Tucker’s campaign against diabetes began yesterday. He and I went to the veterinary hospital for his pre-mission briefing about his condition. He didn’t wet as much as on his previous visit, but he was still very frightened. He scurried back into the carrier at the end of the visit faster than I’ve ever seen him move. He is perhaps not the bravest of soldiers.
I had many questions to ask the doctor, and thought of several more afterward, so I called for an addendum to the visit. Those who read this blog had excellent suggestions and I used them in my inquiries. For instance the Trout Towne Tabbies were solicitous of Tucker’s heart, regarding his later dental surgery. The doctor told me that Tucker’s heart is sound. They also wanted to know about diet alone controlling his diabetes. The vet said that she wants this to be an aggressive approach to the condition, as she is hopeful that it may go into remission, as happens with some cats. Therefore, the roly poly one is on insulin from the start. Brian, of Brian’s Home, wrote of Lantus insulin, and that - under its alternate name of Glargine - is what Tucker will be receiving: one unit twice a day for now. Offence is the best defence.
Deb, from Just Cats, mentioned her daughter’s diabetic cat eating special food, including special hard food. I knew that some websites recommended avoiding hard food all together in these cases, but if other Blogosphere cats are eating it, I should ask about it. The vet told me hard food for diabetic cats is a good addition to their diet. Unfortunately, Tucker, after eating well of the new food initially - due to everyone having emptied their bowl during the day and their consequent hunger - decided later it was not as tasty as he first thought. I will be mixing the diabetic nutrition with other food, for now. If anyone has experience of healthy, low-carbohydrate food, hard and soft, I would be grateful for opinions, with specific brand names. There is no guarantee that I will be able to find the suggested varieties here, but the doctor informed me that the principal characteristic of diabetic food is the low carbohydrate ingredients. Some vitamins are added, but I am sure that a flavourful alternative from commercial sources would be just as good. My cats have never liked anything from veterinaries and, to make sure that it isn’t eaten, the kind I fed Tucker features chunks in gravy. If there is a cat who actually eats the chunks rather than licking the gravy and letting the bits dry out into tastelessness, I’d like to meet him. And none of my cats has ever eaten anything bought at a doctor’s office. I think the food there exists more for people to buy than for cats to eat.
Fortunately, Tucker can still have cat-treats, such as Temptations, but he will not be allowed bits of Pop-tart or warm, buttered toast, both of which he enjoys. I will compensate with little things he likes and can have.
Kari commented that she was worried Tucker’s urinary problems may be occasioned by stones. This is indeed a legitimate concern, given the sausage’s history, but his latest urinary analysis, conducted last week, shows him clear. I was cautioned regarding infections, however.
Others made very helpful remarks, including Kim, from Fuzzy Tales, who directed me to a website devoted to feline diabetes. I would also like to thank members of the rescue-group with whom I work, the Lethbridge PAW Society, who have been of tremendous assistance in many ways.
The briefing on our mission ended with the paying of another bill. It’s ironic that finding out how much feline diabetes will cost is expensive in itself. The one thing I forgot to ask is the price of the insulin. I don’t suppose it matters because I will be buying it no matter the cost. But knowing in advance will keep me from going into my own kind of diabetic shock.
Another member of the PAW Society has offered me the glucometer that was used on her own diabetic cat, just recently passed away. Such generosity is another facet of the helpfulness extended by friends.
The actual injection of the insulin (twice now) went smoothly. The veterinary wanted Tucker started on it immediately because the roly poly’s numbers were even higher this time than last (27, as opposed to 23.5; this may be another motive for employing insulin right away, instead of waiting for diet to work.) The process was so easy that I was certain both times I had done it wrong. I was used to the thicker, bigger needle used in providing sub-cutaneous fluids. Tucker didn’t notice the injection (another cause of my anxiety over doing it well.) However, his fur was not damp afterward, so the insulin must have gone somewhere inside him. The doctor suggested the back of the neck or between the shoulder blades as the proper place to shoot the medicine, but due to advice received afterward, I switched the location to the side of Tucker’s stomach. There is less skin to pinch (his girth starts to widen there in particular) but again, I reasoned that I hit the target.
Tucker’s condition will mean changes for the whole household. We go into battle-conditions. Because I need to give him his insulin at twelve-hour intervals, I will be waking at 5.30 or six on my days off - and hopefully going back to bed afterward. If the beasts (except perhaps Tucker) think they will be getting a second breakfast when I wake once more later, they will be mistaken. As well, I cannot leave the hard food bowl out all day and all night for nibbling. But once the cats realise this, they will, if smart, eat everything they are given in the mornings. I can leave food out for grazing when I am home, and keeping an eye on things, but this may be a good opportunity to regulate everyone’s diet for the better.
Once the amount of insulin is normalised, and his dental operation cleans his teeth and gums, Tucker will feel like a new cat, I’m sure. That will be our victory. Until then, I’m afraid that the house in the country and the trip across Europe on the Orient Express will have to be postponed. Extraneous costs will have to be trimmed and waste reduced. Tucker has gone to war, and I intend to help him win.