We knew for a long time that this day was coming.
She was almost 19 years old.
That's like 90 in cat years.
Over the past several months, she has been getting a little older and a little slower every day. But for as old as she was, she was doing pretty darn good. Still eating good, enjoying a nap in the sunshine, and the occasional scratch behind the ears. She couldn't see too well, couldn't hear too well, and couldn't move too well, but she seemed happy enough.
Then, about a week ago, she stopped eating. Almost overnight it seemed, her weight dropped drastically. She wasn't very big to begin with, and by this past weekend, she was pathetically skinny. You could feel the ridges and grooves on her bones through her fur. Her fur became matted and rough when she stopped grooming. Her eyes, nose and mouth became infected and oozy.
Of course she began her downward spiral on a Friday. All weekend long, I kept hoping that somehow she would rally and have a miraculous healing. But then I would remind myself that she was 18 years old. Even if she rallied, she was still at the end of her nine lives. We tried to coax a little milk and water into her, but she really was having none of that.
By this morning, she made it pretty clear that she was ready to move on to her next big adventure. She couldn't walk, couldn't even hold her head up very well, and she kept turning and moving as if she just couldn't get comfortable. Just before I left for work, I laid down on the floor next to her and petted her head. She seemed to enjoy in and relax a little, so I kept petting her, and tried to have a little farewell moment with her, telling her what a good kitty she was, and how much we would miss her. I got rather teary eye and tender hearted, thinking of saying goodbye to my old kitty. Suddenly, she sat up, and smacked me in the face with her paw, as if to say, "Oh, shut up already and lets get on with it." She never was a cuddly sentimental sort, which is one of the things I liked most about her.
She chose to spend part of her last morning on earth in the shower. She always did love the bathroom. She loved to get in the shower after Dan got out in the mornings and slurp up the water left on the shower door and floor. She also used to love to sit on the edge of the bath tub while I was bathing, and would watch, fascinated by all that water.
She didn't hardly make a peep on the way to the vet, and in the office while we waited. She probably was feeling awful by this time, but she was very sweet and cuddly.
We brought her home to bury her in our back yard. Duncan said the sweetest prayer for her that had me crying and laughing hysterically all at once. He said, "We are thankful we could be here together to experience the loss of our beloved pet, mother, and sister...." that boy can be very eloquent when the need arises.
So, happy trails Belle. you kept us company for more than 18 years, and you were a patient and entertaining housemate for all that time. You put up with two younger brother cats who tormented you like any younger brothers would, you shared your kittens with Maggie, and reigned with grace over Piper. I'll mss sharing my bath with you.