Friday, September 26, 2008

Poking the Cat


In January, we found out our cat, Pete, had diabetes.

If you believe what my Dad says about diabetes, Pete was eating way too much candy.

Suddenly faced with twice daily insulin shots and mounting vet bills and the cost of the maintenance drug, we considered giving him away to a family that could better manage his needs, both financially and literally.

Fear and uncertainty set in and for a few days, we were panicked, sad, distressed and resigned to losing him. My husband said “No way. We aren’t injecting the cat twice a day”

I was sad but I knew that I couldn’t do it without his support.
I knew that if we couldn’t provide the diabetes maintenance then I had to give him away because the alternative was not an option.

I managed to find him a home with a couple that already had a few diabetic cats but when I told my husband, he did something I wasn't expecting - he told me no.

We would keep him and we would do whatever was necessary to bring him thru his illness and maintain his health with his diagnosis.

I was stunned.

We've been together for 16 years and yet, he can still manage to surprise me. I asked him why he changed his mind and he said that it was Pete - he was acting different, like he knew he was ill and that he needed our help. Maybe he sensed we were thinking about giving him to a new family. I don't know.

The following week we found ourselves in the vets office, buying a prescription-only cat food, insulin and learning how to fill syringes and administer injections to our cat.

Our vet made it clear to us that we needed to not let this diagnosis rule us, that while we needed to make a few adjustments to our lives (probably no vacations together as long as Pete was alive since no one would ever take on the responsibility of injections) she also said not to let it take over.

There is a couple hour window each way for the injections, but we still try very hard to maintain the 12 hour doses.

People probably think we're crazy. With Pete, he's had his hip replaced and his teeth cleaned. He's had the unfortunate luck to be the one pet we have that has all the problems. We adopted him from a kill shelter when he was 8 months old and he’s really been a great cat.

My personal greatest fear in all of this were the injections. I never once questioned my ability to give an injection. I'm not afraid of needles or the act of injecting an animal - my fear was if my cat would LET me.

My husband goes on business trips and I needed to be able to do these injections on my own, without any help from anyone. If it couldn't be done, then we couldn't keep him. That was the bottom line and there was a lot riding on that line.

Luckily, I discovered that tuna has magical powers and that Pete is a very good cat.

The first time I did an injection by myself I called up my husband and my mom with a great deal of excitement. It was a hurdle to overcome and I did it. I’m pretty much the exclusive injection giver so I’m quite the pro now.

After 9 months, I can say that while it has its annoyances, it beats giving the cat a PILL.

If you’ve ever had to do that, you’ll understand that there are worse things a cat can be diagnosed with! Pilling a cat is a leading cause of divorce.

Insulin - $125 a bottle (lasts about 40 days)
Syringes - $15 for 100 (and I use 2 a day)
Prescription cat food - $45 for 17 pounds
Blood tests - $69
Keeping my cat alive - priceless

I often wonder if he knows his injections make him feel better, that he needs them. He gets injections at 6am and 6pm (or round about there, depending on what is going on) and he's always waiting for me in the morning and at night he usually manages to make his way upstairs about the right time as well. If not, all I need to do is call him and he comes.

There is a real possibility that he may stabilize and we can control his condition on prescription food alone and while we hope for that, we are realistic enough to know that we may have to keep this up for the rest of his life.

People ask me 'how is he doing?' and I guess he's doing great. This is the first time I've had to do anything like this so I have nothing to compare it to. He seems to be feeling better - he's back to running around in the middle of the night, swatting the dogs, eating a lot and being generally pissy (his old self) but he and I have also gained a bond through all of this. He's a little more lovey with me and enjoys getting scratches and head butts and he tolerates me poking him twice a day.

He's a good cat.

1 comment:

Marie de Carabas said...

I love this story. It makes me feel good knowing my friend is married to a great man.

To the readers:
Purchases made through the Watkins, Avon and Taste of Home Entertaining links on the left are what pays for Pete's insulin, so help out if you can.