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Watching Tink grow old

Published September 04. 2010 09:00AM

When I found Foo Foo alongside of the road on my way to work one morning, I was devastated.

I picked up her beautiful calico stiff body and walked back to the house, bawling my eyes out, all the while alternated calling her "my beautiful kitty" then "you stupid cat" knowing she had tried to cross the road and didn't make it.

As we buried her close by, I swore, "No more cats!"

It was just too painful to grow to love them and then lose them.

But, less than four months later, Becky started a campaign for a new kitty. I resolved to stay firm in my decision.

"Mom. I really NEED a kitty," my one and only child insisted. "I don't have any brothers and sisters. I need someone to love."

"So what are we? Chopped liver?" I'd ask.

Oh, the guilt.

And so, Tinkerbell joined our little family.

This time we decided to not let her outside. It was just too heartbreaking to lose a beloved pet to the road.

That was 18 years ago.

Becky played with her, loved her and insisted she had to sleep on her bed at night.

Becky went off to college, then got married and moved out completely. I don't know what we would have done if Becky would have been allowed to have pets in her apartment and insisted Tink go with her.

Now, over the last few months we started noticing some weird behavior.

Her litter box is in our attached garage. She's always been very good about meowing at the door to let us know she had to do her business. But, lately, she's been letting deposits in various places on the garage floor, almost like she forgot what the litter box was for.

She can't seem to settle down. Gone are those really long cat naps. She paces back and forth and drives us nuts.

"Tink! settle yourself!" is a common used phrase now.

Every day at suppertime, we give her special treats. After she eats her treats, she goes to the door to be let out. It's become a routine.

Now she eats the treats, goes out, comes back in and goes over to her dish, waiting for treats.

The first few times she did this, Harry joked with her, "Do you have Alzeheimer's? You already got your treats." She sits there and gives us the evil eye like we forgot them.

One night while sleeping, she started meowing in this croaky sounding voice. It sounded like she was in pain and we shot out of bed to see what was wrong. Apparently nothing. But ever since then, she sounds like she's got a mouse stuck in her throat and she meows for no reason.

About this time, her hair got a clump. I thought she got something stuck in it and tried to brush it out. Since then, she has had several clumps. We think she can't clean herself anymore because we never see her do it. Or maybe, she forgets to do it.

We recently read an article in the USA Weekend magazine about cats who show signs of Feline Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) - what amounts to feline Alzheimer's disease.

When Harry joked about her having Alzheimer's, we never thought it was possible. But guess what? It is.

And without taking her to a veterinarian for an official diagnosis, we're pretty sure Tink is losing her mind.

According to what I read, Amy D. Shojai, the author of more than a dozen pet books, including "Pet Care in the New Century: Cutting - Edge Medicine for Dogs and Cats," is currently researching CDS in cats and dogs.

"I hear owner concerns all the time about older cats (greater than 9 years old) having lapses in litter box allegiance, crying or howling especially at night, staring into space, not seeming to recognize people, places, or animals, pacing aimlessly, getting lost in corners of rooms, and 'forgetting' how to do normal behaviors", says Shojai. "

Tink is displaying almost all of this kind of behavior.

So, not only are we dealing with our own "forgetfulitis," we're now dealing with a senile cat.

The other day she sprang from the floor up on the kitchen counter like she was 2 years old.

"Tink!" I scolded. "Did you forget kitties in this house don't do that? Get down now!"

This morning she heard from our bedroom Harry open the garage door and she took off like a bullet, thundering down the hallway like she was being chased by a pack of wild hungry dogs.

"It's like she forgot she's old," Harry said as he watched in amazement.

According to a cat year chart, in human years, Tink is approximately 88 years old.

If I'm able to run and jump like that when I'm 88 years old, that will be wonderful! Oh wait, I can't run and jump like that now. Never mind.

So, that's the tale of my aging kitty.

She's healthy and appears to be happy. She still purrs when I call her "Pretty Kitty." She still jumps up on the computer desk when ever I'm working there. She still follows me from room to room. So, I don't think she's forgotten who loves her yet. And what's more important than that?

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