Owners of diabetic cats need to be aware of a syndrome in which their cats are no longer diabetic.
While that sounds like good news, it rarely is, for several reasons.
First, this is not a predictable syndrome. One never knows when it is going to happen. It happens in but a small percentage of cats and there is no way to know which cats will be affected.
Second, it’s not a permanent change, and reversion to diabetic status is just as unpredictable as the former switch was.
Causes for this problem are not clearly defined. Endocrinologists agree that the first step is for the Beta cells in the Islets of Langerhans, embedded in the pancreas, to resume producing insulin. Perhaps a time period of our providing insulin gives them a rest. After all, it is widely believed that diabetes results when the Beta cells are exhausted. In some cases perhaps capacity for insulin production still exists; the cells are merely tired, not exhausted.
A recuperating period then allows insulin to enter the bloodstream again, processing blood sugar (glucose) along with the insulin we have provided, dropping blood sugar levels to a dangerous, even deadly level. Observed, these patients will exhibit predictable signs in this order: lethargy, vomiting, loss of consciousness, seizures and death.
If you are fortunate enough for the episode to occur when you can see your kitty entering it, you can administer highly concentrated sugar solutions, such as Karo syrup. Of course, this option is viable only in awake cats.
If you find your cat comatose there is no time to lose. Take him to the nearest animal emergency hospital for intravenous glucose and fluids administration, along with other therapies.
Be prepared that cats who survive this syndrome take several days to get back to normal.
Once the emergency is over, the waiting game begins. When will those Beta cells become tired again and quit producing insulin? Days, weeks or months may pass, but relapse will occur. Watch for the signs you observed when your feline friend was first diagnosed: change in appetite (usually increased), weight loss, increased thirst combined with more urine in the litterbox.
That’s the evidence that tells you to call your pet’s doctor for an appointment to begin the regulation process again.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.