Just before Christmas Babz and I noticed that Walter, one of our 13 year old cats, was drinking water, which he has never done in his life before. Both Walter and Jozef are fed wet food so he was obviously getting enough moisture that way. As he isn’t overweight and has only the best food, we didn’t think it could be diabetes, so we dreaded a diagnosis of kidney failure.
Our vet Sarah took a blood sample, which she was able to test immediately and find his kidneys were very healthy. In fact it showed all Walter’s organs were very healthy, but it did indicate a high level of glucose. So she sent off some blood to an outside lab for more detailed information. His Fructose test at the lab showed a count of 519, the usual range is 0 to 340. His glucosamine test showed a count of 24, the ideal is 5-10.
Walter had diabetes!
What had caused it? Not his weight, not his diet, either he was a cat prone to it or stress was the culprit. He’s always been a very anxious sort of cat and took a spate of bereavements we had, very badly. Also we had problems for a while last year with a neighbour’s cats out all day and night and coming on to his territory and trying to come in our house. Jozef is a very laid back cat but Walter takes things to heart .
Our world fell apart at Walter’s diagnosis, because our cats are our world.
We had a miserable Christmas worrying how this would turn out, would Walter’s treatment be effective, would his anxiety become worse with vets trips and twice daily needles. But although the news was bad, it could have been worse, as at least diabetes is treatable. The insulin our vets use is Caninsulin and we were comforted to hear it gave very good results in controlling diabetes in cats and some cats even go into remission. It’s interesting that this can happen to cats but not to people or dogs.
He had to have 2 units of insulin injected twice daily, we settled on 7.30am and 7.30pm but he was a terrible patient! He soon knew the time and led us a merry dance around the house. The injection didn’t hurt him at all, it’s a very fine needle but it took the two of us to do the job.
He had to have a high protein, low fat diet, we tried the diabetic food but Walter didn’t like it, so we researched the brands to find the best for him and Sarah approved it all.
It was weeks of to and fro the vets and blood tests and stress for Walter and for us and for poor Jozef who started being wary of us too.
Walter was supposed to regularly stay in at the vets all day for 2 hourly glucosamine tests, but the first time, he wouldn’t eat all day and just hunched miserably in the back of the cage in between them testing him, so Sarah decided she wouldn’t put him through that again. We took him in to see her every few days, then weekly, then fortnightly and his blood counts improved and came down gradually and she was pleased with his progress.
Then a fortnight ago out of the blue he was unwell, he seemed very tired, we’d been watching for signs of hypoglaecemia of course (too low blood sugar) so we gave him some honey and took him in to see Sarah.
He had very suddenly gone into remission!
His blood test results that day were all those of a non diabetic cat. We knew it could happen, but normally the insulin dose is decreased and tapered off. But his pancreas didn’t need any help any more, it was making its own again. We had hoped and prayed it would happen to Walter, but it still felt like a miracle. So the insulin was stopped.
But poor Walter had been through so much trauma his little body was protesting and he went off his food. He was due for a check-up anyway and Sarah found his blood still normal, she had run lab tests again the week before and there was nothing at all wrong with him physically. Last year both our cats had some sort of unknown virus and we wondered if that had flared up again, a virus doesn’t show in blood tests.
Sarah gave him a battalion of injections to cover all eventualities and to our amazement he started eating as soon as we got back home and he’s eaten well since. Now we need to build him up again as he has lost weight, his back is quite bony but he’s as large as life and loving his new scratching pad and he has some new special catnip mice ordered too. He deserves only the best!
Sarah also sold us a diffuser called Pet Remedy, it’s fairly new, similar to Feliway (which has never been of much use to us) but is made with natural ingredients, including valerian, which is very calming. Walter loves it, when we plugged it in he sat by it sniffing the aroma and it really does seem to have helped his anxiety.
We’ve lived through a very stressful, worrying and expensive time, the money we put aside monthly for our cats veterinary needs was soon swallowed up with vets consultations, blood tests, lab fees, insulin, syringes and the disposal unit for them, but no matter, we’d gladly give our last penny for our cats.
At the time of diagnosis we were asked to think about the lifelong expense of having a diabetic cat and the commitment needed to care for him, some people apparently can’t manage that and the cat either goes untreated or is PTS. There was no question in our minds, we of course agreed to do whatever it took to care for Walter.
We had the support of some lovely people who cared too, some of whom we met via PoC. Dee has been a tower of strength, she even offered help with our enormous vets bills. Also, knowing we couldn’t help Kays Hill financially ourselves at present, she has sent them monthly donations! Dorothy, Jo, Ruth (Monty’s mom) Leah, Cindy, to name a few more in no particular order, also Kevin and Leanne from Kays Hill, along with many Facebook anti-declaw friends, have asked after him and are rejoicing with us at his remission. It means a lot to us that some people cared so much.
Remission doesn’t mean cure of course, we will always have to feed him the high protein, low fat diet and watch him closely and take him for regular blood tests, but we feel very lucky right now that he is feeling so well and he even caught a big mouse today! Although Jozef outshone him, bringing home a rabbit!
Last week, light headed with relief at Walter’s remission, we had a laugh with Sarah. As yet more expense mounted up, I said well there was nothing else for it, we’d have to go and sell our bodies on a street corner to pay that bill. I think the thought of two over 60s doing that really amused her and even more so when I said, sadly even if we did manage to attract any comers, it was likely to be the other way round, that we’d have to pay them!
She’s such a lovely person, she’s gentle and kind and strokes and talks to the cats and apologises when she has to stick needles in, we are very lucky to have found her in our practice of many vets.
For anyone interested in the finer details these were his blood results at the vets from the diagnosis to the remission.
Glucosamine (blood from ear) test (4 to 9 is ideal):
Fructose Lab test (0 – to 340 is the usual range)
The insulin has to be kept refrigerated and gently mixed before drawing the dose, it must not be shaken. After 28 days any remaining Insulin has to be discarded and a new bottle must be started.
It all seemed so very daunting at first and we spent hours on the internet reading about feline diabetes, but at the end of the day every cat is individual and we were very lucky that our much loved Walter came from such a high glucose level to remission in just 10 weeks.
We have to take him back for a weekly check up on Monday and then hopefully it may be a month, as long as all is well.