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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.

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