When Beautiful Wife and I first got married, each of us had two cats. Mine were Wayward and Astrophe, while hers were Syn and Claire. We'd pictured merging the two households as a sort of fuzzy Brady Bunch kind of thing, but in the event they didn't blend well. Claire and Wayward kept scrapping for dominance, and various cats were spraying all over the apartment trying to mark territory, and... it just didn't quite work out.
So Wayward went to live with my parents, in a life of luxurious indulgence that I can only admire. The other three stayed with us. Astrophe, apparently, was sufficiently unthreatening that he could bond with the other two.
Then we had children, and I can barely describe the looks of betrayal that the cats gave us as they aged. Cats and toddlers are natural enemies, as cats are very particular about how they get touched, and toddlers will touch everything and have no sense of restraint. But we mostly kept them separated, and everyone was mostly all right.
And, of course, we all got older -- though when the toddlers do that, it's called "growing up". So, y'know, they grew up. The rest of us, cats included, just got older.
Eventually, for health reasons, we put Syn down. A few years later, we did the same for Claire. Neither was easy. Shortly after Claire left us, my parents did the same for Wayward.
And somewhere in the past two weeks, I've realized that we're looking at the same thing for Astrophe. On one level, it's almost overdue; he was looking skinny and miserable two years ago, but we altered his diet to something much more gravy-intensive and got him onto a semi-regular dose of miralax, and for a fairly long while he was doing a lot better. But over the last two weeks or so, well...
He's amazingly skinny. His bones are all very prominent. He keeps wandering into the kitchen and looking at us, but no matter what we give him he eats very little of it. He walks slowly, almost (but not quite) limping. One day last week, he managed to poop and throw up over a huge portion of the house, basically tracing a path from Firstborn's room back to his litter box. It took me a solid half an hour to clean it all up. And as of today, he keeps settling on this one mat beside the litter box -- way closer to his own waste than a healthy cat should be willing to settle. He doesn't seem to be in pain, he's just... increasingly, relentlessly weakening. It's been very sudden. And so far, our every effort to bring him back from this has failed.
He's still a sweet kitty. He's still... I don't know, not comfortable but also not miserable, and we're trying to give him as much affection as we can in whatever time we have left. But he's quieter than I ever remember him being, slower than I ever remember him being, more careful in his movements than I ever remember him being.
He's twenty years old, and I'm pretty sure the cat is dying.