I’m pretty excited about this article because I have good news to share. My diabetic cat has gone into remission from his disease. That means no more needles! (For now anyway.) I am very pleased about this because when it comes to giving my own pets needles, I’m just like any other owner-I hate doing it. And even though the needles we use to administer insulin are very fine and ultra small, still, the every day twice a day routine IS a pain.
Here’s Chewbacca’s remission story. I diagnosed Chewy, my 12 year old Maine Coon cat, with Diabetes Mellitus last year. He’d started to drink lots of water and the litter box was soaked on a daily basis. Blood work revealed a high sugar level, so much so that he was spilling some into his urine. Cats are virtually always insulin dependent diabetics so I started him on insulin glargine (Lantus). Lantus is a long acting, recombinant human insulin, and is the preferred product for cats. Chew started getting twice daily injections. I also started feeding him special food for diabetics: canned food that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates.
About 6 months after his diagnosis, Chewy had a hypoglycemic episode. He was disoriented and became very shaky. Fortunately, I was home and was able to correct his very low blood sugar. Subsequent blood sugar checks always showed his sugar to be in the normal range. And so I stopped giving him insulin. And he began eating a regular over-the-counter cat food again.
Chewy remained in remission for about 6 months, but then I noticed him starting to drink lots of water again. He went back on insulin, we resumed feeding a diabetic food-faithfully this time, and within 2 months, he went back into remission, a condition he retains to this day.
Recently I attended a veterinary conference where Dr. Dave Bruyette, a top endocrinologist (hormone specialist) lectured extensively on diabetes in cats and dogs. According to him, Chew’s story is not uncommon. Bruyette reported that cats who are started on insulin glargine, and are fed a diet high in protein and low in carbs have an almost 80% chance of going into remission from their diabetes. That’s incredible.
That statistic is so impressive as to warrant starting all diabetic cats on insulin glargine. Why wouldn’t you? Indeed there are other insulins, and Lantus is not cheap. One bottle is roughly $130. Yet, if starting Lantus will mean that a cat will go into diabetic remission, and will not require insulin injections for the rest of his or her life, then that’s a small price to pay. Also, Lantus is now available in a pen size, (read smaller) so the cost is less than a full bottle.
Bruyette also stressed that cats stay on a strict diabetic diet. In fact, I’m fairly sure that Chew’s relapse back into the diabetic state was due to my lack of vigilance with his diet. This component of recovery cannot be minimized. Most major pet food manufacturers like Royal Canin, Purina and Iams make a low glycemic index formula. Though they come canned or dry, canned is preferred in cats.
The performance of insulin glargine in inducing diabetic remission in cats is a major medical milestone. There are other insulins available, but none have the impressive remission rate of Lantus. It should be noted, however that this statistic applies to newly diagnosed cats. Cats started on other insulin products, then switched to glargine can remit, it’s just not as likely.
This is very good to hear, my cat has a similar story. She is now in remission for a second time. After the first time I purchased Diabetic canned and dry. I suspect I was giving her too much dry and that is why she went back into high sugar levels. Now that she’s out of remission I might remove dry altogether. But will talk to my vet either way. I was just curious if you’ve removed dry altogether and stuck only with wet? Every cat is different just curious what works for other cats. Thanks again for the great story!