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Trina was a co-founder of Feline Outreach, and served on the board of directors as Treasurer from 2006 to present.

Trina is a life-long animal lover living in rural northern Michigan. Trina's husband has been an insulin-dependent diabetic since his teen years, and she has had vast experience with human diabetes and hypos. When Trina's cat, Cheech, became diabetic, she went in search of information on the internet and met Lynette. Trina is a public accountant during the day, and feline care-giver and snuggler at night.

Sadly, Cheech had to leave for the bridge on April 26, 2005 as a result of carcinoma. Trina currently has four wonderful cats. Here are her kitties' stories.

Cheech joined my life in April 1988 as an early gift for my 16th birthday. A friend's cat had kittens, and he was the runt. As a kitten, he was quite sick. I had to syringe feed him and cuddle him to help keep his body temperature up. As a result, his favorite spot was curled on my left shoulder, purring and pawing in my hair. When Cheech was 15, he was diagnosed with early CRF. A year later, he became diabetic and lost his hearing nearly at the same time. He was started on Humulin N insulin, and we began the task of home testing. He was very, very sick. He would drink large amounts of water and immediately vomit it all. If I missed a shot or gave a fur shot, he was vomiting and sick for the day. After I found abundant information on FDMB, and the Yahoo CRF-FD group, we switched him to Humulin U insulin. At the time of the switch, he developed ketones. My regular vet was out of town, and the visiting vet suggested I put him to sleep. I insisted they treat him, and he pulled through. Later, we started subcutaneous fluids for his CRF. In April, 2005 I noticed his breathing was rapid and shallow. The vet found a carcinoma tumor in his chest which caused his chest to continually fill with fluid and pressed into his larynx making his breathing difficult. Ten days later and six weeks pas t his 17th birthday, I helped my sweet boy to the bridge. I will always miss him.

In 1998, shortly before I got married, Cheech became quite jealous of my fiance. I decided he needed a friend. I wanted a girl that was not too young as I worked long hours. The first cat I went to see was previously adopted and returned to a vet clinic. She was about a year old, and had been returned because she would not use the litterbox. She had been born in a dumpster and had worms as a kitten. After she was returned by her first owners, the vet found she needed to be dewormed again. They felt this was the reason she wouldn't use the litterbox. When I met her, she was very curious and preferred not to be held. The moment I saw her, I wanted her. I took her home and found she had diarrhea on occasion, and would poo next to the litterbox when she did. She was being fed a commercially available dry food. We experimented with litter, and found she would use the litterbox more frequently with clumping litter versus clay litter. Later, after I was married, and moved to a new apartment with my husband, Cal started having terrible runny, bloody diarrhea. A wonderful caring vet, Dr. Mary, began the process of helping me try to find the cause.

Cal was first given two courses of antibiotics. This stopped the foul smell, but not the diarrhea. Dr. Mary also asked we feed her one food only, and give her no treats or other extras. Dr. Mary then suggested we could try steroids, but with frequent use, they would eventually become ineffective. I decided to use steroids as a last resort only. She also suggested a specialist. Cal saw the specialist, and had a colonoscopy the week before Christmas in 1998. They took 30 tissue samples from her upper and lower intestine. The results showed no cancer, but extreme inflammation of the intestinal walls. Most cats have two kinds of cells in their intestines, and she was found to have three kinds from the inflammation. The diagnosis was IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), or a grouping of related symptoms that have no specific cause. The specialist recommended we try hypo-allergenic prescription diets. She also recommended canned food, but I had found this caused the diarrhea to become worse in the past, so I decided to try dry food first. Cal started a prescription dry food diet which she remained on, with moderate results for six years. Cheech was fed the same diet. When Cheech was diagnosed as diabetic, we began the long, slow process of switching Cal and Cheech both to a high quality, high protein, low carb canned food. Cal had a rough time, and the switch took about two months of mixing increasing amounts of canned with decreasing amounts of dry. However, she has been on an all-canned diet for two years now and is doing the best ever in her life. We've found that stress, such as moving to a new home or a change in my work schedule (such as long tax season hours) cause her to have flare-ups. I've also found that beef causes her to violently vomit and have diarrhea. However, one food (turkey) fed consistently has been amazing and limits her symptoms to an occasional soft stool. Cal is the most easy-going, fun cat ever. I’m so glad my Cal Girl found her way to me.

In 2000, my husband and I moved from Ann Arbor to the woods of northern Michigan. In March of 2001, my husband saw a cat stuck on the awning above his office on the ground floor of a downtown building. He worked with some friends and a ladder to rescue her. There was an open window without a screen above the awning, but the apartment owners denied she was their cat. Hubby brought her home just until we found an owner for her. I immediately fell in love with the tiny thing. She had a terrible upper respiratory infection, with green mucus running from her nose and eyes. We had her tested for FIV and FeLV immediately, which were negative. The vet said she was over a year old, though barely over four pounds and terribly skinny. We started the long process of antibiotics and eye drops. Her sneezing and mucus went away, but her eyes continued to run as if she was crying all the time. We finally took her to an ophthalmologist who diagnosed her with feline herpes. Her tear ducts were blocked with scar tissue from the untreated infections. The ophthalmologist tried to open the ducts, but there was too much scar tissue. The Specialist explained she might have recurrent respiratory and eye infections, but should live a long happy life.

Later, after Cheech went to the bridge and we adopted Buttons, I noticed Sammie coughing one night. A few nights later, it happened again, but she was coughing for 10-20 minutes at a time, would relax a bit, then do it again. A chest x-ray at the vet revealed an enlarged larynx and donuts in her lungs which were used to diagnose asthma. We began a long battle to help her breathe clear again. She started on Prednisolone, and Cyproheptadine with minor results. I again turned to the internet, and learned about the Aerocat Inhaler. After getting a donated inhaler from a good friend, Lynda and Scruffy, and showing the vet, he allowed us to try inhaled steroids using the Aerocat. We continued the Cypro because Sam had a recurrent sneezy/stuffy nose issue that wasn't responding to antibiotics. The Flovent stopped all of her coughing, but she continued to be stuffy and sneezy. A head x-ray showed some suspicious areas in her nasal passages, so off we went to an internal medicine specialist for a rhinoscopy. Luckily, there was no cancer, but Sammie was full of mucus. The Specialist felt the Cypro combo with the inhaled Flovent was causing her the problems, so we stopped all medication, and started a 12 week course of Zithromax antibiotic instead. It helped only minimally. We later went back to oral Prednisone which worked the best of anything. Sammie had not had an asthma attack since we stopped the inhaled Flovent. However, because inhaled steroids have less systemic side effects than oral steroids, we went back to the Aerocat inhaler.

Sammie is now stable on a low-dose inhaler, twice a day, with oral Pred only given if she gets miserably stuffy. She has not had an asthma attack since beginning inhaled steroids. Stress is an asthma trigger, and we believe bringing Buttons into the house caused enough stress to start the asthma attacks. Sam is my sweet, cuddly baby girl.

A few months after Cheech went to the bridge, I started to half-heartedly look for another male diabetic cat to adopt. I felt that I had the knowledge and financial means to care for another diabetic, and too many cats are put to sleep when they are diagnosed. I mentioned this to my vet who told me about a diabetic right down the road. She had been diagnosed two months before, and was not being treated except for a change in diet. Her health was declining, and the owners were going to have her put to sleep. I contacted the owners and they agreed to let me adopt her.

In July 2005, I brought Buttons home, then 10 years old. I wasn't prepared for such a spitfire. She spent the first two weeks hiding behind a couch in her room. She refused to be held, and communicated in hisses and growls. We started insulin, but I could only give shots if I gave her chicken to eat while I was doing it. She often would snap at my hands, but never broke the skin. Home testing was much harder. She hated having her ear poked for the blood test, and I had a terrible time getting enough blood for a blood glucose check. We eventually worked out an understanding that I am allowed to massage her ear with a warm rice sock, poke quickly, and scrape the blood drop onto my thumbnail where I put it on the test strip. She now comes when I ask if I can check her BG, purrs for the ear massage, and impatiently waits for the meter to beep showing her BG so that she can have her shot with her chicken treat. She still complains loudly if I take too long or don't get enough blood with one poke. We use a Freestyle Flash meter that requires a small blood sample. Despite all her complaining, Ms. Buttons has worked her way into my heart, and I cherish all the times she purrs as I brush her or as she chases a ball of paper up and down the hall.

An August 1, 2006, I caught a stray cat that had been hanging around our neighborhood. Nobody claimed her, and she now spends her days napping and chasing the older kitties around the house. She is happy two-year old with, thankfully, no health issues whatsoever.

All content and images © 2009 Feline Outreach, Inc.