When 10-year-old Koko was diagnosed with diabetes on March 25, 2015, his blood glucose was at 522 mg/dL. A cat’s normal blood glucose level should be between 72 to 175 mg/dL – and Koko was way beyond any acceptable number. Hoping that Koko’s struggle with diabetes might be inspiring to other diabetic cat owners, Koko’s mom is sharing his story:
Koko came to his owner from another family and was always a big cat that just loved to sit on someone’s lap. Other than that, Koko showed very little interest in doing anything else. In August 2014, Koko weighed 22 pounds. At the time of his diagnosis, his weight was at 19.7 pounds. His owner brought him to the veterinarian because of increased water intake and massive amounts of urine that made it hard to keep the litter box clean.
After being diagnosed with diabetes on March 25, Koko received initially one unit of Lantus insulin injections twice a day which was then increased to 3 units twice a day. His diet was changed from the general Purina dry food and Friskies wet canned food to ½ can of Purina Dietetic Management wet food and ¾ cup of Purina Dietetic Management dry food per day.
On April 2, Koko returned to the vet for a follow-up blood glucose test which showed 462 mg/dL. On April 9, he returned to the vet for a full blood glucose curve showing the following: Blood glucose levels of 498 at 9 a.m., 555 at 12 p.m., 572 at 3 p.m., and 564 at 6 p.m. – despite having received his insulin shot in the morning.
Was Koko insulin resistant or was stress a factor in his absolutely “whacky” numbers?
The only way to find out if Koko was affected by stress when at the veterinarian’s office was to test Koko’s blood glucose level at home.
After a veterinarian’s technician taught Koko’s owner how to use the Alpha Trak2 system to test Koko’s blood glucose levels, it showed that at home, Koko’s blood glucose levels were between 350 and 400. The goal for regulating a diabetic cat is to keep the blood glucose concentration between 100 and 300 mg/dl throughout the day – and Koko wasn’t quite there yet.
Before his diabetes, Koko used to eat whenever he was hungry, and the change in diet and timing to just twice a day during his insulin injections was so stressful to him that he licked out his fur and cried frequently – day or night.
After consulting with Koko’s veterinarian, his feeding time was broken down into eight small meals (every 3 hours) with the largest portions of it at the time of his insulin injections – but Koko was not losing weight on exercise or his prescribed daily diet – nor did his blood glucose numbers go down.
After hours of research, phone calls, tons of notes and observations, and calculating how many calories a cat should eat in order to lose weight, Koko’s owner discovered that one cup of Purina DM dry food had 592 calories, one can of Purina wet food had 191 calories. As such, on his prescribed diet, Koko was getting 540 calories per day. At 22 calories per pound, Koko was eating enough to be a 24.5-pound cat.
On April 29, desperate and frustrated about Koko’s weight, his owner switched his diet to 2 ½ cans of Purina DM wet food (no dry food at all) to see if it would make any difference in his weight.
And the amazing thing happened — Koko’s weight didn’t change, but his blood glucose levels improved:
Within two days of being on the wet food only diet, Koko’s water intake decreased, his urine output was better – and his blood glucose numbers came down slowly. To his owner’s surprise, Koko became more interested in his surroundings when taken outside for his daily exercise, and inside the house, he began jumping on furniture which he had never touched before. He was clearly feeling better.
By June 15, Koko’s blood glucose was at 268 at the time of his insulin injection and at 103 at the time of his Nadir (5 hours later).
By June 30, exactly two months after having switched to the wet food only diet, Koko had a blood glucose level of 88 WITHOUT having received his insulin injection.
Since his numbers were 88, 101, 125, 156, and 150 throughout the day on June 30 without any insulin, his owner consulted with the veterinarian and received the advice to give Koko only one unit of insulin if his numbers went above 220. On July 1, Koko received one unit of insulin when his blood glucose went up to 221 – and it was the last insulin injection he has needed.
As of today, Koko’s blood glucose level is being tested about every three days and his numbers are staying between 90 and 135 without any insulin. His owner is using his water intake, his urine, and his activity level as an indication as to how often to check his blood glucose levels.
Koko’s weight has not changed that much. He is holding steady at around 18.6 pounds. He is getting 2 cans of Purina DM wet food (382 calories) and no more than 20 Purina DM dry food nibbles (about 20 calories) which brings him to 402 calories. At 22 calories per pound, it means he is heading towards the 18.3 pound range. With the help of the PetSafe 5-meal timer, Koko’s wet food is still broken down into 8 small portions but he does not always eat all of it.
Koko has gone from a cat that would barely move to being a cat that gets to walk outside with his owner to visit a horse, goats, bunnies, birds, lizards, and whatever other creatures are out there. He loves rolling in the dirt, resting in the shade, and looking at the tree that he’ll someday climb.
For whatever time Koko’s remission from diabetes lasts, the one thing he would say is that having diabetes is probably the best thing that could have ever happened to him. He gets all the attention in the world, and with every day that goes by – he is exploring more and more things.
NOTE: If you have any comments or questions in regard to Koko’s story, you may contact the author at Exploration@cox.net.