Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Test of Commitment: My Cat Has Diabetes

My large neutered male tabby cat, Shadow, has been diagnosed with diabetes. This means twice-daily insulin shots: 4 units with a little syringe at 8 AM and 8 PM. Surprise! I've had Shadow for nine years, I think. Got him from my sister Margaret when her life involved multiple addresses at apartments from Manhattan to Pacific Beach (California). Until now, he's always been low maintenance: not interested in escaping or getting treats or diving into freshly-dryed laundry or vomiting on our white rug or draping himself across my shoulders (thank God, because he weighs fourteen pounds). Totally unlike my other cat. Shadow enjoys laps, guests with large purses, kibble, being chased and getting brushed. Completely reasonable!

This twice-daily insulin ritual requires an adjustment on my part. Not on Shadow's because he doesn't even notice the injection! What am I learning from this? Well, my belief about pets has always been that once we aquire one, we must remain committed and responsible. I remember thinking long and hard before getting a kitten back in 1995, because a kitten could be a 25-year responsibility and would include having to live only in places that allow cats and never dating anyone allergic to them. (Yes, I was single back then.)

Our commitments get tested all the time. I've certainly had that happen over and over as a lay leader. The first time I had to miss a Madison festival because of a Covenant Group Ministry facillitator training, I complained loudly beforehand, "Shit! My paid job never conflicted with a festival!" But, the training was absolutely wonderful: fulfilling and fun, and the first time I facillated a training (fantastically). Came home exhausted and had to lie on the couch for two hours to recover, but was really proud of myself for rising to the challenge.

Since then, I've missed a number of events because of my church responsibilities, but have found them worth it. We'll see if I feel that way next month, when I'll have to miss part of the National Women's Music Festival for a leadership orientation at my church.

But back to having to give my cat an injection twice a day, every day -- good heavens, it is almost 8 PM. Responsibility calls.



Justine Urbikas said...

I've always debated about how far to go with pets, when my dog developed some fatty deposits (as many older dogs do) the vet asked if I wanted them tested for cancer.

my answer, why bother? and I really going to put my dog through chemo, pretending like I have the money to, but its hard enough to watch a person go through it, but a pet, is it more torture than its worth?

a local dog (there's a lot of dogs near where I live, we all meet up int he evenings and let the dogs run around) got diabetes and was otherwise still in great shape and pretty young. Her handlers give her insulin, but feel so bad about how thirsty she gets all the time and don't know what to do...

I dunno, I'm not helpful at all.

we make time in our lives for the things that matter to us, I live alone other than my dog, so that means that if I want to have a night on the town it either ends before 11 or doesn't kick off till then because I need to take her out... I don't like getting up at 6 to feed her, but I do because its when her internal food clock goes off... etc.

Anonymous said...


I just read through your blog-- fun times! Our little dog, Sophie, has epilepsy and we've been delivering her meds every 12 hours for about 3 or 4 years now. It helps her so much, and she doesn't even mind it anymore (it's rather yucky tasting stuff... yes, I tasted it... and she used to hide whenever it was time).

It's one of those things that we'll have to do for the rest of her life, and we hope it's a very, very long one! She's still a lot less responsibility than a kid!

Elizabeth J. Barrett said...

I hear you both! So far, giving Shadow his insulin shot has been easy. And he seems to have more energy now.