What to do for a diabetic cat that can’t walk.
A client, Prad, contributing the following information, which resulting in us switching to the form of B12 known as methylcobalamin in our Vegepet™ formulations.
Look for the following symptoms:
• Weak hind legs
• Feet slipping out from under him/her on the floor
• Walking down on the hocks in back and/or on the wrists in front
• Lying down more frequently, especially after short walks
If your diabetic cat does have these symptoms, he or she probably has neuropathy. If your cat is NOT diabetic, these symptoms are a sign of something else, and you should see your vet right away.
The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy are often slight at first. But occasionally, diabetic neuropathy can flare up suddenly and affect specific nerves having a drastic impact. This is what happened to Jasper.
We’d noticed Jasper lying down every four or five feet on the way to his food dish, and once he got there he’d guzzle water like it was going out of style. This progressed to walking down on his hocks, at which point we took him to the vet. They had no idea what was causing this. One vet in our local practice said, “He’s too FAT! Get him on a diet, and he’ll be fine!”. We demanded blood work, and low and behold — Jasper was diabetic.
While a medical doctor naturally expects their diabetic patients to suffer from some form of neuropathy, veterinarians are often times clueless — as the previous comment indicates.
We began treating Jasper’s diabetes, but the neuropathy progressed to the point where Jasper could not walk at all. Our vets were out of their depth, and helpless to offer a reasonable explanation. The good thing was, our primary vet had no problem admitting this was the first major case of feline diabetes he’d ever dealt with, and that he had no previous experience with diabetic neuropathy. He had no qualms about the research we did, and was eager to hear about it. He was encouraging, thoughtful, and caring — a real God-send.
Is there a treatment?
Yes, we found one. METHYLCOBALAMIN, a form of vitamin B12, has shown great benefit to both cats and people with diabetic neuropathy and other neuromuscular diseases. Unlike regular B12 (cyanocobalamin), METHYLCOBALAMIN is active in spinal fluid. Because of this, it is able to help heal the damaged nerve cells and restore the signal between the brain and your cat’s weakened muscles. It is a very safe vitamin (it’s water-soluble — meaning your pet pees out what isn’t used — and studies have shown no side effects, even at very high doses).
Just 2 days after starting the methylcobalamin, Jasper stood up on his own. This was amazing, considering that he was unable to move at all before starting the vitamin. Within a week, Jasper went from being paralyzed — from his ribs to his back toes — to standing and walking. His recovery was complete after a few more months, and we were thrilled to see him walking, running, and jumping again, just as he had before he got sick.
What is the prognosis?
The prognosis for diabetic neuropathy depends largely on how well the underlying condition of diabetes is handled. Before you do anything else, get the diabetes under control. Treating diabetes may halt progression and improve symptoms of the neuropathy, but recovery can still be slow. So, be patient.
What research is being done?
Much research concerning METHYLCOBALAMIN and diabetic neuropathy has been done worldwide. Read it for yourself. Please note that we are NOT veterinarians, and strongly suggest you contact a knowledgeable veterinarian with any questions on the health of your pets. This site contains information based solely on our personal experience and research.
We can say this: within a very short time, Jasper’s legs and overall weakness were cured, and we based everything we tried on the peer-reviewed research we discovered in various medical journals.
Here is a listing of the articles we found most useful:
Ide H, Fujiya S, Asanuma Y, Tsuji M, Sakai H, Agishi Y.
“Clinical usefulness of intrathecal injection of Methylcobalamin in patients with diabetic neuropathy”
Clinical Therapeutics (1987) 9(2):183-92 Complete article
Yaqub BA, Siddique A, Sulimani R.
“Effects of methylcobalamin on diabetic neuropathy.”
Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery (1992) 94(2):105-11.
Kuwabara S, Nakazawa R, Azuma N, Suzuki M, Miyajima K, Fukutake T, Hattori T.
“Intravenous methylcobalamin treatment for uremic and diabetic neuropathy in chronic hemodialysis patients.”
Internal Medicine (1999) June;38(6):472-5.
Jasper, who weighed 14 lbs., received 3 milligrams of methylcobalamin daily. The tablets are “sublingual” (to be dissolved under the tongue), but as cats aren’t likely to cooperate with that, they can be given like any other pill. If your cat weighs 10 lbs. or more, we’d suggest starting with a 3 milligram dose. Smaller cats can start with half of that, or 1.5 milligrams.
Micrograms vs. Milligrams
If dosage abbreviations drive you nuts, understand that mcg = micrograms and MG = milligrams. So, 1000 mcg is the same as 1 MG. Some bottles of methylcobalamin list the dose in micrograms rather than milligrams, and this confuses people.
If your cat’s blood sugar is regulated (under 300 all the time), you should see results within 2 weeks or so. If you don’t, increase the dose — some cats are on as much as 10 MG per day with no side effects whatsoever. It’s important to remember that all cats are different — Jasper responded quickly, but some cats take longer and require more of the vitamin. Be patient, and don’t give up!
Jasper was totally limp and helpless, and we’re sure a lot of people thought we should have put him to sleep. Thank God we didn’t, because the methylcobalamin gave him back his strength and independence.
Note from James Peden:
Methylcobalamin is not expensive and it may be worth a try to see if your cat can benefit from it. The dose that is in the new formulations of Vegepet products is not a big dose, certainly not enough to be therapeutic. Most (if not all) pet food companies don’t use methylcobalamin, but the more common cobalamin form of B12.
All that said, a visit to a vet still may be your best bet.