Older pets have special needs that arise as their years advance and age brings its own particular healthcare concerns. Often the signs of change in an older pet's health are slower in onset and harder to notice than in their younger years. Slow but persistent weight loss is a common example of a sign of change in the health of older pets. This is what Pickle's owners first noticed this year when he dropped around a kilogram in 6 months. Suspecting something serious behind this, Pickle's owners brought him in for a check up. His full physical examination found no obvious reason for the weight loss. Remarkably, considering he is 15 years of age, he was found to be in good health!
Diabetes is a relatively common issue for elderly cats. It is similar to diabetes in humans, in that it comes about through the cat's inability to produce enough insulin to control their blood sugar. The solution is to provide their insulin by injections and when combined with a change in diet, the results can be excellent.
Pickle's owners learnt to do Pickle's insulin injections. The needles are so fine he hardly notices them being done. His dose of insulin was adjusted based on testing his blood sugar repeatedly through the day at the hospital. As his blood sugar steadied out he returned to his normal self and has started to gain weight again. Pickle's response to treatment has been fantastic. Four weeks after starting insulin, he has normal blood sugars all day and is well in himself.
Pickle's diabetes may resolve because of his treatment, or he may be diabetic for the rest of his life. Identifying the cause of his weight loss has stopped diabetes unnecessarily shortening his life and allowed him to enjoy a good quality of life in his old age.
From Pickle's parents:
"A bit of background of Pickle. Pickle was rescued as a kitten from neighbours who I observed playing catch with him. I managed to persuade them to give him up as it was obvious they were not cat lovers. He has had a loving home ever since (15 years). He is the coolest cat I've ever known, and nothing phases him. He used to come on long walks with our dogs down to the beach in Cornwall, England. He emigrated with us from the UK to Australia three years ago. His favourite past time is playing with shoelaces under the influence of catnip.
Recently, I noticed that Pickle had lost weight, was drinking a lot of water, sleeping more than usual, and his back legs were giving way. I thought he had some kind of organ failure due to old age that would ultimately end in him dying so I took him to the vet to ensure that what life he had left was as pain free and comfortable as possible. I didn't think he would see another summer. The vet conducted blood tests and asked me to get a urine sample which indicated that Pickle was diabetic and his condition was treatable. Such a relief - he is now on insulin twice per day, and within a few weeks he had returned to his old self, has put on weight and his back legs are back to normal.
Our heartfelt thanks go out to Greg and the team for making our beloved boy better. "