It was a peaceful death. We got a vet to come home and give him a shot (to the heart, quite literally) and he quivered once--I leaned my head on the Good Thing's arm so I didn't have to see--and then it was all over.
He had something called Chronic Renal Failure, which is a term I became so familiar with, I even began referring to it in sassy shortform: CRF. I used "CRF" in the cat forums I joined, hoping to find a cure for him, or at least, something to make him feel better. I was pointed towards blogs called When Vets Don't Know Enough. I was told to call it CKD (chronic kidney disease) because that made it sound easier and more manageable.
It is manageable for some cats. They live a long life. Some cats have to go to the vet a few times a week to be put on a drip or an IV. Some cats have to have annual bloodwork. But they'll never get better. Eventually, they'll all "crash"--that's what it's called when it's the very end--and then they die quite rapidly after.
TC "crashed" four weeks ago. He completely stopped eating. The vet said there was nothing he could do, and because I begged him, "Please don't let my cat starve to death!" he prescribed a glucose drip. My cat forum friends urged me to force feed. I did, triumphant in getting 25 ml into my cat--once strong, once a ginger giant--and he vomited it all over the floor.
TC died today, but this wasn't the TC that lived. That TC died three weeks ago. That TC was a Catcher of Pigeons and a Hunter of Hands. That TC had a purr that made a man he knew say, "Motor chalu?" each time he picked him up. That TC had a happy, inquisitive meow: "Mrrrpp?" he'd say, looking at you, green eyes wide or slanted with affection.
"What will you call him?" asked a visiting friend.
"I like Noor," I said, but then changed my mind.
Six months later, his baby daughter was named Noor, but my TC remained a TC, through the discovery of his real gender.
He was never a very affectionate cat, but he did like being social. Once he had gotten over a party actually happening in his home, he'd stroll out and very deliberately sit in the middle of a room and wash his balls or anus vigourously. Everyone would stop what they were doing to coo at him, and he'd move tantalisingly close but always a few inches away from their fingers. Once he saw me getting up to move rooms though, it was all over. He knew who he wanted and he always wanted me.
I want to remember the feel of his body curled up into the crook of my thighs, the way he always greeted me at the front door, feeling the thump of his landing on the bed, and watching him if I heard a strange noise--if TC jumped, I'd know it was an intruder inside the house, if he stayed still, I'd know the sound was outside.
He charmed the many men I had known in his lifetime, and they knew if they wanted to get the girl, they'd have to compliment the cat, but I never saw him actively seek out any of them until the Good Thing came into our lives. But still, if I left the room, he'd (usually) come with me, because he knew who he wanted, and he (almost) always wanted me.
We had a very lovely cremation for him in a little pet crematorium in Chattarpur, where the men in charge looked at me sympathetically and handed us incense and flowers and scented earth to pour on him. He looked so peaceful, I had to touch him to make sure he was actually, truly, dead.
Part of being who he wanted (and he always wanted me), was knowing that I had to make the decision for him. "If you want to go, you should go," I told him, a week ago, "But if you don't, I'll fight for you, I promise." Yesterday, his eyes--such beautiful, weary eyes--looked at me and asked, truly, actually asked, "Why is this happening to me?"
You know when it's time. It may sound like a myth, but it's true.
We had eight good years. He knew who he wanted--and I always wanted him.
Goodbye my faithful friend. I'll miss you forever.