At least two to three times a week, Boris the cat holds his owner’s right arm, feet, and sometimes her leg with his paws. He doesn’t leave her until she wakes up and makes something to eat. “Then he takes it to the kitchen, waits while I prepare the food and eat it,” Huisman tells Editie NL. “Then he will lie down again.”
Huisman loves the cat. “It brings life to the brewery and you can teach it things,” she continues. “Especially during the diabetes process, it’s good for him to sense that something is wrong. If something isn’t right, he doesn’t leave my side. One time he even woke up my father when things were going bad. If I didn’t answer, he turned to my father.” He shook his head under the guise of: Can you say something?
Huisman has suffered from diabetes for nearly twenty years, but only since 2017 has Boris the cat become part of the family consisting of Huisman and her father. Her mother died 16 years ago. “But we have a lot of support from each other and from the cat,” she says.
She got the four-legged friend from a home care worker who happened to have kittens to donate. This happened shortly after she discovered that the medication was no longer effective and she had to start injecting insulin. Home care came four times a day.
Inhaling the smell of insulin
Boris was only four months old when they taught him the smell of insulin. “We got the cat involved in smelling everything, so he was familiar with it from an early age,” Huisman continues. The smell of insulin is released when sugar levels are low. “Cats can smell insulin, especially if you sweat a lot.”
“During a seizure, I feel sweaty and it is noticed, for example, from the way I walk that I am unsteady. I become very shaky, float and feel dizzy. If I don’t get there in time, I may fall into a state of confusion.” Coma. “I feel like it does, but the cat smells it too.”
Work on it every day
The past year has once again shown how important Boris is to the family. Because of the new injection, Huisman is experiencing more hypoglycemia than before. “It’s code red a lot of times.” Diabetes affects her daily life. “You work on it twenty-four hours, day after day, seven days a week. The whole family revolves around it.”
Besides his nurturing nature, Boris is a very normal cat. “He loves going for walks, sitting at the front door and playing with the butterflies and frogs, and it drives him crazy.” In order not to lose the hangover, Boris is kept on a leash while walking. “Then he can answer me easily,” Huisman continues. “If I’m walking around in the evening and he notices I’m having a heart attack, I have to sit down for a moment. As soon as he notices something, he comes over and sits on me.”
Huisman feels grateful every day for his hangover. “He’s a very content and happy cat, and the fact that he feels comfortable with me is something I’m very proud of. He can’t have it, but he actually deserves the royal ribbon.”
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