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Friday, January 02, 2004  

One Forty-Two

As I write this, my cat is eating. I have become much more interested in how much food goes in Strat’s mouth over the past couple of weeks. More interested than even he is, in fact. Let me assure you that this is a complete reversal.

What with his diabetic regimen in place, we have to make sure he eats within a few minutes of getting his twice-daily injections. And the twice-daily injections have to be at certain times. You can see the issue here.

The old routine was that the cats would get a cup and a half of dry food every morning. Strat would wake us up, or start howling the minute we got out of bed, all excited about breakfast. One of us would put down the day’s ration of hard food, and he would go to town.

Not eating. Just saying, in cat, “This isn’t breakfast. I wanted breakfast. Where’s the soft food? Where’s the good stuff?” Then Strat would spend the rest of the day complaining loudly that since there was no soft food, he was going to starve to death. Oddly enough, most of the hard food was gone by the next morning anyway. In this manner, he managed to avoid starvation for over a decade. In fact, he avoided it by an impressive margin.

Now that he’s diabetic, the balance of power has shifted. He doesn’t understand why, but it’s crashingly obvious that he understands that it’s happened. And he’s using this fact to his advantage.

Getting him to eat hard food on command was never feasible, but in conjunction with the diabetes he’s got a bum tooth that makes it even more difficult for him. So soft food it is. Even without the diabetes, he’d be getting more of it just to get his weight back up.

It used to be easy. Before he turned up diabetic, they got soft food infrequently enough that when it happened it was a major event. All they’d have to hear is the pop-top on one of those little cans and they’d leave cat-shaped holes in the wall getting to the kitchen, where they would engage in dizzy-making laps around the center island while hollering. It was like this during the first week after Strat’s diagnosis. All we’d have to do is give him the shot, put down some soft food, watch him bury his face in it.

As with anything that happens twice a day, the specialness has worn off somewhat. Besides which, I can’t imagine the soft food for diabetic cats is as good as the regular soft food. Hell, even diabetic humans don’t get to eat anything good.

Then we found out that you’re supposed to feed him before the shot. This complicated matters further. He’s not the brightest cat in the world, but it hasn’t taken him long to figure out that the longer he waits to eat, the longer we have to wait before we impale him with that tiny iron spear. So after the soft food went down, he’d look at it, then wander off.

He knows he holds all the cards. He knows if he doesn’t eat, one of two things will happen: he’ll either not get injected, and his blood sugar will shoot up until he goes into a coma and dies, or he’ll get injected anyway and his blood sugar will plummet until he goes into hypoglycemic shock and dies. Cats can sense these things, you know.

He also knows that we’re not about to let either of those things happen. So he’ll just sit there in front of his bowl brimming with (semi)tasty soft food, looking at us, saying “what else you got?” Or, for even greater negotiating leverage, he’ll just wander off and curl up in the hallway.

He knows we’ll give in. He knows he can afford to hold out.

And it’s working. Because every time he’s held out long enough, he’s gotten what he wants. The Holy Grail of cat treats. The food whose name cannot be spoken, which Trash and I refer to even out of his earshot as…

T – U – N – A.

Yeah, that’s a great idea, giving tuna to a diabetic cat. Would you like some molasses on that?

Fortunately, opposable thumbs, a longer memory, and a superior command of abstract reasoning is winning the day. Rather than putting down regular soft food at 7:58 and then panicking for his entertainment while he waits patiently for the tuna, we’re feeding him at 7:30 or 7:40 and then feigning disinterest. We’re getting really good at feigning. We’ll stand around the corner where he can’t see us, but we can see his shadow. He’ll hover indecisively above the bowl for a few minutes, waiting for us to come back and sweeten the deal, and then the shadow of his head will dip towards the food. This is a very delicate time. We must not move, or speak, lest we remind him of our existence and the tuna we represent.

It’s been working pretty well this week; he still hasn’t gone into convulsions once. Even better news: we brought him in to the vet today and he’s slowly gaining some of his weight back. And his blood sugar? The number that’s supposed to be between eighty and one-twenty, the number that was over six hundred just three weeks ago?

One forty-two.

That’s low enough for him to undergo the procedure to extract his bad tooth. Which is good. Maybe then we’ll be able to get him back on hard food. We think that would be good for Orca as well. Obviously her diet has changed too. She doesn’t usually eat until after Strat’s finished, but it’s obvious that she’s getting her share. We’re considering adding a “P” to the beginning of her name. If she gets heavier than Strat, we’re going to look into diabetes for her, too.

Today’s best search phrase: “Baby Jesus hostage gasoline.” I try not to read too much into who might be entering these phrases, but I have a theory about who might have run this one. And if it’s correct, I can not wait to see Mad Max 4.

posted by M. Giant 7:20 PM 0 comments


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