This has been a tough week. My sinus/migraine problems paled against the possibility that it was time to put my almost-23-year-old calico Manx down.
Tribble and I have been together since she was six weeks old. She has mostly been a delight, a low-maintenance companion with a gentle disposition. In all our time together, she's had only one physical ailment--a little cancer on her chin, which my vet removed about six years ago.
The only difficulty has been her moodiness. She was already ten years old when Lucy, my border collie, came to live with us. In a fit of pique, Tribble jumped up on one of the chairs in my breakfast nook and didn't come back down for nearly a year. I never saw her on the floor although I noticed she cleaned her dishes each night and made periodic visits to her litter box.
When Lucy, an exuberant puppy, would approach Tribble's chair, she'd swipe the dog's snout. Lucy would come running to me, whimpering with outrage.
Then, one day, as suddenly as she'd jumped up on the chair, she jumped down. She made no effort to avoid Lucy--even occasionally walking over or under the border collie to get where she wanted to go.
By contrast, Lucy froze with terror whenever Tribble drew near.
Far more troublesome than her moodiness has been Tribble's tendency to periodic fits of depression. When Shadrach, our little disabled cat, died Tribble quit eating and grooming herself. I tried offering new flavors of cat food, Bumble Bee tuna and even my sure-fire method for getting an animal to eat: lamb-flavored Gerber baby food. Nothing would entice her to eat. My vet warned that we might have to put her on intravenous feeding.
I was desperate. One night about a week after Shadrach's death, I came home to find Tribble's long, silky hair unbelievably knotted and snarled. While I couldn't convince her to eat, I decided I could do something about her terrible coat. I drove to Petco and purchased a dog grooming kit. Returning home, I spread newspapers on the dining room table, plopped Tribble down and started shaving her.
Midway through the haircut, Tribble began to purr. I suspect that, without her heavy coat, she could feel my massaging fingers more easily.
I left her head and legs full, but trimmed everything else. Within two hours of my petting her smooth skin, she began eating Lucy's liver treats out of my hand. To this day, dog liver bites are her favorite treat. And, whenever she slips into one of her depressions (she did it again when I had to put down Shadow, my 20-year-old grey-and-white tabby), I shave her tiny body and give her deep skin massages.
Earlier this week, Tribble began to pee indiscriminately--outside of her litter box. She has NEVER exhibited inappropriate urinary behaviors.