What could be sweeter then a diabetic pet?

Rainbow Bridge June 19, 2002

In February of 1989, I lost my 15 year old  cat, Sam. At that time I
decided that there would be no more pets. I had lost Frisky,at 17 years,
the year before, and just didn't want to go through the pain again.
After several months had passed, I found that I really missed having a
cat around, so I checked the newspaper to see if anyone had kittens to
give away. That was in May, and of course there were kittens available
that time of year. And so Tigger and her sister Daisy came into my life,
two little round balls of fluff. (They say cats are like potato
chips--you can't have just one.) I decided at that time that they would
be indoor kitties. I just couldn't entirely deny them being outdoors
though, so they were trained to wear a harness and lead from the time
they were young. When the weather was warm we spent  part of most
Saturday afternoons in the back yard. My girls loved to chase bugs and
eat grass, and once Daisy even caught a bird, but she didn't know what
to do with it, and it got away when she lifted up her paw.

During the first ten years Daisy was never sick (still is healthy), but
Tigger had an injury from running through some branches that required
veterinary care, and was also treated for infections on two separate
occasions. Then in April of 1999, I noticed that the litter box was
wetter than usual. That was the first sign that something was going on
with one of my girls, but which one? Then I noticed that Tigger didn't
seem to be as heavy as usual when I picked her up, so we got on the
scale and found that she had lost about a pound. Her normal weight was
always about 10.5 pounds. So off to the vet we went. They kept her
overnight and did some tests. The next day they called and said that Tig
had diabetes. I was in shock--this couldn't be true. I think I cried all
day, I was sure that I would lose her. The vet explained the options for
treatment. He said that oral medications sometimes worked for cats. I
really wasn't thinking straight, and was terrified of  having to give
her shots, so decided to give the oral meds a try. We started out with
two pills a day, and over the course of two months worked up to 4 pills
a day. They helped a bit, but just didn't do the job, and Tigger
continued to lose weight. Looking back, I realize that we should have
given up on the oral meds much sooner than we did. Actually, knowing
what I know now, I would have started with the insulin right away.

Towards the end of June Tigger was started on insulin, Humulin U. Much
to my relief, the shots were much easier to give than the pills. She
started out at 2 units once a day, and by the end of July was up to 6
units once a day. By this time she was down to 6 pounds and looked like
a holocaust victim. She had also developed a urinary tract infection and
was put on antibiotics for that. When she had the urinary track
infection, she leaked urine, but once that was cleared up we didn't have
a problem with urine leakage again. About that time her insulin dosage
was changed to 5 units twice a day. By the end of September she was up
to 7 units twice a day, and her bg's were running mostly between
250-350. It was obvious that the U wasn't working for her, so at the end
of September the switch was made to Humulin L. This insulin did the
trick, the bg's started coming down, and the weight gradually started coming 
back. Looking back now, I think the vet was probably too conservative in 
his treatment, and the changes in medication should have been made sooner.

During all this time, Tigger was seeing the vet at least every other
week, usually for 4 blood test two hours apart. The vet visits stressed
her out so badly, that they were never sure how accurate the later tests
of the day were. So finally in December, with lots of tips and support
from the email List, I learned to do home testing. The vet was very
supportive, and said that as long as I could test her, we wouldn't have
to come in as often. Tigger was much happier, and her bg's settled down
to where they were mostly between 80-200 most of the time on 5 units of
L twice a day, and it wasn't long until she was back to her normal
weight. Once she was well regulated, I mostly just did spot-checks, or
tested when she didn't seem to be acting quite right. Tigger hated to be
tested. Actually, it wasn't the testing she hated so much, but having to
be held while I warmed her ear up before. Warming the ear seemed to be
the key to getting a good drop of blood for the test.

Tigger also developed neuropathy in her hind legs early on. She walked
on her hocks, and had trouble jumping up on her favorite sleeping
chairs. This cleared up completely once her bg's were regulated, and to
look at her, no one could tell she was sick.

When she was first diagnosed Tigger was put on HSD Feline Lite Maintanence 
food. Both cats ate it for a year or so, and then decided they weren't going
to eat it anymore. So at that time I started feeding them Purina Hairball Control,
which is also high fiber. My cats have always fretted, and we continued ith that after 
Tig was diagnosed. It worked okay for us, and there was always food available 
if Tig were to go low while I was at work.

Tigger got her insulin 7 AM and 7 PM  every day, so my life revolved
around that schedule. The only time in those three years that Tig was
boarded was when I had to take my mother out of town for surgery. I
always felt so bad leaving her, but didn't have any other choice. My
mother's last surgery was in May, so Tig was boarded twice then when Mom
had her surgery and when I went to bring her home.

In mid June, Tigger didn't seem to be quite herself, so I did a
manicure. Her bg's were running from 335-380. By evening she wasn't
eating. That was very unusual for Tigger. She wouldn't even eat canned
chicken, something she usually loved. So the next day I took her to the
vet. He said that she was a bit dehydrated and he would keep her
overnight and give her some sub fluids and try to get her to eat. The
next morning (Sat.) The vet tech called and said that Tig had perked up
and the vet thought she might eat better at home. She seemed better at
first, but within an hour of bringing her home it was obvious that she
was very sick. She wouldn't eat and just laid (not relaxed) in unusual
places. Called the vet back, and he said to bring her back in. She spent
the week-end on an IV, which perked her up some, but she still wouldn't
eat. Monday they drew some blood for testing, but the tests had to be
run at the local hospital, so the results wouldn't be back until Tuesday.
Somehow, at that point, I felt that I was losing her. I ran out and
spent some time with her on my lunch break, then took some time off
Tuesday to spend with her. She was so happy to see me. She was still on
the IV, but wanted me to hold her. This was very unusual for her, as she
didn't normally like to be held. I spent about an hour with her, holding
her and talking to her. Tuesday evening the vet called with the test
results. Tig's liver was diseased, she was anemic, and her blood was no
longer making white blood cells. I took Wednesday off from work, and
after consulting with the vet and holding Tigger some more, the decision
was made to let her go . While I held her in my arms, my sweet Tigger
went to the bridge at 12:15 PM, June 19, 2002. 
Little girl, you will be forever in my heart.

Nancy Dasinger
Sidney, Montana

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