Acromegaly, arthritis, something else?

Discussion in 'Feline Health - (Welcome & Main Forum)' started by Gracie85, Sep 12, 2019.

  1. Gracie85

    Gracie85 Member

    Oct 20, 2018
    Lamborghini is 13 years old. Last fall we discovered he was hyperthyroid, and possibly diabetic. Got him on thyroid medicine (methimazole transdermal), which seems to be controlling it fine now, and switched him to FF classics pate, and his blood sugar numbers became good. He had lost a bunch of weight, he should be 13-14 pounds, he was down to 11 pounds even, and was no longer jumping onto the couch, had to climb with difficulty. We now have him at about 12-1/2 pounds and holding.

    During the diagnosis period, and after a long day at the vet for testing, later that night he could only walk by shuffling, which gradually got better after a few days (wondering if they scruffed him too hard at the vet??). That stopped and he has been walking normally for months now. But he hasn't regained his mobility (jumping/climbing), and recently it seems worse. Started him on zobaline a couple months ago, but now his lower back looks sort of humped when he walks, and he looks stiff and has a smaller, sort of hobbled stride.

    At the same time through all this, I noticed that when I pet his head, I feel a ridge in the center of his skull, running front to back, that I'm sure was not there in his younger, pre-illness life. At first we thought maybe it was when he lost so much weight, but now I don't think so, he has a prominent skull ridge. His face, down where the whisker "cheeks" are, seems to be a little longer, like the little puffs where his whiskers come out of are now protruding more. However, his color lightened up a bit (he's a grey tiger) when we got him on thyroid medicine, so maybe it's that his whisker puffs are just much paler now and so they appear to be farther forward?

    We do not test blood sugar on our own, and he's showing no signs of diabetes since we got him on FF (no extra drinking, peeing, weight loss, etc.)

    But what would be changing his skull and spine and possibly face?

    We can't afford to just take him to the vet and say "start running tests until you figure it out." Need some ideas or areas to focus on.
  2. Idjit's mom

    Idjit's mom Well-Known Member

    Apr 3, 2018
    Bumping to top of list
  3. Veronica & Babu-chiri

    Veronica & Babu-chiri Well-Known Member

    Aug 5, 2016
    I would suggest that you start testing his blood glucose at home, is a lot cheaper than a blood test at the vet because even if he's not showing signs of diabetes (drinking, peein etc.) that doesn't mean he's really regulated the diet change may have helped but if his numbers are off even with zobaline he may not recover mobility as much as you want you need the combination of both to really help him
  4. Keskat&Rocket

    Keskat&Rocket Member

    Feb 4, 2019
    Hello Gracie -- while acromegaly can present without diabetes, it is pretty rare. Diabetic symptoms (drinking more, peeing more, etc.) are often the first symptoms of acromegaly. Our cat Rocket was officially diagnosed with acro about two months ago. His diabetes diagnosis was back in February of this year. But in retrospect, there were signs back in October of last year - he snores, and can be a noisy breather. He was swallowing funny from time to time (possible tissue growth in his mouth and throat), and his meow changed to a much higher pitch, almost a squeak. And he had a couple of claws that were growing in really thick. And... he does have a bony ridge on his skull that I don't think was always there. There's almost what feels like a point between his ears.

    Anyway, like I said, it's very rare to have acro without diabetes in cats. If you want to have tests run, I would consider learning how to home test his BG at home, so you can save money by not having the vet do it. (BG tests done at the vet are almost always higher anyway, due to stress.) As for a specific test for acro, the only one is the IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor) test. Your vet will have to draw blood and send it out to Michigan State University; they have the only lab in the US that does the test. (Are you in the US?) It runs about $200, depending on what your vet charges for shipping, etc. That might have been including the vet visit / blood draw too; I can't remember.

    I really really hope it's not acro though!!! If it's bothering you, you could always have the test done just to rule it out. As for his blood sugar - if you're not comfortable testing at home, you could have a fructosamine done at the vet - this gets sort of an average of what Lamborghini's BG has been over the last few weeks, not just that day in the vet's office.

    Best of luck to you!!! Keep us posted. :cat:
  5. Gracie85

    Gracie85 Member

    Oct 20, 2018
    We have had the fructosamine test done, and it has been good. Prior to all of this, we had had him on Purina UR dry food after a very bad urinary episode; not yet knowing anything about feline diabetes or how horribly high the carbohydrate content of the UR food was. So, I think we got lucky in catching and controlling his blood sugar with diet before he got to the insulin-necessary stage. Do have a neighbor who is diabetic and an animal lover, and has a daughter who has worked as a vet tech, maybe she can help us with some testing to home to make sure he's doing okay in between vet bloodwork keeping an eye on his thyroid. (I am disabled and also going through some severe eye problems, there is no way I could do testing by myself.)

    Lamborghini does snore at times, and can be a noisy breather. He likes to sleep behind the couch and under the tables, I know when he's there because I hear him. His back claws are massive, long and really thick, and while he has used them when walking and running his whole life (and my feet have the scars to prove it), now they are always out fully, even when sleeping, and he actually clicks when walking across an uncarpeted floor; sounds the same as the dogs do. His head has that ridge down the middle of his skull that I'd never noticed before; and I'd swear the back of his skull, behind his ears, sticks out farther now. But I suppose it could also be that he lost the weight and body fat and muscle mass, so that I am feeling his bones more defined than before. Yet even when he was getting so underweight, if you look from above, he still has a little pot belly--I could feel the individual shapes of all the bones of his spine, and his hips and all, yet he still had that belly. Is why it took a while to convince my husband to take the cat to the vet, he didn't LOOK underweight, you had to feel his spine and pelvis bones to tell how much he had lost. Is how I've known when he needed his thyroid meds adjusted, I now feel for the weight loss via his bones. he's recovered much of the weight, but not the strength he used to have, he used to easily leap to the kitchen counters, now he struggles to climb up, full claws pulling, on the couch. And walks funny, hobbled.

    So, acro without diabetes is really rare; is there something else that would affect his spine and back legs functioning? Could it be just arthritis? Is there anything to be done, if it is just arthritis, if it is acro? Could it be something resulting from they hyperthyroid?
    It's just a really bad time for us to run up a huge vet bill, I'm facing what will be my third eye surgery and eighth eye procedure overall since just last March. But it's our Lamborghini.....
  6. Myrtlesmum

    Myrtlesmum Member

    Apr 13, 2017
    Is Lamborghini mainly an indoor cat? He may need his claws clipped? Indoor cats don’t wear their claws out as much as an outdoor cat, claws can grow too long and become uncomfortable for them to walk, jump etc. I have always had indoor cats and I know that when I start to hear the clicking on the floorboards that it was time for a clip. You can do it with a normal pair of nail clippers - just take the points off - don’t go down to the quick or the cat will bleed. I’m sure there are YouTube vids that will show you how or often a vet tech can do it too. I usually sneak up on the cat while it’s sleeping and clip a couple of claws at a time :)
  7. CandyH & Catcat

    CandyH & Catcat Well-Known Member

    Apr 23, 2019
    actually human nail clippers are a bit hard to handle, and the "pet" clippers tend to shred the nails, get a pair of wire clippers/pliers at the hardware store, make sure the edges come together smoothly -- if you can find an older pair at a garage sale, they are even better

  8. Larry and Kitties

    Larry and Kitties Well-Known Member

    Dec 28, 2009
    I have no problem with these clippers shredding cat nails

    On the other hand ones like these I have found to no work well

    This design looks promising since it you get the ones with the small hole you eliminate cutting the nail too short. One may need two sizes, one for from and other for rear.
  9. Myrtlesmum

    Myrtlesmum Member

    Apr 13, 2017
    30+ years of cat ownership and clipping nails - never a problem with regular human nail clippers - if a cat’s claws are particularly thick, toenail clippers are good too.
  10. Gracie85

    Gracie85 Member

    Oct 20, 2018
    Thanks for all the advice on clipping claws, but that's not the issue at all. If we clip his claws, he will not be able to get off the floor at all, not even up onto the sofa, as he uses them to pull himself up, with difficulty. I suspect he will have trouble with the (carpeted) stairs if he cannot use claws to assist pulling himself up. He is not skittering on too-long nails, he is weirdly a little stiff and limited, and it happened in less than a year.
  11. Wendy&Neko

    Wendy&Neko Senior Member Moderator

    Feb 28, 2012
    Not all acros show symptoms early on. My girl’s only symptoms were eye tearing (soft tissue growth) and ravenous hunger. She did however develop arthritis. In in the US, you can get Adequan shots, Cartrophen elsewhere. Fish oil can help with inflammation as can Duralactin. Hyaluronic acid also helps the joints. When pain got bad, we added regular buprenorphine and acupuncture treatments.

    Any chance you could post a picture of Lamborghini? I had a Countach kitty once. Not sure what could change the face other than excess growth hormone, though that typically increases muscle mass too.
  12. JanetNJ

    JanetNJ Well-Known Member

    Jun 8, 2016
    Pretty much all senior cats have at least SOME arthritis. for that my suggestion is adequan shots. If you would rather try something else, dasuquin can help in early arthritis.
    As far as facial changes, it could be acromegaly but his numbers would probably high. Test him at home this week and you can see if his numbers are up. A blood test for acro sent out to the lab is the only way to diagnose acro though. (My cat has it and also gets adequan)

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