Interview with Venita of Diabetic Cats in Need (DCIN)

| November 12, 2011 | 10 Comments
The Orinch Boyz

The Orinch Boyz

When Floppycats reader, Demik (that’s their user name!), mentioned Diabetic Cats in Need (DCIN) in the Floppycats Ragdoll Cat Forum, I thought it might be a good idea to reach out to Venita for an interview and education for us! Thank you, Venita, for the interview.

1. Tell me a little bit about yourself, how you became involved with diabetic cats and how DCIN was started.

In 2005, my cat Maxwell was diagnosed diabetic. I joined the FelineDiabetes.com Message Board (FDMB) and learned a lot about feline diabetes.

With appropriate treatment, Max went into remission and no longer needed insulin. But my involvement with feline diabetes continued when Max’s littermate Ennis became diabetic in 2006.

Poughkeepsie

Poughkeepsie

I saw people coming to the FDMB wanting to rehome their diabetic cats. I would help, mostly on transports. I began a blog to organize those requests and called it FDMB Cats in Need.
I developed a rescue in 2009 from that rehoming blog. It got a new name—Diabetic Cats in Need (DCIN). A nonprofit animal rescue accepted DCIN as an affiliate. DCIN’s primary focus now is keeping diabetic cats in their original and adoptive homes through its Financial Assistance program. DCIN still has its Rehoming program, and hopes to start a Shelter/Rescue program. We also hope to establish DCIN as a stand-alone 501c3 in 2012.

Bastian

Bastian

We have expanded our communications channels, reducing our reliance on the FDMB. DCIN now also posts on DiabeticCatCare.com, its own Yahoo Group, and the DCIN Facebook page.
Demand for DCIN services continues to exceed its ability to provide them. DCIN grew this year with the addition of Jennifer as a case manager. We are now training two more case managers, Carl and Céline. DCIN will add more case managers soon.

2. Is diabetes in cats as it is in humans? In other words, there’s Type 1 and Type 2?

Spivey

Spivey

Yes, diabetes is much the same in cats as in humans—both Type 1 and Type 2. However, the overwhelming majority of diabetic cats are Type 2. They are “middle aged” cats that have environmental and medical causes for their hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels).

3. What is the leading cause of diabetes in cats?

Diabetes is epidemic among domesticated cats and even feral cats in managed colonies. With cats, the leading cause, in my opinion, for hyperglycemia is a carbohydrate-rich diet. Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they have a basic metabolic need for a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. But many cat caregivers have been sold on the convenience and “quality” of a kibble diet for cats. Kibble diets, even the most expensive ones, often are 40 to 50 percent carbohydrates. In time, the cats’ metabolic systems become unable to properly function—and the result is diabetes, liver failure, kidney failure, or various other medical problems.

Luna

Luna

I suggest the website of Lisa Pierson, DVM, for people who want to learn more about cats’ nutritional needs.

4. What are some signs that my cat is diabetic?

Increased thirst for water and increased urination. Lethargy. Weight loss despite increased appetite. At a point, the lethargy may become severe, as the cat becomes ketoacidotic, meaning that its body is no longer processing protein to fuel its cellular activity but is instead processing fat. At this point, the cat’s appetite usually will fail and its metabolic functions—renal, liver, and others—shut down.

5. What are the risks in having a cat with diabetes?

Ralph

Ralph

When a cat becomes diabetic, the caregiver needs to (1) recognize the cat’s clinical symptoms, (2) get the cat to the vet for diagnosis, and (3) start treatment for diabetes. If this is not done, the cat may die a painful death from ketoadidosis. With ketoacidosis, the cat will starve to death (because its cells don’t have the insulin needed to “unlock” them to nutrition), passing in a state of coma after some period of struggling to survive.

People with cats that present with diabetic symptoms should take their cats to a vet for diagnosis. There are other conditions that present with certain similar symptoms—such as renal failure and hyper-thyroidism. If the cat is diagnosed diabetic, there are several steps the caregiver can take to best treat the cat’s diabetes. I discuss these next.

6. If I have a diabetic cat, where can I go to get help and support?

Tawny

Tawny

There are three basic steps a caregiver can take to best treat a diabetic cat. (1) insulin therapy with an appropriate insulin (Lantus, Levemir, ProZinc or another PZI product, but not “N” insulin), (2) a low-carbohydrate, canned- or raw-food diet (but not a diabetic prescription diet, especially not one that is dry), and (3) hometesting of blood glucose levels with a human glucometer. If there has been or is a risk of ketoacidosis, DCIN also recommends testing urinary or blood ketones.

What? What’s that all mean? That’s all Greek to me. There are two very good message boards (forums) where caregivers of diabetic cats can learn fundamentals and develop a support network. These are at DiabeticCatCare.com and FelineDiabetes.com. The members on those sites collectively have thousands of years experience treating diabetic cats on a daily basis. They also are very welcoming. It’s all about the cats, we say.

7. Is there anything that Floppycats and our readers can do to help DCIN?

I thank you, Jenny, and Floppycats for helping to spread the word about feline diabetes.

Certainly there are all the normal ways that people help animal rescues—participating in our periodic fundraisers, which this fall is a CD-based cookbook; donating cash (including sponsorships for our unrestricted fund and for specific cats); donating supplies; offering to foster DCIN-rescued cats; and volunteering for projects that we post on our Help Wanted page. We also have posted Calls to Action for the month of November—National Diabetes Month—to which we would like people to respond.

However, a special way that people can help DCIN is to learn why they should feed cats a species-appropriate diet, and then do so. A better diet for cats means there will be fewer diabetic cats. Even with that, however, there still will be plenty of diabetic cats to keep DCIN in business for a very long time.

8. Is there anything else that you’d like to comment on that I forgot to ask/mention?

With appropriate care, a cat’s hypergylcemia may be reversible. About 70 percent of the unwanted diabetic cats that DCIN rehomes come “off the juice” (that is, they no longer require insulin shots) within a couple of months of appropriate diet and insulin treatment. However, once diabetic, always diabetic, we say. Those cats should be kept on a species-appropriate diet to avoid the return of hyperglycemia.

About the Kitties Featured in this Interview:

Click on their names to visit their blog posts.

Poughkeepsie—A ragdoll that DCIN helped to rescue from an unfortunate tragedy. I believe he is no longer insulin dependent. This is his blog page, which I have asked his case manager to update to reflect how he is doing in his new adoptive home.

Spivey—an insulin-dependent Maine Coon mix looking for a home. Her blog page is here.

Ralph—a funny boy in a shelter. His blog page is here.

Tawny—An adopted Maine Coon mix that DCIN currently is assisting through an ER visit for diabetic ketoacidosis. She is one of our special cats. Her blog page is here.

Bastian—a dear, dear boy. I have fostered him and treated his diabetes for a bit. He is no longer insulin dependent. His blog page is here.

The Orinch Boyz and here – We have a bonded pair in foster care we call The Orinch Boyz. Their photo is attached to the email. We have tried to adopt them separately, with no luck. So, given no one seems interested, we are putting them back for adoption together. Their separate blog pages, which I have not yet put back together are here for Beasley and here for Twinkie. They are both insulin dependent.

Luna—What a dear young girl. She is in MA. Her blog page is here.

Print Friendly

Tags:

Category: Health Care

You may also like:

About the Author ()

Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

Comments (10)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Great interview! Morgan waves to Venita – remember me?

    What I loved was the interview was informative, yet not grumpy like so many things we’ve read about feline diabetes. There are many wonderful people like Venita who are willing to help with support and advice – yet not ram their personal ideas down your throat.

    Morgan is the abnormal diabetic – he was born with diabetes, and will never be insulin free. I did so much research when he arrived – contacting every vet we could find that had experience with a kitten diabetic. I learned a lot from them, and I also learned to trust his vet. Morgan being the rare one – not everything is textbook – and things happen that cannot be explained.

    But having a Diabetic Cat is something that can start out scaring you to death, after a while – it becomes routine. And you learn to see the smallest signs of change in them.

    Morgan eats Fancy Feast, Purina One, and Evo Dry. He’s also been on ProZinc insulin for about a year. He was a PZIVet kitty, then on Vetsulin for a few months until ProZinc was released.

  2. Being honest – it depends on how if your vet is a money grubber?

    The ProZinc from Dr Nero/Cat Clinic is $85.00 a bottle, I called Noah’s Ark where I take the dogs one day to check the price, $127.00 a bottle.

    Dr Nero really tries to keep costs down for his patients – when Amigo spent a week there for his crystals – he apologized for the large bill. It was 1/2 what I would have paid at Noah’s Ark, and I knew Amigo was in the best hands possible.

    Morgan also has PROZyme in all of his food which I get on-line for about $19.00 a huge bottle. I order my U-40 syringes on-line for $15.00 a box – 4 boxes at a time gets me free shipping 🙂

    • Jenny says:

      OK – so break it down for me – what does that work out to be for 1 week?

      • dawn says:

        I had a Ragdoll, Woody, that I had adopted as a diabetic. Monthly costs for his diabetes would be-
        PZI insulin- $60
        Syringes- $12
        Glucose strips- $15-$50 (usually tried to buy on Ebay as they were cheaper)
        Total- $87-$122

        Costs did change as he got regulated. I didn’t need to give as much insulin so instead of buying it monthly, I was eventually getting it every 6 months. He had last a lot of weight when I got him and had been undiagnosed for a long time so he needed to eat a lot more when I first got him. He was eating about 6-7 cans of Fancy Feast a day at the beginning.

        I also did tight regulation for about the first 2 years so was testing his glucose about 4-8 times a day. Woody never got off the insulin, but the wet food helped keep him regulated.

  3. Maybe $3.50 a day including everything? That’s why he has his beds – he’s an expensive little pirate – but well worth it?

  4. Karalee says:

    Thanks for putting the issue of feline diabetes out there. We had a DSH male who was diagnosed as diabetic at 10 years old. It was a matter of changing his diet and 2 needles daily to manage his disease. We never would have thought to abandon him because of this. With our vet’s help, he lived another 6 years before the disease took him.

  5. dawn says:

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful group! I’m Poughkeepsie’s new person (and demik on the forum). Pough is now off the juice after having been on insulin for 5 years and switching from an all dry diet to all wet. Along with adopting him, I also adopted another diabetic cat who also is now diet controlled after getting off the dry food. She had just been diagnosed when I adopted her and hadn’t started insulin.

    I learned about the importance of wet food about 5 years when I had a cat with intestinal issues. After trying all the special diets, I switched him to Friskies wet and since then he hasn’t had any problems. Dr. Lisa’s site, Cat Info, is very informative. I just recommended it to a friend whose cat is now hospitalized after developing a urinary blockage. A wet diet can make a big difference in his never blocking again.

    • I agree Dr Lisa’s site is good. But I would be really careful with a urinary blockage. Our big guy Amigo got blocked a few years ago – right after I had switched their dry food. Switching back he was fine.

      BUT – about 6 months ago – he started screaming his heart out one morning. I dropped him off at the Cat Clinic and his urethra was totally blocked with crystals. He spent a week with the Doc and blocked several times. At the time he was eating Friskies Canned, and Evo dry.

      He’s now eating U/R and S/O Canned, and only S/O Dry. The Doc said we could give the S/O dry to everyone – so only Morgan will get the Evo dry now.

      Since Amigo has been on the new food he’s like a different cat. Running, Playing and a goofball. We know his half brother also has crystal issues – but the Royal Canin is so worth the extra money seeing how he is now.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.