Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Good Ole Days

I never thought I'd see the day when Isabella's diabetes seemed the least of my problems. Well, her problems, technically - but let's not quibble over semantics.

I may have mentioned in passing that Isabella had a bit of cancer a while back. It was a vaccine-associated fibrosarcoma, a tumor that develops at vaccination injection site. In her case, the tumor was high on her right leg, just about where the rabies vaccine was typically administered. It was just a wee little thing, maybe the size of a garbanzo bean when it was removed, but nonetheless the prognosis for this type of cancer is (in a direct quote from her pathology report) "guarded."

The lousy prognosis isn't so much that the cancer will kill the cat, it's much more a case of the cancer just keeps coming back. Take it out; it pops up again. There's only so many times it's reasonable to cut a chunk out of a kitty, so what happens is that owners finally give in, the tumor keeps growing and gets to a problematic size (I'll spare you the gory details) and the cat is put down.

When Isabella's cancer popped up, I told myself she got one shot. One surgery. I wasn't going to keep slicing into her. That was three years ago - and I had all but stopped thinking about it coming back. After all, I had the whole diabetes gig to keep me occupied. But a few weeks ago I had to finally admit that the little lump near the base of her tail wasn't my imagination. It was back. I took her to the vet, who agrees with me. Now I must decide - schedule surgery or let nature take its course?

Not an easy choice. It's something that has to rumble around inside my head for a bit. But one thing was sure, suddenly, her diabetes seems so inconsequential.

Then Isabella stopped eating. Yep - my little hoover of a cat, my cat who lives from meal to meal, my cat who wakes me up before the alarm lest breakfast be one minute tardy, went off her food. Now, even the cancer seems inconsequential.

I've put out food of every variety imaginable. Open cans of cat food with just one dollop removed litter the counter. Isabella sniffs, then turns away. Sometimes she eats a bit then returns to her bed looking miserable. What the heck!?

Back to the vet, who found nothing of significance and had no real recommendations. He fluffed her up with fluids, gave her an appetite stimulant injection and sent us on our way. Isabella ate a bit, then went back to looking miserable. She added in a bit of vomiting, just to spice things up. Was this how it was to be? Was my cat with multiple major problems going to waste away for no apparent reason?

This morning I spotted a question on the Feline Diabetes Message Board - what to do about a cat not eating? I scanned the suggestions and ran across an option I hadn't tried:

Dry food.

I had offered Isabella multiple varieties of canned food. I had warmed it. I had sprinkled it with cheese. I had added tuna flakes. But I hadn't broken out the dry food - the bain of the diabetic cat. The only reason I had any dry food in the house was that I hadn't gotten around to tossing out the prescription stuff the vet sold me the day her diabetes was diagnosed. It was sitting inside a plastic bin on the top shelf of the laundry room closet.

I pulled the bin down. Untouched for more than a year, it was the same container where I had stored the kibble pre-diabetes. Isabella is very familiar with the bin. To her, the bin, filled with kibble, is a sort of kitty nirvana, a sea of yumminess. And the sound of me pulling that bin down brought my inappetant, lethargic, miserable-looking cat running - yes running.

Needless to say, she's getting kibble if she wants kibble. For her, it's back to the good ole days. For me, I have a feeling it's going to be a very tough summer - and that I'll be looking at her "only diabetes" period as the good ole days.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Ohm .... Ohm .... Ohm ....

I have mentioned once or twice that Isabella’s personality is a bit challenging. Some may say that’s an understatement. I just like to call her quirky. Whatever the label, Isabella is a cat who knows what she wants, and even more importantly, what she doesn’t want.

As a general rule, what she doesn’t want is anyone else in her house. Or anyone else touching her. She’s pretty good at letting people know when they’ve overstayed their welcome with snarls, growls, hisses, and smacks – claws extended.

Despite her less-than-sunny personality, Isabella sometimes gets gifts from my friends and family. For instance, several years ago my sister presented Casey & Isabella each with their own Christmas stocking filled with kitty goodies. Among the booty was a catnip-filled mini stocking, which Isabella loves and carries around the house with her to this day.

But Isabella’s best-ever gift came from my best friend’s young daughter. She had tried valiantly to make friends with my snarky cat, to no avail. Ever the optimist though, Christianne wrapped up an aerosol can of Feline Calming Spray (“the calming pure essential oils of lavender and peppermint can help with nervousness”) along with the accompanying note:

(My camera truly sucks at closeups, so I’ll translate. It says: To Nancy’s mean kitty Isabella. With love (and hope) from Christianne.

The spray, of course, had no effect. But you’ve got to love little kids.