How To Test Your Diabetic Cat’s Blood Sugar At Home

Our cat Sage has a wonky pancreas it seems.  She has become diabetic twice now with a remission in between.  And each time, it wasn’t until she was pretty bad off that we could tell anything was wrong.  I plan on getting a glucose meter so we can take better care of her and so we can save some money with fewer trips to the vet.

Here’s a great video on how to test your cat’s blood sugar levels.  It shows what you’ll need and where the best place on the ear is to get the tiny bit of blood you need for the meter.  (Note: I saw another tip that warming up the cat’s ear with a warm washcloth or by rubbing it also helps to get a bead of blood.)  It also shows how to use the meter.  Cool.

Keeping Your Pets Cool

sun2Lord it’s hot in the Pacific NW lately and most people don’t have air conditioning in their homes, so we’re wilting a bit.  Here are some ideas for keeping your pets cool.

First, water, water, water.  Don’t underestimate how much fresh water your pets need in the heat.  Provide water in the yard, in your house, and when you take your dog out.


  • Let them have access to a bathtub, shower, tile floor, or basement to lie on.
  • Keep the air moving with fans and ventilation. Placing a styrofoam cooler filled with ice in front of a fan can help cool things off.
  • Maybe try putting some ice in the water dish.

For dogs:

  • If you don’t have enough good shade in your yard, stick a beach umbrella in the ground to provide more.  You can get smaller, less expensive ones at Costco, Target, etc.  Your dog will need more than a tiny little patch of shade.
  • Get a plastic kiddy pool.  (Unfortunately for us, Saffron is still very cautious about hers and won’t lie down in it.  She will get in it for treats.  Silly girl!)
  • An elevated bed will provide air circulation to keep your dog cooler.


Pet Gear


Incredible Pet Cot

Breezy Bed (this one has an awning for protection from sun & rain)

  • Cooling beds filled with gel or water will help a hot dog.

Canine Cooler

Cool Bed

Body Cooler Mat

K9 Cooling Mat

  • Cooling jackets work either by water evaporation or reflection.

Swamp Cooler Vest

Cool K9

BodyCooler Belly Wrap

ChillyBuddy Cooling Jacket

  • There are also cooling collars and bandannas.

Kool Collar

BodyCooler Cooling Collar

BodyCooler Cooling Bandana

Outward Hound Cooling Bandana

  • Try some frozen treats.  You can stuff a Kong with peanut butter, cheese whiz, even broth.  You can also freeze broth or water in a plastic container—stick some treats in it before you freeze it to keep your dog interested.

DIY: Make Your Own Cat Litter Box

This post is one that gets a lot of comments and I’m tickled so many people have found it useful.  We’ve had our DIY litter boxes for at least 2 yrs. now.  We still love them—as much as you can love a litter box.  And they’re still in great shape.  Yea!


About a month ago, one of our two cats started peeing while standing up in their litter box. We were using a LitterMaid litter box at the time. My feelings about the LitterMaid were mixed. I appreciated not having to scoop the box all the time, but emptying the collection bin was a pain and cleaning the box was a real hassle. And while I was glad the cats always had a clean box to use, I really didn’t like that even after a couple of years, Sage would still come from another room to whack the rake when she heard it moving and often when Raven finished using the box, she’d come flying out of it lest the “monster” get her. Plus, scooping the litter boxes yourself is a good way to keep track of your cat’s health.

So first, I made an appointment with our vet to have the cats checked out since changes in urinary habits can be a sign of illness. And I bought a new litter box. The cats both got clean bills of health, but the stand-up peeing started happening more often. The new litter box leaked urine where the hood met the lid and made a smelly mess. I bought another litter box which had the hood sitting within the lip of the lower pan. Now the urine didn’t leak out of the box, but I had to clean the hood and the lip of the lower pan everyday. This was not working and we were out $60 on useless litter boxes.

It’s easy, cheap, and quick to make your own litter box. Here’s what you’ll need to make one yourself:

  • lidded, plastic container deep enough for your cat to stand in without touching the lid. I made a larger litter box using a Rubbermaid Roughneck Storage Box, Large, 25 gal, 28.8 x 19.7 x 16.5 in, which cost between $10-$12 from Fred Meyer. You can find these lidded storage boxes at thrift stores & stores like Target, Walmart, Lowes, etc.
  • permanent marker

Using a Sharpie, I drew freehand what would be the opening. Keep in mind that you’ll want the opening high if you have a cat that pees standing up. They’ll be less likely to pee with their rear-end hanging out the door. I put the opening at the narrow end of the box because that’s what our cats are used to and I think they’re less likely to pee out the door that way. Then I carefully cut out the opening with a utility knife. (Another option would be to cut the opening in the lid so that it looked something like this litter box by Clevercat.)

That’s all it takes! Fill the box with cat litter and replace lid for a covered litter box or leave it off if your cats prefer. Here are some thumbnails of how mine turned out.

rbbrlitterbox1.jpg rbbrlitterbox2.jpg

rbbrlitterbox3.jpg rbbrlitterbox4.jpg

I don’t think I’ll ever buy another litter box. I love that the lid is flat. It makes it easier to store it when I scoop the box—I just lean it against the wall. And when the lid is in place on top of the box, it provides a level area to store the scoop, bags, and cat litter. It has good handles so it’s easy to move. It’s big, so the cats are happy. The sides are high so there’s nothing to clean up if they pee standing up. You can get them in a few different colors. If you have the tools to cut harder plastic, you can get transparent storage bins. And it’s so much cheaper than buying litter boxes from a store!