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[Written 12-26-18]

We put Lucky 13 down this morning. 

It was, again, a very hard thing to do.  I had told Dan a week or two ago, “It’s hard to know when it’s too early… but it’s always easy to know when it’s too late.”  At that point, it was still a gray area to us.  I told him I thought we should probably put him down once January got here.  He’s been getting more and more feeble, finding it harder to get around, often unable to find the food dish I’d set down for him without assistance.  He was still getting to the litter box, still eating and drinking, sleeping a much of the time, but finding some time each day to curl up with us or beg a piece of cheese he knew you were eating.  We’d get through Christmas and then see about getting him transitioned.

We took a rare trip to the Cities for Solstice and our neighbor Connie was checking on Lucky.  On Sunday, she reported to me, “He was not moving well.” I didn’t know what this meant but was anxious to get home to him.  On finding him Sunday evening, I knew something was different.  He was just sitting on the carpet and made a sound when I came into the house.  I went to him and picked him up, cuddling him and telling him, “Momma’s here.”  He sat quiet with me.  I made him some “soup”. 

He hasn’t had teeth for years, well over a decade – maybe two since that shit Vet took all his front teeth making it very difficult to eat.  Mom had started giving him soft food when he moved to Minnesota and into her place with Dan.  For a long time after moving to the Harn, I would hand feed him, stacking up the food so he could grab a mouthful and throw it back.  In recent months, he’d had trouble even with that but seemed to like the kibble and do well with it so I stopped the soft food.  Last time we were gone – maybe a month ago – Connie had reverted him to the old routine, as I’d forgot to tell her we’d stopped the soft food.  I’m sure he was happy she’d reverted as I soon figured out that putting his food in a bowl with warm water and smooshing it all up allowed him to get some of it.  And it gave him plenty of liquid which is always good. 

So that evening I made him a helping of “soup” and he slurped it down.  So I made another.  And another.  By the fourth helping, he slowed and so we went and sat in the chair and cuddled.  He was definitely different but still seemed relatively content.  I decided to sleep with him in the recliner Sunday night.  About 4AM I woke and put Lucky on the floor at the foot of the recliner all wrapped up in the blankies.  He was comfy and snoozing on my return so I decided to head to bed.  He woke me with a meow about 7 AM.  Not sure what all he’d done but he was sitting about 20 feet away in the kitchen.  We ended up back in the recliner and about 7:30 AM, he had what appeared to be a series of seizures – just tensed up and head thrown back.  I comforted him, told him he could go, waited through it.  Seemed long but likely only about 15-20 seconds in all.  We resumed rest.  It was Christmas Eve but we called the local vet we’d checked with months back and left a message.  I figured we’d have to wait a couple days and was hoping Lucky would pass before then.

Every so often Lucky would stand up.  Sometimes he would stare and stand still, sometimes just reposition, sometimes I would try putting him in the litter box or giving him water.  Pretty much he was just vacant. If he did walk around, he was walking in circles to the left.  I mostly would bundle him back up and he’d go back to resting.  And the Vet did call back to note that she was moving practice and would not be available until 2019.  So, we figured it was a waiting game, just keeping him comfy. 

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day he seemed to be more of himself.  He seemed more aware of us, more responsive, he ate some more, pooped and later peed in the box for me.  Of course, this made the decision to put him down the day after Christmas ever harder.  But he still walked in circles when he was on the floor.  He still was very wobbly when he stood up from rest.

Dan made a fire in the Rocket Mass Heater – the bench has always been called the “Lucky Bed” and soon we found him wandering over that way.  I helped him up to it and he settled.  Soon he was curled up sleeping in this warm place.  Again, he seemed more like the old Lucky, and stronger, though he was still a bit wobbly.  He spent most of the evening there, coming off onto the floor to cool off as he’s always done.  A couple times he seemed to fall more than gently lie down.  I emailed the Vet clinic asking if we could get in early Wednesday.

Hoping for an early morning, we headed to bed with Lucky and he snuggled all evening between the two of us.  He has been for the last year or so, snuggling under the covers and lying next to us with his head on an arm or shoulder.  It’s been pretty great.  And it was wonderful to have one last night of cuddling.

I was up at 6:40 and got Lucky a “soup” since he was up with me.  Then I put him back with Dan in bed.  The vet office called at 7 and gave us an 8:30 appointment.  I worked on getting tea ready for the road trip, preparing the blankets in which I would carry Lucky, and eventually warming up the car.  Then Dan snuck his arm from under the boy.  I picked him up and took him over for a bowl of half & half, a treat Mom often gave him, and a habit we continued randomly.  It was good to know that he’d had every bit of goodness we could squeeze into his last few days.  I was having a harder and harder time knowing that he was down to hours, then minutes, left with us.

We loaded into the car and Lucky sat facing me in my lap, head butting me, winding in a circle in the blankets on the lap, returning for more face-to-face snuggles and, about halfway there, finally lying down across my lap under the blankets.  I let him be. 

On arrival, Dan went in to get everything done and, when our room was ready, he came out and got Lucky and me and we all headed inside. 

It was hard but the vet was friendly, compassionate, and attentive.  Lucky was calm but he gave him a sedative, standard practice these days it seems.  We’d had all our words and snuggles over the previous days and the ride over which was good as he was pretty knocked out within a few moments.  We stroked him and comforted him for a few minutes, said all those words again, and then the doc returned for his final injection.

I still cry when I think of it.  It’s still so hard to process.  But by the time we walked out with our shell of a kitty, I was in a better place.  I know we’d done good by him.  I know we gave him a good life.  And a good death.

Now the hard work will be continuing on without his sweet presence.