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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22584
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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My elderly diabetic cat has been hiding under my bed all day

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My elderly diabetic cat has been hiding under my bed all day and when I got him out he seemed unsteady and was moving his head side to side as if he were watching a tennis match. When I put him down to watch his walking he was circling and not walking straight. I have called my emergency vet who was no help and told me to watch him. He has had a drink and has been to the toilet and now has stopped head swaying and can walk straight but seems very quiet. He has 2.5 units of insulin twice daily at 10.00am and 10.00pm. Any help most gruatefully received thank you

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

Are you able to check a blood sugar at home (as some owners will have glucometers for their cats)?

Can you get Bruce to eat for you just now?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
No I have never had to check it at home,he doesn't seem very interested in food at mo

Thank you Margaret,

First, I have to say that I am quite concerned to hear that your local ER vet is not being helpful. Especially as this is quite a serious situation. Therefore, I do want to note that if this ER facility or out of hours service is not helping, then do consider checking the RCVS Register (HERE) to find an alternative local vet (since all should have their own out of hours care) or Vets Now (LINK) who are open all nights/weekends. That way you will have proper support over this weekend and a means to have his blood sugar tested and this situation addressed (since major crashes can require IV fluids with IV glucose to stabilize these kitties).

Now based on the signs he has been showing, I'd be concerned that Bruce is having a hypoglycemic event (or blood sugar crash). If he has been under the bed all day (perhaps feeling unwell due to some ongoing infectious process or GI upset that will make him less then keen to eat), then doing so and not eating as normal could have triggered this for him. Otherwise, we can see some diabetic cats suddenly go into a diabetic remission and stop requiring as much (or any) insulin.

Therefore, at the moment, we want to get him eating. If he is lethargic, sleepy, and uninterested, then do rub some glucose syrup (or honey, karo syrup, pancake syrup, jam, etc) on his gums to give him a sugar boost and then tempt him to eat. You can offer his normal food, kitten food, or anything that he is keen on (ie boiled chicken, white fish, scrambled egg, etc). We just want to get that suspect low blood sugar up. And it goes without saying that we do not want to give any more insulin until he has had a blood sugar checked (as giving insulin to a cat in a hypoglycemic state could lower the blood sugar further and lead to serious complications or be fatal).

If you try this and he isn't perking up, especially since we likely have another opportunistic issue that was making him poorly to withdraw in the first place, then we'd want to have him checked urgently (potentially at one of those alternative vets). The vet can check his blood glucose to confirm our concerns. If he is severely affected, then again IV fluids with IV glucose support is often an important treatment for these kitties. Otherwise, depending on their exam findings, the vet can treat to tackle the underlying issue that may have set him off. And in all cases, we will all want to keep an eye on what his blood sugar does as he stabilizes with everything else. Because as I noted, it is possible that this has all been triggered due to a diabetic remission and he may not need as much or any insulin after this.

Overall, based on his signs, these would be my main concerns for your lad. Of course, he has picked a terrible time to do this. Still, we want to get some sugar on his gums to give him a boost and then get him eating. And while you do that, it is worth seeking out an alternative local vet because we really need to get an idea how low that blood sugar is before we consider giving any more insulin. And if he is brewing another issue (like a stomach bug), we'd want to have that addressed to ensure we can keep him eating and avoid any more crashes.

Please take care,

Dr. B.

Dr. B. and other Vet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
thank you will offer food now,if he eats should I still inject him at his normal time?
You are very welcome, my dear.

Actually, I would just work to get him to eat and skip tonight's insulin. It is better for his blood sugar to be a bit high then too low if you know what I mean. Whether to continue it tomorrow will just depend on how he is at that stage, but again at the moment (with our suspicions and without being able to check his blood sugar) I would hold off on the insulin for tonight and potentially until you can have his vet (or a more helpful weekend alternative) check his blood sugar. Because if he has changed his insulin needs on us (as cats can), we don't want to cause a blood sugar crash ourselves.

All the best for Bruce,
Dr. B.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you,he's now eating his own food and I'm then taking him to another vet to have his bs done. Tried to give an excellent rating but it just tells me I don't have access to this page??
You are very welcome, Margaret.

No worries about the feedback, as it does look like it has gone through and I am grateful for your positive feedback. :)

Most importantly though, I am so glad to hear that he is eating for you now. As well, I do think that is the right plan of attack, so that we can see where we stand with his blood sugar and whether there is something else has precipitated this crash for Bruce. Please do let me know how Bruce gets on at the vets.

All the best for Bruce,
Dr. B.