Littly is a 14 year old cat; when he was a youngster he was hit by a car and needed major surgery on one of his hind legs, but since then he has remained fit and well.
When he came to Cogges for his booster vaccination in 2017 his owner mentioned that he had been losing weight despite an increasing appetite. A blood test showed increased kidney values, meaning that Littly had renal failure, and a very elevated blood glucose level, indicating diabetes mellitus. Both of these conditions are common in elderly cats, and both can be managed but not cured. Littly started on a prescription renal diet to support his kidney function, and we taught his owner how to give the twice daily insulin injections he needs to control his diabetes. These injections are generally well tolerated by most cats.
Diabetes mellitus needs to be carefully monitored with blood and urine tests, and the dose of insulin usually needs to be gradually increased. Not enough insulin causes too much glucose to circulate in the blood which causes increased thirst and appetite, weight loss, other chronic health problems and eventually serious illness and death. Too much insulin causes low blood sugar which makes patients very weak and can cause seizures and death, so we have to be careful to get the right balance.
Littly had several urinary tract infections soon after his diagnosis which made it difficult to control his blood sugar levels, but he responded to an extended course of antibiotics. His owner learned to do the blood glucose monitoring at home; this is less stressful for Littly and means the results are more accurate, because cats’ blood glucose rises during stress.
In May last year Littly became unwell, blood tests showed that his blood sugar value was low. He was given supportive treatment, insulin therapy was stopped for a while and then restarted at a lower dose.
In January this year the same thing happened. This time his blood glucose values remained low enough that he has stayed off insulin. This is called remission and is a possibility in feline diabetes, but doesn’t happen in dogs or humans.
Littly is currently doing very well. His owners, and his pet sitter when his owners are away, take very good care of him and monitor him closely. They weigh him and check his blood glucose weekly, and he will come back to Cogges for further investigation if there are any changes. His renal disease is also under good control.
Many of the conditions we see in older cats can be successfully managed if they are diagnosed and treated early enough. If you notice any changes in your cat’s appetite, thirst, weight or general demeanor, please bring them in for a check up so we can help you to maintain their quality of life.