Diabetic Tabby Gets Second Chance at Life

November is National Pet Diabetes Month. As a pet owner, you will likely be the first to spot the symptoms of diabetes, and it’s important to seek immediate care.

Like humans, cats can get diabetes, and proper treatment is extremely important. When Cooper was diagnosed with diabetes and his original owners could no longer care for him, he was lucky to win the heart of someone who was trained to provide him with exactly the kind of care he needs.

Cooper lived the majority of his life with a family who loved him very much. His family brought him to VCA Aurora Animal Hospital in Aurora, IL, because they were concerned about his weight loss. He was also eating, drinking and urinating a lot. Samantha Middleton DVM, MS, DACVIM, a veterinary specialist in internal medicine, diagnosed Cooper with diabetes.

Cats with diabetes need special care. They require a special low carbohydrate diet to reduce the amount of glucose in the body, and most cats require insulin injections twice daily to keep blood glucose in check. 

“The owner, unfortunately, was not comfortable with using needles and had chosen to have him euthanized,” says Dr. Middleton.

Luckily for Cooper, he was in the right place at the right time. Laura Kirk, a veterinary assistant at VCA Aurora, couldn’t bear to see Cooper’s life ended when she knew he could improve with proper care.

“So I offered to take him from her if she would be willing to do that, and she did agree to let me take him from her then,” says Laura.

“His previous owner was very happy to be able to give him to somebody that could do the care needed to care for him now that he was a newly diagnosed diabetic,” adds Dr. Middleton.

In addition to extensive home care, diabetic cats need frequent visits to the veterinary hospital for blood monitoring, urine tests, and physical exams. Cooper visits VCA Aurora every couple of months for blood work. Laura uses a FreeStyle Libre device on him, which is a continuous glucose monitor. 

“That just gives us a lot better information to see how they're responding to the insulin and just to see where they're at,” explains Laura.

Between the care he is receiving at VCA Aurora and at home from Laura, Cooper is now thriving.

Once diagnosed and started on insulin, Laura and Dr. Middleton saw Cooper improve markedly. He has gained weight (maybe a little too much, jokes Dr. Middleton) and likes to ham it up for staff on his hospital visits. 

“We all really love him – very tolerant of the procedures, very tolerant of wearing his Libre device, and just overall a very good candidate for being treated for diabetes,” says Dr. Middleton. “Not every personality, human or animal, is going to be ideal for that situation, but with Cooper and Laura, it is a great combination. I think that is why he has done as well as he's done.”

“He's a joy to have, and I'm glad I was able to give him a second chance,” says Laura.

November is National Pet Diabetes Month. As a pet owner, you will likely be the first to spot the symptoms of diabetes, and it’s important to seek immediate care. The most common symptoms of diabetes in cats are:

  • Increased Hunger or Appetite 
  • Excessive Thirst 
  • Increased Urination 
  • Weight Loss
  • Weakness or Fatigue

If you recognize any of these symptoms in your cat, find the VCA animal hospital closest to you right away to schedule an exam to test for diabetes and other potential causes. As with most medical conditions, early detection and treatment of diabetes is recommended for the best possible outcome for your pet. 

Cats with diabetes like Cooper can live happily and healthfully with the proper treatment and monitoring by both you and your VCA veterinarian.

Are you concerned that your pet has potential diabetes symptoms?

"He's a joy to have, and I'm glad I was able to give him a second chance."
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