Diabetes in Pets

Walter and Nimzo

Walter and Nimzo are domestic short hair cats, brothers from the same litter, aged nine. Walter is a grey tabby and Nimzo is black with the tiniest patch of white on his tummy. We all live in London, England.

In June 2005 I noticed that Walter was losing weight and took him to the vets thinking that he might have dental problems. He also had really bad dandruff and a greasy back. He was diagnosed as diabetic from on-site tests (blood and urine) which was confirmed by tests done in an outside laboratory. He also had a PLI test which showed he had borderline pancreatitis. The blood had to be sent to the USA as there is no laboratory in the UK that does the PLI test.

On reflection, I should have known there was something wrong before as both cats have always drunk a lot of water but the urination had increased dramatically and it was like chipping out concrete when it came to cleaning the litter tray. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!

Anyway, we tried Walter on an oral medication and change of diet (Hill's m/d wet and dry) for two weeks with no improvement and he hated the wet food. There was little improvement in the results that the vets were getting. At the end of June, Walter started on one unit of Insuvet PZI beef insulin twice a day with set amounts of food and set meal times.

Within two weeks of changing the feeding schedule to set meals, twice a day, I noticed that Nimzo was drinking more and urination had increased. He was also getting extremely distressed and hungry as I couldn't leave food down all day. I took him to the vets and asked for them to test for diabetes as he seemed to be having similar symptoms to Walter. The vet didn't think it was likely but the results showed he had diabetes too!

Both cats were on 1 unit of Insuvet PZI twice a day. At the end of August I went on holiday and boarded the boys at the vets for the two weeks.When I picked them up I noticed that Walter was walking on his hocks. I thought it might be due to the fact he had little exercise in the cage but it turnes out he has neuropathy and lack of exercise had not helped.

I joined the Feline Diabetes Message Board (FDMB) at the end of September and was overwhelmed by the amount of kowledge and practical advice the members were able to give me. One member came to my home and showed me how to home test which I started immediately with Walter, planning to test Nimzo once I had perfected my technique. On the 10th October Nimzo started to act strangely so I had to test him. He was 1.3 (23.4)! I fed him and gave him sugar disolved in warm milk and took him to the vets. He was fine but I started testing him morning and evening then. Since this episode he has not needed insulin. I think the insulin gave his pancreas time to recover and had I been hometesting I would have seen this happening and not risked hypoglycemia.

Walter is still on Insuvet PZI but we have raised his dose gradually so that he is now on 2 fat units of insulin a day and is doing really well. He has gained all his lost weight and his fur is soft and fluffy.