The Diabetic Wonder Cat Report

Thank you so much, all of you, for your kind concern about Charlie last week. It's a weird thing to have a critically ill pet: on the one hand, it's horrible and upsetting and---insult to injury!---costing you a whole bunch of money that was earmarked for much more enjoyable things. On the other hand, there's a creeping feeling that your reaction is out of proportion to the situation at hand: it's not a person, is it? It could be so much worse.

I spent the majority of last week in a permanent state of anxiety: Charlie was getting better, and then he wasn't. He was coming home, and then he wasn't. I was going to have to sell the house to pay for his veterinary bills and live in a van down by the river, subsisting on nothing more than unidentifiable canned foodstuffs from the dollar store, and then I wasn't. It was, as you can imagine, a rather volatile time.

(Incidentally, here's a job for someone: you could make a forture marketing yourself as a person who settles suspcious medical bills with inscrutable receptionists for people feeling too emotionally sensitive to deal with it themselves. I'm normally an excellent negotiator and an even more excellent arguer, but it's very hard to dispute an exorbitant, unnecessary, and unagreed-upon charge with someone via telephone when your sick cat is sitting shriveled and pitiful in a cage in their care. Do you have a calm voice, top-notch interpersonal skills, and a penchant for diplomacy? Apply within!)

Charlie was sprung from the sickhouse on Thursday, and I came home from a night of carousing to find him sitting, dolefully, on the spare room bed. Oh Internet, he was so pitiful! He was so thin that you couldn't stroke him without jabbing your hand on a vertebrae, bump, bump, bump, all the way down his spine. He had a big bald patch on his back, where they'd shaved him, and another on his little arm where they'd put the IV. He wasn't interested in eating, he didn't want to be touched, and he had giving up the luxury of grooming himself, particularly after bathroom-related activities, only about fifty percent of which he managed to actually make it to the bathroom for.

I also took about a year off my life trying to get him to take his pills. Ever tried to give a cat a pill? I would rather French kiss Justin Bieber and then do the ten years of jail time I'd be given for French kissing Justin Bieber.

But that was then, and this is now, and now---I am pleased to report---he is like an entirely different cat. He's back to his old self, and then some. He's shiny and fluffy and cuddly and affectionate, and his appetite is back with a vengeance. Unfortunately, the fur they shaved is going to take some time to grow back, but we've just told him the poodle look is very in for spring 2011. 

Anyway, that's how my Charlie's doing, in case you were wondering. Thank you so much again for all your kind comments and tweets and thoughts.

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Apr 13, 2011

I'm so glad he's improved!

Having had a pet require emergency surgery and hospitalization costing well over $3000, I totally get everything you said there :)

Of course we also paid crazy money for our (now) 16 yr old iguana's med bills several years ago when she had to have her tail amputated. That one stung quite a bit more to be honest.

Pretzel Thief
Apr 13, 2011

Aw...and yay! Awesome news. May it continue to get better and better from here on out
. Also, he's now very much a badass cat with that furless patch. Rock it, Charlie!

Pretzel Thief
Apr 13, 2011

(...I don't know what the deuce happened with that full stop above, but there it is. Ack!)

Joanna Marple
Apr 13, 2011

What a relief - so glad Charlie is home, eating again and getting back to his old mischief.
I have given cats pills but would still choose that over French kissing Justin Bieber!

Kate from Ohio
Apr 14, 2011

Glad Charlie is making a good recovery. I didn't get the whole pet thing until I got our dog. What kind of message would I be sending my kids if we didn't treat him when he is sick, even if it costs them a trip to Disney World. Besides, I would miss the little snot that trips me about 20 times a day because he has to be close to me at all times, even if that means the stairs. Come to think of it, he might cost me thousands in medical bills if he trips me down the stairs again.

Apr 14, 2011

Awww, so glad he's doing well and hopefully no worse for wear. Poor bunny! What a relief that he's back.

Apr 14, 2011

Oh,good! So happy to hear that Charlie is on the mend.

Apr 14, 2011

I'm so glad, for him and for you guys. And, well, I don't think your reaction was out of proportion in the least. Love is love, you know?

Apr 14, 2011

The shaved patch on his forearm (foreleg? cats have LEGS, right?) will totally give him street cred with the cats down in The Tenderloin.


Go Charlie go!!!

Apr 14, 2011

They always look so pitiful when they're shaved and you can see exactly how skinny they really are. Although when the fur starts growing back in it will be so soft. Glad he's on the mend!

Apr 14, 2011

Awww, yay! My cat - Biggie Purrs - had diabetes for 6 years. We lost him in January at 15 years old, but I am happy to say it was NOT from diabetes (it was bone cancer). It's possible for them to live a completely happy, healthy life with the disease!

Apr 14, 2011

Oh, yay! I'm so glad he's doing better! As much as my cats annoy the crap out of me, I wouldn't even know what to do if one of them was seriously sick. I would be a freaking mess!

Apr 14, 2011

So glad to hear you're recovering well, Charlie! That's a good boy.

Holly, if you find someone to negotiate those bills during times of stress, please let me know! Do you know how much it costs to have your bunny in an oxygen chamber for a few hours? I had to sell my organs and now I live in a cardboard box ;)

Hairy Farmer Family
Apr 14, 2011

Ahh, poor Charlie. So glad he's feeling better.

I know what you mean about the contesting the bill/don't hurt the cat! conundrum. When our son was in special care, his night nurse either A) kept recording all his feeds incorrectly or, possibly, B) fed him half as much as everyone else. I found it enormously difficult to personally remonstrate over either A) or B) when you have to then go home, leaving your one and only child in the tender care of either 1) Nurse Illiterate or 2) Nurse 4lb Babies Must Diet. Tricky. Never quite figured that one out.

Apr 14, 2011

I love the title of this post.

Apr 14, 2011

So glad he's doing okay!

Apr 14, 2011

Yay Charlie! Cats are the best. In addition to the medical bill wrangler, I would love to have the services of an impartial party who could tell me when enough is enough or when it's time to keep fighting. It can be so hard to ask the right questions of even the best vet and harder still to untangle all the complicated motivations behind my own decisions on behalf of an animal who is essentially at my mercy.

And I hesitate to suggest this in case you're already doing it, but have you tried Pill Pockets? I have one cat who loves them, and one who is far too clever to fall for such a mean trick, but if you haven't tried them you might pick some up.

Apr 14, 2011

As the co-owner of a 17 and 18-year-old cat, I am with you. Giving cats pills are the worst. I am convinced the longer pets live the more years they take off our life due to all the worrying. But they're just so darn cute. It's their saving grace. Glad to hear Charlie is on the mend and embracing the 2011 poodle trend.

Apr 14, 2011


I am so glad to hear that Charlie is on the mend.

You and I met last week at the Press Club for Eden and Alice's meet up. We discussed giving the woes of giving a cat a pill. I couldn't find the original craigslist post I told you about, but I did find this link, which I believe contains the identical tips. Please excuse the corny kittens and flowers!


Apr 14, 2011

I'm so glad Charlie is doing better. I like my dog a whole lot more than most people I meet, so the reaction seems completely rational to me!

Apr 14, 2011

Hi Holly,

So happy kitty is doing better! Not sure if you knew, but ASPCA has pet insurance. Financial livesaver (God forbid!!) if you even need to go through this again.

p.s. Love your blog - you are a great writer! :)

Apr 14, 2011

It's almost worse than if they were a human bc at least then we could think more rationally. I find myself losing my mind when one of my cats is sick or something may be wrong. They are so much of my life line and peace of my day. Glad to hear he is doing better.

Operation Pink Herring
Apr 14, 2011

I'm so glad he's doing better!

Apr 14, 2011

I'm glad to hear that he is doing better. Perhaps now might be a time to start having an emergency fund set up for him. DKA, in both humans and cats and dogs, is a scary thing. It unfortunately requires a lot of medicine, and very dilligent monitoring. I'm guessing they probably also told you that you will have to monitor his diet a lot more carefully now. For a cat with diabetes, any little infection, might tip him into DKA. so be careful!


So glad he is ok. I was sent here by a friend because she has been reading my sick cat chronicals via my blog. How did you know he was ill? My vet thinks my cat may have diabetes, or mayeb she tested high glucose due to stress. I have been tryig to get a urine sample for my vet - but it is impossible. She isn't losing weight or having accidents ot anything. Any advice or thoughts you may have for me are appreciated!

Nothing But Bonfires
Apr 14, 2011

Danielle -- when Charlie was diagnosed with diabetes a year ago, it's because he was doing both of those things: losing weight and having accidents. They tested his blood sugar and it was crazy high, but it definitely can vary based on stress, so I'm not sure. Can they do a fructosamine test or even a blood glucose curve where they keep your cat at the vet all day and test his blood sugar every hour? They did both for Charlie. Beyond that, we knew something different was wrong (ie: the DKA and pancreatitis) when he lost his appetite last week, threw up, and was very lethargic. That was a pretty obvious and abrupt set of warning signs.

Good luck with your kitty, I hope you can get it sorted out soon!

Apr 14, 2011

oh Charlie!!!! so nice to see you back! what a relief!

Apr 14, 2011

So glad Charlie is doing better. We have a Charlie also. He's a pug, who has been having seizures for a month and I thought he had died Monday afternoon. We rushed him to the vet at closing time. He was talking about neurologists, the emergency hospital, and taking him to a college about 2 hours away that has a great vet school with great doctors. I told him I will do whatever it takes.

I hate when people say it's just a dog. They are part of your family. And as a previous comment stated - love is love. I will take care of Charlie just like I take care of my children.

Apr 14, 2011

Yay Charlie! What marvelous news (though of course I still managed to tear up).

Apr 14, 2011

Poor little guy. I'm glad he's getting better!

My cat had bladder surgery last week and has the same little bald patch on her arm, along with a completely bald tummy. It makes you realize how thick their fur is! The fur feels so velvety as its growing in.

Apr 14, 2011

I'm really not a fan of gratuitous "me too" type comments, but Charlie is definitely worthy of one! REALLY glad to hear he is on the mend. You two are good pet parents :-)

patty v
Apr 15, 2011

so glad for the update, i actually was checking today for any more news about him. and omg i am also glad i'm working alone at home today because your justin bieber comment made me bust out laughing!

Apr 15, 2011

So glad to hear Charlie is on the mend. Don't feel bad about the bills...they are our babies after all. We spent $1000 on our 9 month old lab's broken leg. That was 11 years ago and she has cost us even more over the years (diabetic, thyroid, and heart disease) but we still have her in our lives and she has given us much joy. You guys are wonderful parents to your furry children.

Apr 15, 2011

I went through the emergency-vet-visit thing with my kitty last spring because she ate the tape out of a cassette tape (Ahem, it was a Jane Eyre audiobook. CLEARLY she did not like it as much as I did). It was pretty embarrassing to sit in the vet's office and have him ask: 1. how did your cat eat a cassette tape? and 2. why did you HAVE a cassette tape in your house in 2010? Anyway, she had the sad poodle look from the IV AND her entire belly was shaved so she looked extra-pitiful when she came home. Glad to hear Charlie is on the mend!!

Apr 16, 2011

Happy to hear Charlie is doing better again.
Sure, it's not a person. I do know, however, that it's a horrible feeling being afraid for a pet.

Apr 16, 2011

My husband was just diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, so I can understand the stress and uncertainty you've gone through. It's harder in a way, because Charlie can't tell you how he's feeling.

Here's to Charlie's continued upswing and return to full vigor!

Apr 16, 2011

Poor Charlie. I'm so happy he's doing better; I have three cats (also known as "one cat too many") and can't imagine losing one of them. Please tell Charlie that it looks like he is wearing a fashionable cuff, which is what I hear all the hip cats are sporting these days.

Apr 17, 2011

Poor little sweetheart. A few years ago my baby had to spend time at the pussycat hospital, too - he had crystals in his bladder & urethra. $1800 and a weekend in pussycat ICU later, he was as good as new. I don't understand why vets persist in giving pills to cats when they could have the meds ground up into a gel suspension - much easier to inject some gel into the back of a cat's throat than to get the poor thing to swallow a pill.

Apr 18, 2011

Oh goodness, I hope Charlie continues to do well for a long long time! My (black and white!)kitty Tuxy had diabetes also-had to give him shots once, and then twice a day for years and years. And unfortunately, his interest in grooming never really returned (at least not for the back and sides areas...thank goodness he was still hygenic..ahem...elsewhere.) At any rate, I had to have his entire back and most of the sides shaved every 6 months or so, they would get so completely matted. And I tried brushing, washing, you name it. He looked so pathetic, and also had the bump bump bumpy back! But oh he loved it after being shaved! Anyway, my long-winded way of saying hope Charlie keeps up his interest in grooming! Good luck.

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