Paws and Effect

Hi everyone. The cats have generously allowed me to take over this week’s column to write a letter of my own. To help BlogPaws celebrate Adopt a Shelter Pet Month, I want to talk to the people who adopted Belladonna before I did.

Bella in the diabetic kitty room at at HART of Maine.

I took this photo the day I met Bella. When our eyes met, we both knew it was meant to be. Photo by JaneA Kelley

First of all, thank you for adopting a cat from your local shelter. You could have gotten a cat from anywhere, but you chose to stop by your local humane society. And you didn’t just adopt any cat — you adopted a black cat, and we all know that black cats can have an awful time finding forever homes, thanks to an array of stupid superstitions that have no place in 21st-century life.

I’m sure you thought you’d spend many happy years with your new baby. When you took her for her first post-adoption checkup, everything looked great. Other than ear mites and an innocent heart murmur (only grade 1 out of 6), she was a perfectly healthy 6-month-old kitten.

Bella hops in her carrier for the ride to her forever home.

Adoption day, and Bella’s ready to hit the road!

But only a couple of months later, things started going wrong. You took Bella to the vet, reporting that she was lethargic and you weren’t seeing anything in the litter box. Strangely, though, she was also ravenously hungry and she had a special fondness for getting into bread and licking the grease out of used frying pans.

The vet did a thorough exam and found that poor Bella was dehydrated and that she was looking a little too skinny. She gave Bella some subcutaneous fluids to help resolve the dehydration, and because she suspected parasites or a possible infection, she gave Bella a deworming pill and gave you a prescription for metronidazole. She had you put Bella on a bland diet because her stools were soft.

Bella goofs off on the cat tree

Bella made herself right at home. She didn’t even wait for the “proper” introductions — she just ran out of her room and said “Hi, I’m a kitten!”

Six days later, you were back at the vet. Bella’s condition hadn’t improved despite the medication. This time the vet drew blood and sent the sample off to the lab for a complete “senior blood screen,” which checks pretty much every chemical and cell value there is. The vet noted that Bella’s blood was very lipemic — it had a lot of emulsified fat particles in the serum. This can be a sign of any number of issues from liver disease to starvation to diabetes.

The vet ran a quick blood chemistry in house and found that Bella’s blood glucose was 513 mg/dl. Judging from the exam notes, the vet was shocked, too. It’s very rare for a kitten to be diagnosed with diabetes, and what little literature there is on diabetic kittens paints a pretty gloomy picture.

Screen shot from Bella's exam notes.

Even the vet was shocked to find that Bella is diabetic.

When the vet told you about her findings, I’m sure you felt like you’d been hit by a truck. Diabetes can be a devastating diagnosis to receive. I’m sure all kinds of things went through your head — “What kind of life could this poor kitten expect with such a bad disease? What does this mean for me? Can I afford to treat my cat’s diabetes? Can I deal with the extra care required? Should I feel bad that I don’t think I’m capable of caring for a diabetic cat? Should I have her put to sleep? But she’s only a baby! I adopted this cat and made a lifetime commitment, and should I feel like a schmuck for even thinking these things?”

Your vet may have had to talk you out of having Bella euthanized. She told you she’d do whatever she could to make sure Bella had a safe home. She called the humane society from which you adopted Bella, and they advised that they don’t have the facilities to take care of a diabetic kitten. But your vet didn’t give up: she called two other shelters — and she found one that could take Bella in. And that’s where I met Bella — at HART of Maine, on my volunteer orientation tour. It was love at first sight for both of us.

Bella, Thomas and Siouxsie on a hotel room bed.

Bella and the Paws and Effect Gang had a huge adventure — we moved from Maine to Seattle last year, and all the cats did great!

Since she’s been a member of my family, Bella has gained fans all over the world. She’s traveled 3,000 miles from Maine to Seattle, in the back seat of my car. She’s been in remission from her diabetes since January of 2013. And she’s got a super snuggle-buddy in the form of Thomas.

Bella loves running around my house like a monkey on crack. She’s brought me, and all of the Paws and Effect Gang’s fans, so much joy with her antics and silliness.

Bella bathing in a sun puddle

Bella enjoys a sun puddle in our new Seattle home.

So, I’m writing this letter just to let you know — Belladonna is happy, healthy, and brilliant. Thank you for adopting her, and thank you for trusting your veterinarian to find a place for her where her diabetes could be managed when you realized you weren’t going to be able to manage caring for a diabetic cat. I’m sure it was a gut-wrenching decision, but I want you to know you made the right choice by realizing you were in over your heads and placing your trust in your vet and whatever higher power you believe in, to ensure that Bella would be all right.

Blessings to you, from me and from Belladonna.

Bella and Thomas snuggling in a heated cat bed

And Thomas says, “Thank you for sending me such a wonderful, cute snuggle buddy!”

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by BlogPaws. I am being compensated to support Adopt a Shelter Pet Month with an educational post, but Paws and Effect only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. BlogPaws is not responsible for the content of this article.

Share this post and make us purr!
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •