One year ago, my cat, Spider (born May 1980) had an
abrupt personality change. In one day, he went from the active, affectionate cat I had
always known, to a grouchy, mean old man. He wouldn't purr, and instead of laying
affectionately on my pillow at night, he chased my head across the bed whacking me! I
finally gave up and pulled the blanket over my head for protection. The next morning I
called the vet. She advised watching him. We had had him in her office 2 weeks prior to
this for a full blood workup, so we knew that everything looked pretty good at that time.
She said at his age, "It could be anything". So I watched him for a few weeks
and he seemed somewhat subdued, but in a slightly better mood. Until early February. On
February 4th, 1998 (I remember the date- it was by husband's birthday) I came home to find
Spider going constantly back and forth between his water and his litter box. I took him
immediately to the vet. She did a complete blood workup once again. That night, we got the
call- it was diabetes. I was shocked. I didn't even know animals could get diabetes.
I'd never heard of such a thing. A million thoughts ran through my mind- as well as one
image- Spider at the vet's- screaming, spitting, biting as they tried to give him
injections. I thought "We can't do this. We can't give him a shot every day- it will
be torture". My hopes were very low- Spider was close to 18 years old. I just thought
his poor body would give out. But we decided to try.
The first months were sheer agony. We had caught the diabetes very early- virtually within
a couple of weeks- but as the months went on, Spider got sicker and sicker. He could
barely walk, couldn't get in and out of his litterbox (we had to cut it down), would roll
off the bed in the middle of the night. I thought I couldn't take another day of watching
him suffer like this. I was so scared that we would just run out of time with him. I
wanted something to happen FAST. But it took time. Slowly, things began to improve. We
went from Humulin NPH (too peaky) to Humulin Ultralente (too erratic) and finally last
June ('98) switched to Humulin Lente. That was our big turning point. Once Spider started
lente, things became predictable and his health improved daily. Now, one year later,
Spider is heading towards his 19th birthday. He is happy, healthy, and enjoying life
thoroughly. He has the spunk and attitude of an "middle aged" cat- not a 95 year
One year ago, I cried on learning of his diabetes. My husband and I discussed how lovely
it would be if he made it to the spring so that we could bury him as everything started to
bloom. That next summer, we discussed how nice it would be if he lived until at least
October so that he could feel that brisk fall air one more time. When October came and
went, we wondered if he would make it through another Christmas (we were pretty sure he
would). Now Christmas has come and gone, and I am making plans for him being around for
yet another year. In some ways, I think diabetes has even improved his life- he likes the
attention he gets (as well as the treats) at shot time, as well as when we home test him,
and we are much more aware of his overall health and well-being. What I originally thought
was a death sentence has turned into a very manageable disease.
Spider recently celebrated his 19th birthday (May 1999) and continues to amaze us with his
Zorba-like enjoyment of life. His regulation is not (and never will be) perfect, but he
still enjoys a high degree of energy and activity and an unending zest for life.
-- Contributed by Cara and Spider
You can also read about Spider's experience with hind leg
Spider went to the Rainbow Bridge in
Contributed February 1999
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