Have I just completed the 12 step Alcoholics Anonymous programme and given up my favourite tipple?
But my cat and I have just been through an intense protocol called Tight Regulation to see if we could get him to be non-diabetic like he was a few months ago.
So what brought us to this point?
I named him Kahuna after the ancient Hawaiian Priesthood which were considered the ‘keepers of the secrets’. I love my cats to have unusual names. But my experience so far had been that naming one kitten Schrodinger (after the quantum physics experiment known as Schrodingers cat) and naming her successor Dilly (from the Arabic for Praise be to God Alhamdulillah) did not bestow them with long life! Schrodie died in The Thames just shy of being a full year old and Dilly was killed by a car before he made seven. Kahuna may have been a catalyst for Dilly’s road accident as he turned up as a Christmas present to me in 2001 and put the Persian Prince’s nose right out of joint. But Kahuna was already called Kahuna and the name had stuck. And more importantly he liked it – I think it lent to his swagger.
Kahuna was a tall youngster with a wide rib cage and a very long tail… which made him look like a tiger striped version of the Pink Panther as he walked away from you down the hall with a tell tale furry question mark dangling over his back end.
In Jan 2013 I became nomadic and Kahuna allowed himself to stay with my cat-loving neighbour in the flat downstairs. After an accident where he somehow managed to break a back knee he went and lived back upstairs again in my old flat with my ex-flatmate who he far preferred. By this time he’d been weaned on to a diet of biscuit and seemed happy enough with it.
Eventually I brought him back to live with me three and a half years later. I’d found a cute and tiny caravan in a two acre magical woodland, with streams and ponds, and no other cats and I planned to stay for a while. Four big Bulldogs lived next door but I was assured by the landlord that the fences were safe. They weren’t. Kahuna got chased one day by a Bulldog who looked like he would have ripped him apart of he’d caught him. Kahuna did the best thing he could and launched himself off a slope, tumbling down out of the reach of the dogs paws which had wrapped around his back legs. He fell a good 12 feet on to a stony bit of beach by one of the ponds while the Bulldog chased a dream of Kahuna further up the hillside.
However the fall had badly bust the ligaments in Kahuna’s right back leg and he had to have a cruciate operation and ten weeks of crate rest. All of a sudden the safe sanctuary I thought we were in, had lost some of its sparkle. I was feeding him less biscuit but it was still part of his diet even though I knew I’d prefer him to be on a raw diet.
One day I noticed he was drinking water …a lot of water. I took a urine sample to the Vets and the diagnosis was Diabetes. By the time I took him for his appointment a few days later he’d crashed! He couldn’t eat, he was limp and I knew that he was close to checking out. I thought he might want to go after all I’d brought him to some sort of hell. We rushed to the Vets and I thought this was it. They kept him in overnight. But with fluid and insulin he perked up and told me with his behaviour that he wasn’t ready to go to cat heaven yet.
We moved a week or so later. Living in that tiny caravan next door to those dogs felt like no option at all. A generous-hearted friend opened her beautiful big home to us both for the winter. At least he was no longer required to be in the crate.
Now I’d had a diabetic cat many years ago and I knew that if I put him on a raw food diet he could potentially come off the insulin but I wouldn’t know that until he had a fit, like the last one did! I finally found a raw food company who delivered to the door and the food was recommended by someone I trust but every time Kahuna looked lack lustre, which was a lot of the time, my heart lurched and I worried incessantly that I was about to overdose him. Doing 2 shots daily, although it’s what the Vet told me to do, just felt wrong and it was impossible to gauge his health at all and to decide if he was improving. One moment he’d look alert, the next he didn’t, he’d seem wonky on his feet, or just stand for minutes at a time staring at nothing. I worried at night as he found it hard to jump on the bed… sometimes he just didn’t have the strength and he’d fall on his bad leg. So bit by bit his insulin levels were increased until we were at 3 units twice per day. I was also under strict instructions to feed him at dosing time. Now if Kahuna didn’t feel like eating I worried again that he’d go in to a hypo and have a fit.
Just before Christmas I found DCC. The description of TR all made sense and although it was a ray of hope I also knew the level of commitment required to adhere to the protocol. Underneath that was the concern that if he didn’t get off the juice I’d be even more tied to the house than before. But a little bit of knowledge is a challenging thing. And once you know something you can’t unlearn it. Each day that passed over Christmas I ached to know what his blood sugar was doing even though trying to get blood out of his cool little ears really worried me. What I hadn’t realised was how phenomenally bad cat biscuit is for cats and how very badly our magical feline friends can tolerate carbs. In other words ‘Carbs are Crap for Cats’, in fact they kill them.
I didn’t even try to start the protocol till family and dog had left after the holiday. I knew I’d have to throw myself in to this, overcome the challenge of the BG testing, and hope Kahuna’s body would comply, wake up and let us live a normal life again.
Just as I was learning to get blood from his ears and making a complete ‘pigs ear’ out of it, poor Kahuna became badly constipated and off we went to the Vets. Living as rurally as we do this is a 40min journey each way along single track lanes with potholes big enough to sink a moaning teenager… and all perfect as rocket fuel for his blood glucose levels. He underwent a bit of an operation, fully sedated, to remove a lot of trapped meat. The Vet said it must have felt like he was trying to ‘pass a pineapple’! He didn’t blame it on the raw food, but the fact it was made for dogs with 10% bone meal content may have been relevant (although that company don’t get that kind of feedback usually). But maybe with Kahuna not moving around much and not being allowed outside had something to do with it.
On 8th January I leapt off the precipice and in to TR. I had the most amazing support from the TR crew… syringes, test strips and a meter sent to me. And phone support from the incredible, tireless and endlessly patient Pat who regaled me with stories about her Tommi. The team, while laughing kindly at my inability to get blood tests sorted, went way beyond the call of duty and their support was totally invaluable. And just like they said, as I was giving up hope, I learned how to do it properly.
Two great hints: Warm his ears and use petroleum jelly on them… the best advice. All of a sudden I’d see those little pearls of blood (more precious than oil) and be able to capture them rather than have them disappear in to his fur!
His BG swung like crazy for a few days… one time going so high the meter just said H and I nearly had a coronary. Sometimes going low at 3am (of course) and staying there for a good three tests at 15min intervals until it began to swing back up again. Even though I’ve never given birth I swear what I got from all these crazy nights was the equivalent of baby brain. How I actually managed to set up a brand new business from concept to launch at the same time is beyond me.
After about 12 days on came the constipation again… just as Kahuna was pretty balanced with his BG. Out of the blue we had to charge off to the Vets. This wasn’t such a severe experience but it still wasn’t a walk in the park and by the time we got home his BG had popped way up to 19.1/344… to dose or not to dose? That was the question! I knew that if I gave him the level of insulin related to that BG reading I’d possibly kill him. But the team came to my rescue and counselled patience. And blow me down he brought his BG all the way down to below shot level all by himself within three hours!
Then he played the ‘will I, won’t I?’ game…. 12 hours then a shot…. 8 hours then a shot…. 18 hours then a shot….
And then at 10.30pm on 1st Feb after a stretch of 24 hrs he popped up just enough to warrant 0.2u…. and that was that! He brushed his paws of the last trace of diabetes. Twenty five days on TR and he was done!
Today we are 21 days without insulin. His BG yesterday and today were 3.8 although he seems to swing between 3.4 – 5.6. He is one cool cat dude but NONE of this would have been possible without my stalwart friend Anna who lent us space in her home, a hand with Kahuna when I needed it most, not to mention glasses of wine and a listening ear.
And of course massive thanks to the team at DCC. All of you are amazing angels. I feel privileged to be among the cat Mummy’s who made it to the sacred land of Off The Juice!