Recently diagnosed 12 year old cat, very underweight, insulin not an option financially

Discussion in 'Welcome to the Group - Post an Introduction Here' started by Jblue, Mar 15, 2019 at 10:15 AM.

  1. Jblue

    Jblue New Member

    Six weeks ago my 12 year old cat started acting sick, lethargic for a few days, wouldn't let us hold him. Then one day he camped out right next to his water bowl all day and the next morning we woke up to a little bloody...something... on his blanket and took him to the vet. They wanted $1200 to keep him and run tests. But it turned out they didn't even bother to look at his anal area and he didn't have an internal problem like they told me (she said his organs were rotting and that was the source of the blood "in his feces" :( ) after we got him home I examined him myself (he has long hair so it wasn't obvious prior) and saw that really it was an abscess near his rectum that had ruptured. The stuff they did do ended up wiping out all my savings anyway and when they said he needed insulin I had literally $0 left in my account so it wasn't an option.

    Even though he had been gradually losing weight prior to that... a year or maybe two ...prior to all this he was overweight, and his litter-mate was very thin, so I was worried the other guy was sick. They ran all the tests back then, said our now sick cat had only ever so slightly elevated blood sugar, that it could be just from the stress of the visit since he's a very nervous guy and to keep an eye on it.

    So I went home all those months ago determined to finally get them off dry and onto wet food only. We have very low income and work many hours and so between lack of time and lack of money, and the diarrhea involved with changing foods and the refusal to eat at all if we withheld dry food etc, made it more difficult than we anticipated and unfortunately I was never able to make the switch. The best we did was get them to eat a few ounces of wet food once a day but unfortunately were still leaving the dry food out all day for them.

    But after all the initial attempts back then to withhold the dry food... the skinny guy gained a lot of weight and the overweight guy lost a lot of weight. I still don't understand how that happened but...the weight loss continued, gradually but he got way too skinny and I knew he was probably diabetic but we couldn't afford a vet visit so I just kept trying to get him to eat more and make sure he had plenty of fresh water available all the time. I should have started researching more then, but it was so overwhelming and I already believed there was nothing at all I could do to help him without being able to afford vet visits.

    So, six weeks ago when he had the infection, during the initial visit they gave him fluids and antibiotics under the skin. When we got home he was like a new boy. He was like his old self. He wasn't lethargic, he let us hold him, and he wasn't eating or drinking as much as he had been. That continued for weeks. In fact he's still fine..except he is drastically underweight. :(

    I hadn't realized until it stopped then but up til that point he had been peeing a lot more and the pee smelled a lot worse than it should. Since his visit his pee has been totally normal again just like his brother.

    I think because the weight loss and the increase in thirst/peeing was so gradual I didn't realize how bad it had gotten. But then 6 weeks ago when he had so much improvement from just fluids/antibiotics I got hope that just eliminating the dry food would really help him.

    I don't know what to do for him at this point without insulin.
    The vet gave us a prescription then for Glipizide? But my spouse had seen something online about that having bad side effects and we haven't had a chance to research it further yet.

    My biggest concern at the moment is how do you help an underweight diabetic cat gain weight without insulin?

    We have been giving him only Fancy Feast, the kinds listed as 0 or few carbs on the catinfo site, twice a day, every 12 hours because the vet said he should only eat twice a day. We do give a little bit of the occasional tuna fish or plain chicken or sardines only as an additional snack never in place of or before their regular wet food.

    When we were first home from the vet with what I thought at the time (and still am not sure) was an anal gland rupture... I had read that pumpkin helps with that...and that it *might* be good for diabetics because of the way it releases its carbs or something. So I had been giving him a teaspoon of that after he totally filled up on his wet food and wasn't going to fill up on pumpkin. I only did it a few days really because I was kind of nervous about it and wasn't sure if it was totally safe for his diabetes. But now I'm starting to wonder if it was helping.

    We have been making sure to get him to exercise which we had been too busy to do for far too long because I read that exercise is the best thing to help fix insulin resistance but we've had a stressful few weeks with a lot of stuff going on so the last few days haven't been able to get him to exercise much at all but at the same time I'm wondering how to get him to exercise safely if he's so underweight can he afford to be burning extra calories? :(

    Again, I can't afford insulin but am hoping there is some way to help him gain a little weight until I can either save up for insulin or research that other drug or something...six weeks ago his blood sugar was 500 at one visit and then 480 a few days later. :( I am going to look into getting a thing to test him at home.

    Thanks in advance for any advice.

    Summary: How do you help an underweight diabetic cat gain weight if they're not on insulin?
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019 at 10:39 AM
  2. Idjit's mom

    Idjit's mom Well-Known Member

    Apr 3, 2018
    Welcome to FDMB. You have come to the right place for help with your diabetic cat. There is an organization called Diabetic Cats in Need (DCIN) that assists people with financial needs take care of diabetic cats. I am going to tag a member here that works with DCIN so she can see if they may be able to help. @Chris & China (GA) Check out the website so you can learn about the organization:
    The Glipizide that the vet prescribed is an oral insulin and is not a good option for a cat. They need the form of insulin that is injected. It sounds like you need a new vet to help you care for your pets.
    There are three basic components of effective diabetic treatment: proper diet, insulin therapy and home testing. You are already a step in the right direction with the Fancy Feast low carb wet diet, but your cat is unregulated and he is not able to get the proper nutrition from his food right now. That's why he's hungry and thin. Since cost is an issue you can also feed Friskies pates, no gravy or sauces. You can find several varieties in larger cans, which would be less expensive per ounce. Check the FOOD CHART to find the flavors you can feed. Just use the filter, type in Friskies Classic pates, and the list will come up.
    We do recommend several smaller meals during the day/night for our sugar cats, and you can freeze the wet food in ice cube trays, leave out refrigerated and frozen cubes to thaw during the day for the cats to "graze" on.
    Start reading about feline diabetes and treatment, the Getting Started and Education sections on the Home page are a very good place to begin.
    We can help you learn to test your cat's blood sugar, it's the best way to keep him safe and know immediately what the levels are.
    Going forward please post in the Feline Health (Main) Forum HERE so that more members will see your messages and can respond.
    Noah & me (GA) and Jblue like this.
  3. Jblue

    Jblue New Member

    Thanks so much, I'll look into all that.
  4. Bama Kitty Mom (AL)

    Bama Kitty Mom (AL) Member

    Jul 16, 2018
    Not sure of your location but just going to throw this out there. Insulin has such wide ranging prices depending on what kind and where you get it. Walmart has Novolin N for $25 per vial which lasts my cat Bama for 3 to 4 months. Syringes are about $13 for a box of 100 and lasts just under 2 months for twice per day injections. At my location neither the insulin nor the syringes require a prescription. I just walk up to the pharmacy counter and ask for what I need. Many people say Novolin N is not a good insulin for diabetic cats but it is all I can afford for my cat. He's done fine on it for more than 4 years now. In the past year I started testing his blood glucose at just before feeding and injecting and sometimes throughout the day. He's gone through rough patches as many cats on all types of insulin do. He's overweight but otherwise pretty healthy at 12 years old. I hope you find a way to help your cat.
    Noah & me (GA) and Jblue like this.
  5. Jblue

    Jblue New Member


    Thank you, I'll look into that.
  6. Noah & me (GA)

    Noah & me (GA) Well-Known Member

    Dec 3, 2016
    I'm a bit tired right now and have not consumed every word you wrote but something's not right.
    "She said his organs were rotting" That's not very scientific or helpful, did she offer a real diagnosis?
    "Determined to finally get them off dry and onto wet food only" That's the right thing to do but do NOT get into a guilt trip about expensive "prescription" food.
    "We have very low income and..." Both my wife and I are on disability but have somehow managed to take care of as many as nine cats and a dog. There's a way to save money on everything. There is not one single item other than certain insulins that cannot be bought either online or at Walmart. You can do this.
    I've never used Glipizide because it rarely works if ever. All insulins work differently and some are much cheaper than others.
    "My biggest concern at the moment is how do you help an underweight diabetic cat gain weight without insulin?" I'm not being nasty about this but you cannot help a diabetic cat without insulin, end of story.
    "The vet said he should only eat twice a day." Nuts to that! I've only had two diabetic cats, many people here have had more and the strict feeding "rule" needs to go. The cat's life has already been turned upside down and now he's being told he can only eat twice a day? Both our boys were free fed and that had nothing to do how their lives ended.
    I rarely come into the Welcome forum but I know and trust Lou (Idjit's mom) so reread her post and more importantly do your own research.
    The Big One Veterinarians are taught very little about diabetes and begin to form their own ideas about what treatments are needed. Mine is great, her dad was a vet and she is devoted to all her customers. If there comes a time when you know something is not right or you're being over tested and over charged never let someone in a lab coat with a degree intimidate you. Many of us know more from spending time here than sitting around in a vet's waiting room. Knowledge is power.
    And remember, using DCIN is an honorable thing, you can give back later. Charity and pity are not the same thing.
    Bama Kitty Mom (AL) likes this.
  7. Noah & me (GA)

    Noah & me (GA) Well-Known Member

    Dec 3, 2016
    @Jblue I needed to make sure you understood where I was coming from yesterday, I'm not the greatest communicator. I also just realized his name is Jasper. We had a Jasper for a very long time, he was a blue ribbon cat meaning he had been at the shelter the longest.
    We get a lot of new members who post a few times and then disappear. I think some of that is because people like me can appear very blunt. Please don't mistake that for not caring, that's not who I am. I've been where you are now; out of time, ideas and money and it's no fun. It's just basic medicine that diabetes requires insulin and there's no way around that. I hope to hear from you soon.
    This was our Jasper.
    Daddy Jack's Mommy likes this.

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