Thursday, November 11, 2010

My First Scare with Diabetes

I had a really weird encounter with possible diabetes once before in my life.

It wasn't me.

It wasn't a relative.

It wasn't a friend.

It was... My cat.


Meet Ali (pronounced like "Ollie").  She's an adorable, spunky, defiant, hyper little princess of a cat.

She's also one of my favorite photography subjects, so excuse me while I indulge a little.

But back in September of 2007, we noticed over the course of a couple days that she was barely eating or drinking and had became less hyper... then less spunky... and she finally didn't even have the energy to be defiant, so we knew something was very wrong.  I got up early to take her to the vet and Chad pulled her out from under the bed and put her into the carrier with no more objection than one of the most miserable meows I'd ever heard from her.  It broke my heart.

The drive to the vet was horrible for me, and filled with tears.  Could it be cancer?  FIV?  Leukemia?  Should I have taken her in earlier?  Was it now too late for her?

She had no symptoms other than the lethargy and lack of appetite.  The vet ran bloodwork and said that her blood sugar was higher than usual.  A urine sample also showed slight ketones.

The diagnosis: diabetes.

She stayed at the vet overnight to make sure the insulin dose the vet chose was OK, and the next day they taught me how to give her insulin and sent us home with a vial, box of syringes, and special diabetic food... and one still lethargic and unhappy cat.  She was slightly better than before, but all I could get her to eat were a few bites of her favorite people-food (turkey cold cuts).  Over the next three days, she continued to get worse and worse even though I did everything the vet had told me.  I spent a lot of time on the Feline Diabetes Message Board, which was full of helpful and knowledgeable people who told me about glucose monitoring (not something vets push with diabetic pets), diet, etc.... and they started telling me that things with Ali just didn't add up.  She didn't have high BG numbers, she was getting worse despite the insulin, and she had never had the classic symptoms of diabetes.  Several of them told me to take her back to the vet, and I agreed once I realized she was definitely getting worse, not better.

I went back to the vet 4 days before her 1-week follow-up visit was supposed to happen, armed with a little log book of glucose readings.  A different doctor (at the same clinic) ran bloodwork again and, this time, what stood out was her astronomical white cell count.  She was absolutely septic, and the vet was amazed she could even lift her head.  She was put on IV antibiotics, taken off of insulin until there was evidence of real need for it, and kept for a couple days.

When we visited her, we could tell we were finally on the right track.  She was moving, struggling to get to us, and very vocal.  When we brought her home, she was almost her old self... only very, very thin and much weaker.

But that IV wrap came off only moments after we got her home, she chowed down on food, fought with renewed strength against being fed antibiotic pills, and slowly regained her normal weight and spunk...  And defiance!

On our follow-up appointment at the vet, I was once again armed with a little log of totally normal blood sugar numbers... and insisted they refund me for all of the diabetic supplies (which they did).  She was a happy, healthy kitty with a happy, healthy pancreas.  Her blood sugar was merely elevated from such a horrible infection (that's common).

And thank goodness, because testing her blood glucose was not an easy task!

Something rather sweet was, after she came home from her extended stay at the vet, she became incredibly affectionate.  She snuggled every chance she got, and she never wanted to be away from us.  We think it made her a sweeter lap cat, to this day.

But don't underestimate her... There's a reason we don't let her be DM in our Dungeons and Dragon's games!  She is, at heart, a fierce killer!!!!

Rocks fall, everybody dies!!!!


  1. This made me smile today and I really needed that. Especially that last picture. Yeah, please don't ever let her be DM! :)

  2. Ali's great at making people smile... or DIE!!!!

    You know, depending on her mood. :)

  3. It was really hard for me to get through this post without saying "kitteh!" out loud.


  4. Jacquie: An appropriate response to funny little kittehs!!!

  5. oh no your poor cat!! I get worried when my chihuahuas get low (all are prone to low usual signs i look for is not active or moving) i once checked my dog sugar and it was 60! What do you feed a dog to get them high?? I ended up letting her lick a lolly pop (not the whole thing). I hope your cat is forever in good health!

  6. RockStar, so are they actually diabetic, or do are they just prone to a little hypoglycemia? Poor puppies!

    With Ali, if she really did have D and got a low BG, I think all I'd have to do is act like I was eating something REALLY YUMMY that she's NOT ALLOWED to have. "Mmmmm, these glucose tabs are SO GOOD!!! No! No Ali! Stay away from my glucose tabs! Oops, look I dropped one on the floor..." She'd love it for the mere fact that it was "forbidden." :p