Diabetes in Elderly Cats
As she’s grown older, Susie now spends most of her time sleeping, and so she has stopped wearing down her own nails. She needs to have these trimmed every 6 months so that they don’t grow into the pads of her feet. She hates having this done, and I need to wrap her gently but firmly in a towel so that she doesn’t bite and scratch. These visits are a useful opportunity to give her a general check over, and I always weigh her and give her a worm tablet.
Signs Of Diabetes
On her most recent visit, Alison mentioned that during the previous fortnight, she had started to piddle under the kitchen table. She had always been fully house trained, so this was very odd. I explained that the best way to find out what was going on would be to check a urine sample. But how could we collect urine from a cat like Susie who hated being handled? While we considered this dilemma, a nurse helped me to trim her nails, by doing the usual towel-wrap and restraint. Susie struggled, but we managed to achieve our task, and there was an unexpected bonus: Susie piddled on the table as soon as we’d finished. I sucked up some urine with an empty syringe, and we were able to test it in our practice laboratory.
Urine Results Sample
The results showed that Susie’s urine was full of blood and glucose. This gave us two diagnoses: first, she had diabetes, and secondly, she had a urinary tract infection. Diabetes is common in older cats, affecting one in 100 to 200 cats. And because diabetes causes glucose to appear in the urine, bacteria can easily proliferate, so urinary tract infections are common. This combination of diseases explained why Susie was piddling in strange places: affected cats have a sudden sense of urgency.
Treatment of the infection was simple, giving her a course of antibiotics. Diabetes is more complicated: many cats need twice-daily injections of insulin, and this would not be possible in independent-minded Susie. There is one alternative: some cats respond to a simple change of diet, feeding a special high protein, low carbohydrate diet. We started Susie onto this new diet, and she’s due for a revisit next week. This time we’ll need to collect a blood sample to check her blood glucose. Susie won’t like this, but I only need a drop of blood for the test, so a pinprick into the pad of her back foot while restraining her in the towel should do the trick. If her blood glucose is normal, the conclusion will be that the new diet is sufficient treatment, with no need for daily injections of insulin at home.
Alison, myself, and of course Susie, are all hoping for the best.