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diabetec cat in a family of cats

Pat in NH
June 17th, 2008, 05:14 PM
I have a household of 7 cats. My youngest cat, an 8 year-old boy, has suddenly been stricken with diabetes. I don't know how to handle the situation because food control is such a big part of the picture. How have any of you handled a situation where food is restricted for one cat only? Is there any other way than locking the sick cat away by himself? I'm on the fence about weather to save my boy or let him go to the bridge. I'm on a very tight budget and don't know what to do. I do love him, but that don't pay the bills! Please tell me your experiences with a diabetec cat who has lots of brothers and sisters. Thanks

sugarcatmom
June 17th, 2008, 07:24 PM
Sorry to hear about your cat's diabetes diagnosis. I know what that's like! I have a 15 year old kitty that has been diabetic for over 5 years now. And he's doing fabulous!

Some questions for you:
- Are you giving your cat insulin shots? If so, what kind, how much, and how often?

- What food is he supposed to be eating and what do your other cats eat?

You're right about food being integral to the management of diabetes, but here's the kicker: the best food for a diabetic is also going to be ideal for the rest of your cats, and could help prevent them from getting diabetes as well. And that food is low-carb, high-protein wet food. Canned or raw, whatever you can afford. Even Friskies or Fancy Feast from the grocery store is better than ANY dry.

But please don't euthanize your cat. Diabetes is so treatable! I have lots of links for you to check out but gotta go feed and "shoot" my boy right now......

Pat in NH
June 17th, 2008, 09:24 PM
Just got the diagnosis yesterday, but he is quite depleated already. No insulin, haven't decided if I can afford all this. Or if it's do-able with 6 other cats in the household. If I thought I could make it work in the group home setting I've got, I'd be more likely to go for it. My cats eat Pro Plan wet and Purina dry. I've tried the perscription diet canned foods and they won't eat them...willingly, I guess if they get hungry enough..Still, I'm already spending $250 monthly on cat food, buying the Purina.
Some of my cats are quite old and thin, so I'd like them to have access to food all day. Can I still do that? Please give me advice, websights, whatever you can to help save Furry Tails life. If I thought I could do it, I would try.

the gang
June 17th, 2008, 10:57 PM
all i can tell you is i have 5 min pins !!! 1 is diabect, since last oct, he eats 3 times a day he is on inslin, its called canaslin, 2 bottle last me almost 3 weeks 17.00, a box of 30 needles 9.95, and his food is a fiber food dry big bag 42.00 last me 6 weeks so there you have it he loves his food, if you feed them good food try to put down morning and night and let them eat together they will get used to it good luck and if i can be any help just let me know, brenda and the pins.

sugarcatmom
June 17th, 2008, 11:12 PM
There's really no reason you can't treat your cat in a multi-cat setting. Many many people do! Since I've spent way too long on the computer today, I'm mostly just going to refer you to the ultimate site on feline diabetes: http://felinediabetes.com/
Take your time to read the FAQ (http://www.felinediabetes.com/fdmb-faq.htm) and this link on treatment (http://www.felinediabetes.com/treatment-diabetes-in-cats.htm). You may also be interested in the Frugal Feline Diabetes (http://www.geocities.com/jmpeerson/frugal.html) site.

I know this is a lot to read and absorb. If you need help sorting any of it out, I urge you to post your questions on this message board: FDMB (http://www.felinediabetes.com/phorum5/list.php?8). It has a ton of members (sadly enough) with an extraordinary collective knowledge on feline diabetes. In the meantime, I urge you to consider starting insulin injections. Untreated diabetes can quickly lead to very serious complications such as ketoacidosis, and then the $$$ really start to add up.

All the best to you and your furry ones. Please let me know how it goes.

sugarcatmom
June 17th, 2008, 11:21 PM
Forgot to add:

I've tried the perscription diet canned foods and they won't eat them...

You absolutely do not have to feed prescription food, do not let the vets convince you of that. Any low-carb canned food from a store will do, and is often much cheaper. Here are some charts listing the carb content of various foods: http://www.geocities.com/jmpeerson/canfood.html

Some of my cats are quite old and thin, so I'd like them to have access to food all day. Can I still do that?

Yes, even with canned food. There's no problem leaving it out for all to nibble during the day/night, which is what I do. Add some extra water to it to slow down the crustification.

Sorry, gotta run now. Give Furry Tails a chin scratch for me.

lolans
June 18th, 2008, 11:27 AM
It is do-able, and you will get into a routine in no time!

I have one diabetic cat who eats 4 times a day and gets 2 insulin shots a day. I feed him purina diabetes managment, and it is cheaper than what he was eating before. If you feed all your cats at the same time...say 4 times a day, they will eat enough in that time, or they will learn too. My cats learned quick enough.

The toughest part for me, when my cat was first diagnosed was testing his blood sugar! This is a great forum with lots of experience and wisdom..we will help you throught this :hug:

Pat in NH
June 18th, 2008, 08:59 PM
Thanks for the help, 1st of all. But about feeding, does that mean put the food down, then pick it up after they walk away? Does that mean the diabetec cat is allowed to keep his portion until it's gone? And I can't be sure if someone else will eat it when he's not looking. If I'm at work for 9 hours, does no one eat, or do I leave food out for everyone during the day? One of my cats will eat till it's gone, one takes a bite and comes for another bite 10 minutes later. I'm really concerned that this will ruin my best intentions. Also, is there such a thing as remission for this disease? Thanks so much for the life vs death help!

sugarcatmom
June 18th, 2008, 10:59 PM
But about feeding, does that mean put the food down, then pick it up after they walk away?

I don't do that, I just leave it down till it's done. If you wanted to try to convert all your kitties to meal-feeding, that would be one method, but I personally think cats are better suited to grazing. Or at least several smaller meals per day.

Does that mean the diabetec cat is allowed to keep his portion until it's gone? And I can't be sure if someone else will eat it when he's not looking. If I'm at work for 9 hours, does no one eat, or do I leave food out for everyone during the day?

If it's possible to leave food out during the day, that's what I would do. Or maybe an automatic feeder so they can have a snack. Another trick is to freeze some canned food in ice cube trays and then in the morning when you leave, plop a few of those in a bowl so that the cats can nibble on them as they thaw.

One of my cats will eat till it's gone, one takes a bite and comes for another bite 10 minutes later.

I won't deny that it could be a challenge making sure everyone gets their allotment of food. Does the one who eats it all in one sitting do that with dry or just canned? Do they try to eat everyone else's portion? It could be that if they were only eating canned, the novelty of such a tasty treat would wear off after a while and their eating habits could normalize.

There is something else I should mention and that has to do with insulin types and feeding schedules: grazing tends to be better suited to the longer lasting insulins like Lantus, Levemir and PZI (Idexx PZI is being discontinued, but BCP PZI will still be available and your vet can fax in a form for a free bottle: http://www.bcpvetpharm.com/products_bovine.htm). If you decide to go with Caninsulin (called Vetsulin in the US), it's faster acting with shorter duration and is usually better suited to meal-feeding. There is one other insulin, Humulin N, that is a poor fit for most cats but is unfortunately prescribed all too often. I would stay away from that one.


Also, is there such a thing as remission for this disease?

Absolutely, happens quite regularly! But the key is to get on insulin therapy and a good diet as soon as possible before much more damage is done to the pancreas. And home testing blood glucose! Crucial to proper diabetes management. We can talk more about that later.

Jeeves
June 18th, 2008, 11:08 PM
Hi there - I have actually seen cats cured of diabetes if it is caught early enough. If you feed raw meat, that is your best option. There is some information on the Feline Future website - they are the cat nutrition experts, as far as I have seen. Good luck with this very depressing diagnosis. Cats in the wild do NOT get diabetes, so it is the commercial pet foods that are at fault.

the gang
June 18th, 2008, 11:11 PM
and no there is no cure, its for the life of the animal!!! i too am dibect, and have to be carefull follow your heart, do what you need to do!!! the other kitties will get use to feeding time, and no--- to leaving food down when your not there, just leave fresh water good luck and let me know if i can help brenda and the pins!!!:thumbs up

the gang
June 18th, 2008, 11:13 PM
sorry jeeves i disagree with you its in the jeans

sugarcatmom
June 19th, 2008, 08:08 AM
and no there is no cure, its for the life of the animal!!!

With an appropriate diet (ie - low-carb wet food) diabetic cats frequently go into remission, meaning that they no longer require exogenous insulin. Technically maybe not a "cure" in the sense that they always have the potential to return to a diabetic state, especially if they go back to eating high-carb food. In the FD community, we call this a "honeymoon".

Jeeves
June 19th, 2008, 05:35 PM
It is absolutely not in the genes. I have been working with pet nutrition for the past six years, and I have seen cats cured of diabetes. If there is any pancreatic activity, and it is caught early enough, it can be cured, and sometimes it is. I have been there.

Pat in NH
June 19th, 2008, 05:40 PM
I am astonished by how much you folks have taught me in just a few days. It's a wonder my cats survived my stupidity this long. I am very thankful for everyone who's taken the time to help save FurryTails life, because without your encouragement I would have given up, mainly because he looks so sad, and I hate to see him hurting. Now I have a good idea of the costs, and understand I don't have to deny my other kids of free-range eating throughout the day. The list of carbs in cat food was particularly helpful, as the kids don't like the perscription foods, as neither does my wallet! I've started everyone slowly on the low-carb foods, and was shocked to see Furrys favorite dry food had one of the highest carb contents. My vet will start him on a full blood work up on Monday...hate to wait that long, but Dr. hours require the wait. And the dreaded shots, well, instead of looking away I'll just do what I have to do. Thanks so much, you are all Furrys angels!

sugarcatmom
June 19th, 2008, 06:01 PM
Yay, you're doing awesome! I'm so glad that you have a good perspective on this now. It'll all be old hat to you in no time. Even the shots, scary as they seem at first, become very routine. My cat doesn't mind them at all, even jumps on my lap to get his blood test and insulin (treats are a great motivator for this!). Once you're all set up with "the gear" we can help you through the process if you need it.

Cheers,

Julie

ps- one thing you might want to ask the vet to do, if s/he doesn't automatically do it, is have them shave a small patch of fur on the scruff of Fluffy's neck. This makes it way easier to see where the insulin syringe goes in. By the time the fur grows back, you'll be a pro.

lolans
June 20th, 2008, 01:31 PM
I think each cat will be different too. My diabetic cat CANNOT have treats. We have trouble if his diet varies at all.

sugarcatmom
June 20th, 2008, 02:11 PM
I think each cat will be different too. My diabetic cat CANNOT have treats. We have trouble if his diet varies at all.

What about no-carb treats like freeze-dried meat (Halo Liv-a-littles, Real Food Toppers)? You can break off a tiny pencil-eraser size amount that really should have no impact on blood glucose.

lolans
June 20th, 2008, 02:38 PM
sugarcatmom I just tested my cat's (Sandy) blood sugar and it is 1.4. the lowest he's ever gone. I've been told to give him maple syrup if it goes before 2.5, or if he's lethargic...but he's not acting any different or looks like he's in any distress.

Has your cat gone this low? What did you do?

sugarcatmom
June 20th, 2008, 05:31 PM
sugarcatmom I just tested my cat's (Sandy) blood sugar and it is 1.4. the lowest he's ever gone. I've been told to give him maple syrup if it goes before 2.5, or if he's lethargic...but he's not acting any different or looks like he's in any distress.

Has your cat gone this low? What did you do?

Eek! Sorry, I just saw this now. In cases of unusually low numbers, it's a good idea to do a retest just in case it was a mistake. That would definitely be hypo territory if it was accurate, so how is Sandy doing now? Any follow-up numbers?

The lowest Aztec tested at was 2.1, and he was also acting fine. I did give him some extra food then just in case. Interestingly enough, a few days ago was the first time I've ever had to pull out the corn syrup on him in 5 years of treatment. He was sitting on his little cushioned heating pad (he has arthritis - oh ya, and he's spoiled:rolleyes:), and when he got up, he was totally wobbly and walking like a drunk. I was amazed at how calm I was, but I told my husband to grab him and prevent him from going behind the couch (which was where he was headed - not a good sign). I got the corn syrup and we rubbed probably less than a 1/2 tsp on his gums (more ended up on his chest!). Within a few seconds he was back to normal so I tested his blood and it was 2.7. He's been that low before on occasion (although I try not make a habit of it) without any of the same wobbliness. Needless to say, he got lots of extra food that night. And I tested him 3 more times over the course of the evening to make sure he was heading back up. I've also since reduced his dose from 1.5u twice a day down to 1u. Cats can really keep you on your toes! I think they like to throw us a curve ball now and then just to make sure we're still paying attention.

sugarcatmom
June 24th, 2008, 02:10 PM
My vet will start him on a full blood work up on Monday...

Any updates? Has Furry been started on insulin?

Pat in NH
July 10th, 2008, 04:29 PM
Thanks for asking. FurryTail started on 1 unit once a day, did that for 2 weeks. Now he's on 2 units once a day. His numbers have come down from 420 to 210, but he looks awful. He's gone from being a big muscular 17 lb. guy to now only 8.5 lbs. He stares into space and craves attention. He was always a bit wild and stand-offish. It's a challenge finding something he'll eat, loves tuna but has had crystals in the past, so that may be another problem. He's peeing all over the house, not just spraying like he used to.
His brothers and sisters are having a hard time adjusting to the new food, trying to go the all-natural route, but no one likes it! I feel that if he continues to go down hill, I may rethink this. Seems like he's been suffering a long time. No energy, just existing. I wonder if my Dr. is aggressive enough. His wife/partner is a feline diabetes specialist trained at Cornell, so I want to believe they know what they're doing. Just disappointed that after 3 weeks I can't see any improvement. Thanks for asking, and for the help.

sugarcatmom
July 10th, 2008, 06:07 PM
FurryTail started on 1 unit once a day, did that for 2 weeks. Now he's on 2 units once a day.

What kind of insulin is it? I gotta say, there really is no insulin that works once a day in cats. Their metabolism is so much faster than dogs or humans, so an insulin that might last 24 hrs in a human is only good for 12 hrs in a cat. I think a lot of times vets go with the once a day (also known as SID) dosing because they think the owners are more likely to comply with that over BID (twice a day) shots. But for the cat's sake, it is so much better to give insulin BID.

His numbers have come down from 420 to 210, but he looks awful.

Do you have any other numbers? Would you be interested in learning how to test Furry's blood glucose yourself? That is really the best way to know how the insulin is working for him. An occasional spot check at the vet's office is not adequate, and since stress often falsely elevates bg, it's not very accurate. There is also a big risk giving a cat insulin without doing a pre-shot bg test: what if his number is in a normal range some day and you give him insulin anyway? That could send him into hypoglycemia territory. Just like a parent would never inject their diabetic child with insulin without knowing their blood glucose level, the same should hold for pets. I realize this is a lot to learn all at once and you certainly don't have to figure it out in one day, but hometesting is something I highly recommend. More info at these links (some have videos you can check out):
http://felinediabetes.com/bg-home-test.htm
http://www.catinfo.org/felinediabetes.htm#In-Home_Blood_Glucose_Monitoring
http://petdiabetes.wikia.com/wiki/Hometesting_blood_glucose


It's a challenge finding something he'll eat, loves tuna but has had crystals in the past, so that may be another problem.

His brothers and sisters are having a hard time adjusting to the new food, trying to go the all-natural route, but no one likes it!


What is the new food? What other things have you tried? It's absolutely crucial that Furry eat, even if it means feeding his old food for now. A diabetic without enough food intake is not only at risk for hypoglycemia, but also of developing ketoacidosis.

He's peeing all over the house, not just spraying like he used to.

That's because the diabetes is still unregulated. Once his body learns how to use the insulin and the correct dose is found, this will subside. In the meantime, perhaps you can put several litter boxes around the house in areas that he's peeing. At one point I had 4 boxes going, all in different rooms. My cat had really bad neuropathy and just couldn't make it to the basement in time to relieve himself.


I feel that if he continues to go down hill, I may rethink this. Seems like he's been suffering a long time. No energy, just existing.

I won't lie, sometimes it can take a while to get a handle on this. My cat was quite unregulated for about a year and had 2 episodes of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA for short). We struggled through it and I don't regret it for a second. To see him today, you'd never guess that he was so sick. And our bond is stronger than ever. He never used to be a lap-cat and hated being picked up, but with all the hands-on treatment that's been foisted upon him, he's now a little love-bug. I can't sit down without him jumping on my lap. Please hang in there for little while. It does get better.

In the meantime, did your vet explain anything about checking Furry's urine for ketones? You can buy urine test strips at any pharmacy (ask for Bayer "Keto-Diastix" - they cost around $12) and there are a number of tricks to getting a urine sample that I can help you with. Even if you don't go with blood testing, it's essential that you do some urine testing.

Good luck, and please come back with updates. I was worried about you guys!

Pat in NH
July 11th, 2008, 04:51 PM
My little boy wandered off this morning. He wouldn't eat last night, wouldn't eat this morning so I didn't give him his Lantus. Got a call at work that he was MIA, so I came home and started searching for him. I found him a quarter mile away way out in the woods, tucked inside a raspberry bush. (Thank God he's white) I have to believe he slunk away to die. I carried him home, he was having a hard time swallowing, I gave him a couple syringes of water, and he licked some of his favorite 9-Lives Tuna, and now he's staring off into space. No more wandering for him. Tomorrow morning I'll be waiting at my Vets office when he arrives, I can't make the cat go on like this, he's so pitiful. My vet checks his BG weekly and keeps telling me he's doing great, but he's obviously not. I will get those sticks you recomended and find out more about Glucose testing. Thanks so much for the encouragement. I feel so helpless and I cry all day for him.

Pat in NH
July 11th, 2008, 05:02 PM
I have 8 litter boxes because I have 6 cats. But he's always been a sprayer, my house absolutely stinks because of Furry. My other kids are well behaved in that area. The food I've been trying is WERUVA, MERRICK, WELLNESS, PET PROMISE, EVO, BLUE BUFFALO, and a few others. They were on Pro Plan when it was $0.45 for a 3 oz can, but now at $0.80 a can I'm trying other types.

sugarcatmom
July 11th, 2008, 05:35 PM
My little boy wandered off this morning. He wouldn't eat last night, wouldn't eat this morning so I didn't give him his Lantus.

Yikes. Poor Furry. No doubt he feels pretty lousy. The not eating really concerns me because it can quickly lead to ketoacidosis. Please try to get those Keto-Diastix today and test his urine, because if he does have ketones, he needs emergency care tonight. Can you smell his breath at all? Some cats (not all, so it's not fool-proof) will have breath that smells weird, kinda like nail polish remover, when they have ketones.

Also, if you can get some cans of low sodium tuna or salmon and offer him the juice from the can (mixed with a little extra water), that should help a bit with hydration. Plain meat baby food (no onions) watered down is another option. If ketones are involved, cats start to feel nauseous and headachy and lose interest in food, which is why I'm so concerned, because then it becomes a viscious circle. Therapy involves "flushing" the ketones out of the cat's system with fluids, correcting electrolyte imbalances, and frequent doses of Humulin R or N insulin. A stay at a 24hr emergency vet clinic would be necessary.

When you see the vet tomorrow (sooner if you have to - is there an emergency clinic near you?), tell him you're going to do twice a day dosing. Lantus very rarely lasts 24hrs in a cat, and usually only when they've been on it for a little while and are going into remission. I would go with 1 unit BID, unless ketones are involved, in which case it may need to be more. Once you're testing Furry's blood yourself, you can start gathering better data than the once a week tests at the vet (and save money, too).

I feel so helpless and I cry all day for him.

If I could hug you right now, I would. I know exactly how you feel and had many similar days. Hopefully this is the worst of it and before you know it, you and Furry will be having a grand old time hanging out. I'm pulling for you guys. :grouphug:

Pat in NH
July 11th, 2008, 07:07 PM
I mean it. Thanks.

chico2
July 12th, 2008, 07:23 AM
:grouphug:from me too,whatever you decide for Furry we're here for you
:goodvibes::goodvibes:for you and Furry!

Pat in NH
July 12th, 2008, 10:23 AM
Thank you to everyone who advised me on the care of my beautiful FurryTail. He was a good friend and I'll miss him forever.
Furry passed away this morning.

sugarcatmom
July 12th, 2008, 11:04 AM
Oh Pat, I'm so sorry. FurryTail is back to feeling fine and frisky. He will always be in your heart. :candle:

chico2
July 12th, 2008, 04:28 PM
Pat,I am so sorry.Furry is in a good place now....:rip:sweet Furry