Sheyden the Blessed One

Sheyden in his scale
Looking back through photos for my various posts I came across one of Sheyden (originally named Shadow), a cat now of blessed memory. Sheden’s time with us was short, but he crawled deep into our hearts during that time. This is his story.

Shadow/Sheyden’s story with us began when friend from a rescue group called, wondering if we could foster an adult cat who had been found nearly dead a few years ago, and who had been in foster care ever since. And with six cats already, we thought, what difference would a seventh make?

Well, a lot, as it turns out. All of it good. Shadow wrapped his paws around my neck the minute he arrived, and that was the end of me. Shadow was—supposedly—a controlled diabetic. But on his first day with us he drank four bowls of water and filled four litter boxes. I was pretty sure that didn’t count as controlled. I knew the rescue group couldn’t afford the care that he needed, so we adopted him. Shadow got his forever home with us and the rest of our brood. Little did we know how short forever would be.

One of our first decisions about Shadow was that he desperately needed a new name. Shadow was descriptive—he was completely black—but we felt like he’d lived in the shadows long enough. After a short internet search, Shadow became Sheyden, which means “blessed one.” We weren’t sure who was more blessed in this relationship—him or us—but it was clear right from the start that this cat brought blessings with him.

The next thing we did with the newly-named Sheyden was get him to the vet’s for some serious testing. The eight-hour curve test from the vet confirmed what we’d observed; Sheyden’s diabetes was way out of control.

We increased the insulin doses to seven units twice a day, and bought him back for another eight hour curve. The vet called me four hours into the test, and told me Sheyden was so far off the scale that there wasn’t any point in continuing. In fact, she said, she wasn’t sure this cat could be controlled. The only hope she had was for a different kind of insulin, one that costs a whopping $100.00 a vial.

After three days with the new insulin we began to notice a major change in our blessed cat. He was drinking and peeing normally. Best of all, Sheyden, who was always a loving cat, got very active and energetic. His favorite new trick was to jump from the floor onto my shoulders and wrap himself around me, which was okay when you had your back to him, and a little startling when he did it face to face! We were sure that the new insulin was working, and brought him back for his test with great hopes. The vet called me at the end of the day absolutely stunned at the excellent results.

Sheyden did well on his new insulin for a couple of months, but as sometimes happens with seriously diabetic cats, he became immune to the new insulin as well, and started showing signs of serious illness. After a few weeks of testing we realized that Sheyden’s liver and pancreas were closing down and that we couldn’t do anything but keep him comfortable. It was time for hospice care. We gave subcutaneous fluids at home, and he got all the boiled chicken his dear little heart desired. (He loved chicken like nothing else.) That kept him going for a couple weeks, but his systems simply couldn’t support him anymore. We sat with him until 1:45 am on the morning of December 31st as he peacefully breathed his last.

Through all of his care, Sheyden was always cheerful, even at the vet’s office. In fact he conned the vet techs out of so much chicken on days that he was there that I made a chicken salad luncheon for the vet practice after he died, It was their Sheyden Memorial luncheon. I think they loved him as much as we did.

Sheyden was both a blessed cat, and a cat who blessed, and we will be forever grateful that we got to know him for the last six months of his life. His very favorite action was to butt his head against ours, and it is our hope and expectation that where ever we go in the next life that Sheyden will be there to greet us–with a head butt.


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