Once upon a time, a guy I thought was prince charming brought me a very special gift, hidden away in the pocket of his coat: a tiny gray kitten with big blue eyes and a little patch of white on her neck. My roommates and I were not exactly allowed to have pets, but the apartment had mice, so Roomie #1 had adopted a gray cat named Sophie. Roomie #2 was a raging Bette Midler fan, and Bette had two characters named Soph and Ernie in her act. Roomie #2 agreed to let me keep the kitten only if I named her Ernie. So I did.
That was 22 years ago. Ernie and I have been through a lot together, including a succession of kitty brothers and kitty sisters. She has outlived them all. Though Walker likes animals, he's not into being a pet owner. He's not keen on adopting any more furry kids. Ernie was my first baby, and will likely be my last.
It's not easy watching her get older, seeing her slow down. She's lost a lot of weight, even though she eats well. She's been wobbly on her feet. She doesn't appear to hear or see well. She startles when I reach to pet her, as if she didn't know I was there. Sometimes she tries to jump onto the sofa and doesn't make it. All of this scares the heck out of me and reminds me that her days with us are limited.
But today, she broke my heart. She was walking through the kitchen when her back legs went out from under her and she toppled over. I went to pick her up but she scooted away from me, on her front legs. She kept trying to stand but her back legs did not want to hold her up. She would not let me pick her up. My sister's dogs are over and the younger one, a puppy Ernie barely tolerates, kept trying to get closer. Ernie got more and more agitated, moving in circles on three legs while one back leg appeared to be having some sort of muscle spasm. Ten minutes of this, and all of the sudden she seemed fine again. She went into the living room and hopped onto the sofa like it was nothing.
So now, Walker and I have to decided what to do. Every instinct tells me I need to take her to the vet but I know, at 22 years old, what they can do for her. Pretty much nothing. The vet already told me he has never had a female cat live to 23. The thing is, Ernie does not enjoy the vet, she does not enjoy the car, and she does not enjoy going outdoors. She gets so agitated that the vet has told me I need to sedate her before I bring her in. She may not survive the sedation. I had another cat that was sedated for a vet visit and she died in the car on the way home. So there it is. The plan for right now is to keep a close eye on her. Walker has the next couple days off, so that's his job when I'm at work. If she has another episode, I guess we'll have to risk the sedation to get her checked out. I so do not want her to have one minute of unnecessary pain.