Oli has always been a tall, big-boned cat since adopting him from a friend in 2003. Sometimes over the years, he got a bit chunky, so we wouldn’t put out so much food for him.  He’s territorial, claiming my favorite plush chair as his and attacking dogs that come too close.  Oli normally does not cuddle in laps or like to be held. He slinks up behind us on the couch and rubs against our heads or curls around my head or feet in bed.  He drinks water out of the toilet. He catches, plays with, and completely devours mice.

Or at least he used to.

Oli suddenly slimmed down, and I now feel his bones just beneath the shaggy fur he no longer cleans. This weekend, he walked with his head hung down and could not jump on the bed. He didn’t eat one night.  And he lay in each of our laps, his head turned to the side, and eyes closed. That was the moment I knew something was really wrong; Oli is not a lap kitty. 

We grew frightened, as we cannot afford a veterinarian right now.  A friend of ours said his girlfriend’s cat had the same behaviors and had to be “put down.”

That cat had diabetes.

We read the symptoms on WebMD, and realizations dawned on us. Early symptoms included frequent urination and intake of a lot of water. There were a few near floods I cleaned out of the litter box over the fall. Fluctuations in weight. But more advanced symptoms include lethargic movements, low energy, and walking with a strange, hunched stance.

I had no idea cats can have diabetes.  And now our Oli, the four-legged member of the family is diabetic. He’s on a high protein diet and is eating some special food that looks like burned rabbit pellets, but he seems to like them.  He enjoys a bit of milk in the mornings and laps up water in his bowl poured from bottles. Oli frequently rests in my son’s bed.

I never thought I’d miss Oli’s attention seeking antics of stepping on the compter’s keyboard or rubbing against the screen, leaving white and orange hair in his wake.  Until now.