We seldom photograph Snicky because she hasn't been her former, ultra-glamorous self for a long time, perhaps three years. In recent months, she's been looking worse than ever — she's lost weight to the point of being skeletal, and a visit to the groomer in the fall left her with large bald patches in her faded tortoiseshell fur. That was not the groomer's fault, but ours, since we've never figured out how to groom her ourselves without risking deep puncture wounds.
But this is a recent photo and a good likeness; she's like a tiny space creature with an oversized head and cloudy orange eyes. The vet thinks she is slowly wasting from some gastrointestinal malignancy; doing the proper diagnostic tests would probably finish her off because she's so frail. But whatever is making her skinny and weak seems to be in a holding pattern. In late October, we began watching her closely for signs that it was "Time." We've yet to see those. We kept our fingers crossed that she'd make it to Thanksgiving, and here we are heading into February. She's even gained some weight and strength since her autumn decline, and recovered from a urinary tract infection after Christmas, too.
Her weight and strength gains are due to steroid pills, probably. They reduce inflammation and give her an appetite. She eats twice a day with the other cats and she can have extra kibble at bowl I place by my feet (to keep Possum out of it, which doesn't always work) any time she requests it. If I ignore her fixed gaze at me, she'll mutter and swear in her growly little voice. If I'm still not fast enough with the bowl, she gets up on her hind legs and whacks me. I feed her many times between morning and midnight.
She gets pills twice a day: big potassium tablets for chronic renal failure, chicken-flavored amlodipine "treats" for high blood pressure, a tiny bit of Cerenia in case she has nausea (she clicked her teeth and licked her lips a lot before we tried this), and prednisolone for inflammatory bowel disease and her undiagnosed ailment. I wrap all that into a pill pocket and push it down her gullet with fear and respect, using every ounce of strength in my right hand to keep her jaw propped open and spare myself puncture wounds. It's as if all of her strength is concentrated in her jaw. She's as terrifying as ever!
But nowadays she can jump onto the sofa or the velvet armchair, or curl up with my husband when he's in the leather chair. She has a special, two-step footstool with grippy treads so she can climb up and down from our bed. There, she naps or watches football games with us and the other cats. She lies like a tiny sphinx on my husband's chest every night, staring into his face as he sleeps. Then she'll sleep at my feet. She seems to have no pain unless she takes a tumble off the footstool or a chair. Then she'll sit up and utter a protest cry, painful to hear, and stump away on heavy, shaky legs. The other cats treat her politely most of the time, and she'll swat at anyone who doesn't. And she will still play with toys on occasion.
That's my report, which will be useful to have here for reference as weeks and months (I hope) go by. Here's to the status quo. Let this continue, please, so she'll turn 18 on April 1.