Friday, May 10, 2013

Feline Wellness: Our Cat Henry has Diabetes

I occasionally like to write posts on feline wellness, like this post I wrote in November 2011 about feline acne. We will do anything for our cats, to help them live long and healthy lives.

Henry in 2010 - blurry but one of my favorite Henry shots.
So when our ex-feral barn cat Vickie needed to have all of her teeth removed, it was done. Pearl and Piper needed dental cleanings, done. Henry has eye goo problems because he has blocked tear ducts, we clean them. Sabrina and Henry suffer from IBD (Irritable Bowl Disease) so we take care of that - Sabrina gets B12 shots each month. Sabrina tests positive for heart worm, everyone starts getting heart guard and Revolution. You see what I'm saying, if there is a problem, we do our best to fix it.
Henry in 2011
 So when our 8-year-old black cat Henry fell ill earlier this year, we took him to the vet right away. We had some sort of virus/bug run through the house and a few of the cats, including Henry, had diarrhea (lovely, right?). We had blood work done, and were able to clear the bug up. Problem solved, right? Well from the title you know there is more to the story.

So for the last few weeks, Henry hasn't been acting like himself. He normally sleeps with my dad, curled up on his head - but Henry hasn't been sleeping in their room recently. We noticed him laying around in places he doesn't typically nap. When we ran our hands down his body, we felt his spine more than usual. And to top it off, he has been drinking lots and eating a lot/always seems hungry. We knew we needed to take him to the vet to see what was up.

Monday May 6: Mom and I take Henry to the vet. Henry had gone down from 9.5 pounds to 8.5 pounds in the six weeks it had been since he had gone in for the diarrhea bug. That was concerning. Our vet didn't see anything physically wrong with him, but she had suspicions based on what we had told her about his symptoms.
My dad and Henry on the Feline Diabetes Management Board, learning all about diabetes in cats.

Tuesday May 7: Blood work comes back. Henry has diabetes! It was a surprise, even though we knew there must have been an underlying issue. But ok, we took a step back and figured out the next step to get him healthy. His blood sugar levels were in the 300s, when a normal range can be anywhere from 70-100/110 ish. We made an appointment for the next day, to learn about how to administer insulin.

Wednesday May 8: Mom, Dad, Henry and I all went to the vet. The vet tech taught us how to draw insulin out of the bottle into a needle syringe. We practiced using sterilized water and actually administering the water to Henry as practice. He didn't seem to mind, or frankly even notice. Though he would've rather been able to get down and explore!

I was amazed when I administered the sterilized water, how easily it felt to push down the needle plunger. I wasn't even sure it went in when I pushed it. It was literally so easy - which I found impossible to believe because I'm horrified of needles. I'm the kid who needs all the nurses and doctors to hold her down while she gets shots! So I was needless to say, skeptical as to whether I was going to be competent enough to administer the insulin to Henry.

Dad's blood sugar testing kit. Henry's levels were very high.
In addition to getting information about diabetes, how to administer insulin and actually getting Henry's insulin prescription for Levemir -- I learned about the signs we needed to watch for if his blood sugar got too low. Signs include vomiting, lethargy, wobbly/discordinated walking, etc. If this happens, you should feed the kitty and put Karo Syrup (it's like sugar - used in cooking - to raise the low blood sugar levels) on his gums. And of course, ultimately rush him to the emergency 24/7 vet. Which we fortunately live relatively close to.

Wednesday night after Henry (far right) had his first insulin dose.
Thursday May 9: We all carefully monitor Henry throughout the day. My dad got a blood sugar checking kit, but Henry very much dislikes having the lancet puncture his ear to draw up blood to test. After checking a few times, Henry is very sensitive about his ears and prefers right now to not have them touched (they are scabbed and obviously painful - it's like having your ear pierced/pricked). We are also feeding him when he is hungry, to help him gain weight. Henry is only 8.5 pounds, but he should be a 12 pound cat. I don't think he will ever be 12 pounds, but we are aiming for 10-11 hopefully! We have been giving him Insulin since Wednesday night.

My dad came home at 7 pm -- we are administering insulin at 7 am and 7 pm, perfect 12 hours spaced apart -- to feed the cats. We feed them and dad had me give Henry his night time insulin shot! And aside from having to adjust the amount of insulin I put in the syringe, it was easy. I didn't flinch giving Henry the Insulin, and he didn't seem to notice! Win-win!

Friday May 10: It's been a stressful couple of days, with everyone adjusting to closely monitoring Henry. We of course, are all worried about him. I'm not sure if he really knows he has diabetes, but I think he does notice he is getting a lot of attention! I administered his insulin shot again tonight, with no problem. I'm really proud of myself for facing my fear of needles and being able to give shots. If you had told me last week that I would be giving insulin shots, I would have laughed and would have said you were kidding! But now, I have something new to add to my cat ability resume >^..^<

I will definitely continue my feline wellness posts as well as post updates about Henry. I'm sure in the coming weeks I will continue to give insulin and learn more about diabetes in cats!

Friday night, Henry helps me study for finals.

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