Monday, September 28, 2015

The Lion and the Lamb

It’s interesting that a cat’s progress is often two steps forward and one back. Cammie is a good example of this. She will do something that she has not done before; it will surprise and delight me - but she won’t do it again for a long time, and until then, she will actively fight against doing it.

I hope that won’t be the case in this instance. The princess has been on my lap frequently. That is an established thing now. The steps are definitely forward in that respect. A while ago, she started jumping onto my lap even while I was on the couch, which was another progression. But as you can see from the first couple of photographs, she was wary of any other cat approaching.

Then, yesterday, she did something unprecedented. She leaped up onto the couch and settled onto my lap while two other cats were also on the couch. Tucker did not pose a great problem for her, though having him so near while Cammie relaxed was a victory. Even more so was that Tucker didn’t swat at Cammie while she was next to him. That was a real danger, as the roly poly one doesn’t care for cats being too close to him, though his views in this regard are less obvious than Cammie’s. But both stayed put.

But Noah was at the far end of the couch - which isn’t that far away. Even with space between them, Cammie usually becomes annoyed, angry, and absent, in that rapid order, if another cat - especially the boy - also claims a spot on the couch. Not this time. Everyone became comfortable and relaxed. Eyes closed. At one point, Cammie even dozed.

I had things to do, but this was too good a situation to ruin, so I stayed still for as long as the princess did. After about twenty-five minutes, the party broke up, Cammie dropping to the floor first.

Perhaps this will be a unique instance, but I don’t think so. It may not happen again for a while, but I am confident that it will repeat itself at some point. My cats may never become friends, but if the lion and the lamb can lie together, I will be happy.

If Only in My Dreams

A few weeks ago, I dreamed about Tungsten. I think it was the first time any of my cats has shown up in my dreams. That surprises me, considering the amount of my life that they occupy, though it may be that my subconscious sees my dreams as my one avenue of escape from them!

Anyway, in my dream, I was in some sort of work-place - not my real work-place - in a cubicle that was carpeted. Tungsten came walking across the open back of the space, not toward me but nonetheless approaching me. I picked her up and was very glad to see her. I don’t think in my dream she had died, but I know I hadn’t seen her for a long time. In reality, her left eye was damaged a bit; there was a tear in the pupil or something similar. It never seemed to bother her in the slightest, either in terms of comfort or vision. In my dream, however, her left eye was permanently almost closed. It’s funny how dreams interpret real-life. I don’t recall anything from the dream after that. Perhaps there was no more. But in my dream, I was very happy to see the orange one again.

On Saturday the 26th, it was six months since she died.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Most Expensive Cat-toy

Though Undercover Mouse is popular with some of my beasts, there are other toys with which they like to play. And with respect to Noah, there are some things with which he likes to play that aren’t even toys. Take, for instance, a balled up paper receipt.

This is him grappling with it initially. Sometimes, I will throw it; other times, I will simply toss it to him. Noah being Noah, he will not infrequently simply try to steal it.

He carries it from room to room, when he isn’t knocking it from room to room. He may start out in the sitting room, where it inevitably slips under the couch, and I usually have to pull it out for him. Periodically, he wrestles it on his own.

Then, it’s out to the kitchen, where, no surprise, the ball get stuck under more furniture. But the boy’s energy is such that he can usually work it out into the open again. The linoleum on this floor is better suited for that than a rug that interferes in the sitting room.

And it’s always fun to use the hammock as a springboard for attack. It also moves more easily than a couch or micro-wave oven stand, so it can end up travelling all over the house.

But really, what’s the fun of catching your prey when the delight is in the chase? So, if the ball goes up on top, Noah will go down below.

Now, one would think that a crushed wad of paper is a fairly cheap toy. Intrinsically, I imagine, it costs about a penny to make and print. I actually got it for free. But what it cost to get it was more than $75 in cat-food. So that makes this ball of paper probably the most expensive cat-toy in the household. And the boy will simply tear it up and throw it away later. Not to worry, though, more cat-food will need to be purchased, and more receipts accepted. The fun will continue.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Having Fun Together, Separately

The toy called Undercover Mouse was given to me some years ago by a friend. The cats enjoy it, though I don’t have it out continuously. I want it to be something special that they are permitted to play with once a week or so. As well, there is the fact that some of the cats are not interested in it, or, perhaps, not interested in it while other cats are.

Not unexpectedly, Noah enjoys the toy. It is a mechanical device in which a wand revolves under a circular shroud. The wand will stop periodically and swing back the way it came. Sometimes it will pause, only to start again. There are several speeds. Though I was not surprised by Noah’s exuberance over the game, I was by Tucker’s participation.

The roly poly one doesn’t care for Noah. Well, I suppose it is more accurate to write that he is annoyed by the boy’s presence and now and then tries to beat him up. I think that has more to do with hierarchy than with personality. The instances of combat have decreased, and it was nice to see the two of them playing with the same toy at the same time. That’s as close as they will likely get to playing together.

Even so, a good time was had. Renn came by at one point. He rarely played with Undercover Mouse previously, and this time contented himself with observing the fun. The girls were uninterested in playing, though Cammie grumpily made her way through the ruckus, hissing at everyone. I suspect she enjoyed that more than any game.

It was an entertaining Saturday afternoon, for the boys, and for me, watching them have their fun. By dinner-time, Tucker was tuckered out but Noah could have gone on for several more hours - the energy of youth. He seemed to derive as much pleasure from lying in the path of the wand - which creates an endless noise resembling a child’s toy machine-gun - as from chasing it. I eventually put the toy away, in time for dinner to be served. And afterward, even Noah was ready for a nap.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Josie in the Foreground

Josie is my background cat. I hate to think of her that way, but she is unobtrusive, despite her size. She doesn’t invade one’s space, she tries to stay out of the way. Now and then, she will imitate Tucker and waddle over to me to tell me that she likes me. But normally, her behaviour is nondescript.

Even so, I marvel at her sometimes. She has a sensitive stomach. She will throw up her food once in a while, usually very soon after eating it. I feed her hairball remedy, and I know to keep her away from certain fare that exacerbates the condition. And it is rarer now that she regurgitates than it was.

I mention this distasteful topic because my Chubs does something remarkable when she is about to upchuck. She does her best to reach hardwood or linoleum flooring. I thought at first this was mere coincidence. But for some time, whenever she is making that rather horrible noise indicative of nutritional reappearance, whenever her body convulses like John Hurt in the most memorable scene from Alien, Josie hurries, as much as she can, to a patch of smooth and uncovered floor. Most recently, she was on the bed, where she sometimes is served her meals (yes, I give her food there; if that’s where she eats it, that’s where I serve it; let’s move on). I heard her heave and hastened in to the bedroom (running just frightens her) to observe her trundle down the steps in time to throw up on the floor.

She has jumped from the bed in order not to sully the covers, she has trotted from the sitting room rug to the hardwood floor, she has even descended from a cat-tree to unload at ground-level. (This last feat is difficult to achieve in a hurry, and may result in the most spectacular release of post-consumption material, dropped from a height onto several platforms in succession.) She doesn’t always make it, and periodically, she doesn’t try, but perhaps my exasperation, probably displayed too many times when washing sheets and comforter covers, scrubbing rugs and wiping upholstery, made an impression on her. I try not to let my negative emotions show around the beasts, but I’m sure they know my reactions on some level. I have, in fact, taken to complimenting the Great White when she empties her belly on an easily-cleaned surface, rather than on fabric; this probably confuses her more than anything else…

So Josie does her part for the harmony of the household, in her quiet, unassuming way. Now and then, my background cat comes to the foreground. And throws up on it.

Error! Error!

It turns out that the calculations I made in my recent article about food were in error! How embarrassing. Most of the food I wrote about was treated correctly, though I have made minor adjustments due to rounding off fractions. This accounts as well for the fact that not all the percentages add up to one hundred.

It is in the matter of Merrick and Fancy Feast that the gravest mistakes were made. Though I am not adept at mathematics, it was more the fault of leaving out a step that resulted in higher percentages for carbohydrate-created calories than what should have been. Tales from the Foster Kittens suggested that my sums may have been off, and I am indebted to her for indicating so. I consulted with experts in mathematics (ie. someone who was not me) and came up with revised numbers. Merrick remains high but no where near as bad as I thought it was. Fancy Feast is lower as well.

I have provided the new totals below. This debacle simply demonstrates that the internet is good for entertainment but information derived from it should be verified, especially when it comes from someone whose principal interest is history and not numbers.

But as more than one comment rightly implied, the numbers matter not; it’s what the cats eat that counts. Very true.

Wellness Core (soft food)
39%    protein
55%    fat
6%     carbohydrates

Wellness Core (hard food)
39%    protein
38%    fat
23%    carbohydrates

Royal Canin Diabetic (hard food)
42%    protein
27%    fat
32%    carbohydrates        

Orijen (hard food)
37%    protein
45%    fat
18%    carbohydrates

Merrick Surf & Turf (soft food)
43%    protein
31%    fat
25%    carbohydrates

Fancy Feast Ocean Whitefish (soft food)
61%    protein
24%    fat
14%    carbohydrates

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Food on the Brain

I have always tried to be aware of what I feed the beasts in terms of nutrition. It’s not easy finding the best food, and with Tucker now a diabetic, it seems to have become even more difficult. There are theories and beliefs everywhere. For instance, some people will advocate giving no soft-food to cats, while others assert that it is perfectly acceptable. Often, the conflicting reports - and on the other extreme, those that are not informative enough - reflect the inconsistencies that one finds in discussions of human food. Every week, a new report is published about how this substance is bad for a person, when the previous week, it was good. God forbid if you go on-line to research the topic, because everything on there has some source to support its theory.

When I brought Tucker home from the veterinary hospital subsequent to his diagnosis, I brought with us some tinned and bagged diabetic food. The tinned I would not have bought if I had known it comprised chunks in a sauce. My cats have never eaten that sort of product. They lick off the gravy and leave the dried bits of meat that no one else will eat. It also contained gluten. For me, gluten is not necessarily bad. But I like to use what I pretend is my common sense: cats are carnivores. They are not much removed physiologically from wild cats. They eat mice, fish, birds. They rarely raid bakeries and patisseries for bread, rolls, turn-overs and doughnuts. My guess is that if grain-products are not on their natural menu, there is no need for them to be in what I feed them.

As well, from what I understand, some items, such as corn, are indigestible to cats, and are used by cat-food producers as filler. One article I’ve tried, named Spot’s Stew, may be very good but it has peas, carrots and, I think, green beans. I fed that to one of mine, Renn, I think, in the past. He ate some of it, but deftly cut out the vegetables and left them to the side. To make things clear to me, he squished the pea flat. I could almost have heard him telling me, “I’m not some tree-hugging, nature-communing hippie who sits back, looks at the stars and listens to old Valdy records while eating tofu and granola - I want meat.” I informed him that I happened to like Valdy.

But due to Tucker's current condition, I have been a bit more diligent in looking at ingredients and their composition. A fellow member of the PAW Society here in Lethbridge, aside from giving me information based on her own experiences, sent me a link to a site in which a veterinary gives a formula for calculating weight of carbohydrates in cat-food, and the percentages of calories obtained from sources  ( Aside from keeping down the amount of gluten and indigestible items in their bowls, I understand that a goal should be reducing carbohydrates so that, ideally, less than ten per cent of their calories comes from that source.

I decided to put that test to some of the varieties of food I’ve been giving the beasts. Let me write first and foremost that a diet comprising only soft-food is not practical in my household. The beasts simply will not eat enough of it. I’ve attempted it before. And I want to find a hard-food that all the cats will like and eat.

Let’s start with what I brought home from the veterinary hospital: Royal Canin Diabetic hard food. All the cats enjoy eating it, and I have mixed it with their regular hard-food to create something that looks like a chocolate and peanut butter dessert.

This is the breakdown of the sources of calories.
44%    protein
24%    fat
31%    carbohydrate

The first item in the list of ingredients is chicken meal. One site ( may be biased as it is a product's own website, but the description of chicken versus chicken meal is verifiable, and suggests that chicken meal is good. The ingredients that follow, however, left me uneasy: corn meal gluten, barley, wheat gluten, tapioca, powdered cellulose… Unless Tucker has developed a taste for beer, I can’t see that barley would do him good. The contents and the percentage of calories derived from carbohydrates made me think I should try a different food.

Wellness Core soft-food comes in a limited variety of flavours, at least here in my town, and Tucker is luke-warm about eating it. But its percentages are good.
44%    protein
54%    fat
2%     carbohydrate

Its more solid older brother, Wellness Core hard-food, produces twice the recommended amount of carbohydrate-created calories - but then hard-food will always be higher in that regard than soft:
40%    protein
39%    fat
20%    carbohydrate

I have been feeding the beasts Orijen hard-food for a couple of years now. The first non-meat-related ingredient in its list comes in fourteenth place - and that is lentil, which I believe is high in both calories and protein. As well, the food is produced here in Alberta. The percentage of carbohydrate-created calories is the lowest I’ve found in a hard-food.
38%    protein
46%    fat
16%    carbohydrate

What startled me was the source of calories in Merrick tinned food. I have been buying this product thinking that it was one of the best, and indeed it may be, but I don’t know that I will continue to purchase it as often after my calculations. This breakdown is for the flavour called surf + turf.
23%    protein
16.5% fat
61%    carbohydrate

And finally, our old friend, Fancy Feast. These percentages are for Cammie’s favourite flavour, ocean whitefish. At least in terms of numbers, it is better than Merrick, and though there are many other factors to consider, it certainly gave me pause to think.
41%    protein
16%    fat
43.5% carbohydrate

It may be that my calculations are in error. I went over them several times, especially with the Merrick. But I think they are relatively representative, if not absolutely. In the end, it comes down to one thing, and one thing only: what the cats will eat. I can buy the best food in the world, whether cheap or expensive, soft or hard, tinned, bagged or sealed in ancient Egyptian sarcophagi, and it matters not a whit if the animal won’t eat it. Cammie may not know best, but she and her kind have the last word. If they eat it, they’ll eat it; if they don’t, buy the best that they will.

UPDATE: the calculations I made in regard to Merrick and Fancy Feast were in error! Please see a more recent post related to this topic for the corrections. I apologise to anyone who read this article, and I apologise to Merrick and Fancy Feast. This is what happens when mathematics and I collide...

Monday, September 14, 2015

Villainous When I Need to Be

In my drive to make Tucker well, I had to play the villain once more and take him to the veterinary on Friday.

I wanted to show the doctor how I was injecting the roly poly so that she could tell me if I were doing something wrong. I fed Tucker beforehand and he was ready for his medicine. It turns out that I am performing the task correctly, though getting him to co-operate in the examining room was difficult. Now, however, he allows me to inject him on either side of his tubular body. That will save me from poking holes constantly in one flank.

I was generously given a glucometer by a fellow cat-fancier and, after trying and failing to take a blood sample from Tucker the night before the veterinary visit, I had the doctor show me once more how to do it properly. I am more confident about it now. This will be invaluable in the process known as ‘curves’, which will be used to measure Tucker’s glucose levels over a whole day. The information can then be relayed to the doctor via email. More needle-tops for the insulin ‘pen’ and more needles for poking my poor beast’s ear were obtained.

As well, I discussed buying insulin elsewhere than the animal hospital. Pharmacies have provided owners of diabetic cats with less expensive but otherwise identical medicine in the past. My veterinary had no problem with me finding an alternate, cheaper and more convenient source for the substance. This may save me as much as half the cost.

I also inquired more about the emergency use of corn syrup. A fellow member of the rescue-group to which I belong told me about it, and I will be ready to apply it if necessary; I hope the occasion will never arise. The doctor did not favour using methyl-B12 on Tucker yet; she prefers to use it on older animals, and the roly poly is barely middle-aged and, but for the diabetes, in very good shape.

The most immediate effect of the visit was to double Tucker’s insulin dose to two units, twice a day. His glucose number had gone down somewhat from the previous reading, but it was just a small dent in the armour with which diabetes girds itself. So now, we have increased the pressure of our blows, and we’ll see how it likes that.

I wish I could write that Tucker is doing his part. Unfortunately, over the weekend, he decided that he was rather luke-warm about the food he previous ate with zest. This is bothersome at the best of times, as I like to see the cats eating well. But when a cat must eat to receive his medicine, it is doubly troublous. But Tucker is eating; it simply takes more time and effort to determine what he will eat. With luck, this will be just another phase, like all the other micro-changes in diet to which he and the others periodically subject themselves. In the meantime, I have an array of brands and flavours to feed the sausage.

When it comes to making him hale and healthy - as much as possible, at any rate - Tucker will find me as devious as any villain from an old-time melodrama -  but without the waxed moustache and cape.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Weak in the Knees

Tucker has developed what I believe to be a new symptom of his diabetes. He now has trouble jumping up on to the furniture. He enjoys lying on the arm of the couch next to me, and at night, he will leap up on to the bed to sleep there. He now cannot jump high enough even for his forelegs to pull up the rest of his body. I know that weakness in the rear legs is a problem associated with diabetes, a sub-condition called neuropathy.

The good news is that the roly poly and I go to the veterinary later today. I don’t think that the dosage of insulin he is receiving is sufficient to fight the diabetes. Naturally, the doctor wished to start Tucker off at a low amount, to gauge his reaction to it, and how it affects his problem. He has been getting one unit of insulin twice a day. This will probably have to go up.

There is a cat in the foster-care of the rescue-group to which I belong who is five years older than Tucker, and has diabetes. He too suffered from neuropathy, but thanks to the diligent care of his excellent foster-guardian, he is active and happy today. There is also a vitamin, methyl-B12, that I intend to question the doctor about.

I am assailed by doubts now as to whether I am injecting the medicine properly. Perhaps that is why he is not reacting well to it. I choose a spot on the side of his abdomen, and, so far as I can determine, the insulin is going in under his skin. The amount, I know, is very small, but I should still feel some dampness if it is not entering under the skin. I am likely administering the medicine correctly, but I still worry that I am not.

In any case, today, Tucker will see the doctor and more questions will be answered.

In the meantime, I am trying to instruct him in the use of the steps at the end of the bed. As he grows older, he will probably need them eventually, anyway. He has no problem going up and down the stairs to the basement - walking itself is still unimpeded. He is afraid of the steps at the bed, probably thinking them some weird and wonderful creation wrought by magic which he doesn’t understand. Tungsten used them gladly; Josie, with her girth, is happy to have them; Renn trots up the steps jauntily, though he doesn’t require them, and even Cammie has condescended to use them. But not Tucker. He fears them.

It’s bad enough that he has to cope with a medical condition that is causing him distress, and now his human is forcing him to crawl up steps. Life can be difficult for a roly poly sausage.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Inadvertent Prisoner

Cammie did not come to breakfast this morning. If she doesn’t like what is on the menu she will at least smell it, and perhaps taste it, before registering a complaint with the management. If she is sick, she will stay away from the food all together. She will often resort to the cylinder-shaped house on the cat-tree downstairs. After I fed the other beasts, I went to look for her, fearing illness. She was not there.

Nor was she snoozing under the bed, against the wall. This is another of her hiding spots, where she goes when, though not necessarily ill, she still wants to be away from the other cats, and probably from me. She was not there, either.

I was becoming a little worried. I started searching for her, wherever I thought she may be, under the kitchen sink, under the bathroom basin, up a cat-tree, at the litter-boxes. She was nowhere to be found.

Then, I remembered I had put away my pyjamas earlier. I am usually careful about making sure no cat is left behind when I shut a door. I opened the door to the bedroom closet - and there she was. The princess had not raised a fuss, but was waiting patiently - not a prominent trait of hers - for freedom. She trotted out amidst my apologies and received a belated breakfast, which she enjoyed.

I have done this rarely in the years I have had cats. I remember I did this twice to Tungsten, and, I think, once to Josie. They are such silent creatures, when they wish to be, and closets, with their usually closed doors, hold an allure for them. This is why I always say good-bye to each beast individually when I go to work for the day, and make sure I know where each is when I go to bed at night. They are easily lost even within a building, and not every room or space in a house is somewhere a cat should be.

Fortunately, Cammie was not distressed by her inadvertent imprisonment, and all ended well. Perhaps I should be glad that she, and the others, are unable to master doorknobs, from either the inside or the outside…

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The New Routine

This weekend saw the beginning of a new routine in my house. Tucker is now receiving insulin injections twice a day, twelve hours apart. If I worked from home (a dream of mine) or were wealthy enough not to have to work (a better dream of mine), I would give him his doses at nine o’clock in the morning and nine at night, or some similarly reasonable time. But I must wake every weekday at 5.30 a.m. to go to work. This means that Tucker receives his medicine at about six. He of course is given his second of the day after dinner.

In order to keep the time at twelve hour intervals, not just within each day but between days, I now wake at 5.30 each morning that I am off work, as well as on. This is regrettable. However, I have found that it is not as bad as I first anticipated. I wake, and feed the cats, as I would if I were going to work later. Renn rarely eats breakfast, but the others usually enjoy at least some of what’s on the menu.

The important thing is that Tucker has a good appetite at that time of day, for his insulin must be given during or soon after he eats. I don’t want to disturb his actual consumption, so I wait until he has had his fill, then I give him his injection. So far, he is taking them very well - except for once. I have been injecting him in the side of the abdomen, on his left side. On Sunday, I decided to try his right, to give his usual target area a break. He disliked the change. He normally purrs while I am injecting him, believe it or not; I talk to him and pet him and he is satisfied with the situation. This time, with a change of side, he was not only silent, but he growled. Finding this strange, I gently eased him over to the other side, and he gave no dissent. The left side is good for injections, the right is not.

After the injection, I put away the food and go back to bed. The process on days off takes about twenty to thirty minutes. Fortunately, I can fall asleep again quite easily, and have done so thus far. I sleep for another two hours or so. I feared that the beasts would want a second breakfast when I woke a second time, but this hasn’t been the case.

The loser in this new arrangement is my foster-cat, Noah. Because he can cry for some time after he is put away for the night (his bullying by Tucker, though sporadic, continues, and he and Cammie are still having issues), he stays downstairs in the shower-room. To his credit, he falls silent soon after. But he begins crying to be let out as soon as he hears me stir each morning. To feed him then on a holiday would make him think, falsely, that he will be released, when in fact he must stay incarcerated until I wake finally a few hours later. So, unfortunately, he is ignored until 8.30 or so. Then he gets his breakfast - which he often neglects because he’s too excited to be out and about and starting the day.

This being my first day at work (after the Labour Day long weekend) following this new arrangement, I have to write that it’s actually tougher today than it was on preceding days. Getting up at 5.30, knowing I will go back to my warm bed, sleep a while more, then get up and not go to work, was much better than getting up at 5.30, not going back to bed and instead spending the day working. Who would have guessed?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Tucker Goes to War

Tucker’s campaign against diabetes began yesterday. He and I went to the veterinary hospital for his pre-mission briefing about his condition. He didn’t wet as much as on his previous visit, but he was still very frightened. He scurried back into the carrier at the end of the visit faster than I’ve ever seen him move. He is perhaps not the bravest of soldiers.

I had many questions to ask the doctor, and thought of several more afterward, so I called for an addendum to the visit. Those who read this blog had excellent suggestions and I used them in my inquiries. For instance the Trout Towne Tabbies were solicitous of Tucker’s heart, regarding his later dental surgery. The doctor told me that Tucker’s heart is sound. They also wanted to know about diet alone controlling his diabetes. The vet said that she wants this to be an aggressive approach to the condition, as she is hopeful that it may go into remission, as happens with some cats. Therefore, the roly poly one is on insulin from the start. Brian, of Brian’s Home, wrote of Lantus insulin, and that - under its alternate name of Glargine - is what Tucker will be receiving: one unit twice a day for now. Offence is the best defence.

Deb, from Just Cats, mentioned her daughter’s diabetic cat eating special food, including special hard food. I knew that some websites recommended avoiding hard food all together in these cases, but if other Blogosphere cats are eating it, I should ask about it. The vet told me hard food for diabetic cats is a good addition to their diet. Unfortunately, Tucker, after eating well of the new food initially - due to everyone having emptied their bowl during the day and their consequent hunger - decided later it was not as tasty as he first thought. I will be mixing the diabetic nutrition with other food, for now. If anyone has experience of healthy, low-carbohydrate food, hard and soft, I would be grateful for opinions, with specific brand names. There is no guarantee that I will be able to find the suggested varieties here, but the doctor informed me that the principal characteristic of diabetic food is the low carbohydrate ingredients. Some vitamins are added, but I am sure that a flavourful alternative from commercial sources would be just as good. My cats have never liked anything from veterinaries and, to make sure that it isn’t eaten, the kind I fed Tucker features chunks in gravy. If there is a cat who actually eats the chunks rather than licking the gravy and letting the bits dry out into tastelessness, I’d like to meet him. And none of my cats has ever eaten anything bought at a doctor’s office. I think the food there exists more for people to buy than for cats to eat.

Fortunately, Tucker can still have cat-treats, such as Temptations, but he will not be allowed bits of Pop-tart or warm, buttered toast, both of which he enjoys. I will compensate with little things he likes and can have.

Kari commented that she was worried Tucker’s urinary problems may be occasioned by stones. This is indeed a legitimate concern, given the sausage’s history, but his latest urinary analysis, conducted last week, shows him clear. I was cautioned regarding infections, however.

Others made very helpful remarks, including Kim, from Fuzzy Tales, who directed me to a website devoted to feline diabetes. I would also like to thank members of the rescue-group with whom I work, the Lethbridge PAW Society, who have been of tremendous assistance in many ways.

The briefing on our mission ended with the paying of another bill. It’s ironic that finding out how much feline diabetes will cost is expensive in itself. The one thing I forgot to ask is the price of the insulin. I don’t suppose it matters because I will be buying it no matter the cost. But knowing in advance will keep me from going into my own kind of diabetic shock.

Another member of the PAW Society has offered me the glucometer that was used on her own diabetic cat, just recently passed away. Such generosity is another facet of the helpfulness extended by friends.

The actual injection of the insulin (twice now) went smoothly. The veterinary wanted Tucker started on it immediately because the roly poly’s numbers were even higher this time than last (27, as opposed to 23.5; this may be another motive for employing insulin right away, instead of waiting for diet to work.) The process was so easy that I was certain both times I had done it wrong. I was used to the thicker, bigger needle used in providing sub-cutaneous fluids. Tucker didn’t notice the injection (another cause of my anxiety over doing it well.) However, his fur was not damp afterward, so the insulin must have gone somewhere inside him. The doctor suggested the back of the neck or between the shoulder blades as the proper place to shoot the medicine, but due to advice received afterward, I switched the location to the side of Tucker’s stomach. There is less skin to pinch (his girth starts to widen there in particular) but again, I reasoned that I hit the target.

Tucker’s condition will mean changes for the whole household. We go into battle-conditions. Because I need to give him his insulin at twelve-hour intervals, I will be waking at 5.30 or six on my days off - and hopefully going back to bed afterward. If the beasts (except perhaps Tucker) think they will be getting a second breakfast when I wake once more later, they will be mistaken. As well, I cannot leave the hard food bowl out all day and all night for nibbling. But once the cats realise this, they will, if smart, eat everything they are given in the mornings. I can leave food out for grazing when I am home, and keeping an eye on things, but this may be a good opportunity to regulate everyone’s diet for the better.

Once the amount of insulin is normalised, and his dental operation cleans his teeth and gums, Tucker will feel like a new cat, I’m sure. That will be our victory. Until then, I’m afraid that the house in the country and the trip across Europe on the Orient Express will have to be postponed. Extraneous costs will have to be trimmed and waste reduced. Tucker has gone to war, and I intend to help him win.