Catrina is doing much better now. Her new vet says that - aside from her recent illness - Catrina is in fantastic shape for a 14-ish year old cat.
The problem seems to have been something she inhaled that irritated her throat. The likely culprit was some drywall dust from the work we just had done on the house. She's taking a steroid to keep the inflammation down, and is back to her usual talkative self. The first medicine the vet tried didn't work very well, but the current prescription seems to be doing the trick.
The first med was a liquid that we gave her in a little bit of gooshy food. There is always dry food available to the kitties. Good quality dry food that, under normal circumstances, they all eat happily. Wet food is usually only an infrequent treat around here because Catrina quickly gets neurotic about it.
When any amount of wet food is available, Catrina snarfs it down in a race to finish before the others finish theirs. If she's fast enough, and we're not watching closely, she can sometimes secure a few extra bites by pilfering from the slower eaters, which reinforces the speed-eating behavior. Even if she doesn't manage to steal from someone else's plate, we can't serve wet food in meal sized portions or Catrina throws most of hers up because she wolfed it down so fast.
We tried serving small portions of wet food on a daily basis since they all enjoy it so much. But if Catrina thinks canned food might be in her future she will hold off eating the regular dry stuff and wait until some glorious gooshy food materializes. Portions small enough to stay down aren't enough to get by on, so she starts losing weight, her fur condition goes all to heck, and she gets cranky and demanding while she's waiting on that next dose of the gooshy to appear.
After just three days of having her medication in a tiny bit of wet food, she's all but stopped eating the dry food again. The new medication is in pill form, and I've never met the cat who can't pick a pill out of the food you've tried to hide it in, so there's no point in going that route. So, we're going to go back on the "gooshy is a sometimes food" diet - with canned food happening only at random intervals - and Catrina is going through gooshy withdrawal.