Angus’s story begins in December of 2015, when after recently moving to the area his pet parents decided to bring him in to see Dr. Woods as Angus had been over grooming. As with all consultations, Dr. Woods performed a thorough physical exam, she found nothing out of the ordinary to explain his behaviour. Angus was sent home with a cone to prevent him from licking, and a few days later he was fine.
Fast forward 3 months to March 2016 when Angus’ owner decided to make an appointment for him as she noticed that he hadn’t been eating well for a few days and had even noted some weight loss.
When Angus and his owner arrived mid-March his weight was checked, he had lost 3 pounds since his visit 3 months prior. That may not seem like a significant weight loss, but if we were to compare it to a human being, it would be the equivalent of a person losing 30-40 pounds in the same time frame (pretty serious).
His physical exam and consultation revealed that he also had increased drinking and urination, as well as being slightly dehydrated. Dr. Woods could feel what appeared to be a possible mass on his right side.
Multiple conditions such as Kidney disease, Hyperthyroidism and Diabetes could explain all of these symptoms. With these in mind, Dr. Woods recommended checking his blood glucose level, (a simple test that could be run while he was visiting the clinic). This could either diagnose or eliminate one of his possible conditions. The test revealed that Angus’ sugar level was very high, with that Dr. Woods could confidently diagnose him as being a diabetic. This however, did not explain why she felt a mass in his abdomen.
Dr. Woods followed up by recommending a full blood panel and urinalysis to help identify any secondary issues. She also recommended that Angus be admitted into the clinic so that he could have hydrating IV fluids administered, and so that we could start him on insulin while being closely monitored.
One of the interesting things that diabetes does is that it causes the sugars in the body to pull fluids from the system and moves it to the bladder. This is why you will see an increased thirst and urination – even though the pet is drinking more, their body is not receiving any benefit from it. This is why IV fluids are necessary, not only will they help rehydrate the pet but it will also help make management of diabetes with insulin therapy easier.
Dr. Woods also recommended taking Angus for an Ultrasound to assess the abdominal mass. Together Dr. Woods and Angus’ owner decided to hold off on the ultrasound until his diabetes was under control and he was more stable. He was admitted into the clinic and was started on fluids; we began administering insulin the next morning.
We were happy to see that he responded very well to the insulin. We kept him an additional night to continue hydrating him and to further monitor his blood sugar levels.
We were very happy to see that Angus continued to improve over the few days that he was here. Lucky for him, his owners did not wait too long before bringing him in. Had they waited much longer it could have been much more difficult to turn him around.
Upon his discharge from clinic his owners took him to a referral clinic for an ultrasound, where he was diagnosed with Fatty Liver disease, secondary to the diabetes, it is also common in overweight cats that are not eating well. This was a diagnosis we were happy to hear of, as it would reverse itself with proper nutrition and control of his diabetes.
Although Angus’ owners were very nervous about having to give their fur baby insulin injections they quickly realized that it wasn’t as hard as they thought it would be. When one of our technicians called his owner to see how he was doing Angus’ owner stated, “I was so nervous about the needle the first couple of times that I gave him the injection of insulin, but by the third day I realized that he wasn’t even reacting to me poking him with a needle!”
Angus has continued his progress at home and his owners are becoming more comfortable and confident as each day passes.
Like many conditions that affect pets, catching it early is the best way to be sure that your pet remains healthy. Annual, and even semi-annual examinations are our best chance at catching disease processes before they become severe or even irreversible.
In cases of diabetes in cats, if caught in the earliest stages diet change may be enough to control and in few cases we may able to place diabetes into remission with insulin therapy.
Cats are such creatures of habit; we cannot emphasize enough the importance in bringing in a cat with any change to their routine or behaviour, as these may be the very first signs of health complications.