He’s Just a Cat

If my husband doesn’t do it, I stab our tuxedo cat twice a day, everyday. He’s sick. He has the ‘betes. (Thanks, Wilford Brimley parody video.)  Not everyone would sign up to give their cat insulin shots, but according to our vet, “It’s actually pretty common.” So, we signed up.

With my low vision, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to administer the insulin. I filmed a vet tech showing me how to give the shots on my iPad, a handy tutorial to reference as needed. I figured it out. Between prep and palpation and patience, I treat my cat. I ignore the queasy feelings and go for it. Ultimately, the decision to medicate rested with my husband, who adopted the cat before I was in the picture. I love my husband so the cat gets those shots.

He’s starting to get old, but he’s our pet. As long as he’s eating and drinking and using the litter box and rolling around in the backyard, we will medicate because we took on the responsibility of owning a pet.

The problem is when the cat has always been surly and there’s no clear indication he’s not feeling great. It’s like monitoring a teenager: is that attitude or ailment? Flash forward to the cat at the kennel, ending up dehydrated from stress. He’s now at the vet hooked up to an IV and undergoing blood work. We can afford the cost now, but for what outcome, what quality of life? Our cat is playing out a dilemma usually faced when a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Comfort over cure.

With another kennel trip booked soon, we asked the employees if they file things like advanced directives for pets. You know you’re serious about your cat when you’re talking about DNRs.

Hold up. I’m hearing someone out there saying, “But he’s just a cat!”

Easy to say from the couch. But decisions about a pet’s medical treatment are financially and emotionally tough. He’s not just a cat to us. At what point do you pull the kitty support plug though?

Are you a pet owner? How do you deal with an ongoing pet illness?


12 Comments Add yours

  1. sh says:

    Never just a cat. A pet is an important part of the family. It’s a tough call to make, but I reckon instinct will tell you when (and if) to pull the plug. Hope kitty is feeling a bit brighter soon. x

    1. Thanks Samantha. Oreo is slowly coming around.

  2. Christina says:

    You won’t hear, “it’s just a cat ” from me. I am the Crazy Cat Lady that every one jokes about, but I’m not really crazy if you can believe it;-) I have 9 cats! Every single one is an important part of our family. Like all family members, they come with their quirks and health issues. From the cranky old lady cat with asthma to our rescued tense, giant tabby who is recovering from previous abuse. I think animals are people. They just don’t speak our language. I had eight cats and was at capacity until a month ago when my twelve year old found an emaciated 4.6lb stray 1 1/2 year old cat in our yard. I didn’t sign up for another cat, but the man upstairs plopped one in my yard. This cat had a dislocated elbow ($1140 to fix), fleas, and an upper respiratory infection. The surgery went on the plastic. lol. Her name is now Beaux Peep aka #9 and she’s gained 2lbs;-) All that said, I have had to put down three of my pets over the last 18 years. I didn’t do it to save money. I did it when I knew, in my heart, that it was my pet’s time to go, when the quality of life was gone, when it was obvious that the pet’s life was winding down. Listen to your heart.

    1. Thanks, Christina. I don’t know how you manage nine kitties! That’s a lot of fuzzy creatures. They do crawl right into your heart though.

      1. Christina says:

        Lots of scooping, dust mopping, and vacuuming! No gym membership required here:-)

      2. Lugging those bags of litter around is back breaking, too. Strength training!

  3. Difficult dilemma…but as long as he’s not suffering I suppose you are doing the right thing. I sympathise. Have been through it so many times over the years!

    1. It’s tough. Thanks, Bridget!

  4. Susan says:

    Saying “just a cat” is like saying “just a kid.” There isn’t such a thing! I may be facing a similar situation….my 14 year old cat is not acting like herself….not grooming, etc. I have an appointment Monday for a checkup. I’m hoping it’s something minor.

    1. I’m sorry to hear your meow is not great at the moment. These things are difficult for us pet owners! I don’t want to put my cat through unnecessary stress but it’s not always obvious what the “best” option is. We love our cats.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for this blog Susan. Pets are beloved members of our family and taking care of a aging pet is one of the best experiences a pet owner can have. Yes – during the young years and good times – we enjoy the moments and as our pets age we can still enjoy the moments in a different way. The economic realities of taking care of an ailing pet force us to make difficult choices. When we pet owners treat our meows and barkies with dignity and respect, we have done the right thing.

    1. Insightful comments. Couldn’t say it better myself–meows and barkies deserve dignity and respect and are beloved members of the family.

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