation. After about ten minutes, the audience chuckled every time I picked up my water glass.

By the time I founded Diabetic Cats in Need (DCIN), I was accustomed to public speaking, but I didn't like it any more than I previously had. In founding DCIN, I dreaded the fundraising part. I would have to talk or write to individuals, companies, and the Internet public to ask for donations or discounts to support DCIN's work. I called it "scrapping my knees," because I felt I was begging.

It surprised me that I quickly grew to enjoy nonprofit fundraising. That is because of the end game--helping extra-sweet kitties get the care they need. I believed in the DCIN mission, and when I saw people and companies donate, my confidence and determination for the process blossomed. I came to jokingly refer to my year-end fundraisers to close out underfunded campaigns as beg-a-thons, even though I no longer felt I was begging. Instead, I knew the donors were as committed to DCIN's mission as I was.

With fundraising I could be creative, something I didn't get from case management responsibilities. How was I going to "sell" a particular fundraiser? People would come to me with an offer of money for a fundraiser if I could raise a matching amount of funds. Last Easter, I raised votes/donations to "paint" Jack Abraham Resnick one of the traditional Easter colors. After a very successful fundraiser, I got joy by sending Jack a fluffy purple rabbit toy, to match the color most voters wanted him painted. (Jack was not injured by that fundraiser, and he loves his rabbit.)

DCIN has ongoing large-dollar fundraisers for mismatched sox, a calendar competition, and an annual online auction. Those quality products virtually sell themselves, but there are a lot of administrative chores. Volunteers step up to help and many hands make small work. DCIN's new Social Media Director is now helping with some of the visual side of promoting fundraisers on Facebook and elsewhere.

Besides cash fundraising, I have had to talk with the staff or owners at veterinary hospitals for rescue discounts when a client cat has a medical need. Many hospitals will offer 10-40% discounts immediately if I ask and document that DCIN is a 501c3 organization. Other hospitals need a bit of education about DCIN and what it does, and I am thrilled to "sell" them on our mission. DCIN often will get "repeat business" from those hospitals when they encounter another diabetic cat with a caregiver who cannot afford treatment. Sure, some hospitals will immediately answer "no," but I thank them kindly and move on. Again, the endgame is getting care for the cats. Being able to negotiate a 20% discount for a cat with a $2K bill saves the client or DCIN $400. Not at all shabby. On even larger bills, a discount may mean a cat gets life-saving care it wouldn't otherwise get.

Going forward, I hope DCIN will build a greater base of business/corporate donations. I have plenty of ideas about that I have written down over the years that I would love to share with a new fundraising director. DCIN friends email ideas all the time. Corporate fundraising will require coordination with the new DCIN Treasurer because most businesses with established giving programs want to see budget, historical financial, or performance data.

Please think about being DCIN's new fundraising (development) director. The position and process can bring joy to your life. The application for the position is at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwpbGEEvO1H9VEQwWG5MNFNJd28/view?usp=sharing.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

You Could Be a Part of Something Awesome: Join the DCIN Team

Diabetic Cats in Need has saved the lives of more than 600 extra-sweet cats since 2008, and we couldn’t have done it without the help of dedicated volunteers. Bu we want to be able to help even more diabetic cats stay in their homes or find safe forever homes of their own – and to do that, we need people like you.
Charleston, Bogart and Yoda are just three of the more than 600 cats DCIN has saved.
Our greatest need right now is for case managers, a director of case management, and a development/fundraising director.

Case Managers are the heartbeat of DCIN. As a case manager, you would be responsible for accepting new cats into the program and managing current client cases; managing financial assistance and education needs for your clients; monitoring client compliance with DCIN’s care guidelines; and arranging for delivery of supplies as needed. In order to be a case manager, you need to have a good understanding of the diagnosis, treatment and management of feline diabetes.

The Director of Case Management oversees all of the case managers and is the primary point of contact if a DCIN cat has a veterinary emergency related to diabetes. The director of case management trains new case managers and works with the Board of Directors to put together new policies and procedures related to financial assistance, rehoming and education. You’d also serve as a case manager if needed. This position also requires a high degree of knowledge about feline diabetes.

My baby Bella Donna was saved because of DCIN's Shelter Program: I met her at HART of Maine and it was love at first sight!
The Development/Fundraising Director is responsible for everything related to helping us get the money we need to run DCIN. This could include writing grants, seeking corporate sponsorships, coordinating fundraisers, and soliciting private donations. We’re always up for creative and fun ways to raise money, too, so if you’ve got some great ideas and the willingness to carry them out, we’d love to hear them. You don’t need to know a lot about feline diabetes to be the development director, but you do need to have a passion for our mission and be able to help potential donors understand how important our organization is.

If none of these volunteer jobs is your cup of tea, don’t worry: we could use transportation coordinators, shelter coordinators, accounting assistants and people to help out with special projects. Check out this post on our Facebook page for more details or to apply for one of our volunteer positions.

If you’ve got time and skills to lend to DCIN, we’d love to have you!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What Insulin Costs the Least?

Quick. Which costs less? A 10ml vial of U40 ProZinc for $120 (current pricing with shipping from Allivet) or a 10ml vial of U100 Lantus for $270 (current pricing from my local US Walgreen’s Pharmacy, before any discount program or card)?

Yes, you are right that Lantus is the right answer. That is because looking only at the price per vial can be misleading because the same sizes of U40 and U100 insulin contain different volumes of insulin. A 10ml vial of U40 insulin contains 400 units. A 10ml vial of U100 insulin contains 1,000 units.

The U40 ProZinc for $120 costs $.30 a unit. The U100 Lantus costs $.27 a unit. And in my experience and observation, an insulin-dependent cat doesn’t use significantly more units of one type of insulin vs. another, so pricing based on the unit cost is a reasonable measure.

But there are ways to get Lantus much less expensively than full price at a retail pharmacy. See my earlier blog post at http://fdmb-cin.blogspot.com/2013/11/lantus.html. I have bought Lantus insulin in Solostar pens from Craigslist sellers twice in the past two weeks for $.033 a unit. $50 for a box of five pens, plus I had to have a local friend pick them up for me and I will have to have them mailed in the spring, which might cost another $20. That will bring the cost to $.046 a unit.

That’s even more below the $.30 a unit for ProZinc.

Yes, it can be scary to buy from a Craigslist seller. DCIN has document of dos and don’ts about dealing with a Craigslist seller at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qTANyTw3SRZp9azAxSum2DAVyxZudMsj8dSovcRPFag/edit?usp=sharing. There have been times I have walked away from a Craigslist seller because it didn’t feel right. But many more times, I have (both in person and through friends) felt very comfortable with the person offering the insulin as s/he just lost her/his diabetic parent, sibling, or spouse. And sometimes these sellers turn out to be animal lovers and sell the insulin for less or even give it for free. I have even hugged Craislist sellers after we have exchanged cash for insulin.

If you still are uncomfortable with the thought of buying from Craigslist, you can buy from a reputable Canadian mail order pharmacy. At this time, many of them are selling a box of five Lantus pens delivered from the manufacturer’s plant in Turkey for $.09 a unit.

I can’t argue with the fact that the cheapest retail insulin is Relion N from Walmart at $25 for a U100 10ml vial. That’s $.025 a unit. But I can certainly take the position that many in the feline diabetes community will tell you that “N” is the worst possible insulin for a diabetic cat because of its short duration and its sharp drop in blood glucose levels. Caregivers that use “N” insulin usually have to give their cats shots three times a day, and then watch their baby take continuous roller coaster rides through their curves.

What I have said above for Lantus applies equally to Levemir. The US retail, Canadian mail-order, and Craigslist pricing for Lantus and Levemir are pretty much the same. I don’t focus on Levemir because many vets don’t know about it and therefore do not prescribe it. However, my Ennis did wonderfully on Levemir for over four years, and I know many diabetic cats that do the same.

But the biggest point to make on this post is that each cat is different and you need to find the insulin that works for your cat. But please don’t disregard Lantus or Levemir, which have a great track record when properly used of getting cats into regulation or remission, because you think it’s too expensive.