I’ve been away from here for awhile. A lot has happened since I was last here. Our house got severe water damage due to a ice dam build up on the roof in a few places, which resulted in a demolition of part of our ceilings and walls. They had to bring in industrial strength fans (all during single-digit temps in February) that had to blow the bare wood structure dry, before replacing the insulation and re-plastering the ceilings and walls.
Since we had half of one of our bathrooms torn up, we decided to do a little remodeling, which is coming up on Monday. They will begin renovations on our bathroom, then they will rebuild my pantry off the kitchen and then paint all the rooms that were affected. Needless to say, I’ve been under a bit of stress. (understatement of the century).
Then about 3 weeks ago, I got some terrible news. One of my 10 year old cats was diagnosed with diabetes, which required me to learn how to give him insulin injections twice a day. His blood sugar is coming down but is not where it needs to be yet. His highest numbers were 551 in the beginning. (normal is 60-150). His sugar is now about 233 as of last check a couple days ago. We are getting there but it’s slow going. His back legs are very weak due to neuropathy so he is not walking well. They tell me that his legs may improve once we get his sugar regulated. I am doing well with giving the shots. I was terrified at first but it’s not that bad. Thankfully, he is a mellow cat. Thankfully, it is not his brother, Micah, who would not accept the shots as gracefully as Tory.
Getting the boys to alter their usual diet has been difficult. We are still working on that. I have learned that canned food is much better for a diabetic cat than dry food or treats because the carb content is low in canned food. So I bought a bunch of different kinds of canned food to offer them, hoping that we might find one or two that they really like. The plan was to eliminate as much of the dry food and treats as possible. Unfortunately, you cannot reason with a cat, or explain to a cat why they cannot have as many treats as they are used to. I have tried. They just stare at me with disdain, their eyes boring into mine. They are telling me that this new diet thing is unacceptable. They are having none of it. They want their morning treats. They want their afternoon treats, and evening treats.
I try to hold out, and withhold the carb-laden treats. I do leave some dry food out for them because we don’t want to starve them, and a diabetic cat should not go a long time without eating anything or it could adversely affect their liver as well as bring on hypoglycemia. I know they nibble at the dry food throughout the day but do not consume mass quantities so I figure it’s safe to leave it out.
But back to the canned food. I have probably opened about 50 cans of food in the past couple weeks. I think to myself, “this will be the one they love” and “they will eat this because it smells so nasty”. I prepare the plates and even heat it in the microwave for a few seconds to bring out the flavor. I bring the plates to the dining room and place them on the floor as I call the cats. I say “oh look at this great stuff! It smells so stinky, you will love it!!”…..all while the anxiety rises up and threatens to choke me with fear….waiting for those crucial few first seconds to see if they will indeed start slurping up the stinky canned cat food.
I hold my breath. They saunter over to the dishes, sniffing with aloof indifference. Micah walks in a circle around his dish. Tory continues to sniff. And…..then….they both begin to eat. I finally exhale, but quietly, for fear of disturbing the air around them as they consume the good, low carb canned food that is so vital to Tory’s health. I sit and stare at them, willing them silently to KEEP EATING….PLEASE. And after only a few short minutes, they lick their chops and stand there….and then walk away.
My heart sinks. They only ate a small portion. This is not unusual for them. They rarely eat enough canned food to keep a bird alive. They are used to filling up on dry food or treats. I know, it’s my fault. I feel enough guilt to fill a football stadium. I wish I had never brought a bag of treats into this house. Trust me, I know I screwed up when I bought that first bag of treats home when they were kittens. Anyway, enough of my guilt. It’s too late to undo the damage. So I am trying hard to change things. As anyone with cats knows…..changing things in midstream is nearly impossible.
So anyway….as I watch the cats walk away from barely touched plates of food, my anxiety rises. My heart drops. My stomach churns. I feel depressed. I feel sick. I feel shaky with fear. Tory needs food in his system before I can give him his insulin. I wrack my brain trying to figure out what to do. So I do what I know will work. I reach over and grab the bag of treats and take out just a few. I hand them down to him as he gobbles them up like a starving feral feline. And I hang my head in defeat.
I know that I have done irreparable harm to this cat and I feel horrible. He is a sweet boy, they are both sweet boys. They are brothers and they are beautiful and they are like my own children. I guess it’s a good thing I never had real children, I would probably have given them cookies and cake for dinner. I’m such an idiot. All I wanted was to make them happy and give them something tasty to enjoy. Little did I know that I was harming them.
Now I am trying to make amends and halt the damage. I am trying to get Tory back into a healthy realm and trying hard to make changes to their diet. It is slow going. Some days are better than others. Some days they eat the food and some days they don’t. Some days they are hungrier than others.
What I am learning through this process is this. What’s done is done. I have to live with what I’ve done. I am in control now and I have to get this figured out. But there is one thing I cannot do. I cannot force these cats to eat the canned food. I cannot force them to do exactly what I want. They are cats. Cats are the most stubborn creatures on this earth, besides humans. Cats will do what they want, when they want. They will not do what you want them to do, unless THEY want to do it. And they will not eat canned food just because you set it in front of them. Even if they are hungry. They want what they want. And therein lies the rub. We are at a stand off. Cats on one end of the spectrum, me on the other.
I have come to this conclusion: either he will or he won’t. Either he will eat the food or he won’t. Either he will cooperate with me or he won’t. He is a cat. And there is not a damn thing I can do to change it. I can offer him 15 different canned foods in a day, and if he doesn’t feel like eating any of them, he won’t. When I realize this fact, it is liberating. I feel the fear and the anxiety leave me. It doesn’t mean I don’t care anymore. It means that I realize that ultimately I have no control here. He is the one that will choose to eat the good stuff or not. I will continue to offer it to him, several times a day. I probably scrape more food into the waste can than he is eating. But I will keep buying it and keep serving it. But it’s up to him to start slurping it up. I cannot force him. And that gives me a little peace.
It is my fervent hope that somehow I can persuade these boys to develop a taste for the good stuff, and forget about the bad stuff. Actually, we have drastically reduced the amount of treats consumed and that makes me feel good. They are not thrilled but it’s a start. I am hoping that we can get to a place of more healthy eating and lower blood glucose levels. It breaks my heart that this has happened, but we are working toward getting better…..all of us.