A 15 year diabetic cat
In August of 2010, Joss, a fifteen year old domestic short hair cat was admitted and examined at the clinic because he was lethargic, painful and not eating or drinking. Dr. Noreen Carrigan examined Joss and ordered extensive testing; blood work to check liver and kidney function, a complete blood count, a feline leukemia virus test and a feline immunodeficiency virus test, urinalysis, abdominal xray, and a feline pancreatitis test. Joss’s test results came back positive for feline pancreatitis.
The pancreas is an endocrine organ which means it produces hormones that regulate body functions, the most well- known of these hormones is insulin, which helps regulate blood sugar levels. It is also an exocrine organ and produces enzymes which are involved in digestion of food. Pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas causes digestive enzymes to be released into the pancreas itself rather than into the intestinal tract. No one is sure what causes pancreatitis in cats.
Joss was in an incredible amount of pain and required intensive nursing care and supportive therapy. Joss was treated with IV fluids, constant pain control, syringe feeding, medications to block the release of stomach acid and medications to help with nausea and abdominal pain. Joss had to be on a special prescription diet which is formulated for easy digestion. Joss’s family visited him often in the clinic and spent a lot of time encouraging him to eat and finally after four days Joss began to eat when hand fed by his family. Joss had made enough improvements to go home with special home care including pain control, special diet and the medications to help with nausea and abdominal pain.
Joss continued to show steady improvements until a month after he went home. He started vomiting and was so weak he could not lift up his head. Joss needed to be put into intensive care at the hospital again. Dr. Carrigan put Joss on IV fluids immediately and we ran another blood panel which revealed that Joss had diabetes. The pancreas could no longer regulate its insulin and Joss had very high sugar levels in his blood causing him to be incredibly ill. Joss was severely dehydrated and was getting high levels of IV fluids and was started on insulin injections. He was also painful and needed to go back onto his pain medications. Joss did not respond to the treatments and after two days he was still incredibly weak, depressed and painful in his abdomen. Dr. Carrigan changed his pain medication to something stronger in hopes that we could make him more comfortable while we tried to get the sugar levels to decrease in his blood. Dr. Carrigan tried different types of insulin and different combinations but nothing was working. She consulted with other veterinarians around the world to see if they had any suggestions to help Joss. Joss’s family visited often and the lack of improvement in Joss was disheartening for them but they continued to hope and allow us to try to save Joss.
Finally on the third day, Joss started talking and was able to move around a bit, his blood sugar was still very high but on the third night Joss took a turn for the better. At his evening check he was walking around talking and eating on his own. Joss was very up and down for the next three days but was finally stable enough to go home. Joss’s family would have to have to give Joss injections of insulin twice a day for the rest of his life.
Joss still comes in for regular checks to make sure his insulin is working and at his last visit in November he had gained back a little bit of the weight he had lost. Joss is alive today due to the perseverance and caring nature of his family.