10/1/80 to 10/23/96
Many pet owners just accept slow weight loss and chronic debilitation as irreversible signs of aging and do not seek veterinary care for their geriatric pet because they feel nothing can be done to cure old age anyway. However, old age is not a disease. It just means you have a higher risk for developing some conditions - many of which are curable or at least manageable.
Hawkeye had an uneventful youth, his only episode of illness was a bacterial bronchitis diagnosed by a tracheal wash and sputum sample analysis at the age of 7. With appropriate care he recovered fully and was perfectly healthy, in fact a little overweight. On 9/10/94, he was presented for sleeping, drinking, and urinating more frequently along with a one and a half pound weight loss. Simple blood work showed him to be diabetic at the age of 14. Many owners would not have wanted to bother giving insulin injections 2 times a day and checking urine glucose leads on a cat of this age, but Jonathan Drummond, just like his brother, never would give up if there was anything he could do to help his pet. So, I created a sliding scale of insulin administration, taught him how to give the injections of insulin, and sent cat and his owner home with keto-diastix, insulin, and syringes. I told him to check the urine sugar daily and compute the daily dose of insulin. It was not always easy, but from 1994 to October 1996, Mr. Drummond checked Hawkeye's urine, administered his insulin and fed him a special high fiber diet. On the whole Hawkeye did well. He was prime to infections like any diabetic and suffered an abscessed tooth on 3/8/96, but his weight was stable, his quality of life excellent. Over the last one and a half years of his life, his age and other conditions caught up with him and over time he lost five and a half pounds and had reached the point where he was too ill, too emaciated, and too tired to go on. Along with the owner we decided that it was his time and put him to sleep, allowing Hawkeye to pass into peace.
The most important thing to remember from Hawkeye is that his owner's close observation, frequent veterinary visits, and commitment gave him extra years with an excellent quality of life. It was time that they deeply enjoyed together.
I think the lesson to be learned from Hawkeye is not to just assume that an animal is just old and not treatable, but to find out what is wrong and see if you can help. If there is something treatable, a longer more comfortable geriatric period can provide a great deal of love and consolation for pet and owner alike. I must make it clear that this miracle comes not from the veterinarian who only needs to make the diagnosis, but from the owner. All the real work is left to the usually all to willing owner. They must collect and test urine, calculate the dose of insulin, and give the shots 2 times a day. It seems like a lot, but I am sure if you ask Jonathan Drummond if it was worth it, his answer would be a resounding YES!! IT WAS!!!!
"I hope you are happy mousing in the fields of heaven Hawkeye. You certainly deserve it........."
This article was written by Dr. Judith Johnessee of the Community Veterinary Group in Mamaroneck, NY.
A personal note from Hawkeye's owner....
Thank you for spending the time reading about my beloved cat. In this vast world, with all of the bad things that we often hear about on the news and in the papers, I felt it would be nice to talk about a dear friend of mine. Hawkeye was born on October 1, 1980. He was with me during some of the best and worst times of my life. When I was 21, I experienced one of the most difficult times of my life, the tragic and sudden death of my Mother. I was very close to her, and my love and respect for animals stems from her. For 16 dedicated years, that wonderful cat stayed by my side, never once showing disappointment with me, giving me advice, or trying to tell me that I was wrong. Many people may think that a person who gets so attached to an animal is just plain crazy. Well, maybe so, but then again I don't think so. I feel growing up with animals has helped make me a more caring and sensitive human being. Hawkeye's life may seem insignificant to many, but not to me. I loved him very much, and I will miss him until my dying day. I will never forget how he would hear my car engine on a warm day as I pulled into my driveway. He would jump up onto the window and cry out for me. I would click my fingers and call his name. When I would open the door, there he would be along with Molly and Garfield wanting to say hello. Every time I would sit down somewhere, Hawkeye would insist on sitting on my lap, purring as usual. This was especially nice on day that were not going well. After a year and a half of treating him, Hawkeye just grew tired. I tried to save him, but his time was on the horizon, and I refused to let him die in pain. I decided to put him down on October 23, 1996. That was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. I have had a lot of cats before, but unfortunately due to uncontrollable situations, I could not be with them when they died. Hawkeye was the first pet that I had ever put down, and was with him until the end. Although it was peaceful, it was very hard to deal with. Cats will always have a place in my home and in my heart. In life, I feel all pet owners will have that one little friend who stands out slightly above the rest. Hawkeye was this friend in my life. In closing, I just wanted to say is that I would do it all over again, in a heartbeat. I want to thank Dr. Johnessee for her understanding and the care she showed towards Hawkeye, myself, and all the other little friends that pass through her doors, she truly is a great Veterinarian.
If you are considering adopting a cat, a dog, or any pet for that matter, remember, like people they need love and attention as well. I guarantee you that their response to your love and affection will be very gratifying and rewarding.
This picture was taken in March of 1995, 7 to 8 months after Hawkeye was diagnosed with diabetes.
COMMUNITY VETERINARY GROUP
1500 East Boston Post Road o Mamaroneck, NY 10543
Judith S. Johnessee, MS, DVM
Diplomate, American College of
Veterinary International Medicine
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