The Comeback Cat

Tuesday 28 March, 2017

Cleo’s incredible journey through feline diabetes to remission

A Memoir, by Heather Peden

Photo of the cover of the book 'The Comeback Cat'In the latter part of 2014, my cat Cleo was diagnosed with feline diabetes. She had just turned nine when she dropped a bunch of weight and then started walking funny; her hocks clonked noisily against the floor and she struggled with the stairs.

Feline diabetes was not something I ever really thought about and the diagnosis came as a bit of a shock, especially since Cleo was a cat who had never been sick a day in her life. This was a cat who made it very clear from the time she was a kitten that she didn’t need anything from anyone, a cat who wore dog slobber like a badge of honour. ‘How could she be so seriously ill?’ I wondered as we were thrown headlong into a whirlwind of information, vet visits, blood and urine tests, insulin shots, and home blood glucose testing.

Suddenly there was a sharps container in my bathroom and a cat who could barely walk from one side of the room to the other. At her worst, Cleo suffered peripheral neuropathy in all of her limbs, so that she flailed and flopped everywhere. It was difficult to watch.

From the beginning, though, we had been told about the possibility of remission and I clung to that idea. I was sure we would get there. If any cat could do that, I thought, it would be Cleo. But as the weeks went by and Cleo seemed to be getting worse instead of better, it felt very much like we were running out of time.

The treatment we were following didn’t seem to be working, so I began researching the disease more thoroughly, determined to find a different way. I learned a lot more about a healthy feline diet and I learned about tight regulation. I made some changes to what we had been doing and watched in astonishment as three months after her diagnosis, Cleo started to get better.

Photo of Cleo the comeback catIt was amazing to watch her body heal, and it happened quickly after I got all the pieces in place. By the end of March 2015, Cleo no longer needed insulin injections and by the end of that summer you wouldn’t guess that she had ever been sick. Her legs, which I was sure would never be normal again, repaired themselves a little more each day until she was leaping about the house like she had when she was a precocious two-year-old.

Through the entire ordeal, Cleo was incredible. I was so proud of her and so grateful to have this second chance with her that I wanted to share her story. I wrote The Comeback Cat in the hopes it might help other cats in the world, and their people, dealing with feline diabetes. I also wrote the book as a bit of a tribute to Cleo, an eccentric cat who never seemed to quite fit in to our family, but whom I have greatly come to admire in all her quirkiness.

Cats are lovable, but they sure can be fickle. They have their favorite toys, their favorite scratch pads, their favorite sleeping spots; disturb them, and cats quickly make their opinions known. But what about food? There are hundreds of choices of all different flavors and specificity, such as by age or health concern.

Luckily, there’s a wet food option that can find favor with any feline in your house. But first you have to understand how wet food differs based on texture. Wet food comes in types of size—like, flaked or cubed or minced. Each of those may appeal to your feline, so you might have to try a few with your cat.

You’ll also have to understand that feeding wet food isn’t the same as feeding dry food. You’ll have to have set times to feed with wet food, and cannot leave any leftovers out during the day.

Want to learn more? Check out these graphics (reproduced with permission)! You can also read more about it at Petco!

Feeding your cat wet foodHow to encourage your cat to stay hydrated


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