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  Cat Health and Supplies
May 14, 1997 Karmel: Learning the ropes

Hello. My name is Kimball Behning. After reading your pages, I thought that I'd send you a tale of our family's cats. But the first thing I'd like to say is thank-you. Thank you for all of the information and time you put into your pages. They really help lovers of diabetic cats avoid that 'I'm all alone out here' feeling.

Our two cats' names are Karmel and Junior. They are brothers but come from consecutive litters. Both of them are eight years old now. About 3 months ago we noticed that Karm was getting pretty skinny and he was eating and drinking much more than he usually did. After taking him to our vet, we found out that he had diabetes. I'm going to school about 90 miles from home (Dubuque Iowa) so my oldest brother and my mom were the first ones to start caring for him. His first dose of insulin was 1 unit twice a day. After he started getting shots, his fur started laying properly and he started to regain his lost muscle tone and strength. Everything went well for the first week and a half of his treatment. But then he started showing signs of hypoglycemia. My brother found him lying on the floor in my room in pretty bad shape. He gave him some maple syrup and he eventually came out of it. When I came home to visit that Friday evening I was surprised at how much better he looked that the last time I'd seen him. I learned to give him his shot then. Then on Saturday morning we gave him his shot at 7 am. My oldest brother works third shift so he was sleeping this morning and my mom and I went out to run some errands. When we returned about 11 am, we found my brother working with Karm on the kitchen table. He had gone into shock again. Somehow my brother had just woken up and went in to check on the cat and found him on my floor jerking and lying flat on his side. Now we were very concerned for him. He made it out of that one ok. Then later that same day he started showing signs of trouble again. So we gave him another bit of syrup. We gave him his regular shot at 7 pm that day. My brother went to his annual poker banquet that night, but if I had any trouble with Karm, I was to call him so he could come home to him. Sure enough, at about 11 pm, Karm moved from my bed down to the floor and started going into shock again. I started to give him syrup and hoped he would come out of it. But after 45 minutes he was still very groggy and only "woke up" when I whistled. I called my brother and he came home. Eventually he came out of it. We spent the night with him not knowing if he would be with us in the morning. I knew that something had to change. We were putting him from one extreme to another. Giving him shots and then defeating them. So I told my brother that we shouldn't give him a shot in the morning and see how he reacts. I didn't know what to do and I don't think the vet told my brother what to do about things like this. Karm didn't stir all night. When I woke up that Sunday morning, Karm had just gotten up and he was sitting in his little cat bed next to me cleaning himself. I knew this was a sure sign of him feeling better. When he saw that I was awake, he looked at me and blew his nose at me, in what I took as "Don't even think about giving me another shot today". And we didn't. And he was extra active that day. He stayed out in the dining room and kitchen with us all day.

When I came back down to school the next morning, I looked up feline diabetes on the web. That's when I came across your page. It really made me feel better about what was going on. I learned alot about how you can vary treatment to find what works for your particular cat.

So we started giving him just one shot a day of one unit. When he went to the vet for his next check up, the vet decided that it was ok to keep him on one shot for a while. After a bit of that, we took him off insulin altogether. We're checking his urine with test strips about two to three times and he's always negative. So as of right now, he's back to normal and getting stronger. He still gets his w/d breakfast and Junior doesn't even try to eat it on him.

One of the things that I thought was funny while I was reading your Austin/Gene stories was that Austin is the smart, older one and Gene is 'not as gifted mentally' and younger. That's exactly how Karm and Junior are. Kind of interesting, ehh? When I found all of the information and stories on your pages, I printed up just about everything on them and sent them back home. They really enjoyed reading them and now I keep them updated on how Austin and Gene are doing. I even printed out some of the pictures of Austin and Gene for them. We hope that Gene gets to feeling better and Austin's sugars get better and his legs don't bother him so much. So that's about all for now. We want you to know that we're pulling for your cats up here in Iowa. Karm says hi to Austin and Gene. (note: the semester is just about over, and I get my internet access through the school. So sometime this summer I may run down here and send you a picture of Karm to put in the gallery, otherwise I'll get it to you this fall.)
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May 22, 1997 BILBO BAGGINS: Diagnosed by his "aunt"

Hi, my name is Millie. Although my two animals (a 19-year old cat and a 2-year old dog) are fine, my brother's cat, Bilbo, became diabetic about September of 1996. I was pretty sure that was his problem as I am a diabetic and, as well, I work as a medical secretary in a major hospital's diabetic clinic. My brother and sister-in-law were in denial.

His symptoms were classic. Peeing and drinking excessively, losing weight (he was about 19 lbs.-went down to 13). Also he kept getting abscesses on either side of his rectum constantly. Although the vet kept emptying them, they kept recurring. By the way, Bilbo is 12 or 13 years old. He went on NPH insulin, 2 x a day, starting at 3 units each time. It took several weeks to get his sugars down from 27 mmol/L to an acceptable range. Insulin kept changing, abscesses kept recurring, etc.

Thanks to this site we were able to learn how to monitor from the ear with the Sure Step machine which the cat does not mind at all. Before this, Steve was taking the blood from the vein - which was upsetting Bilbo and Natalie (my sister-in-law). Now blood taking is a cinch. A couple of weeks ago he had the gland removed which caused all the abscesses because even when bs's were normal, they still kept coming. At that point we found that he was allergic to penicillin as he had terrible diarrhea and was not eating, and therefore went into a terrible hypo reaction. His reading was 0.9 mmol/L (Steve was sure he was losing him) but he kept pumping him with honey and milk and anything he could get down him. It took about 6 hours but he was finally up to 4-5 mmol/L. Since then he was not on any insulin, but I think the honeymoon is over as his bs's yesterday went up to 11.9 mmol/L and he was started on 1/2 unit twice a day and today up to 1 unit twice a day. I truly believe only the owner can adjust the insulin, as the vet does not know the cat's normal behaviour, only the "book" readings.

Anyways, I thought Iwould write a paragraph or two, but I guess I overdid it. Thank you Rebecca for the wonderful thing you did by putting other cat owners together to get through this difficult disease with their cats.

Thanks again

Millie (my E-mail address is if anyone would like to write me)
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May 23, 1997 Zeus: The Honeymooner

Rebecca, I take so advantage of your site that I think it's time to add Zeus to the e-mail list. I think I would also like to to tell his "honeymoon" story but not sure if it's's a little bizarre but then we cat owners do crazy things when we know they are in trouble.

Zeus went into remission right after he got caught under a recliner. I was at work and have no idea how it happened or how long he was caught there. But, when I found him, of course, he was dazed, had not been able to eat or drink for however long, and the one leg which was caught was limp. He had a couple of seizures, at least one in the case on the way to the emergency vet. When I brought him home, after an overnight stay at the emergency clinic and another day long stay at his usual vet, I was told to try and get him back on the insulin routine. Both vets were uncertain about the leg, though it wasn't broken it had suffered some damage. SO, I did the only thing I knew to do - PRAYED. (I also put Holy Water on him..I know it sounds weird, but I just don't believe God intends for little animals to suffer and good Catholics always keep some in the house!) Well, that very evening he jumped up and pranced over to me on all fours AND even jumped up on the bed the next morning..I was more amazed he jumped off! If you didn't know, you wouldn't know! PLUS, he kept coming up negative on the urine sticks and sure enough went into remission for awhile. As you know, he is now back on a med routine, but, I was wondering, does the event of not getting the necessary food and water for a period of time constitute a hypoclycemia event. I can't seem to remember the effects of too much vs. too little.

Anyway, that is Zeus' story and he is still around at 16 (maybe 17 now - I didn't get him as a kitten) to tell about it.
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June 2, 1997 Tappers: Diabetic for a year now

Tappers the 15-year-old love of our lives was diagnosed 1 year ago June 1, 1996 with Diabetes. Like so many other kitties she was insulin resistant. She had no weight to lose since she's been a 9 pounder all her adult life, so we didn't have the option of diet to bring her sugar down.

Her insulin doses started conservatively low, 3 units once a day and when her blood sugar levels stayed at<400 mg/she went to 3 units twice a day. . . . increasing every week by units. her blood sugar started to go down when her dosage was up to 11 units twice a day where she stayed for 2 months.

we started with nph iletin i (beef/k) no luck, tried humulin nph and she went sky high, then to nph iletin ii (pork), (which is where we are now) we tried the regular mixed with the nph, which was great for a short period of time ? then, the somogyi effect .

i would like to share several experiences our successes and our mistakes. we tried the "natural diets" brown rice, chicken & chicken livers cooked and pureed. no luck, then the science diet (canned) she hated it ? her weight dropped to 7 lbs. then i discovered the little cans of "fancy feast chicken ..." (she loves it) put weight back on her and did not disturb her blood sugar levels at all. she was maintaining glucose levels of 95-112mg/at peak hours and 258 - 315 mg/just before her next injection. for tappers those 258- 315 levels are very good.

after 6 months of "honeymoon" her insulin resistance broke. her glucose started dropping to dangerous levels, i lessened her insulin to 10 units and within 3 days of her dosage change. . . she went into hypoglycemia. i was home from work that day (thank heavens) and noticed she was swaggering and drooling so, i rushed her to the doctor to confirm my suspicions. her glucose registered at 25 mg/

what happened? .... i suspect a combination of 2 variables:
1) our insulin bottle ? there was about 1/eft in the bottle so the strength was not as diluted. this was discovered by playing detective ? after opening a new bottle her blood sugar went back up to <360 during the peak hours. so . . . mix those bottles well. her doctor suggested rolling the bottle for a full 30 seconds, and not setting it down at all before inserting the syringe.
2) and i did not have dry food down. . . we now keep just enough food down for a 12 hour span.

we keep a sharp eye on tappers, monitor the water dish, the litter box, and probably the most helpful piece of information is the piece on "how to do the ear sticks". tappers gets blood checks via the ear stick method almost every weekend, and sometimes she goes to the office with me so we can monitor her. i use an accucheck advantage system and take blood every 2 hours from her morning injection to her evening injection. no, she does not appreciate it but she is such a sweetheart i am allowed to do anything to her without any fuss.

her morning and evening shots are always rewarded with treats, so when the refrigerator door is opened and she sees me reaching for the insulin and syringes, she's right there meowing for her shot. she sniffs the insulin bottle and the syringe so she knows exactly what's coming and then she gets loved and petted while i'm rolling the bottle, she gets her shot, her treat and then her canned meal.

our lives have changed a lot since her diagnosis. no more sleeping in on weekends, or taking trips without a sitter to do the twice daily injections. evenings out are planned around injection time, but again, she is the love of our lives and worth every bit of minimal inconvenience.

to watch her activity level increase, and the neuropathy subside, to see her jump on the back of the furniture again, to jump into bed with us and to hear the rhythmic purring is all the reward we need. she has lost most of her eye sight but she has adjusted to this loss like a trooper.

tappers is not out of the woods, and i keep praying for the pzi insulin to be okayed by the fda center for veterinary medicine in hopes it is the answer to our keeping our kitties stabilized.

thanks so very much for this wonderful informative web site and thanks to all the folks who have shared their stories.

tappers mommy, jan
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July 1, 1997 Sox's story: The Golden Cat

My name is Sox and I have diabetes too. Actually, I've had it most of my life. My mom and dad (Meg and Jack) adopted me and my sister out of a barn. At first we were really scared but pretty quick we figured out this was the best thing that could have ever happened to us. Our people just wanted to love us and feed us and play with us. There was another grandpa cat around, at first he didn't like us very much but how can you not love kittens. He was a very wise cat and taught us alot, unfortunately he has gone to kitty heaven now. Anyway, when I was about 9 months old I started acting really strange. I was eating ALL THE TIME and ALL THE FOOD but I lost almost half of my body weight in 3 days. Also, I was floating the litter in the litter box every night and drinking 2 or 3 BIG bowls of water every day. I was very grumpy and laid around all the time, I didn't feel much like playing. People sometimes tell my mom that she is obsessive about her cats (there are 4 of us in all) but I think its pretty lucky for me that she is. Also, she works with human diabetes all day, every day. Right away she noticed what was going on and took me to my vet (Susan). She told Susan she wanted a glucose tolerance test run on me because she was sure I had diabetes. Susan wasn't so sure, she said she had never seen diabetes in a cat as young as I was and wanted to run some other tests first. My mom was really sure and told her to check my glucose first, before ANY other test. Well, the vet called her at work later and asked "How did you know?" It turns out cats and people have the very same symptoms, my blood glucose was over 600! I was also dehydrated and went in to DKA, I was getting close to dying. My mom said she was relieved because at least this was something she could take care of. Even so, my dad said she cried and cried because she was so worried about me and felt bad that she waited so long to take me to the vet.

Now that they knew the problem they started taking care of me. They gave me IV's to rehydrate me and my mom left work to come and be with me. I didn't know she was there, by then I was too sick. I spent almost 2 months in the hospital. I got so used to it there that they didn't even keep me in a cage anymore after awhile. I liked that. All the other animals who lived there (5 cats and 2 dogs) were very friendly and after I felt better we all played together and slept together like one big happy family. My mom came to see me every day before work and after work. She started giving my my shots right away and really wanted to be the one to do it. Everyday when she came she would play with me, and pet me and brush me. We got to be very, very close. Don't tell the others but I'm sure she loves me more:). When I first came home it was kind of strange, I didn't really remember the other cats or the house very well. I think I smelled funny too because at first they hissed at me. Also, mom watched me all the time, I couldn't even pee without her wanting to know how much (oh brother). This turned out to be good too though because one day by blood glucose got way too low. She was looking for me and when she found me she thought I was asleep but when she talked to me, I didn't move. Then she petted me and I jerked, I was having convulsions. Real quick she screamed at dad to get the Karo. (I HATE KARO) He did and she squirted some in my mouth with an eye dropper. Meanwhile, dad was calling the Susan's emergency number. She called right back and told us to meet her at her office. By the time we got there I was feeling better but they hooked up the IV again and poked around awhile before I got to go home. I have only had one other bad low, it was really hot out. I don't remember what happened but when mom came home from work she couldn't find me so she went looking. She found me at the edge of the woods behind our house, panting and pretty out of it. She did the Karo thing again (ugh), called Susan, wrapped me in a cold wet towel (aghhhhh) because I was really hot and away we went. More IVs etc and this time she had to take me home with the IV. It was late on Friday and she refused to leave me there all by myself with no one to watch me. By the next day I was fine again. That was in the summer 1992.

Later that year, a very strange thing happened. I started having low symptoms, not real low but kind of staggering a little, real lethargic. You got it--back to Susan. She kept me a few days this time, actually about 2 weeks, doing those nasty glucose curves. The difference was, this time she kept decreasing the insulin a little more each day and I was still getting too low. Finally, the shots stopped and I did just fine. It was like a miracle. NOBODY could believe it, especially mom and dad. I was cured. It was a great vacation but almost exactly one year later, weight loss, flooded litter, lots of drinking etc. One thing that was good, this time it was a little more gradual (over about 2 weeks) and I wasn't nearly as sick and mom didn't get nearly as upset.

It's been awhile now. For a long time mom tried to get my blood glucose into really good control (that obsessive thing again). She talked to Susan and the vet school at Texas A&M about some of the pills to improve my insulin sensitivity (I prefer shots to pills thank you very much) and other people things. They weren't real sure about trying any of those things. She has finally figured out that I'm ok a little high. Fortunately, or unfortunately, kittys' life spans aren't as long a their peoples and so the long-term complications people have are not very likely (whew)! I have to admit that my life got a lot easier when she loosened up a bit. Now I'm 6 years old, I'm not overweight, and I seem to feel pretty good. Mostly I lay around and sleep, or catch geekos and garden snakes (presents for mom) and play with the other kitties. We like to play chase and run up and down the furniture and play hide and seek. My mom and dad call me the golden cat. I don't know if thats because I'm a blond or because I cost so much for a "free" kitten. One thing, my mom tells me all the time (and other people too) how glad she is to have "saved me" and that I'm worth everything it took. Course, I know that by how she loves me:)

If you want to write me (or my mom) we'd love to keep in touch. Drop us a line.
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Aug 2, 1997 Bear: Striving for better health

Bear is a 15-year-old black Manx cat, male, who was diagnosed with diabetes in December 1996.

It was so difficult at first, starting at 1 or 2 units of insulin and seeing no improvement. Then up to 5 units and still no improvement. Then I added a low evening dose, and still no improvement.

Now it is August, and Bear is up to 6.2 units per insulin 2x daily. This is the first time in eight months that his blood sugar levels have dropped to somewhere in the 200 range, but there is still some adjustment to be made. His appetite is good, and he is alert, interested, and somewhat active.

Bear had a very bad bladder infection--an e coli bacteria--when he was first diagnosed--and it took a couple of months to knock that out. He was dehydrated from the antibiotics, unhappy about taking his insulin, and it was very hard to get him to eat anything. It was so rewarding to see him recover from that infection. But on the latest recheck at the vet's, there is once again bacteria in Bear's urine. I caught it quicker this time, noticing how Bear would lie down like he felt uncomfortable. Bear will be taking Albon, a mild antibiotic, for the next 10 days. His vet says that diabetes is the cause of these infections and that once Bear is regulated, the occurrence of bacteria in the urine will decrease or stop. I'm pretty optimistic because Bear is one tough old cat! And I'm doing as much as I can to provide Bear with a pleasant retirement.

I've tried other health remedies in addition to the insulin. Some he will accept and some he won't. Bear refuses the homemade cat food recipes from Anitra Frazier's book. But trying them has at least gotten him to accept healthier grades of canned food--ones that contain no byproducts. Bear also refuses to drink his water when I add any vitamins to it, like Zinc or Vitamin C. I do give him some vitamins by mouth--Vitamin E, A and D--which I break open and squirt the oil onto his tongue. I don't know if they help, but they don't hurt.

Bear has become more of a responsibility because of this difficult disease, but I have never regretted the expense or the additional care for a moment. Looking out for Bear's best interests has forced me to become more diligent about my own health and well-being.

It's a tough road, and some people must think I'm crazy. I've been wanting to write to Rebecca's web page for a while, but it's so hard to find the time. I want to thank all of you who have already written. Your stories have provided inspiration during the most difficult times.

Anita Marlin
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