Friday, May 31, 2013

Teaching an old cat new tricks.


The first thing everyone says when they meet Toivo for the first time is always a variation on, "Oh my god, that cat is enormous."


Fat little dumpling.


He's a big boy.  Even if he wasn't fat, he'd be big -- he's long and tall and built like a viking.  But well, he is fat.  Really fat.  Not quite as fat as he once was -- he had to be well over 25 pounds when I moved back from Montana -- but still, pretty damn fat.

He managed to drop a little weight since then, primarily due to me guilt-tripping my parents into putting him on diet cat food, and hearing from a vet that he should be getting a fixed amount of food every day from a measuring cup.  Evidently, from the time my younger brother acquired him as a kitten up until the measuring cup protocol was initiated, they'd just basically fed him every single time he yowled by his food bowl.  If you've never met Toivo, let me assure that he spends about 90% of his waking hours yowling by his food bowl.  Which explains how he got the way he is.

Anyway: since back around Christmas or so, we've noticed a few very gradual changes in his behavior -- nothing big, but subtle stuff, building over time.  He's drinking more water than usual...his litterbox has to get changed a lot more frequently.  His appetite's been fine, and he doesn't seem to be in any physical discomfort, but still, something was setting off alarm bells.  Cue Wilford Brimley talking about ordering his diabetic testing supplies over the phone.

Using my guilt powers again (for good!), two Saturdays back, Toivo took his first trip to the vet in almost ten years.  (Impressive, considering he'll be twelve this summer.)  Upon arrival, hoisting the cat carrier over to the scale at the front of the office, the vet audibly grunted and remarked, "There'd better be two cats in this box."

There was an examination; Toivo sat, looking pissy, but he kept his diva crap to a minimum and didn't lunge at anyone or try to take out a chunk of their arms.  With Toivo, that qualifies as a victory.  The only time he jerked around was when they had to throw a muzzle on him to draw some blood, and even then, other than when the needle pricked him, he just kind of sat there and took it (with a little hissing).  I guess having not been to the vet in ten years worked to our advantage -- he didn't know he had anything to be afraid of.  And the only dicey moment came when a wiener dog came walking into the exam room.  Toivo is famously antisocial with other animals, to the point where he and Flannery are still never loose in the house at the same time after all these years.  But he just sat there, muscles tense, eyes narrowed, watching the wiener dog as it trotted in & out.

There was the requisite (and deserved) lecturing about his weight.  The vet agreed that cat diabetes was basically a foregone conclusion, and left me & my mother with Toivo in the exam room to wait for the test results.  Toivo walked around, sniffing things, until he sat down in front of one of the doors, watching the crack at the bottom for the wiener dog's feet ticking past on the other side.

The vet came back, looking dumbfounded.  "I didn't believe the results, so I ran the test again.  I don't know what kind of guardian angel this cat has...but he's normal.  Everything came back normal.  And if ever there was a cat that should have diabetes, it's this one."


May 18.


Our 22.2 pounds of love is now on a diet.  Not just a diet -- an EMERGENCY DIET.  Basically, the vet thinks he's like Mr. Burns -- he's got Three Stooges Syndrome.



"Indestructible."

He's drinking enough water to ward off the diabetes -- for now.  But he can't go on like that indefinitely...so boom, it's time for low-calorie cat food, and less than half of what he was eating before on a daily basis.


May 20.

I'll say this much: it's going better than I thought it would.  I expected way, way more yowling.  Instead, we're getting more yowling, but only slightly more. 

And maybe it's just me, but lately, whenever he goes waddling down the stairs in front of me...maybe it's just a trick of the light, or the jiggling, but I think his butt already looks a little smaller. 


1 comment:

Nan said...

If he does get diabetes, the insulin isn't too hideously expensive and the needles are so fine most cats don't even notice the injection. The most annoying part can be realizing your life now gets scheduled around the times your cat is supposed to eat and get the insulin.The day you find yourself telling people you have to leave a social event early because the cat needs her insulin is also the day you figure out you're now wearing a Crazy Cat Lady label.

Good luck with the diet chow. Some cats (like people) seem to be born with incredibly efficient metabolisms. My cat Cleo gets a set amount of diet chow daily (which she usually doesn't finish), she never was a snacker or into begging, and she still managed to gain almost 2 pounds over the winter.