Special Need: Diabetes & gastrointestinal issues

Harley At first glance, Harley looks like a gruff old man. Sometimes he acts like one, too - and, at 15 years old, he's earned that right. But really, this big kitty is a big softie, and he has quite a tale to tell.

Harley is a large, long-haired, all-black cat, who was abandoned by his owner in January of 2010. Why anyone would want to give up this wonderful cat is beyond our understanding, but we're glad to have him. When Harley arrived, he had severe dental disease. After cleaning up his mouth (he has only five teeth left now), we settled him into our Community Room - and he's made it his own.


Harley had some chronic gastrointestinal issues, but we found that they could be controlled with a prescription diet and oral steroid medication. He also had frequent ear infections, with itching, discharge, and inflammation. We successfully treated his ears with medications including oral steroids as needed, and that seemed to do the trick. Harley also required a little assistance to keep his coat soft and free of mats...and that's where his story took another strange turn.

Harley's hairstyle was out of control. His long hair was also making it harder to keep his ears clean, so he went to the stylist (okay, the Tabby's Place vet room) for a haircut. He got a full-body buzz cut, which was quite a fashion statement...but, after a few weeks, we noticed that his hair wasn't growing back the way it should. When we ran bloodwork on Harley, everything checked out, except for some strange thyroid readings. Those wouldn't explain his slow-growing hair, though. Something else was going on.

Then we noticed that Harley was urinating more than usual; when we ran a urinalysis, we found that there was glucose present in his urine. So we started checking his blood glucose readings, and sure enough, Harley had developed diabetes. Just as with humans, cats with diabetes do not produce sufficient insulin, a hormone that signals the body's cells to take up glucose from the bloodstream and use it for energy. Without adequate insulin, the glucose stays in the blood, and the body's cells begin to die of starvation for lack of glucose.

In Harley's case, we suspect that the steroids he takes to keep his ears clear and his GI system humming may have caused the diabetes to develop. With any luck, the diabetes may go into remission. In the meantime, we need to monitor Harley closely to make sure that his blood glucose remains stable. We have switched him to a prescription diet designed for diabetes control, and he receives twice-daily doses of insulin.

In spite of this turn of events, Harley is still such a sweetheart. He's not the type to beg you for attention, but this gentle (if gruff) old soul always welcomes some quiet affection, and he may just return the favor to you. Won't you consider sponsoring Harley?

Harley is no longer a resident of Tabby's Place and is, thus, not available for sponsorship. You can read Harley's last update here.