In exactly an hour and a half, my husband and I will take our oldest cat to the vet for the last time. She's been a part of our household since my mother-in-law died in 1999. Even then she was an old cat; now she's nearly nineteen and looks older still.
We made the opposite decision more than a year ago when the cat first started having what we'll call 'bowel difficulties.' Encouraged by her bright eyes and continued willingness to eat, I began dosing her with medicine every day. It helped and she rallied for a time, but she has since gotten rail-thin with patchy fur and a demeanor that makes it clear that she does not feel at all well.
Maybe because she's never been one of our favorite cats, we've had a hard time deciding to let her go. Today's timing feels awful: it's as though we're putting our cat to sleep because we're going to have guests over. We know that's not the case at all, but it's hard not to feel guilty.
I'm grateful to our friends and relatives who've helped us see her as they see her. Viewed objectively, she looks shockingly frail and miserable. As one of my friends put it, "If that's what getting old looks like, count me out."
R.I.P. Alexandra - 1987-2005
I hope we made your life a little happier while you were with us.