Patient Profile: Tucker

Author: Sarah Brandon, DVM

March 17, 2011


How important is early detection and constant diligence when it comes to chronic disease management? It can make all the difference, and it has in the life of one of our patients, Tucker.

Tucker is a 12-year-old M/N, who first came to us on January 4th with weight loss, significantly increased urine output, and water intake over 4 months. His owners also noted weakness in his hind legs for the past month. With those presenting symptoms, there were several things our doctor considered: kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and diabetes mellitus. Following the examination, a urinalysis was performed to assess glucose control and urine concentration; a full blood panel, to look at all three potential causes; and a blood pressure check due to his age as well as because at least two of those conditions can lead to hypertension. It was evident, very quickly, that Tucker had become diabetic. His blood glucose level was 541 and glucose was found in his urine. (Normal glucose for a cat is 70-125, according to our local outside laboratory). Once his full blood panel came back, we could see that his thyroid level was normal and his kidney values indicated only the mildest deterioration. He clearly needed to start treatment for his diabetes to get his blood glucose under control.

The first step was to get him changed from his all dry food diet over to a 100% wet food diet. The owners said they noticed a change in his demeanor and hind leg weakness almost immediately once he started his new diet. The second step was to get Tucker started on an insulin regimen that would include testing his blood glucose level at home and staying in close contact with a doctor so that adjustments in his insulin levels could be properly made. Tucker's family was extremely diligent and we heard from them on a regular basis with updates on his current insulin dose, how he was eating, how his leg weakness was, and what his current blood glucose was. With each update came subtle adjustments. Tucker started his insulin on 1/13. One month later, his family reported blood glucose of 54 (low) with a good appetite and demeanor. They were advised to discontinue insulin. Tucker's latest blood glucose level and behavior at home continue to show remission without any insulin.

Thanks to Tucker's family's observation of his symptoms that lead up to his appointment, the doctor was able to make a swift diagnosis and get him started on a course of treatment to manage his disease.

Clinical signs of Diabetes Mellitus include increased urination and increased thirst, weight loss accompanied by an increased appetite (though some cats do have a decreased appetite), lethargy or depression, reluctance or inability to jump (rear limb weakness), dehydration, vomiting or diarrhea, and occasionally acetone odor on the breath. Any of these symptoms alone or in combination would warrant an exam and probable diagnostics. For further information on feline diabetes, check out Feline Diabetes or contact your veterinarian.