Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Parenting? I can't even handle pet ownership!

Mr. Squab and I have two cats, both mine from before we got married. One of the cats, Max, was diagnosed with feline diabetes about two years ago, and ever since he's needed two insulin shots per day, in addition to special food and generally more attention. This routine usually sounds like a lot of trouble to anyone who hasn't done it, but actually it's not so tough - Max truly doesn't mind the shots, and in fact reminds us to give them to him if we forget or we're late. The tough part is making adjustments: cats can't check their own blood sugar levels, and even regular visits to the vet don't catch everything. The result is that occasionally Max will have an insulin reaction. Usually these take the form of him acting a little weird, walking around like he's searching for something he can't find, shaking his head constantly. This has happened 2 or 3 times, and now that we know what it means we just give him some karo syrup and reduce his insulin shots by a unit or so. But last night, when I got home from work, I had a whole different level of reaction to deal with. I actually thought Max was dead at first: he was sprawled in an unnatural position on the kitchen floor, his head and neck were stiff and his mouth was stuck open. He looked just horrible, and it took me a few minutes to even see he was still breathing - a little. Those of you who are pet owners will be able to imagine the state I was in. There are few things worse than seeing an animal you love in heartrending distress and not knowing what to do to stop it. I called our vet and took Max in immediately; they hooked him up with some IV dextrose and we ended up checking him into the emergency clinic overnight. Several heart palpitations and $500 later, he seems to be doing A-OK - and, in fact, this mother-of-all insulin reactions may be a kind of blessing: it could mean that he's ready to go off two shots a day and just control his diabetes through his diet. But, oh, the stress! Even our other kitty was exhausted last night, sleeping right next to us for reassurance. Mr. Squab joked this morning that the whole episode was just a feline cry for attention: "$500, bitches! Now maybe you'll pet me a little more often!" And we will, too - but I sure hope there are no more trips to the emergency clinic in our immediate future.