Should I Put My Diabetic Cat to Sleep?
In November, we had to make the hard decision to put down our cat Petunia due to late-stage feline diabetes. That same day, we adopted two new cats, Kizzy and Sir Charles Buttonsworth. This week, we found out Buttonsworth ... has feline diabetes.
We made a different choice for Buttonsworth than we did for Petunia, and there are several reasons why. If you found your way here because you are faced with a suck decision, I'm sorry. Here is our story and the reasoning behind our choices.
How We Found Out
Petunia hated vets. She hated them so much she had to be muzzled for something as simple as a vaccine, so we were not quick to go in for every little burp. We finally took Petunia to get checked out when we noticed she couldn't make the jump up to her favorite chair anymore. Meaning - her legs weren't working properly.
Buttonsworth peed in my daughter's closet. Cats usually don't pee outside the box out of spite, at least from what I've heard, so I always take peeing outside the box as a health flag. He peed in the closet, he seemed a little off, so off we went.
The Diagnosis and Suggested Treatment
Petunia's glucose levels were five times normal. Because she was so bad off, she would need to be immediately hospitalized for three days to get her stabilized and figure out how much insulin she should have. She would need shots twice a day for the rest of her life, and whenever we left town, she'd need to be boarded so someone else could administer the shots. Buttonsworth's glucose levels were more than double the normal level. The vet gave him a glucose shot while he was there being treated for something not diabetes-related,and his glucose dropped 100 points in a few hours. The vet told us we could take him home and start the insulin shots and bring him back in a week to see if the amount needed to be adjusted. He would need shots twice a day for the rest of his life, and whenever we left town, he'd need to be boarded so someone else could administer the shots.
I am one of those MY BABIES! kind of pet owners. My first indoor cat, Sybil, lived to be 18 largely because I gave her thyroid pills every day for years and kept her even after she went through the period when we brought my daughter home from the hospital when she peed on every rug in the house as well as the period when she yodeled in the middle of the night for months on end (which we later learned is a sign of thyroid disorders). I will do almost anything for one of my cats.
Just a few minutes after I got off the phone with the vet about Petunia, I knew in my heart we were going to have to put her down. In a vet's office, she would go from a sweet cuddlebug to a yowling, biting, clearly terrified hellcat. The thought of her being hospitalized for days with people muzzling her and sticking her followed by years of me chasing her around, holding her down and sticking her with a needle coupled with mandatory boarding (which she hated as much as a vet trip) made me feel worse than the thought of her death. I do not believe in extended life if that life is going to be terrifying and miserable. And ... my husband was also unemployed at the time, and we didn't know how long he would be unemployed. We were living on my salary and a little bit of unemployment, and diabetes management is not cheap, especially during the figuring-out-the-insulin early part. We didn't have an extra $20 for Walmart snow boots, let alone $110 a vial for insulin. When my husband got home from work, we talked about it, and the next morning he took her to the vet for the last time while my daughter and I sat at home and bawled.