Gizmo, a neutered male tabby, was born in April of 1986. I
came to live with him and his mom Margo about four years later. He sprayed my duffel bag the first couple of times I stayed here
but we got over that and soon became good friends. He was
low maintenance love for many years. Sometime in 1996 he lost most the hair
on his sides and belly from his forelegs to his tail and he lost considerable
weight. A few traumatic visits to the vet produced no real diagnosis other than anxiety and
possibly an allergy to fleas. He's an inside only cat and we never saw any fleas, but it was a
bad year for fleas in Houston (Texas) and the vet said sometimes it just
takes one or two. After two hormone shots that produced no results I put a flea
collar on him and he started to gain weight and grew all his hair back.
The problem seemed to have gone away without any real answer.
In September of 1997 we
noticed he had lost weight, looked bad, and was eating, drinking, and
peeing enough for several cats. We thought he was just getting old. Near
the end October we could see that his condition was quickly getting worse
and we took him to the vet after a weekend of wishing it weren't a
weekend. The look on the vet's face during the examination told me we were in big trouble.
Gizmo was diagnosed as diabetic, ketotic, and everything that goes
with untreated diabetes. His case was turned over to Dr. Meola because she had some experience with
diabetes. Gizmo's condition was so
serious that she asked us to sign a release form so she could take
him home at night and he would
not have to put in a 24 hour emergency clinic. She took him home several nights but he was refusing to eat at the
clinic and had to stay on an IV. After a week, it was decided that
he had to get off the IV and we should take him home and see if we could
get him to eat. He did not eat at first and we had to force feed him with a syringe as best
At this time, I was ignorant and continued to give insulin even
though he wasn't eating very much, and one day
Margo came home at lunch to check on him and found him apparently dead,
tongue hanging out, very still, and he had lost bowel
control. After she called me
and told me he was dead she heard a moan and did exactly the right things,
putting Karo on his gums and getting him straight to the vet's where they
met her in the parking lot. The vet had a breathing tube and IV in place in seconds.
Margo called me on my way home and told me to come to come to the vet's.
When I got there Gizmo was awake and shaking violently but very
alive. He came around.
When we took him home he started eating again and started looking better.
But the blood glucose curves at the vet's were discouraging and very
traumatic for him.
When Dr. Meola suggested I get some urine test strips I did but I
bought a blood glucose meter too. I
had found the Feline Diabetes web site and message board and learned
something about how people manage diabetic pets. Dr.
Meola was not very encouraging
about glucose monitoring at home until I faxed her the first curve.
After that we had a system that worked for Gizmo we stayed with it.
We were using Humulin NPH and the curves showed that it did not
have a long enough duration. We tried Pork NPH and found it to be the same. We tried Ultralente and found that it only dropped his BG
occasionally. By now, Gizmo was suffering from neuropathy in his
legs and he could barely walk. We tried 70/30 insulin and thankfully I was monitoring BG because
he dropped from nearly 350 to 32 in two hours and I knew it was Karo time again.
None of the insulin we tried were helping Gizmo, and we were running out
of options. I was aware through the internet that Anpro still had some PZI
available and I told Dr. Meola that I wanted to try it even if it may not
be around much longer. Our
first curves on PZI weren't great but they showed that it was effective
and had the duration Gizmo needed.
Gizmo was improving. Once we got near the right dosage I felt
that I had a handle on it and stopped the marathon weekend curves.
Blue Ridge now makes the PZI instead of Anpro and we haven't had any problems with the new
manufacturer. Now I check his BG before every shot and take mid day
readings on weekends to check the lows.
Shot time readings are not consistent but much of the time they are
around 200 where I like to see them.
Sometimes they are around 100 and sometimes they are over 300, and
I adjust the insulin dose and timing (when possible) as needed. Over the last few months
his typical dosage has gone from 5.6 units to 4.0 and may go down again
All that we have been through may not
sound very good but the fact is that right now Gizmo is
a healthy, happy cat and my biggest problem is getting his weight
back down. His neuropathy is fully
healed, and he can jump to places he does not belong and can be up
the stairs in milliseconds. The
bg numbers have never been perfect, but Gizmo seems fine after two years
of being diabetic. In hindsight, we're not
sure if his anxiety / flea problem was related to the diabetes or if
the hormone shots contributed to Gizmo becoming diabetic.
We are very lucky. This little critter that becomes a total monster when
he had to leave his domain and go to the vet's has no problem getting two
earsticks and two injections a day at home. We just seem to have fallen
into something that works for now. I owe most of our success to the
people who have shared their knowledge on websites and mailing lists.
Gizmo's insulin requirements change frequently but we have not seen
a symptom of hypoglycemia in well over a year. If I had not
learned about home testing I'm sure this would not be the case. I am also
aware of his litter box habits and how he seems day to day but I'm a male
and I need bg numbers, even if they aren't what I want them to be.
Contributed by Jim.
Webmasters note: Gizmo passed away in April 2002
after a struggle with kidney failure.
Contributed November 1999
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