Feline Diabetes Part 1 by Kathy Raepple

Hi! I’m Leo and if you have a few minutes, I’d love the chance to tell you my story
of how I live with diabetes every day and what I think of the whole thing.

My mom brought me in for an exam one day after she noticed I seemed to be drinking an awful lot of water. You see, another cat that lives here, Munchkin, had recently been diagnosed with Kidney Disease, so mom was afraid that I had it too.

My doctor did a full exam on me, then the girls at Park Road Veterinary Clinic took some blood and a urine sample to check my insides and see what they were doing. I was diagnosed as having Type 2 Diabetes.

Being diabetic isn’t that bad once you get used to all the poking that will have to be done. My mom gives me insulin injections twice a day and sometimes my mom will do a “glucose curve” on me – which means she pokes my ear every couple of hours for a day so she can make sure the insulin she is giving me is working.

My doctor told my mom that I needed to be on a special diet because of my diabetes. I didn’t like the sound of this at first – I mean, who likes to be told they need to go on a diet?! My mom explained that it wasn’t that type of diet – just a special food for diabetic cats like me. My mom and doctor worked together to find a food that they thought I’d like. I tried the food and it’s actually not that bad!

Now, because I’m on this special “diet”, I get to eat in my own room away from the rest of the cats that I live with because they’d all eat the food before me if they could. (Mom says I’m too much of a softie to tell the other cats to leave it alone.) I’ve recently tried a “canned” type of my diet and I didn’t really like the boring “paté” type, but the “chunks and gravy” one? Yummy!!

One time, shortly after I was diagnosed, my mom did one of those curves and found that my glucose reading was getting too low meaning I was getting too much insulin. She talked with my doctor about it and they adjusted my insulin. A week or two later she checked another curve and found that I was STILL really low, so she and my doctor adjusted it again. Eventually I actually went off of the injections for quite some time! My doctor said that sometimes cats like me are lucky enough to “revert to a non-insulin dependent state” meaning I was still a diabetic, but I didn’t need to get injections any more – just my special, yummy, food.

One day, almost a year later, I started to not feel very good. My mom was away, but my dad was home and he talked to my mom every night to let her know what I was doing and to see what he should do to try to get me to feel better. She told him to bring me in to my doctor to have me checked out.

My doctor looked me over and did some bloodwork and a urine sample.  My doctor said I was suffering from a condition known as Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). Ketoacidosis happens with an extreme metabolic derangement. Something caused stress on my body – some type of infection or pancreatitis which caused my body to stop regulating my glucose properly. My doctor thinks I had a urinary tract infection. My body made my cells starve for sugar causing my body to start burning my fat off which, in turn, produces ketones.[1] DKA is a life threatening situation and required me to spend several days in the hospital getting medications and IV fluids.

After I was well enough to leave the hospital, my mom had to start giving me injections twice a day again. I don’t mind and actually look forward to the injections since they make me feel better and it gives me a few extra minutes of one-on-one time with my mom 🙂

Cats like me can live a long life as a diabetic with some time & commitment on the part of their owners. The injections aren’t painful – I barely feel them – and the special food you get to eat is pretty yummy. Sure there are times your mom or dad may need to do a glucose curve, but that doesn’t usually happen all that often once you are regulated. I’m down to getting one every couple of months now.

My mom said that some people who have a cat diagnosed as diabetic think it’s a death sentence, but I know it’s not which is why I begged my mom to let me tell my story. If I can help save one cat diagnosed as diabetic, then I know I’ve made a difference.

[1] http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&C=31&A=3054&SourceID=