She was 11 years old and had been in good health, though she had slowed down a bit in recent weeks. Last week she started having difficulty eating, and she deteriorated from there. At first I thought it was tooth problems, especially as she developed an awful smell around her head, with no outside infections or problems in sight. We kept her quiet and she seemed OK, and I planned a vet appointment for this week.
Then on Sunday, as she walked outside to enjoy the sun, she suddenly keeled over and was unable to stand or walk. As I rushed to her she stretched out her paws and meowed in obvious confusion and distress. Her back legs were twisted under her and were almost useless.
She managed to get up and walk, and was able to walk normally later as well, but only for a short time. Within minutes she would lose her balance and her back legs would collapse.
I had to help her to the litter box or outside, and hand-feed her tiny, pitiful amounts of soft food or egg and milk. She could barely eat.
She remained very affectionate to the end. On her last morning with us the kids sat on the lounge room floor and she walked slowly between them, pushing her head under first one hand and then the other. The night before she had slept on my lap, purring almost as if she was still well.
But she wasn't, and I knew it was cruel to keep her going, as she was in distress and pain and was wasting away by the day.
On Monday, the kids and I took her to the vet for what we knew would be the last time.
The vet was kindly and wonderful. She agreed there was no hope. Tia had likely suffered either a blood clot or some kind of neurological damage, for which the prognosis is bad even for young cats. In three days Tia had lost half her body weight and critical muscle mass.
The kids kissed her good bye then waited in the waiting room while I held Tia for her last moments. The vet and her assistant were gentle and respectful, patting Tia and soothing her while she was prepared for the catheter. Then they put her on my lap and straight away she snuggled down and rested her head on my hand, purring sleepily.
Within seconds, she was gone.
I cried like a kid, there alone in the room with my dead cat. I couldn't believe she was gone. I still can't. I know she was "just" a cat, and yes, it's been a few days now, but as I write this I feel the tears coming back, and I quickly blink them away because the kids are here in the lounge with me and they have already cried buckets. M in particular was very attached to Tia and has been distraught. She's coping well and is much better now, but we've had a few days of long talks and various "cheering up" activities to take their minds off it in between the upset times.
It's been a sad few days for us all. Even Y cried, and he supposedly wasn't fond of her (but he was).
So farewell, sweet Tia. Thank you for being a lovely, lovely cat. We miss you x