20 Sep Diabetic Cat
A month ago, Simon, our fat gray tabby, got desperately thirsty. Heâ€™d jump into the bathtub for a sip from the faucet, dip his paw into glasses of water, drink so much he was overusing the litter box and we couldnâ€™t keep up. Then we noticed he had lost weight. It wasnâ€™t a summer diet. It was a lot of weight. â€œThis canâ€™t be good,â€ I announced. We feared the worst–kidney failure. Cats donâ€™t recover from kidney failure. While we waited two days for his appointment with the vet, I started preparing myself, walking around the house and shaking my head dolefully and saying, â€œThis is it, Jill. This is it,â€ though really there is no preparing yourself for the worst. The worst is always the worst.
Simon came to us five years ago through the antiques consignment shop that Jill used to work at occasionally. He belonged to an elderly woman who had to downsize before she went into a retirement home. Surrendering her cat along with her belongings was a sad situation, everyone agreed. She had thoroughly spoiled Simon, whom sheâ€™d named â€œSir Sweetie.â€ She fed him three cans of gourmet food a day. Sir Sweetieâ€”renamed Simonâ€”became the consignment store cat. He was so relaxed, so trusting, so self-possessed, it didnâ€™t occur to him that he should be wary or afraid of anybody or anything. He regularly stretched out on the floor anywhere he pleased. Jill worried that somebody would step on him.
He still pretty much does as he pleases. Strangers think Simon remarkable because heâ€™ll approach anyone, then rear up and place his paws on the strangerâ€™s legs, like a dog asking to be picked up. If you pick him up, heâ€™ll then place one paw on each of your shoulders, as if to hug you. If you embrace him, heâ€™ll nibble your ear lobe. Strangers find this flattering, though Simon is pretty indiscriminate about offering a nibble and a hug.
When we took him to the vet, we discovered that heâ€™s lost six pounds, down to a lean 12 from his once-swaggering 18 (heâ€™s a big cat). It turns out, he (Simon, not the vet) has diabetes. Our vet says itâ€™s increasingly common, just as with humans. The culprit is high-carbohydrate cat kibble. High carbs means high sugar, which overworks then burns out the pancreas. We were using Iams, a big-name dry food, thinking we were doing the right thing. Weâ€™d heard that canned food is too rich and rots catsâ€™ teeth. On the contrary, canned food is high in protein. Thatâ€™s what cats need.
We asked about the high-end canned food our vet has on display in his waiting room. He waved his hand dismissively. â€œDonâ€™t bother,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s all the same.â€ Our kind of vet. He showed us how to administer Simonâ€™s daily insulin injection, then we went home happily and much relieved. Simon is more or less back to normal. Besides the daily injection, which isnâ€™t nearly as complicated as you might think, the only other change is that we now feed him (and our other tabby) twice a day. This has its complications because a morning feeding always encourages cats to rise early (i.e., dawn) to announce eagerly and earnestly that theyâ€™re ready, really ready, for their meal. Really, we are, right now, weâ€™re ready. Really.