Back in Spring, I noticed Arthur stopped rushing for the automated
feeder whenever it would dispense food. I didn't think much of it, but
a couple months later I could tell that he had lost weight. I wasn't
too concerned since he was always a heavier cat, but the weight loss
didn't stop. He had lost about four pounds. Out of concern, I brought
him in to see his doctor, and
tests positively confirmed he had become diabetic.
This was tough news,
because I am already dealing with a cat (Snickers) who is costing a few
thousand dollars a year in medical bills and may be facing a $6,000
surgery. Now I am looking at a future of Arthur needing daily
injections of insulin for the rest of his life, which, at best, will
cost several hundred dollars a year. And both cats are now on
prescription food. This is an unwelcome expense, not to mention the
fact that as Arthur's only at-home caregiver, I will not be able to
take so much as an overnight vacation for the remainder of his life,
which I hope will be at least another seven years.
Like many pet owners in
this situation, I played out several scenarious in my head. It goes
without saying that if I did not have either cat, I'd have more money,
I'd have more freedom, and I wouldn't have to work as hard to keep my
home clean. (My vacuum cleaner collects enough black fur in one week to
make a whole new cat.)
But earlier tonight as I
was doing laundry in the basement, Snickers came down to play "catch me
if you can" and squeaked with delight as I chased him around. And later
that night, Arthur jumped up onto my bed and onto my pillow, and
nuzzled against me purring like a kitten.
There's absolutely no way
I could take the life out of these two cats. Nothing I'd gain from
doing that would be worth it. When Snickers and Arthur are feeling
well, they are full of joy and contentment. I'm committed to doing
whatever it will take to keep them that way.
doesn't seem to mind the injections. The needles are thin and short
(think of a big mosquito) and he likes the taste of his new
prescription food. The biggest challenge will be whether or not I can
maintain a regimented injection schedule. Some weeks it will be
impossible since my schedule as a performing musician can be crazy, but
I'll do the best I can.
UPDATE - September 21:
the test injections just fine at the vet, but it was a very different
story at home. There, he felt the needle. He would leap away and bolt
out of the room, making the
injections impossible. Another problem making the injections difficult
has been my erratic Oktoberfest schedule. The injections have to be
given every 12 hours without interruption, without only a two hour
window for an early or late injection.
I began losing hope and
thought about allowing Arthur to live comfortably for now, and then
putting him down when ketoacidosis kicked in. But I also had to think
about how this would affect Snickers. I could not imagine Snickers
being without Arthur. They're inseparable. Considering Snickers has
megacolon and may be facing an uber-expensive surgery, would it be more
humane to put Snickers down with Arthur so that neither had to live
without the other?
Not having given up, I
conducted some research online and found a product that numbs skin by
freezing it. It's simply a pestle-like wand with a metallic end that
you keep in the freezer. It's made specifically for giving injections
to pets. It didn't receive the highest overall rating, but I noticed
that most of the low ratings came from people who seemed to be more
concerned about the product's cosmetics and shipping speed rather than
its performance. Desperate, I bought it. And I'm thrilled to say that
it's helping! So far, Arthur has been oblivious to his insulin
Although the Oktoberfest
season is in high gear, I don't think I'll have any problems pushing
and pulling Arthur's injection schedule in one or two hour increments
in order to accommodate my upcoming music performances. If I did run
into a major snag, I figure I could leave him with a tech at the Animal
ER to administer his insulin.
So things are looking up
for Arthur. In theory, if we can keep his diabetes in check, he should
be able to live out a good life, but time will tell. For right now,
both Arthur and Snickers are feeling good and enjoying life one day
at a time.
UPDATE - October 23:
Arthur is definitely not
oblivious to his injections. All it took was for him to feel one
injection to become apprehensive and jumpy about each one. It's obvious
they cause him slight discomfort even after numbing his skin, but
still, he takes them like a trouper and relishes the bombardment of
praise he receives afterward.