Growing up I watched as my father tested his blood before meals, and I remember sitting there watching, and jumping right as the needle “snapped” into his finger to test his glucose levels. I grew up thinking that diabetes was just a dad disease. I was too young to understand what the disease meant, how people can get it, and how it can (in some cases) be prevented. It wasn’t until our cat Roo turned 6, that we found out that she had diabetes. While some pets may be predisposed to the disease, it was by our actions that caused our cat to get the disease that eventually took her life.
Roo the Cat
We got Roo from a sweet lady up the street. All of the neighbor kids would stop by Patty’s house on the way home from the bus stop for milk and cookies. One day, we were beyond ecstatic to discover the kittens her cat had birthed a few months earlier. My sister and I immediately ran home, grabbed my mother’s hand, and ran back to Patty’s house. It took some foot stomping and crying between my sister and I, but we finally convinced my mother to allow us to take Roo home. My sister and I agreed on the name, because of the way she pounced around on her little kitty feet. Looking back on it now, we definitely were not ready for a pet of our own.
How it Started
It started with just a friendly gesture of “here Roo, would you like to try some?” to setting our dinnerware on the ground to allow Roo to lick it clean. We thought it was hilarious watching her lick the plates and bowls. We let her have anything from tastes of our food, to small bowls of ice cream, and shared licks of our popsicles. Sugar in itself is not toxic to cats, though it is never recommended to allow your cats to have sugars as it leads to obesity and diabetes. We never knew we were doing so much harm. Our cat had Insulin-dependent-Diabetes-Mellitu (IDDM), and it was our fault.
We first noticed the heavy increase of dander by her tail. We brushed Roo daily, but due to her increase in size and lethargy, she just couldn’t clean herself as well. After awhile we noticed that the once a day water bowl fill wasn’t cutting it, and we were filling the bowl 2-3 times a day. My mother who is now a retired RN, knew right away that something wasn’t right. She called and made an appointment for for Roo the very next day.
Becoming Better Pet Owners
As soon as we received confirmation from the blood tests, we all began to make a plan of attack. My mother made the decision to do the insulin injections herself, to which I didn’t have any issue with, and neither did my sister. In case of emergency we watched, and learned how to inject the insulin ourselves.
We habitually ate in the living room so that we could watch television. We tried to eat more at the kitchen table, but that unfortunately didn’t last very long. If we ate in the living room we made sure that we took our plates to the kitchen when finished instead of leaving them lie. Roo was put on a weight management formula food, and her feeding instructions were held to a tee.
My best advice to everyone is take care of your pets by feeding them the proper foods, and in the correct serving proportions. Our cat had to trust an 8 year old and an 11 year old, she didn’t have a choice. Our pets look to us for love, compassion, and companionship. They deserve to be taken care of.