He made it through the night, and slept between BB and I, so we were able to keep him warm.
Early this morning, the vet's office called us. The veterinarian, Dr. Kristina Kalivoda, was incredibly kind and gentle. She talked about her own ginger cat, Apollo, who died at home, and who convinced her that helping pets die at home was good for them, and good for their humans as well.
BB held Alex on his lap for the first shot of sedative-painkiller mix - so of course, he had to get up and try to walk. The doctor said that sometimes happens because the first shot makes them feel better than they have in a while, and they immediately want to walk; that made sense, especially when I remembered how Finnegan got up and walked around years ago, quite effectively spooking the very young vet who helped her die.
Alex took a couple of steps, then tilted over on his side, but I was there to ease him to the floor. We got him back on BB's lap, where he lay while we petted him, and told him he was The Bestest Old Pussycat.*
Dr. Kalivoda waited until we were ready, and then administered the anesthesia overdose. He breathed slower and slower, and eventually stopped. We waited a little longer, then Dr. Kalivoda checked for a heartbeat. There was none. We wrapped him in one of our green towels, so he'd have something of home to take with him, but not before Dr. Kalivoda made us a plaster print of one of his paws, since we weren't going to ask for his ashes. Then she placed him, wrapped in the towel, in a beautiful basket, lined with satin and covered with velvet - a very classy way of travelling with her, and something I appreciated. Of course it was all irrational - but it was a good irrational.**
I had to go and take care of FB and Em's kitties then, since they are out of town. I did some errands and came back, and off-loaded pictures we took of him this morning, sitting in the warm spot left by BB when he got up.
He was a shadow of the big ginger he once was (from 26 pounds down to what the doctor figured was 12), but he was still handsome and dignified.
And that's what Alexander always was; dignified. He was also a very deliberate cat. He took his time making up his mind about where to sit, what to eat, whether to come when we called him. He always looked like a lion to me, one who didn't need a mane to look impressive.
For all his dignity, he was also very laid back. He put up with no end of nonsense from Opie, his squirrelly fellow ginger, only rarely pushing back, and then only to remind Opie of who was the big brother. He got along very well with Phil.
He adored BB, and BB adored him. The very first night we brought him home from the Humane Society, he spent the first of the thousands of nights he would spend with us, and the first thing he did was run up the length of BB's body and butt his then-little orange head up against BB's chin. That tradition continued until just a day or so ago, when he grew too weak to do it.
I intermittently believe in an afterlife. When I do, I also believe that I will see all the pets I've loved. And I love Alex very much. I think, if there is an afterlife for me, and for Alex, and for BB, then the first thing he will do upon seeing BB, is run up and butt his head against BB's chin. And that will make me very, very happy.
*That's the only slightly silly title bestowed on him, as the senior partner amongst our three, reigning with a fair amount of gentle dignity over his junior partners, Opie, the Finest Kind Pussycat, and Phil, the Most Excellent Pussycat.
** I commend Dr. Kalivoda, and Lap of Love, the group she works with, to anyone in the same situation we were in who is in our area. If you can swing it, the cost isn't all that much more than some veterinary clinics charge you for taking your animal to them, frightened and stressed. This entry was originally posted at http://kaffyr.dreamwidth.org/666313.html?mode=reply, where there are currently comments. You can comment there or here, but prefer to read over on DW. You can comment there using open ID if you don't have a DW account.