(This book was a huge help.)
I think the kicker, for me was, the fact that the only time Harri seems really happy is when he could be with me. When he could touch me. When I was petting him. And I'm about to go away for two weeks...and he wouldn't get to be with me at all.
I was afraid, very afraid, that he wouldn't be here when I got back and I didn't want to abandon him. Or have him think I'd abandoned him.
So we went to the vet. She examined him. He'd lost a pound since April. She asked me questions: I told her how he's been pulling out his hair and how he'd started sleeping under my dresser in the front room, a place he'd never slept in 6 years, and one with no kitty bedding at all, just hard floor. She asked about litter problems: I described how, lately, he seems to not want to get up to go and sometimes, goes where he's lying. Is he eating? Yes...but not as much as usual. He's happy for his can, but he only eats a very little and then goes and lies down.
I also told her how he uses all his energy purring when he's near me.
She listened to his heart and lungs; she didn't like how his breathing sounded and took him to get a chest Xray, during which time I was in the room alone with only texts from Tap. I couldn't get ahold of Dave at either his desk or on his cell.
She came back with him, and we waited for the Xrays. I held him and petted him. She brought the Xrays in and dimmed the lights. On the lightbox she showed me how he had fluid in his lungs, and how his heart looked to be enlarged. She said he could be seen by the cardiologist...and left briefly to find out the schedule.
I asked Harri if he wanted to see a cardiologist. He just put his paw on my arm.
She returned and said the cardiologist wouldn't be in til next Thursday. I said I didn't think Harri wanted any more tests done...and even if he did, he wouldn't get "better." She asked if I wanted to think about it; I could come back tomorrow or Saturday. I looked at Harri...and asked him, did he want to go home and come back later? He leaned into me.
I said that he hates being in his carrier bag and that I didn't think he'd want to go home and have to come back. So she went to get his shot. First, they anaethetise the cat, so he's sleepy. She gave him his shot and then left us to let it work. I cried and held him and kissed him, and sang "SquireCat" to him (he always loved me to sing to him when he was in the bathroom while I was in the shower). I have the words, somewhere; I'll post them later. It's the filk song I wrote about him when he was active in the SCA (and squired to Count Sir Brion Thornbird, originally of Caid).
Then she came back and they put in the phenobarbital...he purred, and I petted him and told him I loved him...and then he was gone.
I'll miss him every day. 15 years is over a third of my life. But at least he'll never miss me anymore.
I called work and said I was taking a bereavement day if I could have it, or a sick day if I couldn't. I haven't called the catsitter yet. I've already ordered an urn for his ashes: I've known I wanted to get one of these for several years.
If those still active in the SCA, the West especially, would spread the word...I don't know if anyone remembers him (we dropped out about 10 years ago), but those who do would probably like to know.
Harri Talonväkilainen: April 15, 1991 - August 17, 2006.