Beau presented to the Bardon clinic in early May as his mum had noticed that he was no longer jumping up onto the couch or her lap like he used to. Being a 10-year-old cat, she wondered if he had developed arthritis.
In consult, Beau’s physical exam was quite normal, however, he had trouble walking. His gait was very flat-footed; he placed his entire foot on the ground instead of walking on his toes like cats usually do. This ‘plantigrade’ stance indicated his hind limbs were weakened, however, he still had feeling in his toes and no other neurological abnormalities. Despite his obvious difficulties, Beau was a very smoochy, charismatic little guy, and quickly won over the consulting vet with lots of head bumps and chin rubs as she was carrying out the exam.
After a blood test and urinalysis, we discovered that Beau’s blood glucose was very high, over three times the normal range! Beau was diagnosed with diabetes, with secondary neuropathy. This means his cells have trouble accessing glucose, which is the fuel they need to carry out their regular functions. In Beau’s case, this lack of glucose led to damage to nerve cells, which is why his hind limbs were so weak.
Treating diabetes in cats is quite a commitment. It involves a strict routine of feeding and insulin twice daily, closely monitoring weight and diet, and regular blood tests and vet check-ups. It can be a huge financial and time commitment. Some cats will go into remission and will no longer require insulin, but cats that exhibit diabetic neuropathy are less likely to do so. In Beau’s case, there was a high possibility that he would require insulin for the rest of his life.
Beau’s owner lived in Melbourne and he was in the care of his grandmother, who has two other cats and her own health commitments. Unfortunately, Beau’s owner in Melbourne was unable to take him in, and after much deliberation it was decided to rehome Beau. Beau had really made an impression on his consulting vet, and it was decided that she would take him in and commence treatment.
At first, Beau was nervous in his new home and hid in his little igloo bed for an entire day. Slowly, he gained his confidence and began to relax into his life. He adjusted to his new diet and the insulin injections and even begun doing yoga with his new owner!
Beau still walks a little wobbly and is not quite controlled yet in terms of his diabetic symptoms, but he is well on the way to recovery. We aren’t sure if he will ever regain full function of his hind limbs, but that’s okay, his funny walk is one of his many endearing quirks!