Diabetic cats’ stories

Keeper - by Jon

The astonishing looking cat, Keeper

“Before talking about his diabetes I thought you’d like to know how Keeper got his name.

Eleven years ago (when we were living in a 3-family home), Keeper walked in from the street, up a flight of stairs, and started meowing outside our door.

We had two other cats at the time, and as we could see that they were inside the apartment, we couldn’t understand where the meowing was coming from. We opened the door and there he was, just sitting and looking up at us.

He walked in, toured the apartment room by room, paying no attention to our other cats, went into the kitchen and ate their food, then back into the living room, hopped up on the sofa, curled up and went to sleep. It’s as if he had made reservations and simply arrived.

Our two cats, Amstel and Funny Face, were so stunned by his nerve that they didn’t know how to react. We hadn’t intended on having another cat, but this seemed like destiny. No "lost cat" signs were up in the neighbourhood, and I must admit that we didn’t go to a lot of trouble finding his owner!

At any rate, when we decided to keep him, we took him to the vet to be checked over. He was his normal, ingratiating self and jumped up onto the counter, walked back and forth and started playing with the computer keys. The technician picked him up under his front legs, held him up (letting his full length hang down), looked at him and said "what a handsome boy - you’re a real keeper." And the rest, as they say, is history.

The first sign of his diabetes was that he was drinking a lot of water and flooding his litterbox. Initially, we thought it might be a reaction to the cold, dry weather that we’d been having, but when our next door neighbor (who had been catsitting a couple of days) noticed it as well, we called the vet. Blood tests were taken and the diabetes diagnosis was confirmed.

Update 1 December 2004:

We went to the vet today for his one-week check-up, and while his glucose level had come down, it was still too high, so his dosage goes up from 3 to 4 units. I think the vet didn’t want to start him too high, so I’m not surprised. We’ll go again in a week and see how things look then. One good thing is that for the first time in quite a while he is under 20 pounds weight. The vet has Keeper restricted to a high fibre dry food, and I think he misses his usual diet. Now he sits and stares at us while we’re eating.

Injecting has gotten easier the last several days; I think we’re finding our rhythm, so to speak.

Update 21 December 2004:

Well, it seems that we are really making progress now. Just came back from the vet and he is very happy with Keeper’s blood glucose level, so the five units of insulin per day is doing the trick. He also lost a little more weight, which is good. All in all, a very positive report.

Update 25 January 2005:

We’re fresh home from the vet, and I thought you’d like the latest Keeper update.
His glucose level is now smack in the middle of the normal range, which is great. He also dropped another half a pound or so since the last visit, which is also good.

But boy, can that cat pee - I don’t know it all comes from. You go to clean out his litter box and it’s like lifting out "cow pies". The vet did not seem concerned about this, so I’m not going to worry.

I wish he was more enthused about the dry food he’s been on since his diagnosis. It’s obviously good for him, but the only way he eats it now is if we mix it with something. Vet said that was OK. One other thing I’m going to try is spraying (misting) the dry food with low sodium chicken broth to give it a more attractive flavor. I know he’s hungry most of the time, and while he can still do to lose more weight, I feel kind of guilty. So, that’s it - a good report card.”

Update 13 July 2005:

It’s been quite some time since I’ve given you an update on Keeper. For the most part, he’s doing quite well. One thing that is a bit worrisome is that his glucose level is higher (260 or so, UK reading 14.4) than we’d like. On the other hand, he seems generally happy and mobile (though he does take considerably longer getting up and down the stairs). Our vet has cautioned us about getting too "hung up" on numbers, and says that different cats adjust and do fine at different levels. Still, he did increase Keeper’s daily insulin to 6 units, and hopefully that will help.

Of course, none of us like the hot, humid weather we’ve been having. Keeper spends a lot of his time upstairs these days, so we have set up a litter/water/food station upstairs to make things easier on him. One of these days, I’m sure, I’ll trip over him and do a header down the stairs! It’s also a bit of a challenge figuring out what he eats these days - always dry food, sometimes canned and sometimes not. On the other hand, he’s so damned affectionate and uncomplaining that it’s hard to get upset with him. His weight is down to 17 pounds (about 7.7kg) which is (relative to what it used to be) pretty good.

Update 13 September 2005:

Excellent news on Keeper. We took him to the vet for his regular checkup and his glucose level was down to 174, (UK: 9.6) which is almost 100 points lower (UK 5.5) than he was the last time. Part of this difference, I think, is that he had been having some dental problems and I think he may have had an infection. However, recently he has lost two teeth, and now seems much much comfortable eating his dry food. And maybe the slight increase in his insulin doseage may have been enough to do the trick. He has put on a half pound since the last checkup, but I’m not too concerned about that - with summer’s heat he’s not quite so active.

Update 9 April 2006:

Good news from Keeper’s latest checkup. His glucose level was so low at 86, (4.7 in UK terms) that the vet wants us to cut back his injections from six to five units. His weight was up slightly, but apparently that was not a matter of concern.

Now if we can only get him to calm down at night. Up on the bed, under the covers, out of the covers, down to the floor, back up to the bed, under the covers, purring loudly all the time, down to the floor, back up, on it goes! Some nights he’s more active that others. Perhaps when it gets warmer, he won’t feel the need to get under the covers so much!

Update 26 September 2007:

Good news from Keeper’s annual physical yesterday. First off, he’s lost more than a pound since his last check up. Also, his blood glucose was such that the vet wanted us to drop from 4 units of insulin to 3 1/2, and if he does OK with that, then take it down to 3. Very encouraging.

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