Amblin' Alameda: Cat life

Amblin' Alameda: Cat life

Morton Chalfy

One of our two cats - Bessie - has diabetes. We're currently settled into a routine: fill her bowl first thing in the morning and then inject one unit of insulin around the nape of her neck. This does seem to be controlling the symptoms - excessive urination being the most obvious - and since she shows no signs of minding the needle, we both go about our business of dealing with the disease methodically.

Other problems both our 8-year-old kitties share are dry skin and dandruff. To skip to the end of these problems we have found that the daily, vigorous brushing and combing of their fur has had a wonderful effect on them: Their skin is more lubricated naturally, dandruff significantly reduced and coats silky. On the way to this result, after consulting with our veterinarian, we made several serious attempts to introduce more oil into their kibble-only diets - high-priced, scientifically formulated, only-available-at-the-vet kibble. We offered fish oil, fish, cream and pills.

Forget pills. In the words of our vet tech, who was given the task of "pilling" the cat after our total failure: "Her mouth is very strong! We couldn't get her to open up either." So no pills, and the cats are totally disinterested in any food but their kibble.

Then we went to See Spot Run on Santa Clara Avenue, where first we bought some frozen fish oil, (feh, say the cats) and a fish oil supplement (more feh) and finally, at the owner's suggestion, a bag of Greenies hair and skin supplements with salmon - and voila! As the owner had said, "All cats love Greenies." So now we offer Greenies and hair brushing and it seems to be working.

How different is the pet owner's experience today from the time of my youth and middle age. Today the veterinarians work in offices as well appointed as any human doctor's and they perform medical procedures never considered 30 years ago. Back then if your pet had a serious illness, the preferred method of treatment was to "put them out of their misery" through euthanasia. The expense involved in treating pets serious ailments was deemed too far out of bounds for consideration.

Nowadays, though, vet science has improved greatly and, more importantly, our relationships with our pets has become more parental. Thousands of dollars are routinely spent on treating pets with cancer, diabetes, arthritis etc. Pets are family and are treated like family. We used to tolerate the casual killing of "beasts" if treating them would cost too much, but clearly, pets have become more familial than ever.

We're fortunate in Alameda to have a number of excellent vet practices, several good pet stores and a thriving rescue effort for pets run by the Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter. We're fortunate and the pets are fortunate. Expense aside, the money doesn't stack up next to the feeling of a purring cat in one's lap.