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Snickers: The Poor Cat Just Can't Catch a Break
November 18, 2021

This afternoon while I was making my lunch, I turned around and looked down where my two cats were eating their lunches and noticed Snickers was standing in a semi-circular pose. I didn't think anything of it, because cats will do that when they're getting ready to groom themselves. But he wasn't grooming. It's almost as if he were stuck.

Then he started to walk, but all he did was circle to the right. Casually I checked him over to see if he had something stuck to his fur, but I couldn't find anything.

Then Snickers attempted to walk straight, and that's when I saw he was in trouble. He couldn't walk straight. He kept falling over. I immediately examined his face see if he was having a stroke. His face seemed fine, but there was obviously something seriously wrong. It looked to me as if one of his front legs was suddenly malfunctioning because he would swing it underneath his body while he stumbled around.

I rushed him to the ER. The doctor examined him and gave him an x-ray. They're attributing his problem to a re-injury of a ruptured ligament in one of his back legs. (Late last year a ligament in one of his back legs spontaneously ruptured. He recouperated. Then a few months later, apparently the same thing happened to the ligament in his other back leg. This can happen in older cats.) So right now he is dazed from sedation, on pain meds, unable to walk straight, and unable to turn left. When he's not stumbling around, he seems to find comfort standing and leaning rather hard against objects with his head cocked to the right. I'm just not sure what to make of it.

As a result of Snickers' $396 ER bill on Saturday and $689 ER bill today, his lifetime medical expenses now total $21,003.53.


Latest News Items
Updated November 8, 2021

I'm still dealing with apparent nerve damage in my right hand. The good news is that it's very mild and not the least bit painful. The bad news is that it's just enough numbness to prevent me from recording my accordion tracks for my upcoming album. On stage, I can get away with the little bit of slop caused by thumb and index finger not responding with precision, but in the studio where every note is under a microscope, the problem is immediately perceptible.

With the Oktoberfest season having drawn to a close, my live music schedule is easing up considerably. My hope is that by playing less and being able to rest my hand, the nerve problem will abate enough to where I'll be able to record the accordion parts for my album. For the time being, production of my album is on hold.

In addition to my album, I have a couple of singles in production. I was originally planning to finish and release the singles this fall, but the lead vocalist has had some important family and work-related priorities come up recently, so production on those singles is on hold as well.

I'm not one to sit still for very long, so while my polka album and two singles are sitting on the backburner, I have other music projects I'm working on.


My cat Arthur is in the process of being administered glucose curves, which are periodic tests that determine how much insulin he should be getting. After the first test, his doctor bumped his dose up from two units to three. After his second test, the dose was bumped up to four units.

My other cat Snickers recently had a thorough examination and battery of tests done at WVRC in Waukesha. The good news is that he does not have megacolon as was erroneously diagnosed by another clinic, and therefore there's no need for surgery, which could have cost upwards of $6,000. The bad news is that the reason for his chronic constipation is back to being unknown. None of his test results showed any of the known causes of constipation.

Snickers is still on medication and special diet, but since the source of his constipation is unknown, he just may end up being one of those cats who needs emergency medical intervention several times a year.

Arthur Diagnosed with Diabetes
August 31, 2021

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.

Fortunately, Arthur 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:

Arthur weathered 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 injections.

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.

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