Last week my partner, Barry, called me as I was getting ready to go to work, asking me if I could drop off one of our cats at the veterinarian’s office so they could see her that day. I dropped her off on my way to work, then later they called Barry and said that the doctor would like to speak to him that evening if he could come by. That is never a good sign. I've had my share of "the doctor needs to see you urgently to discuss the results" conversations. It generally means that what you were afraid of is true and possibly more. Sometimes you are worried about several possibilities, so upon hearing that request you get to spend the rest of your working day wondering which one of your worst fears is about to become reality.
So that evening Barry and I report to the vet's office promptly at 5:30, braced for what might be to come. Barry had noticed that the cat, Clarice, had been drinking more than usual and eating more. He also noticed that she was going to the cat box more often, but that she wasn't always able to urinate. Was it renal failure? Just a UTI? (Some cats get these so often that the antibiotics become like candy.) Was it diabetes? Last year we lost a dog to congestive heart failure. We have become well versed at caring for geriatric animal patients. (Which is good, because most of our cats are about the same age and they're all becoming geriatric at the same time.)
We were taken to a room and told to wait for the doctor. I'm certain that there were very good, logistic reasons for all of this, but it did seem the slightest bit melodramatic. Not that they weren't friendly. The people at our local vet's office are all very lovely people and they took such good care of our dog while he went through his ordeal. Some of them cried as much as we did at the end of his life. So, here we were again in the same exam room waiting for the veterinarian that Barry has been seeing since before he met me 15 years ago.
She came in as friendly as ever. She told us that Clarice has diabetes. Barry breathed a sigh of relief. He has had a diabetic cat before, and he's also had cats who have gone through renal failure. The former is manageable; the latter is more or less a death sentence. The doctor explained how the pancreas and insulin work in cats, showed us the results (blood glucose of 633!) and explained what would be needed if we wanted to go forward with treatment. Of course we did, so she brought Clarice in and had a kit of needles with a disposal canister with her. She taught us how to keep and handle the insulin, how to draw up the proper amount and how to give the injection. She let us practice on Clarice with saline, which Clarice was not fond of. Clarice is mostly black, with the common white patch on her chest (though it's not a heart-shaped heart like The Bear.) She grumbled threats under her breath as we practiced with the saline and then we put her on the floor and all we saw was her tail disappearing as she escaped into the carrying case. She was having no more of this nonsense and please take her home immediately. Thank you, and good day.
So, that was all for the moment. We set up a follow-up appointment, took our insulin and needles and came back to this old house that has seen more cats than any of us will ever know. We are just characters in the story of a house in a small town in Central Texas. Now we have a new commitment – insulin injections twice daily at twelve hour intervals. At the vet's office Clarice told us in no uncertain terms that this was not going to be acceptable. But, when she is faced with a bowl full of her favorite moist food I have found that she doesn't even notice when I pick the skin up between her front shoulder blades, make a tent and poke a needle at a 45 degree angle and inject 1 CC of insulin while she noisily eats on food that she was not previously allowed. Now she comes to us and let's us know that it's time. It only took her one day to learn that when we go to the refrigerator and take out that little bottle, when we arrange the needle on the counter, all of this means that she's getting Fancy Feast moist cat food, which as it turns out has few carbohydrates than most others. (Our vet told us this.) Rather than grumbling growls and threats, she makes happy kitty sounds and takes very little notice of what I'm doing with the skin on her back.
And she is, after all, such a sweet cat.
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