I stopped by the vet's tonight after work, to discuss my Joey, who at 11 lbs is now exactly half his former 22 lb self.
The deal now is that my boy is basically starving to death. I'm not starving him, oh no! His all-but-defunct thyroid is keeping him from maintaining (let alone gaining) weight.
And since he's got maybe four itty-bitty teeth left in his entire maw, he's on a soft food diet (which he loves, but with which he grows a mite bored).
His regular catch is Prescription k/d, and his treat is Gerbers baby food (the meat ... right now it's chicken he likes). All of which is slightly to the right of ex-puh-hen-sive ... but worth it for my guy.
Last night was the first really rough night he's had (he snuggled right up into my armpit and talked at me all night), but I don't know whether it was due to the incredibly loud thunder-boomers all night (bad weather never seemed to bother him before), or something to do with his coming to the end of the road. My decision now is what to do and when.
As far as I can tell he's in no pain, but I have to pay close attention, because cats hide pain well. The real signs are (of course) his weight (plummeting), food consumption (little to moderate), stools (depends on how much he eats, but healthy and firm) ... hey, you're the one who's decided to continue reading this ... sleep habits (pretty much all the time), socialization (when he's awake he's super lovey-dovey and absolutely must be in the same room as me, but ignores his feline/canine community, to their great dismay), vocalization (as of yesterday: non-stop when he's awake), and motor skills.
It's the motor skills that have now been impacted; just a couple times, but still. He can climb the bed and the sofa, but that's because he uses his claws as pitons and just velcros his way up. He can also jump down from said furniture no worries. Where he has a problem is when he shakes his head ... then his hind legs splay out and one of them seems to weaken enough that his rear end starts to collapse.
He's sort of been catching himself before he sits completely down, though ... and his front end is steady as a rock. If it didn't bum me out so much it would be kind of cute the way he turns around and stares at his rear, as if to say, "What happened there?"
So anyway ... the vet. They're going to give me a sedative to administer to Joey before I bring him in; Jo-B-Jo does not enjoy the car or the vet, which somehow seem to always go hand-in-hand in his experience, and (now I know I'm anthropomorphizing here) I don't want the last thing I ever do with him to be this big traumatic thing for him, you know? It will be bad enough for me.
But I can't just keep hanging on to him for my sake; it's a very fine line between his quality of life and my emotional needs, because I'm fairly sure I'm the same as half a million others owned by their pets ... we're not exactly the best at determining when it is not only fitting but appropriate to let our little guy go gently into that good night.
And yes, I know that "in the wild" he'd already be long gone, but he's not in the wild (duh) so that's a particularly stupid argument/moot point. As an added tension, I have vacation coming up and it seems particularly cruel to leave the responsibility of caring for a terminal eldercat with the house/pet-sitter ... I'd feel horrible if he passed on them while I was away, and they would, too, thinking they somehow did something wrong.
Sigh. So I'm bummed. I've pretty much made up my mind that I'm going to have Joey put down sometime in the next week or so, and I feel like a rat. I've had him seventeen years ... I honestly cannot remember a time without Joey (yes, I know ... that's more a sign of my age than his!). This is emotionally agonizing.