I hope, in the interest of cosmic balance, that someone around here had a really good Saturday night. Myself, I stayed up 'til dawn watching my cat die.
Annie was pushing 17, and had been in her querulous old age for a while, but the transition from "old and tired" to "dying" was startlingly fast. Thursday, when I was cleaning my room, she just acted more tired than she'd recently been, and had a bit more trouble moving around. Friday, maybe a little more so. Saturday morning, she ate her thyroid pill with salmon about as cheerfully as she usually would. (The last thing she'd eat or drink.) Midmorning, she could no longer walk and had trouble standing, and was refusing water. In the afternoon, we were still talking about taking her to the vet on Sunday. By evening, all that remained was to lay her on a towel by the pellet stove, lavish attention on her, and wait.
On Wednesday, she seemed perfectly fine. So all told, I suppose it was about as merciful as death by old age and organ failure gets.
I don't know what it is about those few minutes right before dawn that makes them such a popular time to breathe one's last, but Annie did it by the book. After growing steadily weaker all night as Mom and I held vigil and stroked her fur, she opened her eyes, twitched legs she hadn't moved for hours, gasped, and died. The sky in the east had brightened into a flat, exhausted indigo, and that was the end of our cat.
Annie was a coyote-colored cat with a ringed tail and fine tufted ears, and in her youth, she had a blocky sort of physique that made her look partially unfinished. (Her sister, who died when we were in high school, looked much the same, though a little bit rounder.) In her old age, she grew rather thin and bony, giving her a long-limbed poise that was oddly lupine.
She was by turns clingy and standoffish, and maintained a peevish attitude toward Stefan, the younger and more gregarious boy cat she shared our house with. (Stefan quietly joined in last night's vigil. He came and went, but was standing right there at the last. Then he joined me for the five hours of sleep I got this morning, burrowing in hard against my back.) She adopted Mom and myself as her favorites, for reasons she never deigned to explain, and spent the moiety of her last several months in my room.
She may have been the most awkward cat I've yet known, and she never quite got the knack of sitting on one's lap without making all parties uncomfortable. Nevertheless, she had a powerfully un-catlike flair for showing she was glad to have you in the room.
She had a deep and abiding love of all People Food, especially cheeses and smoked meats. There was some problem with her vocal cords, and instead of meowing, she used this two-parted squeak that is most closely transcribed as "Ree-eew."
She was a pain in the ass and a delight. When she would carefully eat every piece of cheese on her plate except
the one with the pill in it, I would huff an irritated sigh, rub her ears and the side of her face, and proclaim her the "Worst Cat Ever." She wasn't, though. She was a Good Kitty, and damned if I won't miss her. Annie and Stefan, asleep on our old couch. Photo taken four years ago.