Friday, December 7, 2007

Chowder and Me

Long Haired Tabby Cat
In 2001, when my cat, Chowder (pictured), was eleven years old, she was diagnosed with feline diabetes. I'd taken her to the vet because she'd been drinking an excessive amount of water, and urinating frequently. I was devastated when I heard the news. The vet explained that Chowder would require two insulin shots each day--two shots that I would have to give her.

I'm terrified of needles. The sight of one, even on television, is enough to make me cover my eyes and try to think of happy things like rainbows and unicorns. Yes, I was beyond upset that my cat was sick, but the thought that her survival depended upon me administering needles meant, I believed, that she was doomed.

The next day, with an orange in my pocket, my husband, daughter and I went to the vet for shot-giving lessons. Poor Chowder was also brought along so we could experiment on her, after the orange was almost bursting with saline solution. And you know, it was easy. It may have been because her long fur hid the needle as it penetrated her skin, or it could have been because I loved her so much, I'd have done anything for her.

There were ups and downs over the next five years--always having to kennel her at the vet when we vacationed because she seldom let anyone else (other than a determined vet employee) administer the shots; the introduction of a kitten, Meeko, into our home made Chowder even grouchier in her old age; and times when I thought we'd lose her because she no longer seemed to be responding to her insulin. Yet she was just a few days shy of her 17th birthday when I discovered her one morning, weak and unable to eat or drink. She'd vomited all over the kitchen floor--one of the few times she'd not done the deed on the carpets. The vet confirmed what I'd already guessed. Chowder was dying.

My husband was away, but my daughter and I were able to say goodbye to Chowder. When she finally closed her eyes, she looked peaceful, her face relaxed and almost kittenish.

For more information about feline diabetes, check this out.


NuclearToast said...

When one of my best friends in the world, Vinnie the dachshund, got too old, he had to be put to sleep. It was an agonizing decision, one of the hardest I've ever had to make. I knew I was just being selfish dragging it out, and he'd be better off not living in pain and agony, but that didn't make it any easier. He drifted off peacefully on my lap, together with me like we'd been for all those years.

We all feel your pain, Lynn.

Lynn Sinclair said...

And I feel for you as well, NT. Pets are such wonderful companions--they give so much, yet ask for so little. I'm sure Vinnie took comfort in having you there, just as he did all his life.

Raggedy Angst said...

I panic a little every time I think of losing either of my girls. But that's the price of tje joyful companionship we get for the time that we have them, I guess, and I still wouldn't give that up to avoid the pain of losing them. Plus their fur makes Nuc crazy, which is kind of an amusing bonus. Thanks for sharing, this, Lynn. Hugs.

Lynn Sinclair said...

That panic works both ways, Angst. Sometimes, I get a little anxious when I realize how much my cat relies on me. I think, "If something happens to me, will they remember to buy this cat food and that kitty litter? Will they know that she likes to...?"

Yeah, they'll know. I'm not indispensable--even to my cat.

Funny about Nuc. My husband is allergic. It's always fun to watch him pat the cat then walk away with his hands held way out in front of him--as if he was afraid he might claw out his own eyes.

Anonymous said...

Lynn, I have a friend going through this now with her 11 yr old Lab. When you love something, it's amazing what you can find the strength to do.


Lynn Sinclair said...

Karen, please tell your friend that it does get easier, that giving the shots will come as naturally as putting a bowl of food down for her dog. I always gave Chowder her morning shot with breakfast, and her evening shot with a treat. That way, she never noticed me approach with the dreaded syringe.

Lynn Sinclair said...

Since Blogger's introduction of OpenID, leaving one's non-Blogger URL is no longer possible. You can check out Karen's wonderful blog from my links or go here

Georgie said...

My sweet little Calico baby, Jazzy, passed on in May of this year. She too, was just shy of her 17th birthday, although her illness came on quite suddenly.

And yes, seeing them unable to eat or drink toward the very end is painful beyond belief. Jazzy was absolutely mad for cold cut turkey since she was a kitten, and we continued to buy her favorite brand of Boars Head turkey slices and chopped them up finely the way she always liked it. She tried and tried, but couldn't manage to even take in a mouthful.

However, given that I followed my vet's instructions to the letter, and knew she was dying -- I'll never regret being determined to keep her at *home* with us until the time came.

So I know exactly how you feel about Chowder, Lynn. We were Jazzy's family, and we were with her, comforting her and caring for her until the very end.

A sweeter and sassier little bundle of love you couldn't find --and I'll always love her until the day I leave this Earth.

Lynn Sinclair said...

Georgie, 17 years is a long time. Hey, some kids leave home before they reach that age. When I hear stories about beloved pets such as yours, I always think: If there is such a thing as reincarnation, please let me come back as Georgie's cat.

Anyone interested in food and drink, or gift-hunting for the perfect cookbook, visit Georgie's blog, Satin Black, Biscuit Cream, from my links or here

Heidi the Hick said...

I totally understand what we'll go through for our critters.

I have given so many needles to horses. I wasn't completely new to this because I'd been needling piglets since I was about ten. But piglets are tiny and have soft, soft pink skin. Horses are big and have hard hooves and giant teeth and thick skin. Thick skin that feels every little pinprick! But I've done it to help my horse and I'll do it again when/ if I have to. I've had to put some animals down too. It always hurts to do it but I can't stand to see them in pain that they can't recover from.

I'm keeping a close eye on my ol Nigel. He's 17 and since hearing Chowder's story, I'm watching him even closer. Every next day with him is a blessing.

And bless you for giving her such good care.

Lynn Sinclair said...

Heidi, you sure do accomplish some amazing physical feats for such a tiny lady.

I know that everyone commenting would go to extreme lengths for the pets, and rest assured, your pets would go even farther for you.

Heidi the Hick said...

Lynn, you just totally nailed it:

" assured, your pets would go even farther for you."

Fuzzy Logic said...

Hi Lynn, I just found your blog and have awarded you the Responsible Pet Blogger Award.

I've blogged it here:

Snag the code to display your award. Congratulations!

Lynn Sinclair said...

Thank you so much, Fuzzy Logic, for the Responsible Pet Blogger Award. I appreciate you stopping by for a look.

Check out Fuzzy Logic's blog here

Tatum Tot said...

So sad, It is too hard to lose them. :( I have to give Chase, our BC, allergy shots sometimes. i don't mind, but it's just subcutaneous. Not sure I could do it into a vein.

Lynn Sinclair said...

A vein!!!? No, I didn't have to try for the vein--I think that would have truly doomed her.

Debra said...

OMG my chincilla went through the same thing, morning and evening shots for about 4 years till it could be no more, I sat with him on his last day with me, we were both soaked, me bawling my eyes out, while stoking my beloved cat of 14 years, I stayed on the chair (all day) with him in my arms till my hubby came home to take him for his last breath (to the vet) I could not go in, but I gently kissed him goodbye and left, (Oh now I am crying again) and that was about 3 years ago. People told me I was mad when I told them about his diabeties and what I had to do for him each day. But you do it with love because they become part of you. They give unconditional love and companionship. Rest in peace my amazing pure white fluffy Jonte Jumping Jack FLash White Running Roads, (Jonte for short) lol. May you be running free in gods field of green. Cheers Deb.

Lynn Sinclair said...

I understand completely, Debra. So sorry for your loss.