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This is the story of Teddy and his diabetes.  There are parts of this I hope you can learn from.

Initial Signs

It began when I noticed that Teddy was drinking a lot more and there more clumps in the litter box. I clean his litter box every day. Many times, the first sign that something is wrong with your cat is a change in litterbox routine. Normally I would find two clumps of litter about the size of my fist (Teddy is a big cat).  At this point though there were four clumps and they were much larger.  I knew something was wrong.  I made an appointment with the vet for the next day.

The vet drew blood and took a urine sample.  She said Teddy’s problem could be one of four things:

  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid
  • Urinary Tract Infection
  • Crystals in his urine

We would know the next day.

The Bad News

The vet called and told me Teddy has diabetes.  Normal blood sugar is 72-175.  Cats under stress might have blood sugar as high as 250.  Teddy’s was 478.  Because we caught it so early before any damage could be done and before Teddy’s condition had a chance to deteriorate, the prognosis was good. He would need insulin shots twice a day. The vet asked me to come back later in the day with Teddy so she can show me how to give him his insulin shots. She also would gave me prescriptions that I could fill at Target or Walgreens for the insulin and syringes.

Learning to Give Teddy Insulin Shots

Teddy and I visited the vet so I could learn how to give him his insulin shots. I was nervous and scared. but I would have done anything for my little boy Teddy. The vet was absolutely super. Using a saline solution instead of insuline, she demonstrated the technique and then had me do it to.  Teddy never flinched, never moved. By all appearances he never felt a thing. Of course this was the vet’s office and he was under a lot of stress and so may have been really distracted. The real test will be the first time I give him the injection at home.

We also spent some time talking about nutrition.  Teddy was overweight.  When we initially adopted him from the shelter he weighed 12 pounds.  At this point however, he weighed 20.  It was important to get his weight down because that would contribute greatly to getting his diabetes into remission. We’d been leaving a bowl of dry food out continuously, but we need to get him used to just two feedings a day. We also started transitioning him to Hills Science Diet MD which the vet said was more appropriate for a diabetic cat.

Be sure to read more about feline nutrition here.  Very Important.

The First Insulin Shot

The next morning I gave Teddy his first insulin injection at home. It was easy-peasy.

Teddy loves the Whiskas Temptations treats (only 2 calories per treat). I showed them to the vet and she had no problem with Teddy getting a few a day. Every morning when I head downstairs to my office Teddy follows me and I put him on the chair and give him a couple of treats. Believe me, he loves those treats and they absorb his entire attention for those few moments while snarfing them down.

I had the syringe all ready and as he was eating his treats I swiftly and smoothly gave him the injection. He never noticed. I felt a wave of relief. “I can do this. Teddy can do this“.


Every few weeks, Teddy and I returned to the vet’s office where he would have blood drawn to see if we needed to adjust his insulin levels.  That meant poor Teddy had to stay at the vet’s office while they did a blood glucose curve.  It did not work out well.

Teddy was a rescue.  From what we can tell from his behavior, his owners moved and left him behind. Clearly, he had lived in a house with people and other cats but something happened and he found himself outside, alone, and scared. Eventually someone trapped him and brought him to the Arizona Humane Society. He ended up in a little cage alone, confused, and scared.  It was apparent to me that these trips to the vet and being in the little cage were giving him flashbacks.  He was very scared.  And that caused his blood sugar levels to go through the roof.

The vet suggested that instead of spending the day there doing a blood glucose curve, we do a Fructosamine test. it was a different blood test that would measure his blood glucose levels over a longer period of time.  Teddy would still have to make the trip to the vet but he would not be in that little cage all day.

After a few trips, we finally settled on an insulin dosage of 5 units per shot (we started out at 1 unit).

Checking Teddy’s Blood Sugar Myself

Using a blood glucose meter, I taught myself to check Teddy’s levels.  This was actually harder than the insulin shots.  Teddy is not a cuddler and he does not like to sit in a lap. And he definitely does not like his ears messed with. I can’t say I ever got really good at checking is blood glucose level.  What it did allow me to do though was to track his levels enough to adjust his insulin dosage if/when necessary.

Insulin is Expensive

The insulin the vet prescribed was Lantus.  Very expensive.  That first vial was $260. Yikes!  The second and subsequent vials for over $300.  YIKES! Fortunately, I had a good friend who was diabetic and gave me a significant amount of her excess Lantus.

Be sure to read this about coping with insulin costs.

And Then I Learned About Feline Nutrition

This went on for several months with no change in Teddy’s blood glucose levels. I started doing some research. If you and your cat are making this same journey then in the strongest terms I urge you to read everything at The short version is that the cheapest canned wet food is far far better for your cat than even the most expensive prescription dry food. Once I understood the importance of meat-based protein vs plant-based protein, and the effect of carbohydrates on cat physiology, I made the decision to switch Teddy from the Hill’s Science Diet MD to canned wet food.  He loved (and still loves) Friskies Savory Shreds. It meets Dr Pierson’s recommendations for percentages of carbs, proteins, and fats, so we decided to stick with what Teddy likes.

Light At The End of The Tunnel!

The change in Teddy was immediate and dramatic.  He was much more lively. Within a week his Blood Glucose levels started to drop. I got to where I could read his mood and actions so well that I almost didn’t need the blood glucose meter to tell me what adjustment I needed to make to his insulin dosage.

Within four months Teddy’s blood glucose levels were in the normal range without insulin shots.

Update: Teddy had a wellness exam earlier this week.  His blood glucose level is 107.  Perfectly normal.

So there.  From diabetes diagnosis to complete remission.  Teddy is happy.  I am happy.

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