Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Results We Like

Tucker’s experiment with the new blood-glucose sensor ended Friday. The ‘cap’ that held the sensor in his skin was coming loose, and since the monitor that read it had to be returned to the veterinary hospital within six hours of the last reading (otherwise the information recorded would be lost), I decided to take it in on Friday. If the cap had come off during the night, or when the hospital was closed, it would have been an open question of getting the monitor back to the doctor in time.

Even so, the experiment was a success. I expected a telephone call from Tucker’s doctor on Monday or Tuesday. She and her colleagues must have been eager to see what the device would tell them, because I received a call from her Saturday afternoon (when the hospital was actually closed).

She was very pleased with the results. They gave a very full picture of Tucker’s diabetic management over a week’s time. (I will be handed a print-out of the results when I am next at the hospital.) For the most part, what they show is very good. The roly poly had good to excellent ‘curves’ in relation to his insulin injections, the diabetes responding as it should. Wednesday, however, showed very high numbers with very little response to the insulin. This was followed by a drop to low numbers, too low for insulin to be administered.

This has happened in Tucker’s history of diabetes, rarely, but more often in recent times than previously. The fact that most of his ‘curves’ are satisfactory or better proves that he is not insulin-resistant, as some cats become. This is a relief in itself. But how to account for the times that show no response to the insulin?

The doctor questioned the injection sites for the insulin. I almost always give Tucker his injection in the same places: on either flank, usually; just through habit, within an inch or two of the same spot. This has been going on for years. While theoretically there is nothing wrong with this, it can cause scar-tissue to develop, which will inhibit, not the insulin itself, but its delivery. In other words, it might be having difficulty getting through a callus.

The solution suggested by the doctor is simple: selection of another spot on Tucker. I can inject the insulin in the scruff, the tummy, or another location. If I move it after some time, it likely won’t permit for scar-tissue. This may not be the answer (because a callus may not be the question), but it is a likely solution to the mystery, and easily applied.

Even with these lapses, the doctor is very pleased with Tucker’s diabetic management, and very pleased with the new sensor and how it worked. I am, as well. Not only did it provide an excellent depiction of my cat’s situation but it gave scope for a concrete response to a problem.

I asked questions regarding the sensor. I wondered how it gathered blood samples for reading the numbers. I thought it tapped into the capillaries just beneath the skin. It does not. It samples the sugar in the subcutaneous flesh and, using a formula in its miniature computer, translates the numbers it reads into the equivalent that would come from blood. Rather ingenious, I think.

In theory, there is no reason why a cat can’t have one attached to him all the time. It cannot remain in the same place, as natural feline movement and the re-growth of shaved fur will cause its detachment. But another may be applied in another location. Practically, not every cat-owner will favour such a policy, and, for the time being, the veterinarians see the sensor as something used to study a cat’s diabetic routine, and to help clarify problems. Even in this capacity, I feel that the new device is a success.

I can foresee, in the not distant future, a smaller, flatter item implanted under a cat’s skin, lasting six months, a year, or longer, giving the owner the peace of mind that comes from knowing instantaneously what his little one’s numbers are, and if there is a problem; giving a ‘curve’ without fuss or discomfort.

For now, the experiment is ended, with good news all around. Tucker has a little bald patch on his right shoulder for now, but, aside from licking it periodically, it troubles him as little as did the cap itself. The doctor is happy with how my guinea pig is doing; I am, too. And so, I think, is the guinea pig.


  1. Good job Tucker. One of my work colleagues has such an implant and says it is awesome as she does not have to stick herself several times a day. As you say there may come a day when a smaller more viable implant may become available for pussy cats.

    Julie and Poppy Q

  2. Brilliant news! HeHe! Guinea pig..?
    He'll be twitching his nose next! :).

    As l was reading this, l thought to
    myself, why can't it be fitted under
    the skin..humans have things fitted
    under the skin for various reasons..!

    Still..he looks quite content laying
    there on the carpet..Bless him..!x

  3. What most excellent news for Tucker! And I do believe that is the reason for the anomaly that always puzzled you...a callus! The Vet was thinking out of the box to come up with that! Perhaps not. I wouldn't have thought of it. I am glad you have another method now . In future, not seeing the curve unaffected if you change location, will certainly be the confirmation. Smooches on Tucker for his part of the job well done!

  4. Never thought I'd see Tucker become a pioneer in the world of veterinary science. :)

    I'm pleased to hear everything went well. When they perfect this device, it'll really be a boon to diabetic cats.

  5. Terrific news! I'm glad there was a probable reason for the high/low readings, one that seems logical to me. Really, the advances in medicine are amazing. I would think that since a microchip is implanted permanently (though Derry's has travelled down his back some distance), this kind of device could be too, at some point in the near future.

    Give Tucker a scritch and snuggle from me, tell him what a good cat he is. :-)

    1. I hadn't thought of the micro-chip implanted for identification purposes. You're right, of course. That's exactly the sort of thing that may be next for this diabetic sensor.

  6. Great job Tucker, it worked out quite nicely with good results. We always gave insulin in the scruff here.

  7. I am not sure I am mentally equipped to monitor a cat for diabetes. You
    are a good cat owner to have the desire and ability to help your pets
    live the best life they can. I never thought about the test prick sites or the injection sites that might callus over. Tucker's results sound encouraging.

  8. That is very good news, and a callus makes perfect sense, so let's hope that is what caused the abnormal readings.

  9. It seems Tucker's experiment was a success all around. Not only were Tucker's glucose results good, the experiment proved that the sensor worked well. Hopefully this will make diabetic management for cats much easier in the future.

  10. That is great news about Tucker.

  11. Tucker is on the cutting edge of a new technology that could be a game-changer!
    Well done!

  12. Very good news! I'm glad it provided some useful information to help with the management of his diabetes.

  13. catfather; we iz buzzed happee yur expera mint wented sew well; may bee one day a dee vize that lastz longer will bee available for cats; rather like de "patch" sum peepulz can now uze...we give ya 984 paws UP for bein willin ta try thiz, dad two; one all wayz haza bit oh hesitation with "new" stuff....ya look good dood, wear yur bald spot proud !! :) ♥♥

    1. Indeed, the Catfather did very well, and wasn’t bothered much at all by the experiment. He performed quite a service for felinity.

  14. We are really glad that his numbers are stable except for the odd reading and injection site is most likely the issue but it could also be needle placement in the SQ space also. (There were nurses I worked with whose patients always had odd numbers and it was due to how they injected. Training stopped the issue. Just something to think about) Thanks to Tucker for helping others.