Over the past several years, Nikki had various health challenges, developing allergies which required me to learn esoteric cat-pilling skills (something akin to simultaneously throwing a split-fingered fast ball and firing a flint-lock pistol) and a certain rapport with her to enable that tricky maneuver, as well as a limp that dated to her one shot at the parakeet cage (Nikki had failed to consider the physics of the cage stand ... while she could get at the cage in a short jump from the dining room table, she neglected to figure what the weight of a large cat would do to the balance on the whole system ... which ended up crashing down on her, thereby ceding the birds the position of dominance in the household ... it was months before Nikki would even venture back to the dining room!). However, until recently, her health was pretty good, considering (especially in light of her age in "human years", which runs around 5.6:1, making her 90-ish) ... but over the past few months her attention to food began to wane (she used to trip you until you fed her) and she began losing some weight. As the Vet had encouraged us to see if she could shed a pound or two, we were not particularly alarmed by this, putting her inattention off to "senility" rather than anything else. Even a week back, though, she was enthusiastic in her attempts to get some bits of steak (and/or butter from a baked potato), so her decline from that "plateau" was pretty dramatic. Over the past week, she began to eat less and less, being uninterested in her FAVORITE foods (I even tried to bribe her with melted butter yesterday just to get her to eat something), leaving her dinner and breakfast plates virtually untouched. She'd also started a strange behaviour of drinking from anyting but her water dish, licking condensation off of the refrigerator when opened, from the dishwasher while being unloaded, even from the shower stall when one of us got out. On top of this, her legs were failing her ... twice in the past week she (attempting to get a drink) dunked herself in the toilet, no doubt the most embarassing move a feline can make.
It became clear to us that it was definately time for a visit to the Vet. Daughter #1 had a half-day at school today, and I volunteered that we'd be able to go if The Wife could get us an appointment. So, after picking up Daughter #1, and grabbing a bit of lunch, we got ourselves ready to escort Miss Nikki up to Blum Animal Hospital. We were both anticipating a run up there, some fluids, a shot or two, some new medicine to give her, and maybe a new diet food. We had no idea that this was going to be a one-way trip for Anique. Nikki had spent most of the past couple of days curled up under things, and not in her usual spots, and today she decided to be under a side-table cabinet in the dining room. I'd asked Daughter #1 if she could pull Nikki out from there (being easier to maneuver in small spaces than I am), but she jumped the gun a bit and came out holding Nikki before I was ready to transfer her into the carrying case. When she put Nikki down, it was evident that Nikki could not walk, and was barely able to stand, plus she'd chosen a spot which often has a vase of lillies above it, and had managed to get herself quite yellow from pollen. She was not in her best form, poor thing. I got her into her carry-case with no problem (a rare thing whe she was feeling herself) and we went downstairs and grabbed a cab. I wish I'd set her up so that she could look out the windows, but I didn't know that this was her last car ride. Both Daughter #1 and I were teary on the way up, as we were scared for Nikki, and both had a lot of time invested in our relationships with out kitty cat. When we got to the exam room and they took her out of the carrier, she lay spread-eagle on the table ... no fighting, no nothing, her sad little chin on the cold metal. This was obviously not a cat in good health. The Vet was being "vague" about things until she sent Daughter #1 off on a "tour" with one of the assistants and told me that no matter what it was, she thought that Nikki's chances were no better than 50/50 of making any sort of recovery ... her body temperature was low, and they were going to do blood tests and x-rays to see what was what. They suggested we go out for an hour or so and then come back.
Well, I called up my Mom to see if one of her gals (Mom's in a wheelchair and has nearly round-the-clock assistance) could pick up Daughter #2 from daycare (just in case the day ended up like it did) and then called The Wife to suggest that she might want to try to get off of work early and get down there. The Vet also ended up calling The Wife and gave her the more in-depth story. Daughter #1 and I meandered about a while, getting a donut, checking out some stores, and then headed back to Blum. At this point we'd both been crying on-and-off, and were unsure of what exactly was going on. What the Vet initially told us was that The Wife was going to be coming down to pick Nikki up, so I thought we were taking her home. When we eventually got the real word from the Vet we heard that Nikki's blood work was "off the charts" for whatever indicates renal failure, and the Vet had told The Wife that she'd lost her cat to this a year or so back, and even giving her twice-daily shots only helped her cat "hang on" another month or so. What they had discussed was having Daughter #1 and I say our goodbyes to Nikki and then have The Wife take her to another place for euthanasia. Anyway, Daugher #1 and I waited for a couple of hours for The Wife to arrive, and we eventually got an exam room to be alone with Anique. It's so hard in that situation, since Nikki was feeling much better than when she'd come in (thanks to the water shots), and, while being weak and floppy, was being very much herself ... however, the prognosis was that she would only be getting weaker and sicker as the days went on, and The Wife decided that it "was time". As it turned out, the other place (an emergency animal hospital) didn't open up till later, and Blum was able to do the euthanasia there (there had been some sort of mis-communication earlier between the Vet and The Wife, I guess, leading to the discussion of her taking Nikki to the other place). The Wife decided that it would be cruel to Nikki to take her out of there (an environment she was at least familiar with), back outside, into another cab, through another waiting room, all to just get put down, so opted to have the doctors there (that Nikki seemed to like) do this instead. So, Daughter #1 and I spent some time saying our tearful goodbyes, and then left The Wife with Nikki to say farewell. The Wife met us in the waiting room, we got a cab, retreived Daughter #2 from her grandmother, and came home.
The first thing in the door I did was to look down to make sure I didn't step on the cat. Then I burst out crying. Anique ... Miss Nikki ... Nikki-poo-poo ... "the prettiest of the kitty cats" ... you are missed terribly already, and we are all so sad that you had to leave us. I was so sure we were going to have more time together. We love you very much, kitty cat!