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Experiences with Diabetes: Marmalade, 12/8/96

Thank you so much for your feline diabetes home page. Your story of Austin touched me deeply as it very closely mirrored what my family went through with our female orange tabby Marmalade. Although only 9 years old, Marmalade is a 2 times-per-day insulin dependent cat and is doing very well after taking nearly 4 months to regulate. That wasn't always the case.

After returning from vacation in June of this year, we noticed that she was extremely light weight and she was peeing and drinking excessively. We suspected diabetes, but did not want to believe it. Sure enough, her glucose level was almost 600 and her weight had dropped from 14 pounds to 8.8. We had a sick little kitty. Our vet, Doctor Knott at the Countryside Vet Clinic in Ellicott City, Md, has been wonderful. She loves Marmalade as does the entire staff. They call her "sugar kitty" which seems appropriate. We take Marmalade in every two weeks for her $8.00 glucose check and she is holding steady at 135-170 at her high end. We give her 11 units of Lente insulin twice a day and we feed her 1/2 cup of WD twice a day and her weight is back to almost 12 pounds, a good "playing weight."

It is so good to see people on the web that have gone through similar experiences. We love Marmalade and there was no question but that we would do all that we could to get her better. We have been lucky in that we have had no hypoglycemic episodes, but we will be much more observant from now on. Thanks again for your informative home page. I would be happy to address any questions people may have or relate my experiences about our diabetic sweety. Good luck with Austin!

Steve Smith
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8 Dec 1996 Experiences with Diabetes: Gi

Hello my name is Tracey Campbell and I'm currently using a friends computer to e-mail this letter. I'm a student at penn state university which is where my e-mail will be received.

Three months ago I noticed that my cat, Gi, was drinking water like it was going out of stlye. His appetite had increased drastically and he was using the litter box more than usual. I also noticed that he was dropping weight rather quickly. From what I've been told a normal cat doesn't lose more than three pounds in a year. My cat lost five pounds in three months. He became very inactive, depressed and considering that I think of him as one of my kids, I immediately took him to the vet. Once I found a vet who I felt comfortable with (I had a lot of problems with my vet and had to look for another one) I took him for a glucose check and his blood sugar came back at 469 which is extremely high. First my vet put him on glucotrol which is an oral medication, but it didn't bring the ugar down enough. Over the last two months we've stabalized gi's sugar AT HOME. The thought of me giving a needle bothered me at first but I was willing to do anything. He is now on 7 units of insulin one time a day. I've found that if you need to change the insulin schedule, you may do so but it has to be gradual. For example, I babysit a little girl named Brittany and when I have to be at her house early in the morning I change his insulin schedule about 15 minutes. The vet informed that I may change the injection time by 15 minutes a day but he suggests no more than that. Over the last few weeks his insulin has dropped to 310 (which is still high) but they want to keep him on this amount because when we put him on 8 units he became hypoglocimic. I noticed signs of depression and he lay around the house as if he was ready to die.

Thank you for all the information I will stay in touch over the next several weeks and would like to continue getting information from you web page.

Tracey Campbell
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8 Dec 1996 Experiences with Diabetes: Peabody

Date: Tue, 10 Dec 1996
From: Paul Nyberg (pwnyberg@c-zone.net)

Subject: From another old Tabby

Hi Austin,

My name is Peabody and I'll be 17 years old in about a month. My mother, Helen, thought I was a gonner a couple of years ago. I fooled her good and now she spoils me really rotten!! I was also diagnosed with diabetes. Your story is amazingly similar to mine. I haven't had to be on insulin for over a year now. Since it is so important to have good meals, I've got my human trained to make numerous offers until I decide which one I like best today. Yes, life is pretty darn good...when it stops raining, it will be puurrrfect.

Hi there, Helen here. I stumbled onto your amusing and touching pages to find a kitty story I REALLY could relate to. When Peabody went comatose, I used Karo syrup. He fortunately recovered without being rushed to the doctor. I, on the other hand, spent days trying to get the syrup out of his long, fine fur....

To make a long story short - Peabody and I have spent the past year truly enjoying each other's company. I am glad you have taken the time to put your story out for others. I spent many months searching for info only to find VERY little available.


Peabody and Helen
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14 Dec 1996 Experiences with Diabetes: Peabody II

Peabody started showing symptoms that I didn't recognise.... He did drink LOTS of water, but he also ate tons of food and did'nt get fat. He had visible weight change if food intake dropped. I attributed what I saw to aging. One morning, he wouldn't eat anything. I foolishly left him where he had access to the outside. When I got home he was no where to be found. I spent the next 3 days combing the hillside and calling with no success. He did come back, but was so near death I am amazed he could even walk. He went to the water bowl and tried to drink...he couldn't. He pitifully meowed with a very hoarse sound.

The 1st Vet I took Peabody to pulled him back to life and provided the diagnosis and some insulin, but very little info. The morning after I brought him home we experienced insulin Hell. I heard a series of deathly howls, saw Peabody stagger a few steps, then collapse. I had absolutely no idea what was happening. When I called the Vet, I had to fight to get past the receptionist. (We are 40 minutes from their office). A different Vet got on the phone and suggested the Karo suryp. That crisis passed and I took him in for blood tests. The original Vet instructed me to increase the insulin but divide into twice a day. For the next 2 months I watched my Peabody struggle. I followed instructions with food and injections, but quality of life was not good. Peabody's face fur turned white and he just wasn't `there'. The Vet offered no options.

An odd occurance led me to a new Vet. My other kitty, Pilar, was only 2 yrs. old at the time. One night I was woken up by a terrible howling. I thought Peabody was having another spell. When I saw him, he meowed sweetly at me and looked fine. He was sitting in the living room by Pilar, who was collapsed and comatose. Her illness turned out to be an expensive mystery, but the emergency Vet knew a lot about feline diabetes. I am convinced there are KITTY ANGELS now!

The new Vet had studied under a reseacher in feline diabetes. I took Peabody in for a series of blood tests that didn't really work out. He wouldn't eat, so accurate readings were impossible. Stress was also a contributing factor to false blood levels. She suggested I try to do blood tests at home. The test kit is a expensive, but I was lucky to be able to borrow one for a few weeks. Getting blood out of Peabody was HARDER than getting blood out of a turnip! I did it and boy was I surprised!! His counts ranged from 28 to 42! It was a wonder he wasn't dead. I stopped giving him insulin and the old boy sprang back to life! It has been a year and a half since then and my old boy is hangin' in there. He even runs up the tree trunk every now and then. I am not using the blood test regularly now, but I do use the urine strips to monitor for excessive sugar. How I accomplish that feat is a whole story in itself!

In conclusion, I guess I want to encourage people to not give up, trust their instincts and push for information. At the time Peabody's situation started, information was not readily available about feline diabetes. Even with humans, it seems to be a specailty area. If a Vet seems to be vague, ask for a referral. At the beginning I went to a human Diabetes Clinic to get info. They provided general info that is applicable. The person I talked to said 3 people had recently come in wanting exactly what I was looking for and she seemed surprised. I later provided the clinic with the written info from Vet medical journals. Geriatric diabetes wasn't recognized, especially in male kitties, because life spans were typically much shorter.

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4 Jan 1997 Experiences with Diabetes: Dusty

Date: Sat, 04 Jan 1997 21:20:34 -0800

From: alb

Hi Rebecca --

Thanks for sharing your story about Austin & putting up the home page..

One of our cats, Dusty, was diagnosed as diabetic about six months ago. He was up to about 10 units of insulin a day before his glucose levels became reasonable.

For the last couple months though, glucose levels at his monthly check-ups have been below 50. Fortunately, he didn't experience any ill effects from this, like Austin did.

First I brought the insulin down to 7.5 units a day and now it's at 6 units. I'm taking him in next week for his monthly check. If it's still low, maybe we'll try the diet thing, like you're doing with Austin.

According to my Vet, this isn't all that unusual. Anywhere from 20-25% of diabetic cats either no longer need insulin or the amount required is halved or more, after being on insulin for just a few months. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. The Dust is pretty good about the daily shots, but I do feel for him a bit.

One other note - Linda hasn't been real eager to give him the shot herself when I'm out of town, but fortunately, we have a cat-loving neighbor who is a RN who has "pinched-hit" during this time. When we were both out of town together, we had him boarded, but you can tell when you pick them up, that that's not what they consider a fun time....

Best regards,

Al Brushaber
alb@umcc.umich.edu * www.ais.org/~alb
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9 Jan 1997 Experiences with Diabetes: BJ
From: Thomas Wm Bibus tbibus@one.net>
Subject: More New on BJ

Note: The beginning of BJ's story can be referenced off the Message Board on 11/29 and 12/4/96 about the "Diabetic Cat Not Eating."

Hi Rebecca!

I spoke with Veda just a few days before Christmas and there was good news . . . since Dr. R had taken BJ off insulin, he seemed to get better right away. He began eating normally, and his appearance improved. He started again playing with Henry, his Siamese sibling. One of the first signs of normalcy was when he brought his fishing rod over to Veda, ready to play with one of his favorite toys! She said she knew he must be feeling better when one afternoon he began climbing the curtains! The vet was hoping that BJ would turn out to be one of those cats for which diabetes just seems to vanish mysteriously.

So BJ was fine for about 3 weeks altogether, and he actually gained 1 lb during that period. Just this past Monday, however, BJ started having problems again. Dr. R has put him on Humulin U (1 unit a day). I understand that this is a lower strength insulin. The doctor feels that if BJ's blood sugar level can be adjusted to about 200 and maintained there, he will be able to live a healthy life.

Best wishes for the New Year to you all.

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12 Jan 97 Experiences with Diabetes: Mudpuppy
From: Anne Haines ahaines@indiana.edu

My 9 year old tabby cat, Mudpuppy, was diagnosed with diabetes a year ago this month. He was quite ill when I got him in (I think it's pretty common for it to "sneak up" on the animal or at least the owner; Mudpuppy's symptoms increased so gradually that I didn't realize what was going on for a few months); it took several months to get his insulin dosage regulated, partly because his day-long stay at the vet's for his glucose curve always stresses him out so much that his BG levels are artificially inflated. Finally my vet and I realized that he was showing absolutely no symptoms at home, regardless of what the tests at the office said, and he's been completely stable since April on 8.5 units of Humulin twice a day.

We've been lucky so far-- he loves dry W/D (he'd previously been on Science Diet Light, which probably helped because they are fairly similar) and we haven't had any problems with hypoglycemia (knock wood). He's currently playful (if a bit overweight-- something I want to talk to my vet about; he lost a lot of weight when he was ill, but he's gained back quite a bit more than he lost) and quite happy and healthy, and like most cats, he doesn't mind the injections one bit.

I have a page of info. on feline diabetes on my website; there's probably not any information there that would be new to anyone on this list, but you're welcome to check it out at http://ezinfo.ucs.indiana.edu/~ahaines/sweetpee.html.

Wishing good health to all pets & people out there!

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14 Jan 97 Experiences with Diabetes: Bunky
X-Sender: rmoeller@mailhost.kspress.com

My Bunky was diagnosed with diabetes in August of 1992. He was a classic case, overweight neutered male, about 8.5 years old. After his vaccinations that year, he suddenly started drinking & urinating a lot. Thinking it was a reaction to the vaccines, I didn't get him in to the vet for a few days; when I did, his BG was over 400. Other than a brief try at the glipizide tablets, he's been stable on 3.5 units of Humilin U 2x/day for over 4 years now, and at nearly 13 years old, keeps his fightin' weight at around 11 pounds & is the picture of health. He and his pal Snooks can be viewed at: http://www.islandnet.com/~jbrooks/rhonda.jpg.

Rhonda, Bunky & Snooks

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12 Jan 97 Experiences with Diabetes: Gus
From: Rianca@aol.com
Date: Sun, 12 Jan 1997

Gus, (who was born in a hillside cave 11 years ago-his mother, feral tiger and his father, siamese - it's a LONG story) has been on insulin (NPH 2times/day) for about 3.5 months now. So far he has not crashed into insulin shock, but our vet said we should be ever vigilant and should watch to make sure water & food intake were stable from day to day (a sign of good balance with the insulin.)

Anyway, I've been told in no uncertain terms that hypoglycemia is something one has ALWAYS to watch for in cats on insulin. That, as in human diabetics, balancing insulin with food intake and exercise is everything. Our vet has had us bring Gus in for daily BG, then twice a week then bi-monthly then monthly to regulate the insulin. This rather than keeping him at the clinic to avoid stress which would give false results-BG that's higher than it really is.

Gus started out on one of the 18 to 24 hour Humulins which only brought the BG down to 225 from 444. He was getting 3.5 units twice/day. Our vet said that the longer acting, smoother curve insulin was great in some ways- a slower more even release with fewer peaks and valleys. BUT our vet didn't want to go higher in Gus's case with this longer acting insulin explaining that it is cumulative and that if the levels are not just right it's easier to run into problems with insulin shock.

So... he switched Gus to a 50% dilution of NPH (with 14 to 18 hour action - and a sharper, quicker peak), starting him out on 3 units twice/day. We worked him up slowly to 4 units twice/day of the dilute NPH which is where he has stayed. I was told by one of the other vets in the practice that our vet's having hit the dose so closely the first try and sensing the need for the 50% dilution of NPH was due to his excellent intuition and that he is very good at these educated guesses when starting out diabetic cats with their insulin. So at this point, Gus is getting, the equivalent of 2 units of the regular, non-dilute NPH twice/day, a fairly small dose and yet this has brought him back from EXTREME muscle weakness, fatigue, lethargy, EXCESSIVE eating, drinking, peeing AND a collapse at the wrists and heels giving him a monkey like posture. For now at least, this is keeping his BG in normal ranges.

The increasing appetite and drinking/peeing, crept up on us very gradually. He has ALWAYS consumed his food and water with gusto. We had a diabetic guinea pig who we maintained to the age of 4 - for over a year on insulin. And so as Gus put on weight and ate and drank a bit more as this past year went by, we joked about having a diabetic guinea pig AND a diabetic cat. But we discounted it, I think because it was so gradual (he had been getting heavier over the years) and not a real change in his behavior or general approach to food.

However, in early October, he came upstairs to say good morning and proceeded to lie down purring so loudly. As I pet him, I felt something was wrong and yet he didn't seem to be uncomfortable, just lying there in a forced relaxation, purring louder than I have ever heard a cat purr, and obviously in communication mode. It was obvious that he was telling me something. He stood up to walk downstairs. I followed and saw that he was down at the wrists so that when he crouched to drink the heel of his front paws were almost touching the floor. And that is what we took him to the vets for.

Our vet immediately suspected diabetes from his posture- the wrists-and Gus's BG confirmed it. The wrists, we were told, were probably due to low potasium levels (causing muscle weakness) as the body attempted to flush the excess sugar . We were told the condition was not painful and would most likely improve with treatment. When it did not improve after 4, 8 & 10 weeks of insulin with normal BG readings, we were told the wrist posture could also be due to neuropathy (long nerves damaged by high BG) and might not come back.

The big surprise for me was how long it took for his symptoms (other than the excessive water and food intake) to improve. The fatigue, weekness, poor muscle tone and being down at the wrists and heels got WORSE. I had to carry him around the house and up and downstairs, had to present him with food, water and the cat box. His activities consisted of resting in his favorite box with his sister or resting on our laps. He could walk no more that 3 or 4 steps and then would collapse where ever he was to rest. And yet his BG was within normal ranges. However, by about mid December his energy began to pick up, by late December the wrist posture began to improve, and now January 12 his muscle tone is back (he feels hard instead of soft to the touch) and he looks about as he did before the diabetic crisis in October although he has lost a bit of weight down from 16.2 to 15.9 pounds. And of course his eating/drinking/peeing are no longer excessive.

Interestingly, during the first 5 or so days he was passive during injections (other that a flinch or 2 while still getting used to the routine and sensation I imagine). Now he actively cooperates: finding me, lying on his side, holding still. etc while I give him the injection. Once, after about 2 weeks on the insulin, he woke up while I was preparing the syringe next to him. I think he probably smelled the insulin (our guineau pigs always sang to the smell of insulin knowing that after Cloudy got his shot they would get alfalfa hay.) In any case, Gus woke, reached out to touch my leg, locked eyes with me and purred. I'm convinced he had made the connection that whatever I was doing was making him feel better.

Anyway, back to hypoglycemia/insulin.

I've been told and have read that cats can go along on a particular dose for a while and then change suddenly. From what I've read, the hyperglycemia that comes with dibetes can suppress the cats own insulin production and then as the diabetes is brought under control with insulin, the pancreas can start producing again which results in the cat getting too much insulin and then hypoglycemia/insulin shock.

Increased drinking and urination indicate hyperglycemia. Decreased drinking and urination indicate hypoglycemia.

According to my aunt, whose diabetic cat lived seven years (to age18) with diabetes, and other case histories I've read, cats often walk in circles in a drunken sort of way and do weird things like licking the floor before they go into a complete hypoglycemic collapse and coma.

I encourage Gus to eat if he's looking tight and uncomfortable. This will happen often times if he goes too long with out food say more than 4-5 hours. If he has gone too long, it's often difficult to encourage him to eat. (He doesn't like the Hill'sWD much anymore (and I alternate with IAMs Less Active, IAMs Lamb and Rice, and IAMs Regular figuring it's important to get him to eat.) He appears nauseated, licking at the food, almost eating and then pulling back and swallowing hard. When this happens, once he does eat, he eats ravenously for the first few bites and then slows down to a normal rate. (He eats several small meals through the day and so far has done well with this routine. He, and our 3 other cats have always fed on demand.)

Ann Guthrie
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20 Jan 97 Experiences with Diabetes: Whiskers

We have a Tiger car named Whiskers who is 13 years old,a real lover and a gentleman he purrs when the vet takes his blood! 3 months ago he was diagnosed with Diabetes and we have been trying to get his blood sugars stablized since then. In the beginning we were at 405 mg/dl, we started with Humulin N, 6 units twice a day going up to 11 units twice a day, at this point his blood sugar went to 600mg/dl in the morning dropping to 140mg/dl by 2:00 pm. In the mean time we had switched him to the Hills WD food which he loved. The problem was it caused severe constipation! We went to the Hills Light Maintenance and that seems to be doing OK. Back to the blood sugars our Vet was worried he was on too much insulin and we were into a swing effect so we cut back the dose to 10 units am and 8 units pm. The result, 470mg/dl am and 420mg/dl in afternoon, still not good. Vet suggested we try a pig insulin which he had used in the past with good results, so we did. We started at 6 units twice a day the blood tests were; 470mg/dl am and 240mg/dl in the afternoon, still not there. We raised the insulin to 10 units twice a day with the results, 377 mg/dl am and 325 mg/dl in the afternoon, this didn't make any sense to us. It seemed that we needed something that would last longer and stop the ups and downs.

We consulted with a Vet we used to use in another area and he felt that also so we are not using Humlin U, Ultra Lente. When we made the switch to the Ultra Lente Whiskers took a nose dive. He dropped 11 Oz in two days went back to excessive thirst and high urine outputs and seemed to lose coordination in the rear end, his legs didn't seem to follow the front end? He finally started to pick back up after two days. He has been on this now for 4 full days . His drinking and urination have decreased, he's eating and his coordination has imporved greatly. We started at 4 units twice a day and are now at 6 units twice a day. Today 1/20/97 his am blood was 522mg/dl, he seems to feel better than his test results suggest. We are going to keep up with this for a couple more days to see if the effects take a little longer with this insulin. We had read the article about the Doctors cat that was on Humlin UL Ultra Lente is this the same insulin as Humlin U? (yes! from Rebecca)

As you can see this has been and still is a long and trying experience for us all. We are getting frustrated and would welcome any help or suggestions. We have been very pleased to find the column and information it contains. It helps to know that you are not alone!
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21 Feb 97 Experiences with Diabetes: Whiskers Follow-up
Date: Fri, 21 Feb 1997 13:52:56 -0500

Whiskers is still doing well but not really stabilized . We took him to a really wonderful Vet an old friend who has helped us though many sick animals. The only problem is his hospital is 220 miles from us. Whiskers ended up being there for 12 days they ran many glucose curves on him to try to balance him. The best they could do was 14 units of Ultra Lente twice a day and that brought him down to around 300 to 400 morning 140 afternoon he's defiantly insulin resistant. They also run several tests for thyroid , hyperadrenocorticism etc. these all came back negative . Then they talked to the Dr. that is the diabetes specialist at Michigan state University he felt Whiskers had Acromegaly which is excessive growth hormone production from a tumor on his pituitary gland. This could make him insulin resistant so he ran tests for this. We brought Whiskers home while we were waiting for results. Whiskers is glad to be back home and so are we ,we missed him a lot . He did not seem to mind the stay at the hospital the staff said he was their all time most favorite kitty and said through all the testing he just kept purring. We finally received the results and they also were negative.

As for the problems we had with the Ultra Lente we wrote you about before we don't know why he dropped so low on only 8 units. When Whiskers went to the hospital he showed no signs of that happening. They slowly increased him to 15 units before he showed signs of low blood sugar and settled on 14 units twice a day.

I'm not sure where were are headed from here but Whiskers feels much better and his PU/PD is almost normal so we feel like we've made great progress. We will keep you posted.

Rick & Chris Taylor
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20 Jan 97 Smudge: Natural diet helped

I was very excited when I heard that you had a home page for your cat with diabetes. My cat Smudge, a 13 year siamese, was diagnosed over 8 months ago with diabetes. He had an initial blood glucose over 500. I took him home over the weekend and called several different veterinarians looking for answers. Two of the three advised me to put him down immediately, my original vet said that he'd been treating diabetic kitties for a while and had good success. Smudge was left there on a Monday, he hadn't eaten since the Friday he went in. They finally put him on antibiotics on Wednesday, to reduce the fever (infection somewhere?) and he started to get better. When he was sent home two weeks later, I was to give him W/d, he hates it, and four units of insulin. After two months of morning injections, he bottomed out. I took him in and they gave him glucose. this happened again the next day. The doctor advised that he'd need to come in again to be regulated (another $300). My hubby and I discussed this and decided to take him off the insulin, against Dr's orders, and bring him home for the weekend. I took him back on Monday for a blood glucose test. If the levels had been above normal, he would have been put down. Surprisingly, his blood levels were down at 50. The doctor was so surprised..said he'd never seen this happen before. He said to keep feeding w/d and watch him. I now feed Smudge mostly a homemade diet, using Anitra Frazier's diet, and the difference is amazing. He, and the other geriatric cat, are acting like youngsters again. The other cat has long hair and for years, has had mats and diarrhea. No more mats, diarrhea or dandruff. I have determined that the pet foods that you can buy at the supermarket and even some at the vet, are not as good as home cooking. Most of them have by-products and preservatives. Would you want to eat cancerous tumors,etc? These by-products have been determined not fit for human consumption and therefore are fed to our animals.

I am a mom with a full time job, three cats and a dog, and it only takes me 1 hour per week tops to make their food. For those days that I have run out of cat food, I do use the Nutro Max brand. It is the only one that I have found without by-products and they all love it, but it is more expensive than cooking.

I continue to watch Smudge for signs that the diabetes is recurring but I don't expect it too. I think it was somehow related to the fever (infection) that caused his pancreas to stop producing insulin for a time.

I would recommend to anyone who has a cat with diabetes to try this and see what happens.

Good luck.

Bev Kurtz
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28 Jan 97 Mitzie

A quick note from here in the UK to tell you about our experience of diabetes, with our 13 year old tabby cat called Mitzie. In June 1996 we noticed that she had gone off her food and had lost a lot of weight. She was also very low on energy. We thought that at last old age was catching up with her, and she was wearing out. Our vet diagnosed liver trouble and said we were to follow a low fat diet, but Mitzie didn't like this food and stopped eating altogether. Some days later she was so weak and dehydrated that she could hardly raise her head or cry, and it was with tears and heavy hearts that we took her on what we thought was her final visit to the vet. Our vet said that she would put her on a drip over the weekend and carry out some more tests, we said OK but if Mitzie was not likely to recover to a reasonable quality of life then we felt it was time to let her go. We called the vet over the weekend, Mitzie hung on and the vet said that she now thought Mitzie was diabetic, a relatively rare condition in cats. Once she had started the insulin, Mitzie underwent a miraculous recovery, within three days she was bored and began trashing her kennel! We underwent a quick course in feline diabetic care, and she came home with us the following weekend. Since then Mitzie has gone from strength to strength. She has recovered her condition and is acting like a kitten again. She is full of energy and we find it impossible to believe how close we got to losing her. We started out testing for glucose in her urine every day, but as it has stabilised at about 0.5 - 1.0% we now only do this every two or three days. We give her 2 units of insulin at breakfast time each day, she doesn't feel this at all as far as we can tell. She eats a normal diet of canned cat foods plus some treats. Weight-wise, she is now 4.2kg, while she was ill she was down to 3.5kg so you can see that her appetite is OK!

I suppose it might be said that having to be at home every morning to administer the insulin could be inconvenient, but to us it is a labour of love. When we are ill Mitzie knows, and stays close by us to offer comfort, so now she needs us we are prepared to care for her even if it means making sacrifices elsewhere in our lives.

To anyone else in this position, we would say that once you get into the right routine feline diabetes is no sort of ordeal for cat or owners if you are prepared to work to get it right. We wish that you and your cat have as good, happy and long life together as we are looking forward to.

Best wishes

Martyn and Edwina Gaunt
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29 Jan 97 Cassidy

Hi Rebecca! First, I wanted to say thank you for your web page! It is so helpful to be able to have a place to find out more about Feline Diabetes and share experiences.

I have a 9 year old cat named Cassidy. After having several cats growing up, I can definitely say that Cassidy is the most unique. He is a long haired orange cat, very fluffy and very fat. He has always been extremely vocal and will carry on a conversation with you, meowing back at you frequently. He likes his belly rubbed, and will stretch out while you scratch and sometimes just stay there, spread eagle, with his paws up in the air, relaxing. His temperment is somewhere in between that of a cat, a dog and a slow person. He will follow me around the house, begging for attention and he's always looking up at me with his slightly crossed, amber eyes saying, 'c'mon, play with me, feed me.'

It's curious that his health had actually been on my mind for a couple of months ever since this conversation that I had with a well-meaning friend while we were discussing our pets, and she commented, "he's 9 year's old!?! Exactly how old do cats get? Not many more years, do they?"

Later that day, I was talking with my husband, realizing just how much a part of our family and our 3-yr-old marriage Cassidy is and thinking about the fact that one day he wouldn't be around, and realizing how sad that day would be and how much we both hoped it would be very far into the future.

This past Sunday, I realized that Cassidy was drinking a lot of water and peeing a lot. Since it was a Sunday and I couldn't contact a vet, I went to the Internet and searched for a cause. I quickly found feline diabetes on Bonnie's e-mail page, and became very nervous about the prospect, but wrote it off because he wasn't displaying any signs of being sick - no sluggishness, etc. He seems perfectly healthy.

When I went to pick up Cassidy from the vet yesterday, sure enough she said that he has feline diabetes. His glucose level is over 300. She gave me the glipizide tablets to take orally and Hills Feline R/D for his diet. Friday, I will take Cassidy back to see if they are working.

Today, I have mixed feelings.

As you said, denial that there is anything wrong is the first. He certainly does not act sick. But from reading all of the other accounts, I see that it will be my responsibility to have to constantly stay on top of his glucose level to help him not to be sick.

And then there is guilt. I pretty much fed Cassidy when he meowed. Of course, as he got fatter (he is 15 pounds), I would feed him less when he meowed. But it seemed as if he would then only meow more. And I pretty much had the attitude, "look at my fat cat, isn't he cute." Well, now I feel as if he is having to pay for that cuteness.

My mother who is a pharmaceutical representative for Brystol Myer Squibb had some interesting information for me, and I wonder if you have heard any of it before:

She did say that obesity brings on the diabetes. She has a doctor (human,'re talking, not feline) who with her Type 2 obese diabetes patients guarantees that if they get to the right weight, the diabetes will 'right' itself. The doctor guarantees that if that doesn't occur, she will pay their medicine for the rest of their life. And in every case, so far, that has worked.

Also, she said to ask the vet if glucophage has ever been given to cats. This is a BMS drug that although similar to glipizide, works differently by decreasing insulin resistance instead of squeezing it out of the pancreas. She said that the glucophage by itself will cause weight loss and will also prevent hypoglycemia or hyperinsulinea.

I told my mom, how cheesy to try to be selling your drugs to your daughter's cat! But I was just kidding, because I know that she stays very informed about the drugs and has Cassidy's best interests at heart.

Have you ever heard of using glucophage for cats and/or getting your cat into shape to help fight the diabetes?

Regarding the latter, I have a friend whose father and cousin are diabetic, and she tells me how much their exercise and health is emphasized. I know this sounds silly, but how exactly do you exercise a cat? Last night, I tried running around the house with a string with Cassidy chasing after me for fifteen minutes, but does anyone have any other suggestions?

And then, I suppose my last feeling is selfishness. My husband is a pilot in the military, and we are therefore living in a small town in Mississippi. To get away on the weekends and to visit our friends and family, we have an airplane and therefore, travel pretty extensively. Luckily, we have good friends who cat-sit, but now the responsibility will go up a notch, and we will have to rely more heavily on them or the local vet to board Cassidy.

I look at the alternative of losing Cassidy, and there's not even a question in my mind that I won't do everything I can to keep him healthy. But I can't say that there's not some self-pity involved as well. Oh well, I have never had anything bad happen to me before from which I did not learn some valuable lesson. I suppose this will be the same.

Please put my name on your e-mail list: karenmac@ebicom.net and I would definitely welcome any comments or suggestions.

Karen Policano
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Update on Cassidy, 2/24/97

I just wanted to let you know how it is going with Cassidy: he is on 5 units of Humulin U Ultralente once a day. He has had two glucose checks after starting the insulin. The first time, his glucose was 404 before the insulin shot and it went down to 105 in the afternoon. The following week, it was 444 before the insulin shot and went down to 164. The vet thinks this is okay for now, taking into consideration any stress that the vet visit causes, but I asked her wasn't it still a problem that it was so high before the shot, and she said yes, but hopefully that would stabilize or we would go to shots twice a day.

She said I would not have to take him back for a month for another glucose check. Meanwhile, Cassidy is doing well, still loving all the attention, and as far as his PU/PD goes, I'm trying to chart it to see if it is still excessive. I have a hard time though remembering what is was before this happened - what normal should be! and then trying to classify how to write it on the chart. Oh well! We are adjusting and have even found a cat-sitter.
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30 Jan 97 Paccino: Dandruff suggestions

Dear Rebecca!

What a wonderful surprise to come across your web site. You have done a great job with it. Since my diabetic cat, Paccino, was diagnosed over a year ago, I have been combing the internet for information, and this is the first time I have come across your site.

Paccino was diagnosed with diabetes in October of 1995. In December of 1995 he developed hepa lipodosis--his liver shut down and he became jaundiced. He spent 10 days at the vet on intervenous and forced feedings. It was a terribly difficult time, and we almost lost him. I would go every day to try to get him to eat. He finally gave in to kitty tuna which he is really not supposed to have because of the high magnesium element, but it ended up saving his life

He is now 10 years old and doing very well. He is on 5 units of NPH insulin twice a day. He is on a strict diet of W/D and nothing else. Because he has such a weight problem (18 lbs), he gets 1/4 cup in the morning and at night, and I only leave it down for 1/2 hour. This has kept his weight under control and helped regulate his glucose. I do not monitor his glucose through testing his blood because it is very traumatic for him. I want to maintain control of his health problem but not to the point where he is unhappy. I used to monitor his glucose through urine with the dipsticks. We used to put fish gravel in the box because it would not absorb the urine. I have gotten to the point where I can tell by monitoring his water intake and urine. He has been regulated since May of last year.

I read a comment on the message board regarding dandruff, and Paccino has dandruff as well. To get rid of it, I bath him in an oatmeal bath which can be found in any drugstore. I find that this works very well.

It has been a long road, but I finally feel that we have reached a point of comfort in his disease. It is a commitment to fit his two shots into our daily schedule, but we have adapted. He is very laid back, and if we have to go somewhere and won't be home for his shot, we take him with us. In the summer we spend weekends at my Dad's on the water and we take him and his sister Louise with us for the weekend. They have their own room as Dad has three cats, and they are not the best of friends.

Thanks again for the valuable information. Please add my name to your addresses of diabetic cat owners as I would love to keep in touch with others in the same situation. I live in Boston, and my e-mail is ldescenza@ergo.com.

Lisa DeScenza
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Feb 1 97 Peepers and Freebie: Dandruff but doing great after 5 years with diabetes!
From: Russell Bowen (trialbyfire@worldnet.att.net)

We are two folks with 2 diabetic cats. Peepers and Freebie are not related and were diagnosed within a month of each other. That was almost 5 years ago now and we are pleased to say that both of our babies are healthy and doing fine. They use Ultralente once a day, Peepers gets 15 units in the morning and Freebie gets 9 units. We would like to make a suggestion to the folks that have had a problem with the Hills W/D. When the kids were first diagnosed our Vet suggested we continue to use the Hills Feline Maintenence Light. We have found that this food has been very succesful in helping to regulate the glucose levels and to give them the nutrition they need. We leave food out all the time as our Vet said this was better than trying to control their meal time. Both our Vets also suggested we not use honey to help control insulin reactions, since honey can have high bacteria content. They suggested Karo syrup as the best and THANK GOD that we have only had to use it once in five years.

We are very interested in the information you had on dandruff and its connection to diabetes as this was the first time we had ever heard of the connection. Our younger cat Freebie has had dandruff for as long as we can remember and we never made a link to the diabetes. Any more information you can put out on that will be greatly looked forward to. Thanks for starting a great website and remember that Peepers and Freebie have been diabetic for 5 years (Peepers is 11 and Freebie is 10) and both are doing fine, so this disease can be controlled succesfully and your kids can live a happy life while running your life to suit their comfort.

Thanks again, Mike, Sandra, Peepers, Freebie and Bumper(our slightly sight impaired but otherwise very healthy baby and our only girl)
Email: trailbyfire@worldnet.att.net
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Feb 14 97 Shadow: Treating diabetes with Insulin and Glucotrol
Shadow, our 10 year old Russian Blue, was diagnosed with diabetes 12/10/96.  We were tipped off by excessive water consumption, severe weakness in his hind quarters, and his urinating everywhere but his litter box.
His vet first told us that cats rarely respond to oral treatments ("the pill") and we would probably have to give him insulin injections.  We did so for 4 weeks during which he was improving.  At this point, we had been testing his blood for two weeks - thanks to my Uncle Tab who shared his diabetes supplies & knowledge with us - and he always tested between 180-400. 
During the 5th week, he wast testing at 400 and his other symptoms started to return.  We took him back to the Vet who declared that he was non-insulin dependent and that the pill (which he had previously told us rarely worked with cats) would be the new method of treatment.  We questioned why we had paid $700 to keep him for the initial week of treatment while they "closely monitored him to determine his insulin needs."  It just didn't make sense.
The first night we brought him home, we gave him the pill and insulin.  He tested at 180 in the morning.  We realized we wouldn't be able to determine the effective treatment if we gave him both so we started giving him the pill only.  His glucose level climbed all week and got to 800 on the fourth day.  We switched to insulin only for two days (10 units twice a day = 20 total).  He dropped slightly to 400-600, but not enough.  Despite the vet's orders, we then started giving him both the Glucotrol (2.5 mg twice a day) and the insulin and he hasn't gone over 200 since. 
I discussed the multi-approach treatment with the local pharmacist who said that treatment of many (human) illnesses, including diabetes, is often more successful when medications are mixed.  This approach may not work for all cats, but we've learned that we had to take control of our cat's illness in order to stabilize him. 
My co-worker had a diabetic cat that he and his wife have been treating for 4 years.  She's a nurse and he was a vet tech for 5 years so they are comfortable enough to draw blood from her veins to test.  Their kitty was on units of insulin a day for 4 years.  She woke them up one night last month 'meowling' and they were able to test her immediately and found her blood sugar to be at 20. Now she only needs 1 unit a day.  Close monitoring seems to be a key to successful treatment.
Take care, 
Joe & Lori
Shadow, Junior, & Meow
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Feb 21 97 Charlie: Brain tumor and diabetes
From: J Friedman (friedmanj@logica.com)

Hi Rebecca,

Thanks for this wonderful web site. I have been reading everyone's stories and feel part of an expanding community of caring cat lovers. Anyway, it's hard not to be long winded when it comes to your cat, but here is my story.

Charlie's diagnosis this past July was a surprise because he was actually visiting a neurologist for his seizures (he subsequently had a brain tumor successfully removed). The neurologist looked at his urine and blood glucose readings taken by Charlie's original vet 6 months before and was extremely surprised that the vet did not suspect diabetes as well(and Charlie had been showing the signs of excessive drinking and urinating which I now know what they indicate). So I don't really know how long Charlie has had diabetes but I am sure it's been over a year. Charlie is now on NPH insulin 4 units twice a day. Charlie is 14 years old and he's been with me for 13 years.

I live alone and have a job that can keep me for long hours and requires travel. Charlie has been the perfect cat for me since he liked being alone (he spent his first year of life being dominated by his bigger brother) and he was low maintenance. Since Charlie's diagnosis, I have tried to leave work on time to get home for his evening shot. If I want to go out at night, I always make sure I go home first. When I am gone for a week, I take him to a friend's house who is in the medical profession and is comfortable giving him his shots. When I am gone for a few days I have a cat sitter, but she can only come in once a day. At least once a week I miss his second injection. I have an automatic feeder so he doesn't miss his food.

I love this cat and would do almost anything for him, but I am finding that I am changing my life around his insulin injections and feeding schedule and all I do is worry about him. Charlie is a very stressed cat and staying at the vet's is not an option. The only place he is happy and peaceful is in my house. I tried boarding him at the vet once and he hissed and growled the whole time, terrorized the whole office, and when I picked him up he was reeking of urine. Charlie is the most mild mannered cat in the whole world with a vocabulary that would scare anyone including my vet - however, he would never scratch or bite anyone. It was amazing how my vet changed his advice from insisting Charlie stay there when I was away to encouraging me to keep Charlie at home. I have constantly asked my vet if there is some way to put him on a program where he could have injections once a day and he says that there used to be an insulin like that but they don't make it anymore.

In Charlie's six month visit to the neurologist, the neurologist freaked out that Charlie was still on his regular food (Friskies Buffet Senior) which my vet told me not to change. So he did a glucose curve which was bad (two readings were over 400) and immediately put him on W/D. From reading the message board, I now suspect that Charlie has stress hypoglycemia. Because on his normal diet with 8 units a day, his PU/PD is low; he is back to his regular eating patterns pre-diabetes; and he was getting his energy back to groom himself and jump on my bed. After one feeding of W/D, he filled the litter box, stopped eating, and was so tired he laid down right next to his food dish. I had to spoon feed him some food (old stuff) before I left for work. So he is back on his old diet for now and Charlie and the litter box are back to normal.

The problem I have had with both vets is that they are so dogmatic and seem to ignore Charlie and my life style. They freak out about Charlie's glucose readings when I know that he is doing much better than the readings would indicate. The neurologist actually weighed Charlie wrong and thought he had lost three pounds and therefore thought he was wasting away from unregulated diabetes. I had to go home and weigh him because I thought I would have noticed such a significant weight loss. They don't listen to me and make me feel guilty that I can't be there every day to give him all his injections.

By the way, Charlie, who will fight to the death to take a pill, is a "pussycat" when it comes to getting his injection. He just stops his munching and keeps very still while I put in the needle and then goeshis business. I think his glucose level rises about 10 hours after his insulin injection because he wakes me up about 2 hours earlier than his feeding schedule and that is also when he does most of his daily urination. From reading the message boards and the Eli Lilly page, it sounds like another type of insulin would be a better fit (Ultralente?). I don't think I would be able to personally do blood tests on Charlie that are described here (I am beginning to think I might have to) and unfortunately, the only time Charlie seems to urinate is right before his next injection when the glucose stick measures high (the neurologist tells me they give false high readings and I shouldn't use them).

The thing is - I'm an amateur who may be totally wrong in my observations and my vets just seem to follow almost a regimented response to Charlie's diabetes. They totally ignore my lifestyle issues as well as my observations. I am also afraid that Charlie is really worse that I think he is and that he is not yet regulated. I want to trust my own judgment but it's hard when the feedback by trained professionals goes against it. I think I need vet assertiveness training but it's hard when you don't know and you feel guilty at the same time.

I will be searching for a new vet. The neurologist also is insisting on giving Charlie 3 weeks of radiation treatments for a small inoperable tumor in his brain and I don't want to put Charlie through that nightmare no matter how much I love him. So actually I don't know whether the diabetes or the tumor will get him first. I just want the quality of the rest of his life to be good.

If anyone has good experiences with a vet in the Boston area, or any other advice, please let me know.

Thanks, Jeanne
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Feb 22 97 Simon: Does well for 3 years with diabetes, one bout of pancreatitis
From: John Matthews (jcmathew@ozemail.com.au)

I have two Burmese cats, half brother and sister with the same father but different mothers. They were born in late August and early September 1987, so are coming up for 10 years old. Just on 3 years ago, the male, "Simon", was diagnosed as diabetic and so began the twice daily ritual of 3.5 units of monotard followed about an hour later with 160g Dine or Whiskas. This has kept him in fine health ever since except for a bout of pancreatitis which very nearly saw the end of him in about April 1996. An emergency dash from Canberra to a specialist in Sydney, some lengthy treatment and about $1100 did the trick!

I'm afraid I have no great wisdom to share. All I know is that it takes a considerable commitment to keep Simon alive and well but he's a terrific cat and to have him killed for the sake of convenience is unthinkable.

I have only just joined the internet (is that the right terminology?) and "feline diabetes" is my first information search. As a sole carer of a diabetic cat, I often feel very lonely in my endeavours - that I must be the only person in the universe doing what I'm doing. I've been reading some of the messages and must say feel very heartened and in some odd way, supported by much of what I've read. Perhaps it's the realisation that there are others like me out there!

Every good wish to carers of all cats, especially diabetic ones!
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Feb 25 97 Simon: More on pancreatitis; Diabetes link to feline leukemia vaccine?
From: John Matthews (jcmathew@ozemail.com.au)

Before I deal specifically with the pancreatitis, I would like to raise another issue which goes back to the genesis of Simon's diabetes, or at least may do.

Back in December 1993 I took the cats to the vet for their annual shots, due around that time of the year. A young vet dealt with us and strongly promoted a new vaccine for feline leukaemia. He would give them an initial injection immediately and a second a fortnight or so later. I went along with his recommendation and had both cats vaccinated. Both reacted strongly, with significant swelling at the injection site and, as I recall, lethargy, vomiting and reluctance to eat which lasted a few days. I should have been warned but they seemed to recover and I took them in for the second of the 2 injections. The reaction was similar.

By then we were into January 1994. It was in the following month that Simon began drinking litres of water, eating everything in sight and losing weight. I took him back to the vet who took him into hospital and ultimately diagnosed diabetes. The rest, as they say, is history!

At the time I queried whether there could be any link between the feline leukaemia vaccination and the diabetes. I was told that the company who manufactured the vaccine had never heard of any cat developing diabetes as a result of being injected with their vaccine. Hardly a surprising response in the circumstances! I wonder if you or anyone else has any comment about that.

And now to the pancreatitis. One Monday evening In April 1996 I came home from work to find Simon on the bed looking very depressed and illand there was a substantial pile of vomit on the hall carpet! Always anxious about giving him insulin when I feel he may not follow it up by eating anything, and as I had to go out that evening, I decided not to give him any insulin. Apparently that was a mistake. He was no better the next morning, so I took him to the vet. He spent a week in hospital losing weight by the day. They took blood sugar readings several times a day if his bruising, collapsed veins and shaved arms and paws were anything to go by. The readings were all over the place. At the end of the week, I was absolutely beside myself, sensing that we were losing the battle. He was starting to look positively skeletal and although his persona was still strong, the realisation was definitely dawning that to continue with at least the blood testing would be cruel. I asked to take him home as the vets were obviously doing no good and I couldn't bear the thought of them sticking any more needles in him to draw blood.

He came home about 7.00 o'clock one evening. By 10.00 o'clock I had to rush him back as he had started having a fit and I was out of my depth. I really thought that was the end for him. The vet, however, said that there was one last chance - a man in Sydney called Warwick Lamb was an expert in diabetes and may be able to do something for him.

I got an appointment and rushed Simon down to Sydney. Warwick Lamb's practice carried out an ultrasound and Dr Lamb diagnosed pancreatitis. Bear in mind this was the first time anyone had even attempted to articulate what was wrong with him! They hadn't a clue in Canberra!

Dr Lamb said that pancreatitis was both very difficult to diagnose (at least in a live cat) and to treat and if Simon didn't respond to the antibiotics and diet that he prescribed, he may have to have his pancreas removed. Apparently this isn't a very successful procedure as enzymes have to be added to the diet to help digest food and cats who have had this procedure are always under weight and often sickly. Anyway, Simon was put on antibiotics for 6 weeks as well as a low fat diet which I had to adapt as he absolutely refused to go near some of the diet's key components such as low fat cottage cheese! We drove back to Canberra (Simon spent 7 hours in the car that day!) and the antibiotics and diet treatment began.

There was no immediate improvement. He'd get his pill and 2 units of monotard and then possibly eat a little after which he'd obviously feel worse. Several hours after food, he'd pick up a little, but as soon as the pill, insulin and food routine was repeated, he'd feel sick again.

Breakthrough came after the 4th day. That morning, he yelled for his breakfast, ate everything and never looked back! I finished the treatment as prescribed for the full 6 weeks. Needless to say, he's still got his pancreas.

This has ended up a very long message and I apologise for my wordiness and obvious lack of scientific training! If you or anyone else reading this would like me to deal more fully with any particular aspect of what I've written, I'd be very happy to.


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