Feline Diabetes

Feline Diabetes is something that strikes us deeply. As everyone knows, Nimbus was diagnosed December 2008. Ever since then it's been an emotional roller coaster. So (if this thing works), this is the place for us and our furiends (and their humans) to get together and update each other as to how our feline furiends are doing. And because we're so nice (being Coons, we're gentle giants), we'll accept woofies too. Why not? MOL. And if your cat just got diagnosed, feel free to stop in and leave us a note, and we'll share with you the advice we've passed on to the other recently diagnosed cats, if you want. We all need help now and then, and feline diabetes is a roller coaster for both feline and human.
Since Nimbus was diagnosed, we have learned of two other furiends being diagnosed. First came @PetietheCat a few months ago (a twitfuriend), and then just recently a new furiend we were introduced to, Jack. So we're already 3 felines strong.
Be well, and remember, it's not a death sentence. Some cats even go into remission with treatment and dietary changes! It can happen, as long as you follow your vet's advice (though be careful, some vets are still in the dark ages as how to treat it). 

So what were Nimbus' signs?
Well, he was just eating ravenously but not gaining weight. That should've told us something wasn't right. Then he started getting sick, like he had the coughs or something, which we knew couldn't be good but we couldn't get the vet to treat (TSB is pretty cat-smart, she KNEW exactly what was wrong - an upper resp. infection - but couldn't get the vet to give antibiotics to treat it). Well, that infection set in, and with him being overweight in the beginning, that infection triggered a cascading chain reaction. He started just guzzling down water, literally camping out at the water bowl, falling asleep with his head on the bowl. That was the dead give-away.

So what did we do?
We first of all found another vet - one that would listen! She knew right away that it was indeed an URI. She immediately prescribed antibiotics, but by this point TSB was so frustrated she dumped on the vet, which saved Nimbus' life. The vet immediately wanted to run the bloodwork (which had never been done on Nimbus anyway), so she consented. After a very tense and emotional wait, it was official.
Then came treatment.
We started with prescription Purina DM (diabetes management) and Vetsulin. He responded alright but not to TSB's satisfaction. The DM did stabilize his weight loss though, and slowly he started putting it back on (considering he's part Coon, he should never be below 12lb and at his lowest he was below 10). Coincidence had the vet on vacation when TSB really needed advice, but luckily one of her coworkers was there and introduced her to another insulin that's newer (and turns out safer) and better. So we switched to Lantus (even though it's literally at least 3x more expensive) and the results were astounding. His slow regulation kicked into high gear, though we fought that dreaded infection for at least 6 months, before we finally had it dead, albeit for a short while. We eventually switched him to the OM food (overweight management) since he had gained a bit too much weight (which didn't seem to stop it too much MOL) but it's actually better nutritionally for diabetic cats!
So what should you know if you just recently received the diagnosis?
1. Infections are common, especially in the urinary tract and the respiratory system. Fight them quick and hard. Baytril is good for short times but don't use it for more than a week or you'll likely kill your cat's eyesight.
2. Don't give your cats any cortizone pills, and if your vet suggests it, get a second opinion. That can screw up their numbers and end up killing them.
3. Don't sweat the small stuff in the beginning. He WILL gain back the weight. He WILL regulate. He WILL recover. It all takes time. Focus on the day to day battles in setting up a routine. THAT is critical. Get a routine and stick to it, even if you have to crawl under the bed and drag out the cat. Within a few months, he'll go to his spot and wait for you to get ready!
4. Don't use the Vetsulin. If your vet insists, get another vet. It's unreliable, old, and unstable. I know the Lantus is much more expensive, but it's worth it.
5. The food is critical. Grocery store/pet store food is horrible for a diabetic cat. So is people food, especially pasta sauce! No more people food treats!
6. Home monitoring is critical. It helps you spot infections before they become hell. It helps you know when he's regulating and when his pancreas is kicking back in (meaning he needs less insulin). If your vet doesn't suggest it, DEMAND IT. Not home-testing can lead you to overdosing your cat - and even if you don't, you're wasting money hauling the poor kitty to the vet every so often for them to do the curve when you can do it yourself on a day off.
7. Relax. Both you and him. Cats pick up on our emotions and you being emotional or stressed won't help him out. Don't put him in stressful situations as that can cause a spike. But play often. Exercise is good.

I'll edit this page as needed. Please feel free to leave a comment or suggestion.