Our cat has stage-two gingivitis. This, we are told by the vet, might have been avoided had we brushed her teeth regularly. Yes, you read that correctly. Winkie, would you prefer Colgate, Crest, or all natural Tom’s of Maine? Secretly, well, not so secretly, I don’t mind going to the vet, because Doctor W., about fifteen years my junior, happens to be Greek God gorgeous. In truth, I’m a little intimidated by his gorgeousness, so that when he asked six months ago if I would consider brushing the cat’s teeth, I squeaked, “You are kidding, right?” instead of laughing out loud. Buddy, do you know this cat?
If you think I’m a coward, let me explain that it’s a two person operation each month when we clip our indoor cat’s claws. Besides, what self respecting feline is going to let an owner hold open her mouth and get in there with bristles? Aside from that, our cat, for want of a better term, is schizo--if I didn’t know we had her fixed I’d figure she’s hormonal. For about three weeks out of the month she purrs and rubs around my legs, flops on my lap when I sit on the sofa and exposes her belly. “All good,” she must think as she lulls me into a false security “I’ll toy with this one.” And then, on a day like any other when she’s soft and pliant and relaxed in my lap, she turns into a hunter, yowling as she stalks me with teeth and claws. It’s not pretty. And, let me add, it’s not fair.
Winkie came to us six years ago as a rambunctious kitty right from the shelter. She arrived with worms, fleas and a chronic kitty condition that manifested itself in her lungs, requiring a first, jaw-dropping visit to Dr. W. Since then, it appears as conjunctivitis, for which I have the honor of squirting antibiotic ointment into her eyes.
Our area is overrun with foxes, coyotes and other dangerous beasties, so she stays inside. I (note that operative word) altered her diet when she got too fat, clean her litter box often, bring her for all required shots and wellness checks, offer her dental treats for her teeth, and want nothing more than to treat her like one of the family. Except that, just when we think that’s possible, Winkie morphs into the kitty from hell. I’ve checked the Internet, interviewed the vet, followed instruction on how to react to a naughty girl, and if anything, this summer it got worse. By August, I had to lock her in the basement because she launched stealth attacks; throwing herself at me when I had my back to her, biting me hard in the legs.
In spite of the ugly vision of coyote lunch, the thought of accidentally leaving the screen door open seemed appealing; until I read a cat training guide that indicated our social kitty might change her behavior if ignored. Take care of her physical needs, it advised, food, water and litter box, but other than that, pay her no attention.
So for two weeks, Winkie and I were like sisters at war who had the misfortune to share the same bedroom. If she arrived in the kitchen and chatted at me, I walked to the family room. When she stalked over to the couch and announced she wanted to sit, I refused to look at her. When she tried to follow me down the hallway, I closed the door, and absurd as it seems after two weeks of this, that cat had a hurt look in her eyes. Feeling like a jerk, I started to acknowledge her again, a quick rub to her head when she approaches me at the computer, a rubdown when we get up in the morning. The scabs on the back of my legs have healed; she’s acted like a model cat for fifteen days. Nonetheless, we brought her back to the vet to make sure her behavior didn’t stem from a physical condition and now they are insistent that I stick a kitty brush on my finger, slide it in her mouth and rub. Once again and for the record, you have got to be kidding.
As I write today though, I’m recalling a time last winter when Winkie accidentally got locked in a linen closet. After a few hours of cat-less peace, I realized she was missing. She always comes when called, but this time nothing doing. Trying all the usual places, the unfinished portion of the basement, the laundry closet, under our bed--with mounting desperation we began searching outside, picturing kitty remains on the side of our busy street or pieces of fur drifting out in the woods. As panic grew, I heard a mew and opened the linen closet door. Eyes blinking after a long nap and arching her back, she looked up as if to say, “Daarling, you were looking for moi?”
You don’t have to say it. I’m going to have to drive to the vet to purchase a kitty tooth brush, aren’t I?