Death is inevitable, of course, and in the case of my beloved old lady, it didn’t come as a surprise, not really. She’d gotten creakier, and skinnier, and greasier, and tireder, little by little, year by year, even though her bloodwork tested normal during her regular checkups. When the vet handed us the dual diagnosis of hyperthyroidism and chronic renal failure in August, it confirmed my worst fears.
The downhill slide accelerated rapidly after that. She lasted longer than Eric did, partly because she actually allowed us to administer subcutaneous fluids, and partly because she had significantly more kidney function left, even at the end. I’m still amazed when I think of the Great Orange Bastard and how muscular and hale he was to his last breath; that kid sure loved his food, which helped mask the fact that his kidneys were more hole than kidney for the last couple of years of his short life. The old lady, on the other hand, was never a glutton; by the time she passed, I could feel every rib and vertebra under her loosened coat.
I did learn some lessons from Eric, chief among them the virtue of letting go before every scrap of hope is lost. The knowledge that I’d left Eric in the hospital, where he died terrified and alone, surrounded by strangers, abandoned by the person he loved most, has haunted me all these years. On October 1, I made sure the old lady was cocooned in blankets and love and whispers of what a good cat she was, had always been, and she purred herself to sleep like she had thousands of times before.