At her annual check-up in October, our old cat Jemima had lost weight over the year; not too surprising for a cat in her teens -- so when she pestered for more food, I was happy to indulge her, and let her scavenge our left-overs as well. Having never been a particularly sociable cat, she would at last come and purr aggressively at me for treats when I was busy in the kitchen -- and at the start of last month, when I was feeling unwell, and had made baked potato with butter and cheese as an emollient meal for a dodgy tummy, she even climbed on the bed and tried to steal my dinner from the plate.
Then on Boxing Day, I found her collapsed by the living room radiator, and wasn't sure if she'd make it through the night. But in the morning she had recovered enough to wobble out to the pond for a drink, and eat a little, so when a stop-over at the vets for rehydration had seemed to restore her equilibrium, and they couldn't find anything obvious like kidney or thyroid, so we were given steroids for her to take, and a bag of kibble for delicate stomachs, which she appreciated greatly.
Ten days of that later, she was perking up, and gaining weight, and the vet was pleased with her progress. Then she started to get absent-minded in the middle of her meals and on Sunday morning, after the normal morning care call for my wife, I went downstairs to get everyone breakfast -- and she was nowhere to be found. At that point I thought she had decided it was her time, and had gone out to find somewhere to curl up in, out of the way.
Then Monday morning, she was there in the living room, standing by the radiator, before going to curl up in her basket. By the end of the evening, she was in an uncomfortable looking twisted pose, trying to groom herself, and not making a good job of it. So this morning I called the vets, and took her in. I'm not sure how much ahead of nature the intervention came, but it would have eased her passage.
She outlasted her brother by a decade, but was never the people cat he was. The only times I ever could touch her were on the vet's examination table, or if, in later years, she was seriously fast asleep, and then would merely tolerate being stroked or brushed. Still, she was a mighty hunter, taking squirrels in her youth and pigeons until just a few years ago.