This time it was Paul's turn to take his pet for that last trip to the vet. Her name was Midnight, who we lovingly and derisively referred to as the cat-tard. Deprived, abandoned, and rescued, kept carefully inside for the next 13 years, she was both a source of love and amusement.
She was a source of exasperation as well, too stupid to learn to avoid being underfoot. My morning rush to the bathroom was more often than not interrupted by her positioning herself right on my direct path. For her it was merely the warmest spot in the house, right by the heat vent. We also learned to watch out step to avoid the results of her bulimia. She'd overeat, likely a reaction to her kittenhood, and then barf. If we were lucky, it'd be on a hard surface in range of the dogs. They appreciated it way more than we did.
She was unusually tolerant of being handled, for a cat, allowing herself to be held upside down to let her belly be rubbed. You can define upside down as having her back horizontal or vertical. Either one was fine. Before I got my allergy diagnosis she spent most evenings on my bed. I'd pet her briefly before falling asleep, and spend the next several minutes keeping my arms out of reach of being bitten, her way of demanding more petting. These last few years she was mostly shut out, but I relented these last few weeks.
Until, that is, she could no longer jump up on the bed.
She basically quit eating. We don't know why. She'd always had a pot belly. We noticed it had disappeared after we noticed that her spine was getting sharper, ribs were easier to feel, and what once was fat was now hollow. What bulged now hung. We began taking extra special care of her, petting her, putting her in warm places, lifting her onto the bed and helping her down again when she got too weak finally. We offered canned food. She licked a bit of milky sauce off the top and ignored the rest. We offered half-and-half. She lapped up a teaspoonful and again ignored the rest.
It was finally time. Paul was home from work, his usual day off. He was able to schedule an appointment, take her in.
Now the house is quiet. No dogs bark at the door, no cat yowls while prowling. It's me, Paul, and electronics. It will change. On Easter I'll be back from Arizona with Steve and Fred. We'll hear toenails on the floor again, wagging tail slapping against whatever it can reach and maybe knock over. Fred may even offer up that rare deep "Woof". Steve, of course, will offer up more noise.