Tag Archive | Diabetic Cat

Penny’s Journey to Her First Remission from Feline Diabetes

For more about our introduction to feline diabetes, read here … Our Introduction to Feline Diabetes .

The first thing I learned was that it was TOO dangerous to blindly shoot insulin into my cat without home testing.

Pennys BGs after switching to Lev

FINALLY we were seeing the food changes and insulin take effect!

The second thing I learned is that there is more effective and SAFER insulin for cats in the US & Canada than Vetsulin.

The third thing I learned was that a FOOD CHANGE to LOW CARBOHYDRATE food was our ONLY chance at regulation and remission. There are a few diabetic “prescription” foods out there for diabetic cats. BUT, they are all high carb and full of JUNK ingredients.

Feeding high-carbohydrate foods to a diabetic cat, or a diabetic human, for that matter, is like putting fuel on a fire and hoping it extinguishes the fire.

Does that make sense?

I was told to feed low-carb wet food, such as Fancy Feast Classics or Friskies Pates. But, I have a kibble addict on my hands. I’ll be honest and admit I didn’t try very hard to switch her over to an all-wet food diet because she tends to have loose stools, diarrhea, and hairball problems (she IS a Maine Coon who doesn’t like to be brushed, after all lol) when she eats only wet food. She does much better overall on half-wet, half-dry.

So I decided to try this ultra low carb dry food that’s touted to help diabetic cats achieve remission called Young Again Zero (carb). It’s available online-only, so in the meantime, while I was waiting for her new food to arrive, I worked on learning how to home test Penny and talking her vet into switching her to Lantus, which is considered a much safer and more effective insulin for cats than Vetsulin.

When I called her vet that Monday morning after she had the strong reaction to Vetsulin, I called armed with everything I learned from Feline Diabetes Message Board and also what the AAFP (American Association of Feline Practitioners) recommends as a first course of treatment for feline diabetes.

Lucky for us and my vet, Dr Moreno is not an egomaniac, is open-minded and willing to listen as he knew I was smart and did my research, So he gave me a prescription for Lantus pens and the U100 syringes to draw out the insulin (often cats need half-unit or quarter-unit doses so the needles that come with the pens are useless for a cat) and agreed to try a diet change for just a short while before re-starting insulin until we learn to home test.

I went to Walmart and got her testing supplies. They can be expensive when you’re paying cash, but everybody I talked to over the weekend told me to get the Relion Confirm meter and strips, which are MUCH less expensive than most human testing supplies.

Then, we had to learn to home test.

And I was terrified and not really sure we would be able to do this.

But I didn’t want Penny to go into insulin shock and die or become debilitated, either.

However, this is a cat that I cannot even BRUSH without her swatting at me.

And I’m gonna poke her ears several times a day to “play vampire”? lol

WITHOUT ending up in the hospital??!!

But all my new friends online ASSURED me that we could do this!

Penny working out with me Nov 2013

Penny “working out” with me! You see who’s getting all of the exercise, right?

My friend Kay sent me this thing she wrote up about ear testing. She had a semi-feral cat and she learned to condition HIM. This really helped me to form a plan on how I was going to “train” Penny for home testing. Read Kay’s Ear Testing Psychology.

What I know about Penny is that BRIBERY will get me EVERYWHERE with her and I can condition her to do just about ANYTHING so long as there’s raw chicken waiting for her! So that’s what I used to condition her to home test.

Here are two videos I made on training Penny to test her blood glucose.

How I Conditioned My Cat for Home Blood Glucose Testing

Home Testing a Diabetic Cat’s Blood Glucose

I did my first successful home test while she was sleeping… lol. But, awake? It took about seven days of conditioning her like my videos show you before we were testing.

By then, the new kibble was here and thank God both cats LOVED it! And they tolerated the abrupt food change very well!

The change in Penny’s energy once I got her on the Young Again food was REMARKABLE! She was a NEW cat and we hadn’t even gotten her diabetes regulated yet!

So, we started Penny on .5 units of Lantus twice per day, were home testing, and she was a CHAMP about the testing and the shots, as long as I shot her insulin WHILE she was eating. I learned VERY quickly that I cannot give this cat a needle unless she’s eating something scrumptious! Then, the house can crash down around her and she won’t even NOTICE!

We set up a spreadsheet on Google Docs that FDMB had created a template for…that way my vet could just pop in and see her blood glucose numbers at any time. Here’s Penny’s spreadsheet. Click on the 2013-2015 tab to see how it looked in the beginning. Penny’s Blood Glucose Numbers

And we followed something called Start Low Go Slow Method since I was still REALLY new to all of this and was afraid she would go into insulin shock at some point.

Things were going really well until about three weeks in, when all of a sudden, Penny started being really difficult with her shots…like, she would JUMP a mile when I attempted to give her a shot. It was becoming IMPOSSIBLE to get insulin into this cat! I should mention that she had also started acting a little crazy and had started howling in the wee hours of the morning.

So I went back to the Message Board and the Feline Diabetes FB page and posted questions and started researching Lantus just a little bit more.

Turns out a small fraction of cats, and OF COURSE my Penny, are very sensitive to the sting on injection with Lantus because Lantus is VERY acidic. Everybody said with the little bit she was getting that she “shouldn’t be” feeling it, but she WAS.

AND HOW!

Lantus can also make SOME cats, but not many, just a little crazy. Apparently, Penny likes to be the exception and not the rule!

So, my friend Gayle strongly suggested we switch her from Lantus to Levemir, which is another slow-acting insulin with “flat curves”…which is what you want for a cat. When their “curves” are flatter, there’s better control overall and less risk of insulin shock or a “hypo” (hypoglycemia).

So BACK to Dr Moreno for ANOTHER prescription! Again, thank God he’s a pretty easygoing vet and I suspect he lets me have my way (within reason) so that he can shut me up! lol

Obviously, Levemir is “the” insulin for Penny because within a month of switching to Levemir, Penny’s OTJ Trial had begun!

“OTJ” means “Off The Juice” or off insulin. The trial is done for 14 days and if your cat can maintain blood glucose numbers mostly in the “normal” range (generally 50-150, depending on who you ask) in that trial period, they are considered “in remission” or “diet controlled”.

I was a NERVOUS FREAKING WRECK during that two-week trial. I would SHAKE when I tested her blood glucose because she was STILL giving me trouble with shots and I wanted SO BADLY for her to pass this trial!

Penny and Weeny Oct 2013

Penny & Weeny a couple of days after Penny went into diabetic remission!

And on November 15, 2013, Penny PASSED her OTJ Trial and was OFFICIALLY in remission!!

But, it wouldn’t last….

Because NOTHING is ever typical or easy with Penny!

More to come!

Our Introduction to Feline Diabetes

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Penny, 2014, in all her scruffy splendor!

One of the main reasons why I decided to start this blog was to help raise awareness about Feline Diabetes. Because I hear my aunt saying she feeds her cat potato chips and ice cream. And if I see ONE MORE video of a cat eating something completely species-inappropriate and carb-laden on Facebook, I’m going to gouge my eyeballs out. Because I’m SICK of seeing Diabetic Cats in Need pulling yet another diabetic cat from a kill shelter at the LAST HOUR because an owner fed their cat high carb dry food, maybe even made the cat obese, and then dumped that poor baby off at the shelter…or worse yet, euthanized them on diagnosis because feline diabetes is “too hard” or too expensive for a pet parent to handle.

As I sit and type with “Smelly Penelly” cleaning herself next to me right now, she is in her TENTH MONTH of her SECOND remission. Her blood glucose reading yesterday, WITHOUT insulin, was 58 about an hour post-meal. Which is an excellent number for a diet-controlled diabetic cat. “Diet-controlled” meaning that with the right low-carb food, her blood glucose is able to stay in the “normal” range without insulin. Penny eats Young Again Zero (Carb) and Fancy Feast Classics Pate wet food.

I’m not sure WHERE I’m going with this post yet, but this will likely be the beginning of an entire category on this blog with Penny’s journey with both feline diabetes and feline chronic kidney disease, with a little bit of spinal arthritis and dental issues thrown in for fun.

I remember when I first adopted Penny from Jersey State Animal Rescue on May 2, 2012. And the director told me to buy one of two different types of food. One was an internet-only food that for the life of me I cannot remember the name of, and the other was Solid Gold Indigo Moon. Solid Gold was one of those “premium” pet foods and back in 2012 it was relatively low carb for a cat kibble. They have since changed the formula and it’s much higher now. And I remember thinking, because I know some things about HUMAN nutrition, “but cats needs carbs for energy!” So I added in Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul adult dry food and mixed the two. And she also got four wet mini meals throughout the day.

Getting that high carb Chicken Soup food was a BIG BIG mistake…

Summer of 2013, I KNEW well before I took her to the vet and she was diagnosed. I come from a LONG line of diabetics, including my dad, and knew what the symptoms were because they are about the same in cats. Frequent urination, incessantly thirsty, constantly hungry. She hadn’t experienced weight loss yet but I acted somewhat quickly once I could no longer justify why I was seeing LAKES in their litter boxes.

On September 5, 2013, with an in-office blood glucose reading of 516 (normal is 50-150 depending on the meter), Penny was diagnosed with Feline Diabetes. And at the time, DEVASTATED was NOT even CLOSE to describing how we felt at the vet’s office. I knew a little about the treatment of feline diabetes because I had come across the Feline Diabetes Message Board online a couple of years earlier when I researching constipation issues for my late cat, Tabby.

And I didn’t want to put Penny through getting needles twice per day, home testing her blood glucose, glucose curves and all this other stuff that seemed just SO complicated at the time and I remember thinking, “That is NO quality of life for cats!”

Until I was faced with her diagnosis when she was only FIVE years old and knowing full well it was either treat or put to sleep. I remember freaking out, bawling, and telling the vet that I didn’t have time for home testing and all that jazz and how was I gonna give her insulin injections when she was so difficult to handle that I couldn’t even brush her?

Pennys BG 10.3.13

The very first day that I managed to get Penny’s blood glucose down below “renal threshold”…which is a very good thing!!

He assured me that I could successfully give her injections while she was eating, had a vet tech come in to show me how and let me do a practice shot with an insulin syringe full of water. He told me that home testing was not necessary and that we could bring her back in for a fructosamine test (think kind of like a human H A1c test) in about a week and he would adjust her insulin from there. He didn’t think a dietary change was a good idea until we had gotten her insulin requirement down pat and got her blood glucose in a safer range.

I must say at this point that I did ask him how often they’ve had cats go into insulin shock or hypoglycemia and he did allow that it HAS happened to patients of their practice before and that it was often enough that I was NOT comfortable with his answer.

He gave me a rather affordable insulin called Vetsulin, some syringes to go with it, and assured me that we could do this.

Now, before I go further, I will say that all of the above is NOT how I got her into remission and was NOT how I got her into remission SAFELY. More on what I DID do to come! But it was enough at the time that I didn’t feel as hopeless and thought that MAYYYYBE we could handle this.

We got home that night and I figured I’d TRY to get that insulin shot into her. I didn’t want to give her the shot while she was eating and ruin her meal time. I should mention that at this point I had NEVER given a cat an injection before, or ANYBODY, for that matter. And I was a SHAKING, nervous wreck!

So, that night, I spent a half hour chasing her around with a loaded insulin needle, grabbing her, torturing her, and making her go hide from me. I had broken the trust that took me 18 months of being her mommy to establish to begin with. And I was a freaking WRECK. I remember flipping out and going outside while yelling that we were just going to have to put her to sleep then.

And I was HEARTBROKEN.

The next morning, I tried again while she was eating her breakfast. And I was PRETTY SURE I got the insulin IN her! She’s a Maine Coon, after all, and when you’re inexperienced and she has ALL that LOOONG hair, there’s the possibility for error.

But then something happened. She was lethargic ALL DAY. Slept in the top of the cat condo and was OUT of it. She did get up to eat when it was meal time but then would go crap RIGHT back out. I hadn’t made any food changes yet, so she was eating higher carb foods.

Knowing what I know now, I’m willing to bet everything I’ve ever worked for that she had a mild hypoglycemic episode. And because she was still on high carb kibble and low carb wet food, it’s probably what saved her life that day.

BECAUSE I BLINDLY SHOT INSULIN WITHOUT HOME TESTING OR EVEN KNOWING HOW TO HOME TEST HER FIRST.

So, for the rest of that weekend, I did not give her more insulin. And I spent the ENTIRE weekend, except for sleeping, GLUED to the computer learning EVERYTHING I could. I joined the message board and corresponding Facebook group. They gave me a shopping list, told me the best insulin to use, that I could home test and that it would be no big deal once we got used to it.

I read the stories. One I will share with you in a future post from my friend Susan, who’s cat DID, in fact, “hypo” (meaning went into insulin shock) and was never the same again. His name was Baxter. And even though Baxter lived clear across the country, I love that cat. Because his story saved Penny’s life. He will forever have a place in my heart!

Baxter learning how to walk again

My friend Susan’s cat, Baxter, learning how to walk again as he started to recover from insulin shock.

I will also share with you what we did, how we did it, how I trained her for all of this so that it was no big deal and even trained her to look forward to testing her blood glucose with a little bit of bribery!

I really felt like it was the end of the world when Penny was diagnosed with feline diabetes. I didn’t know HOW I was going to handle it all. I was so freaking overwhelmed that first week or so that I had the case of the “F it…she’s going to die!” MANY times. I woke up in the morning and my heart would SINK when I realized that this wasn’t just a nightmare. This was our life now.

And I HAD to fight for her. I couldn’t look into those big, round green eyes and let her down. The rescue allowed me to adopt her because they KNEW I would do right by her. NO FREAKING WAY could I let Penny down.

penny-otj-may-26-16-2

Penny the day she achieved her second remission from diabetes. OTJ means “off the juice” or off insulin. She was NOT letting me stick her party hat on her head! lol

And that’s what got me through in the beginning.

I can honestly say, 3 1/2 years later, that all the stuff we had to learn to do…the testing, the shots, “tight regulation”, remission, relapse, remission again, blood glucose curves…all the stuff that I didn’t even understand at first…is just now an intrinsic part of my thinking and just the routine of the day. I can do this stuff without even thinking about it now!

And so can Penny!

My hope is that my posts about Penny’s journey with diabetes will keep another diabetic cat from being dumped off at a shelter. My hope is that Baxter’s story will keep another diabetic cat from going into insulin shock. If we help just ONE cat with our stories, our job is WELL DONE!

Stay tuned!

And please SHARE if you know anybody who has a diabetic cat! Please encourage them to get in touch with me on this blog or on our Facebook “like” page. I will be MORE than willing to help them help their furkid!

Feline Diabetes or Any Other Condition-Beware of Bad Advice from Unexperienced and Unqualified Crackpots

This is a rant.

Some of you who know me on Facebook know that I when I feel STRONGLY about something, I RANT.

Meet Jersey Robyn… lol

Penny OTJ blood reading may 2016

Penny and her blood glucose reading that marked her “official” second remission from Feline Diabetes on May 23, 2016!

Today is the start of Daylight Savings Time and one of my Facebook friends, who has five diabetic cats, was posting that she was all confused from the time change. When you have a diabetic cat who gets insulin injections twice per day, 12 hours apart, time changes can get confusing.

It can give a diabetic pet parent a REAL headache.

So somebody chimes in on her thread that he has a “solution” for cat diabetes and attaches a link for some herbal supplement company.

The supplements are marketed to humans.

So I IMMEDIATELY jumped all over this guy and hijacked my friend’s thread. Because there is no such thing that has been clinically proven to “solve” Feline Diabetes. I’m very well entrenched in the feline diabetes community and stay very up to date. If there was some miracle herb out there to “solve” it (yes…notice the snotty quotation marks), I would KNOW about it.

I asked him where the clinical trials were or what his qualifications were.

His response? “u have no idea, REALLY, how this stuff works. I took their turmeric cucomin for several days and was able to stop taking morphine after 14 yrs. they have their own way to push into the bloodstream which makes it immediate, and i will bet one of the 31 disaease it cures is cat diabetes, cause it works on humans.”

Yes, I even kept his typos in…lol

So THIS is what qualifies him to offer a “SOLUTION” to Feline Diabetes??!! That he’s “WILLING TO BET” it would cure cat diabetes because of his own experience with a COMPLETELY UNRELATED CONDITION??!!

So I asked again about clinical trials specific to cats with Feline Diabetes.

And he replied by yelling at me to check with the company. Like, Facebook yelling. You know, like TYPING IN ALL CAPS!!

This concerns me because what if I didn’t know any better and withheld much-needed medical treatment, PROVEN treatment, for my diabetic cat because I didn’t know any better based on this guy’s “solution”?

Because when Penny was first diagnosed, and I was BESIDE myself wondering how the hell I was gonna give my, ah, “diva” insulin injections twice per day without ending up in the hospital myself, I may have been willing to try this “miracle cure” out of fear and overwhelm!

Let me be clear. If there is a natural solution out there to put a BIG ASS dent in Big Pharma’s pockets, I’m ALL OVER IT. Some of my OWN medical conditions have been solved by natural products and super foods. I’m not debating the efficacy of natural vs Big Pharma and the medical community.

And you will find after getting to know me and as I delve into the wonderful world of Feline Diabetes, Feline Chronic Kidney Disease, Fatty Liver disease, and a few other things on this blog, that I always STRONGLY recommend that you do your research and talk to lay people, when possible, rather than blindly listening to a vet’s advice.

Because bad advice from several vets, and one vet office who accidentally dispensed a medication that Penny shouldn’t have had, would have killed Penny YEARS ago if I wasn’t smart enough to do my own research and talk to lay people who have BEEN there! And even then, I took their recommendations to my vet and discussed with him before starting ANY treatment regimen.

But, WORSE advice from some person on Facebook who doesn’t have the first shittin’ clue what he’s talking about is even MORE DANGEROUS!

And, my promise is that you will ALWAYS see a medical disclaimer on the bottom of any post where I discuss any treatments for my cats and their various ailments! Because I am responsible and not a know-it-all.

Feline Diabetes is a complex disease with several potential different causes. We will get into what I’ve done with MY cat to get her into remission not once, but twice, in future posts.

But I cannot even possibly stress in text, so imagine me standing from a rooftop of a high rise with a megaphone with my LOUD Italian voice, screaming at the top of my lungs…

PLEASE DO NOT BLINDLY TAKE ADVICE FROM SOME DUDE (OR DUDETTE) ON FACEBOOK WHEN TREATING ANY DISEASE OR CONDITION THAT YOUR CAT HAS!! Or from any company or network marketing distributor. Especially a network marketing distributor who is not otherwise qualified to give medical or veterinary advice! (I’m in the field and I can say this! lol)

Penny christmas 2016

Penny enjoying her new bed Santa brought her for Christmas.

Our babies’ lives DEPEND on us! They are our kids, after all!

 

**All treatments mentioned in this blog are based on my own research, experience and done with my vet’s knowledge and consent. Consult with your vet as necessary.**

Meet Penny

I met Penny (nee Penelope) at Pet Smart when my late cat of almost 16 years, Tabby, passed away. I was heartbroken and devastated, but I had been seeing a very shy cat at Pet Smart who was not doing very well up there because she had been there most of her life and kept getting overlooked because she was so shy. I decided that since I had a home and she needed one, I wanted to meet her and see if it would be a good fit.

When I went to meet Weeny (nee Irene), Penny was looking at me with those EYES from her cage and I studiously avoided eye contact with her because I KNEW I was in trouble if I so much as LOOKED at her. I put in an adoption application for Weeny, continued to avoid eye contact, and left Pet Smart.

The next day I brought my folks to meet Weeny. I was living with them at the time and my dad had gotten very close with Tabby in the four years since I had moved back home, so I wanted them to be on board with giving Weeny a much-needed home.

THIS time, all the cats were in the room behind the cages for their “free time”. Weeny was busy playing with the other cats (she was only a 9-month old kitten) and Penny basically THREW herself at us and BEGGED us to get her OUT of there.

She made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. So a SECOND adoption application went in for Penny that day, and we adopted both kitties that week!

Penny was 3 1/2 when I adopted her from Jersey State Animal Rescue. She was one of their show cats and actually won ribbons in the Domestic Housecat Division. If you Google their logo, you will see that unique diamond face at the top of their logo. She is our retired show cat, our poster child, and our little hairy human!

Penny hasn’t had an easy life. She was bullied at the rescue. She was being bullied that second day we went back and I decided to adopt her too. And she has her issues as a result. She’s a social eater and suffers some separation anxiety. Knowing how she LOVES people, I imagine her life at the rescue was pretty lonely with being bullied and not having as much human contact as she probably craved. They did their best, I’m sure, because they take VERY good care of their cats, but that’s no replacement her very own home and her very own humans.

She thinks she’s one of US and she thinks she OWNS me. She told the animal communicator that she thinks I’m HER pet. Which I already knew! She’s most content next to me (and Mom if I’m not around) being a human and being adored 24/7! She’s charming, congenial, and VERY, VERY patient…until it comes to food!

She’s had her share of health issues over the years. In 2013 she was diagnosed with Feline Diabetes. We achieved remission in just six weeks (more to come on that…). She held remission for 14 months before she had to go back on insulin and also picked up a diagnosis of spinal arthritis along the way. She spent 10 months in glucose toxicity/insulin resistance before we got her diabetes regulated. Six months after we got her regulated, she achieved her SECOND remission from diabetes. But, unfortunately, along the way, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Chronic Kidney disease in February 2016 (more on that to come, as well).

penny-otj-may-26-16-2

Penny’s SECOND “OTJ Party”…the day she was officially “off the juice” (insulin). She didn’t want to wear her party hat…lol

But that has NOT stopped her! She has been living her BEST life yet since that kidney disease diagnosis! She runs and plays like a kitten, eats enough to choke a horse, and honestly, some days if I didn’t see her litter box or her blood work results, I’d never believe she was so sick. I couldn’t have asked for ANY better quality of life for her than she’s had the past year!

Penny was sent to me to teach me SO many lessons! Not just about cat health, nutrition and care, but LIFE lessons…such as my limitations exist only in my mind, when something is THAT important to me, I’ll FIND a way to make it happen, and that I should NEVER, EVER let external forces get me down. She truly is an angel!

I don’t know what tomorrow, next week, or next month will bring, but since I thought a year ago, at best, that she would only have a couple of months left, I’m enjoying every last second of this “borrowed time” with her!

Nicknames:

Precious Pup, Smelly Penelly, Gentle Giant, Sasquatch, Boss Paws, PITA (Pain in the A$$), Diamond Girl

Songs:

“Isn’t She Lovely” – Stevie Wonder, “The Penelope Song” – John F Hooven (my dad)

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Penny, her second day in her forever home.