Q: My cat Tribble is in the hospital having just been diagnosed with diabetic ketoacidosis. I took this picture on the day I took her in, Oct. 15. She's an indoor-only cat, but I brought her outside as a treat because I didn't know what the future held for her. She perked up when I took her outside. She's lost almost half her body weight and was 12% dehydrated on admittance. We'd taken her in for blood work and fluids the day before. She was last previously to the vet in July and we didn't realize anything was wrong with her. She's only 6 years old. I'm scared for her and for us and I just want some advice on how best to take care of her.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis is being lost deep in the forest.

By the time you realize it’s happened, you don’t know how you even got lost in the first place. Every step you take can feel more disorienting, because you don’t know if you’re headed in the right direction. And when it starts to get dark, all the worst fears we have come up.


When you treat Tribble for diabetic ketoacidosis, there are two phases. In the first phase, she is lost in the woods without a compass. All the treatment that is being done right now is to give her body a chance to escape the maze (literally, her body chemistry is completely disoriented). If she finds a way to a known path, you aren't out of the woods yet, but you rejoice. Because you can see the way out.


That is the first thing you hope for. And most of that happens at the vet hospital.

Once she’s found that path, the next phase is the healing phase. Every step is more likely to lead you in the right direction from here on out. So it’s less scary at this point. The adrenaline is still rushing, but you feel hopeful. You treat her for diabetes in this phase, and the ketoacidosis part is left behind if you can stay on the path. You get your technique down pat (insulin, testing her blood, and right selection of foods) to stay on the path. Practise. Don’t give up. There will be some ups and downs.

It was really kind of you to let her stray a little outside, and get a breath of fresh air. The outdoors aren't always so scary after all.

Dr. Kris