Does My Cat Have Diabetes? (And memories of cat pee)


There are those nagging questions: Why is my blood sugar always high at 5:00 in the morning and 5:00 in the afternoon?  When I put a pair of socks into the washing machine/dryer, why does only one come out?  Where do all the socks go?  Why doesn’t my toddler son sleep through the night?  Why does oatmeal make my blood sugar spike so much more than buckwheat?  Where do flies go at night?  And why oh why does my living room smell like cat pee?

Yesterday I discovered the answer to the final question above.  (If you know the answers to any other questions, please comment!)  My living room smelled like cat pee because one of my two feline companions was peeing in our lovely bean bag.  And one of the thoughts that crossed my mind was- does one of my cats have diabetes?


I have been here before.  Three years ago on March 9th, my beloved cat Zoe passed away.  She was ten when she died and while I loved her deeply, my home has been nothing but cleaner since her passing. Zoe was elegant and stubborn.  She was queen of the family and considered no one but me her equal.  She shat upon everyone else­- literally.  When Zoe was angry, which happened on a regular basis, she would pee on one of beds in the house (all of the mattresses, except the dog’s, were protected with a plastic sheet).  When Zoe was really angry, she would crap on my bed, but never on my side of the bed, because that was where she and I slept.  So Mike‘s side was victim to what I guess we could call Zoe’s butt tantrums.  I am well aware that anyone normal and rational would have gotten rid of Zoe in one way or another.  I, however, could do no such thing.  Instead, I bitched about the insane dry cleaning bills she caused.  And I apologized on her behalf every time she relieved herself on Mike’s side of the bed.  And I loved her, petted her, groomed her, cleaned after her, and then loved her more.  She sat on my keyboard when I wrote.  She lay on my head at night with her soft paws nestled in the curls of my hair.  She growled long before our dog when someone approached the front door.

Zoe and I shared a bond that no one in our home could breach.  We were pregnant together.  Of course, my pregnancy was months longer than Zoe’s, but she paved the way for me.  During the two months of Zoe’s pregnancy, we both dramatically increased our food intake and took long naps together.  When it was time for Zoe to give birth, I was in bed.  She jumped on me, put her nose in my face, and her water broke right there on me, on the bed.  I had prepared a special birthing box for Zoe, and I took her there.  I sat with her while she gave birth to six kittens.  Throughout the delivery she wanted me to pet her and talk to her. Months later, when I pushed my own baby into the world, I would wish I could do it with ease and elegance like Zoe.  I would wish that bringing a baby into the world came with the simplicity of needing nothing more than the mother, and not medical intervention followed by diapers, wipes, infant seats, mobiles, strollers, and a hundred other expensive things I was led to believe I could not raise a child without.

Zoe was an excellent mother when she needed to be.  But when it was time for her kittens to go off on their own, she pushed them away.  When they tried to nurse, she swatted them on the heads and growled until they cowered and left her alone.  (Zoe, tell me Zoe, how did you do it?  My baby is a toddler and I can’t wean him!)  We kept only one of Zoe’s kittens.  He answers to the name Bougie, and he is suspect #2,  pictured above (on the left).  Bougie has half the brain of Zoe, and all of the sweetness she lacked.

Zoe lost a battle to cancer.  I decided not to try any conventional therapies on her.  I consulted with a vet who specialized in alternative/natural treatments, and spent a few months feeding Zoe various herbal supplements.  Whether or not the natural supplements helped, I can’t say.  What I can say is that Zoe was still eating, even on the day she died.  For the last few weeks of her life I spoon fed her.  She was weak but her appetite for food, and for life, was intact.

Today my house is clean.  And I have a new question and answer to throw your way.

Q: What’s worse than a bean bag that smells like cat pee?

A: The tiny Styrofoam balls that come out of the bean bag and take over your home when you empty the bag in order to wash it.

Yes, after hours of vacuuming and sweeping, little white balls are still appearing.  But despite the annoyance and frustration of this entire experience, the faint, lingering smell of cat pee in the house is timely and comforting.  On the anniversary of Zoe’s death, it makes me feel like she’s still right here with me, sprawled across my keyboard.

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Amy Stockwell Mercer
11 years ago

I always say to my boys (and I think the same thing can be applied to your cats), “you’re lucky you’re so cute!” Adorable-ness helps them get away with all kinds of suspect behavior!

Jessica Apple
11 years ago

@max, thanks!
@mike, i hope all is okay with your cat as well.  so far we haven’t made a trip to the vet.  i’m hoping this is one of those episodes of peeing that goes away on its own.  sometimes a hairball messes up their whole systems.  anyway, i think it’s time to go clean the litter box.  at least that way, you can’t say it wasn’t clean enough for them to use :).

Mike Hoskins
11 years ago

Uh oh.. We JUST went through this with our cat Shadow, noticing her peeing all the time outside her litter box, excessively thirst, and what I believed was some weight loss. Diabetes entered my mind almost immediately… A visit to the vet revealed that it could be 1. Diabetes, 2. Kidney Infection/Disease/Failure, 3. Thyroid. All have simliiar signs, but initial tests showed it wasn’t D. Labwork sent out leaned toward kidney infection, so for the past month we gave her some medicine twice a day (liquid into the mouth), bought some special kidney-friendly food, and we go back in a… Read more »

Max Apple
11 years ago

lovely essay-and i know where flies go at night, to the lamp near my bed.

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