Diabetic cat!

IMPORTANT: If your cat is in any distress or discomfort, please consult your own vet as your first priority.
Post Reply
Lizleyo
New Cat Chatter
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2020 1:38 am

Diabetic cat!

Post by Lizleyo » Tue Mar 03, 2020 1:55 am

Hi guys!

My cat has recently been diagnosed diabetic and I'm not too familiar with it.
He is currently on expensive diabetic food - wondering if anyone knows of any cheaper options (willing to cook for him). He has 1 serving of biscuits in the morning and half a can of wet food at night. I am in Australia also.
He is also overweight and hasn't lost any weight since being on this diet, over 2 months. Is this normal? I was under the impression they lose weight?
His coat has gone oily and he has dandruff. I got him groomed and was told the dandruff is from diabetes.
He also hasn't been the same since being groomed. Very timid cat, but now he's not eating as much as he was prior to the grooming.
He is also acting different with his back legs. Still jumps but the way he positions them when he goes to sit is odd.
His glucose tests have gone from 15, 18 to 23. I've been told stress affects this (23 being when he was groomed).
Does anyone have any other similar experiences? Is this all part of it? I've heard cats can go into remission for diabetes. Is this true?

Any help or advice would be great!
Thanks in advance :)

Mollycat
VIP Cat Chatter!
Posts: 1129
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:58 am
No. of cats in household: 1
Location: UK

Re: Diabetic cat!

Post by Mollycat » Tue Mar 03, 2020 5:58 am

Not something I have dealt with either but it sounds like he needs a change of diet or maybe to go on insulin. This is a serious condition and you need to work closely with your vet. Diabetes doesn't just go away, it can go into remission with successful treatment. Dry food is high in carbs which may not be helpful. Dandruff, unless it's a skin condition, very often indicates illness or stress. If your cat's legs don't seem right, you need to ask your vet about diabetic neuropathy.

This section of Tanya's Pages website about diabetes might be helpful. http://felinecrf.org/diabetes.htm The website is about kidney failure but because diabetes often goes with it Helen goes into some detail about it here and her information is thoroughly researched.

User avatar
fjm
VIP Cat Chatter!
Posts: 933
Joined: Sat Dec 23, 2017 6:11 pm
No. of cats in household: 2
Location: North West England

Re: Diabetic cat!

Post by fjm » Tue Mar 03, 2020 8:30 am

I have not had experience with feline diabetes, but my understanding is that the diet needs to be high protein/low carbohydrate, and dry foods are almost inevitably high in carbohydrate. I would look into home prepared diets for cats - the basic principle is 80% muscle meat, 10% bone, 5% liver, 5% other offal/organs. Poultry is better than beef, although I like to use beef liver as it is very high in essential nutrients. If you cannot feed bone ground eggshell will provide the essential calcium - 1 teaspoonful per kilo of meat, or 1/2 teaspoonful per pound. Choose meat that has some fat, but not too much - eg chicken skin, but not lumps of fat. Chicken hearts are a good source of taurine. Once you have a home made or commercial low carb diet he will eat look at portion control - he will only lose weight if he is eating slightly fewer calories than he uses each day. That means knowing the calorific value of the food, and weighing out the daily allowance, but talk to your vet first. It is important not to reduce too fast, or you risk damage to his liver.

All this assumes that he is not yet on insulin - if he is you need to be very, very careful to balance the insulin if you change the carbohydrate levels.

User avatar
Ruth B
VIP Cat Chatter!
Posts: 1540
Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2016 11:31 am
No. of cats in household: 3
Location: Wolverhampton

Re: Diabetic cat!

Post by Ruth B » Tue Mar 03, 2020 10:15 am

Diabetes is not the end of the world, or the end of the cat, but you will need to take some time to think about it and possibly make some hard decisions. I've known two diabetic cats and the decisions made were entirely different but do show the possible options.

Many years ago I noticed one of my cats was drinking a lot, we really realised something was up when I found her with her head in my pint of blackcurrent squash happily slurping away. A blood test at the vets showed she was diabetic. We thought long and hard about what to do. My husband and I both worked full time with him working an odd shift. At that time the timing of the insulin injections and giving her food were very strict, and we worked it out that while we could just about do it I would be getting in from work just at the point she needed to be fed, if I had to work late or if a bus was late then I would possibly be coming home to a dead cat, or at least a comatosed one. I could not take that every day so the decision was made, with the vet in full agreement to go for palliative care, it was estimated she had about 6 months. She had 9 really good months never really knowing anything was wrong with her, we never needed to give her medication for it, good food and making sure she had plenty to drink and she was happy. I have a picture of her still from about a week before Christmas, she is sat on the sideboard under the Christmas tree, beside the advent calendars looking really bright, awake and happy, 2 weeks later, after Christmas, New Year and my Birthday were over, it was like she decided she had had enough, one morning we found her hunched up on a chair not interested in food or water, we called it a day that day. I also took one last photo of her that morning and keep the two together, you would barely recognise it as the same cat, she went downhill over night.

My parents ended up taking the other option. One of their cats took suddenly ill one evening, was rushed to their vets and they weren't even sure she would survive the night. Tests quickly showed she was in a diabetic coma and she was given insulin. My parents went to the vets next morning half expecting to be told she had died overnight only to find her bright and back to her normal self. They felt they couldn't condemn her after seeing what the insulin had done. For many years after that Tufty, their cat, had to have an insulin injection twice a day, every day, about 12 hours apart, it could go about 30 minutes either side, but it was fairly critical. Everything in their live revolved around Tufty's injections, evenings out became a thing of the past, they had to be in to give the injection, lie in on a Sunday morning (or any morning as both were retired by then), couldn't happen, Tufty had to be injected. Holidays, can the cattery cope with a diabetic cat, visiting friends and relatives, they had to make sure they left in time to be back to inject Tufty, and make sure they didn't get stuck in traffic. It wasn't helped by the fact that I lived 2 hours drive away (and I can't drive I have to rely on my husband) and my sister lived 3 and a half hours drive away so we couldn't help easily.

Things were really pointed out when my Father was dieing, he was on palliative care for Cancer and had a hospital bed at home with carers and nurses visiting regularly, my Mum had also been a nurse and was there for him as much as she could, my Sister and I were visiting on alternative weekends. I was down one Saturday and we were just about to leave to come home when the nurses arrived, we decided to wait until they were finished so we could say goodbye properly, something had happened and the nurse wanted him to go to hospital and an ambulance was called. My Mum got all his things ready then stated she couldn't go with him in the ambulance because she couldn't get back to give Tufty her injection. Of course in that instance we could tell her not to be silly and we would stay and go to hospital as well and my husband could bring her back at injection time. My Dad died a week later, but it could have been that night and if we hadn't been there she might not have been with him because of Tufty's diabetes.

After my Dad had died, my Mum developed DVT in her leg and chest, she was rushed to hospital but refused to be kept in over the weekend even though the consultant wanted her to, because there was no one there to give Tufty her insulin. She was willing to put her cat's life before her own. It didn't matter that I had told her that if anything happened if she called me we would get down there and if all we could do was get the cat to their vets to have the injections we would, it didn't matter to my Mum. the cat came first.

Tufty finally died at 17 years old, I don't know how many years she was on insulin, but it was quite a few. My Mum did say on several occasions that if things had been different at the start she might have chosen a different route, similar to the one we chose for Katie.

As for looking after a diabetic cat, high quality animal protein is the key. Cats are less affected by Carbohydrates than human diabetics as their digestive systems aren't evolved to digest them. Look for wet cat food that is at least 14 - 15% protein, you will often find that kitten food is higher than adult food and can be a good alternative to prescription diets. Dried food isn't bad for them but again you want to go for the highest protein content you can, it can be useful for them to graze on when they feel the need to eat. Make sure there is plenty of sources of water for him, if he is eating dry food he will need more water and the diabetes will make him thirsty as well. Tufty was also given a daily meal of cooked chicken to help her protein intake, how much it helped her we will never know but cooked or raw meat will certainly not do him any harm.

In addition to his diet there is the cost of medication to consider if he doesn't have lifetime cover insurance. Not only is there likely to be the cost of the insulin, there is also a glucose meter and test strips you will need for him. To start with you might have to take a blood sample before each injection by pricking his ear, even after he is stabilised and on a set dose of insulin every so often you will need to do a 'glucose curve' which involves take a blood sample and checking every 1 - 2 hours through out a day. It is also advisable to have some type of glucose liquid that you can syringe into him if he does go hypo.

There is a lot to consider when it comes to looking after a diabetic cat, costs, your lifestyle, holidays, etc. His has obviously been caught fairly early on and you have time to make the decision, think long and hard about it. Stress levels will affect him, both his and yours, Tufty hated having the ear prick done, she was fine with the injections but not the blood test, which meant that here glucose curves never really went how they should.

I'm sorry it turned into such a long reply but I wanted to give you as much information as my experience allows and while what happened with my parents might be totally irrelevant it does show how single minded the treatment can make you. If like me, you decide you can't go down the insulin route then don't feel guilty about it, even our vet admitted it is far harder in a cat than a dog as you can take your dog with you when you go out. Give him the best life you can, try and keep his stress levels low as well your own stress, if you have to groom him then try different brushes and combs and keep the sessions short, a few bits of meat afterwards as a treat certainly won't hurt him. I can't advise on any makes of food as i live in the UK adn I know things vary from country to country.

Lizleyo
New Cat Chatter
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2020 1:38 am

Re: Diabetic cat!

Post by Lizleyo » Tue Mar 03, 2020 10:44 pm

Thanks for the replies. The advise helps! It’s a rubbish situation and my baby is only 9 😩

Just to clarify though, he is on diet/diabetic food and he is being fed much less. He only lost 400g to the vets (and our) surprise but nothing else coming up concerning in the blood test.
I questioned the grooming as he still had dandruff and was told that it’s directly from diabetes. The vet did confirm this.
The issue with his legs has been brought up and put down to diabetes too. I’m just wanting to know if any of your babies have had similar symptoms to this?

I have been told he will be on insulin. He has another appt this Friday for urine sample and more glucose tests and then I think we have to decide what to do.
I wasn’t made aware how strict the timing is with the injection. Is that for diabetics no matter what, or depending how sick they are?
My baby lives with my mum so it’s a harder situation as she’ll need to be doing it all (which she has agreed too, happily).
I guess we’ll just have another chat with the vet and go from there..

Mollycat
VIP Cat Chatter!
Posts: 1129
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:58 am
No. of cats in household: 1
Location: UK

Re: Diabetic cat!

Post by Mollycat » Wed Mar 04, 2020 7:01 am

Again, no direct experience, but there is a lot of information on the net about diabetic neuropathy. In the early stages it can be reversible with the right care. As for the dandruff, if it stresses him out that much to be groomed, is it really vital? Especially at this stage before the diabetes is controlled? As I said earlier dandruff so often features when a cat is stressed or ill, that might resolve once his levels come down. My girl is still settling from hyperthyroid treatment nearly a year ago, other signs of illness are mostly gone now but a little dandruff is still with us.

I have a question about his weight though. Did he very gradually put it on through his life, of after neutering? Or did it suddenly start to go on for no apparent reason? Have you tried getting him to lose weight before? Diabetes becomes a risk for overweight cats but hormone and endocrine diseases (of which diabetes is one) can trigger weight changes and not always the way you would expect. My fat hyperthyroid cat taught me this!

For human diabetics and dogs it's important to keep meal times regular, nutrition stable and injections are normally at mealtimes. I've no idea how it is managed with cats especially if they have food left down. Question for Ruth maybe?

User avatar
Ruth B
VIP Cat Chatter!
Posts: 1540
Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2016 11:31 am
No. of cats in household: 3
Location: Wolverhampton

Re: Diabetic cat!

Post by Ruth B » Wed Mar 04, 2020 9:35 am

Certainly talk with your vet, my own experience was a couple of decades ago, and it had changed when Tufty was diagnosed, things may have changed again, or it could be that different things are licenced for use in different countries.

Unfortunately every animal reacts differently. Katie's diabetes was left untreated and she never had a problem getting around, as I mentioned I have a photo from a couple of weeks before she died, with her sat on the sideboard, she had jumped over a meter to get on there, I've had two cats in their late teens (one of which is still with me) which were more unsteady than she was. However high blood sugar can effect the nerves, particularly in the extremities, which is why human diabetics have to have their feet checked regularly, it could be your boy has lost some feeling in his paws, you also have to be extra careful as wounds don't heal as quickly and can cause problems. Katie was typical type 2, overweight, always had been, (we adopted her as an adult and she was overweight when we got her and never really lost it), and not that active, as the disease progressed she did lose a lot of her weight, but only in the last few months.

Tufty was never overweight and hers came on suddenly possibly similar to what in humans is sometimes referred to as Type 3, Type 1.5 or Late Onset Type 1, the name hasn't really been decided on yet as it is far rarer than the other two Types. She did still lose weight as diabetes will start to eat at muscle mass when there is no body fat left to go at. My parents did try her on the diabetic food, but as there was only one flavour available she soon got bored with it and she had to eat something. Meal times weren't exactly timed to coincide with the injections although she was fed morning and evening, she also had a bowl of chicken about mid afternoon and dried food available whenever she wanted it. Most human diabetics, once the condition is under control, can tell when they are going hypo and need to eat something, I think she could as well and knew where to find food when she needed it.

I will add that giving her the injections was never a problem, she seemed to know when she needed them and go and sit on the spare bed ready for it. A few times, when my parents had got distracted watching something on TV or similar she would actually go and find them and paw at them to get their attention and then lead them up to the spare room so they could give her the injection.

Lizleyo
New Cat Chatter
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2020 1:38 am

Re: Diabetic cat!

Post by Lizleyo » Wed Mar 04, 2020 10:35 am

That was the first time he has been groomed and it’s because I listened to the vet. Little did I know that the anaesthesia didn’t work for him and well now I definitely regret doing it. But I was also not told until after I did that, that dandruff was part of diabetes 😒
The vet just told me he was just not grooming himself and possibly have arthritis and can’t reach anymore to groom. So now I know!

He gradually put it on over a few years! It wasn’t a sudden gain, but he is also an indoor cat. He will sit outside now because he can’t get out at my mum’s new house, but he was always inside and obviously no exercise.
I have tried dieting him maybe 2 years ago, and he would slowly lose some but nothing substantial. And to be honest, now it’s a health risk, we have been more strict on it and he isn’t getting the ‘treats’ he would have been getting.
He gets fed 45g (vets instructions) of biscuits in the morning and half a tin at night of wet food. Both are expensive diabetes focused foods.
But now, since his grooming visit and blood tests (nearly 2 weeks ago), he isn’t eating how he was. He would eat his food so quick and be meowing for more and now he has leftovers.. I thought stress at first and he was probably traumatised after his grooming (again, very timid boy), but now I don’t know. It’s odd.
His thyroid was checked and apparently all good 🤷🏼‍♀️ The only odd thing from his blood test is his glucose levels.

I guess I’ll learn from the vet in a few days about how all the injections and stuff will work. Shame there can’t be a tablet to make it easier, but I’m glad to hear your cat got used to it and how cute she would remind you have her infections done 😻😻

Post Reply