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 Jasper Blue and Jay, Mar 15, 2019.

  1. Jasper Blue and Jay

    Jasper Blue and Jay Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2019
    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
  2. Idjit's mom

    Idjit's mom Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    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: http://www.dcin.dreamhosters.com/
    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.
     
  3. Jasper Blue and Jay

    Jasper Blue and Jay Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2019
    Thanks so much, I'll look into all that.
     
  4. Bama Kitty Mom (AL)

    Bama Kitty Mom (AL) Member

    Joined:
    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.
     
  5. Jasper Blue and Jay

    Jasper Blue and Jay Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2019

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

    Noah & me (GA) Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    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.
     
  7. Noah & me (GA)

    Noah & me (GA) Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    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.
    006_jasper.JPG
     
  8. Dusty Bones

    Dusty Bones Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2013
    A few bits of advice... Feed as often as he'll eat, if he doesn't like his new wet food sprinkle some freeze dried treats like Purebites that can be found in most pets stores or on Amazon. They come in many flavors and are pure freeze dried meat that is crunchy, 0 carbs and cats love it. I've seen several cats go in remission by just changing their food from dry high carb to low carb wet like Fancy Feast or Friskies without insulin. Good luck and read as much as you can on here, lots of good advice and info!
     
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  9. Jasper Blue and Jay

    Jasper Blue and Jay Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2019

    Not at all. I appreciated that you took the time to address it line by line like that, it helped make it a bit easier to process.

    We had our car repossessed in the middle of the night and it took a few very stressful sleep deprived days to get it back, but tomorrow hopefully we can start insulin, a generous board member who wishes to remain anonymous sent us some Lantus but I haven't had a chance to get needles yet. Tomorrow when my spouse gets home from work we're going to get some needles.

    I am watching videos right now about how to give them insulin, and i'm terrified about hypoglycemia so I want to learn about that too before I give him any.

    Hes very small and the lantus pen looks like it only gives 0 - 1 - 2 etc ... so I want to figure out how to do a half dose with it...

    I picked up honey... and a can of gravy FF and a can of the FF medley because @Bellasmom (i think) said they are med/high carb in case his sugar does get low.

    I'm typing this out because it's helping me process it all lol... I'm so overwhelmed... and so nervous I'm going to make things worse for him...


    He has been getting as much food as he needs as often as he asks...

    We have only tested his sugar 3x now.. I was hoping to be better at it by now, but it still takes me a long time and too many pokes to get blood and his poor little ears are both bruised up already and we've only done it 3x :(

    The first time we did it we finally got blood right away after @Bellasmom reminded me to use a warm washcloth, but then it took forever the second time again and this morning it didn't work at all until I got a rice sock. Hopefully tomorrow will be easier but its scary.


    I'd rather people be blunt and I get the most important details/facts than not have the right/complete information because people are afraid to offend me. So please don't worry about "bluntness". And please feel free to repeat stuff because this is all so emotionally draining and it's information overload at the same time.


    I really appreciate everyone who has taken the time to reply , it is nice to not have to do this alone, I literally couldn't do it.
     
  10. Bellasmom

    Bellasmom Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2018
    U have to draw the insulin out with ur syringe
    At the end of the pen u will see orange and that's where u insert the syringe, make sure u push the plunger on syringe all the way down first and insert into pen draw a little.more than u want and make sure no bubbles in syringe tap with finger and push out some till u reach .5 I would test at +2
    Test before shooting and then +2 (2 hrs after insulin)
    Others may weigh in
    @Bobbie And Bubba @Judy and Boomer @Wendy&Neko
     
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  11. Bellasmom

    Bellasmom Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2018
    Dont forget to make a spreadsheet so we can see what the numbers are and can give advice, if we cant see them it's hard to help u
     
  12. Noah & me (GA)

    Noah & me (GA) Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2016
    Thank you for that. This is what the internet was meant for; more compassion, less Kardashian.
    Just remember we all started somewhere. I was a wreck with our first diabetic. You're going to make some mistakes, you're going to see some blood but you are definitely not going to make things worse for him.
     
  13. Olive & Paula

    Olive & Paula Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2015
    One important thing. Do not inject air or insulin back into the pen. It can turn the insulin bad.

    There is a thread called Supply closet. Check it often. Some members offer up supplies they no longer need or use.

    I have some syringes I can send you. Check your inbox at top of page.
     
  14. Bellasmom

    Bellasmom Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2018
    Thanks Paula, I forgot to add that
     
  15. Sonia & Leo

    Sonia & Leo Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2018
  16. Darnell & Sprocket (GA)

    Darnell & Sprocket (GA) Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2015

    Hi. Looks like you got alot of good advice. I have one suggestion as I am not sure anyone else mentioned this. Diabetic Cats In Need help with supplies too.
    They help us all so much. They are the best non-profit organization I have ever seen.
    So look up their name on facebook and contact them.
    Hugs
     
  17. JanetNJ

    JanetNJ Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2016
    If the ears are getting bruised you may be accidentally hitting the vein. Poke the very outer edge of the ear. In the meantime a little neosporin ointment with pain relief could help the ear heal. 15DC2C7E-EA83-4E6B-8140-5109C85AF265.jpeg
     
  18. Anne MacLaren

    Anne MacLaren New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2019
    I have a full bottle if ProZinc insulin with syringes and needles It'll last about 3 mos at the dosage you've been given I think. My baby died right after I bought a new bottle You can email me privately if interestef
     
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  19. Jasper Blue and Jay

    Jasper Blue and Jay Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2019
    I'm so sorry for your loss :(

    We have some right now and because he uses such a small amount it should be a while before we need more, and I'd rather it go to someone who needs some right now.

    Thank you so much for thinking of Jasper. :bighug:
     
  20. Noah & me (GA)

    Noah & me (GA) Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2016
    @Anne MacLaren
    No loss goes unnoticed here. You certainly do not have to be a long time member to write about it in Grief, it has helped many people. :bighug:
     
  21. AliceMeowliss&Cassandra

    AliceMeowliss&Cassandra Member

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    Jan 8, 2019
    I love that. Js. Lol. <3
     
  22. AliceMeowliss&Cassandra

    AliceMeowliss&Cassandra Member

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    Jan 8, 2019
    @Jasper Blue and Jay , how are things going now? Like you, I got a rough start due to limited resources, and I feel that so, so much. I felt guilt trying to push in on me for not knowing how to do better, and sometimes I tried to convince myself that what I was already doing would be enough. Tried diet change. Eventually found the Novolin N and syringes could be had for less than $40 @ Walmart together for 6 weeks+. It wasn't enough. DCIN helped me when Alice almost died last weekend. So there is help and don't be afraid to use it!
    A great idea my friend came up with, when everyone was recommended freeze dried zero carb treats, was to look for bulk freeze dried chicken online.
    I reached out to friends for common supplies like alcohol wipes for the insulin bottle, sometimes my friends bring me extra food, and if my diabetic can't eat it and it's still healthy (read: not dry and filled with CORN), the other cats can. It helps me save money in little tiny ways. (They all get wet food in their diets though no matter what.)
    Turns out a lot of the diabetic humans I know have extra test strips just laying around because insurance sent them, or they switched to a pump...
    Anyway I hope things have improved! :)
     
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  23. Jasper Blue and Jay

    Jasper Blue and Jay Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2019
    Thanks for checking in. We're getting by so far. Its adding up though, the test strips alone, I don't know how people do it with the more expensive test strips. Cost of living is high in NJ but most assistance programs use federal poverty limits to determine eligibility so we don't qualify. My aunt is trying to help me get a better job but I won't know for a few more weeks. Also another thing about NJ... I called the vets around here when I was trying to find an affordable vet...and they will only prescribe prozinc or vetsulin. And the vet we picked was very understanding and tried to convince us to go with vetsulin because it was more affordable but I was too worried I couldn't handle it being a more fast acting type. But anyway she said that it is hard to get pharmacies here to sell human insulin for cats. If this goes on much longer of course I'm going to have to revist that with her...or maybe even... I just thought of this but... we only live about 15 minutes from the PA border... maybe we could go to a vet there if thats the only way to get lantus or something. I don't know if thats a legal thing or not... I'm not sure why not.

    Anyway I'm exhausted...haven't slept more than a few hours in days so I'm rambling even more than usual lol


    I'm so glad you were able to get some assistance. This is all so hard even without financial worries. :(

    Thanks again for checking in on us, I appreciate it. :bighug:
     
  24. JanetNJ

    JanetNJ Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2016
    I'm in NJ and my vet perscribes it to patients. I chose to go with ProZinc but lantus was another option. I think it's just your vet. Plus lantus is cheap of you order it from Canada from Marks Marine pharmacy. Like 1/3 the pric. Just get the vet to perscribe it and order from Marks
     
  25. Jasper Blue and Jay

    Jasper Blue and Jay Member

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    Mar 15, 2019
    I'll have to bring it up with her again if it comes to that.
     
  26. Olive & Paula

    Olive & Paula Well-Known Member

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    Sep 6, 2015
    Vet in PA can give you a written script. You can fill it in NJ or PA. I hear Costco or Sams have good price but I don't know for sure
     
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  27. Jasper Blue and Jay

    Jasper Blue and Jay Member

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    Mar 15, 2019
    Good to know, thanks! :)
     
  28. Squeaky and KT (GA)

    Squeaky and KT (GA) Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2011
    THAT statement from your vet is very wrong and only said because she hasn't bothered to check. Human pharmacies don't care who it's for as long as they have a prescription. Between my 2 sugarboyz, I've used human insulin for 8 years - purchased it from several places without a problem even tho' the script very plainly says Feline and is from a vet's office, not a human doctor.
     
  29. Larry and Kitties

    Larry and Kitties Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2009
    But for N/NPH insulin a prescription is not even required in the USA. Walmart has the best price.
     
  30. AliceMeowliss&Cassandra

    AliceMeowliss&Cassandra Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2019
    This is true. And when they tell you to NOT refrigerate it and toss it after 6 weeks, it's a crock. As far as I can figure out and the pharmacists admitted, it's to reduce contamination risk by tossing early (but you should already be wiping the top off before and after getting insulin out, with alcohol wipes or alcohol on a cotton ball), and so it wont be "too cold" when you shoot. Our cats get such a small amount that NPH warms up more than fast enough. IMO.
    But for 100 syringes (50 days if you're shooting twice/day with no accidents or wet shots!) and the NN, it was $38.

    Walmart went out of their way to tell me I did not need a prescription next time.

    Not all veterinarians are equal. Some are wonderful at some things, and not as well-equipped at others.

    Most of what I have really learned in life is from experience--usually because something went wrong. Your vet is the same. What are their experiences?

    Don't let your vet psych you out. Hugs.
     
  31. AliceMeowliss&Cassandra

    AliceMeowliss&Cassandra Member

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    Jan 8, 2019
    all that being said, I couldn't regulate Alice on NN until I got more aggressive and was shooting 3x/day. I read that it may not last that full 12 hours in some cats. Many cats?
     
  32. Jasper Blue and Jay

    Jasper Blue and Jay Member

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    Mar 15, 2019
    I do know there are weird drug laws in NJ and I read on a pharmacy website you can only buy 10 syringes at a time in NJ if you don't have a prescription so what she said kind of made sense but I'll have to press her on it if it comes up again , or maybe call a couple pharmacies myself and just ask.
     
  33. Squeaky and KT (GA)

    Squeaky and KT (GA) Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2011
    First - there's 2 strengths of insulin. If you use 'U-40' Vetsulin or Prozinc, you will use U-40 syringes usually available only thru the vet. There are a few places online that carry them. You cannot buy them at a human pharmacy.

    If you use a human insulin - NPH, Lantus or Levemir - you will need 'U-100' syringes. Those ARE available at a human pharmacy. You will need to get a script from your vet indeed to buy a box in NJ.
     
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  34. Jasper Blue and Jay

    Jasper Blue and Jay Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2019

    Yeah unfortunately we have to use the expensive u40 ones with the prozinc, ,but others are telling me to switch to u100 and use the conversion chart?

    Especially since his small dose seems very hard to get consistently on these u40 syringes.

    I don't really want to do it but... when we went from .50 to .75 he responded almost like we overshot the sweet spot. It's still early to tell for sure but it seems like a smaller unit of measurement than the .5 markings on the u40 syringes might be necessary at some point.
     
  35. Olive & Paula

    Olive & Paula Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2015
    If you are close to PA, you can get a box of 100 insulin syringes without a script. It sounds like PA is your best solution since its only 15 minutes for you, it would only be every couple of months if you stock up.
     
  36. Jasper Blue and Jay

    Jasper Blue and Jay Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2019
    Yeah that is probably a nonstarter ... I don't know if I can convince a medical professional to give me a prescription for the wrong syringes on purpose lol...sounds so weird to even say it... I thought I read on like walgreens site you can get 10 at a time in nj without a prescription.
     
  37. AliceMeowliss&Cassandra

    AliceMeowliss&Cassandra Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2019
    Honestly up until FD I thought you had to have a script for any syringes at all, everywhere. Apparently not. Lol. I second the whole driving over one state thing. The trick is to make everything as cost effective as possible. That will make room for other surprise expenses, vet trips, etc.

    I can't advise on the dosing though. :\ I've only tried Lantus and NPH.
     
  38. JanetNJ

    JanetNJ Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2016
    U40's aren't any more expensive. Buy them off Adwdiabetes.com but if you need to Micro dose then maybe 100's are better for you
     
  39. vstarjewel

    vstarjewel New Member

    Joined:
    May 7, 2019
    I think that I read in one of your posts that you're feeding them canned food with gravy. Someone may have already commented on this but you don't want to give diabetic cats any type of cat food that says it has gravy. Stick to the pates they have the least carbs.
     
  40. AliceMeowliss&Cassandra

    AliceMeowliss&Cassandra Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2019
    There are times you might* actually want to use a gravy-based food, such as in the case of a severe BGL drop/hypo risk. It's not a bad thing to have medium and high carb food for emergencies. :)

    *Note: I say might. Every cat is different.
     
  41. vstarjewel

    vstarjewel New Member

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    May 7, 2019
    I agree! We have two other kitties, so we have other foods if needed...sometimes I forget that not everyone has (at least ;)) multiple babies. Thank you for adjusting my post! :p
     

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