Arb and I are now down to only one cat. This is how I’ll remember Lilith
Lilith upside-down in a sunbeam

Not long after her boneless lying in the sun picture, we started noticing Lilith was losing weight. And then her coat turned nasty like she wasn’t grooming herself properly, so it was vet time pronto. I assumed it was just worms again, since Lilith hunts and hunting cats tend to get whatever parasites infest their prey.

As it turns out, Lilith had lost a whole lot of weight, and it was only the last rapid bit we’d noticed. She had lost more than a kilogram, which is really a lot for a small cat. As I was describing her symptoms, the vet was feeling up her belly, and she got a strange look on her face, and said, “Ooh, that’s not supposed to be there.” That was a hard mass the size of a large egg, in Lilith’s abdomen. The treatment options the vet laid out were, euthanize her on the spot, or take her home and spoil her until her quality of life becomes intolerable, and euthanize her later. She didn’t see a lot of chance of a positive surgical outcome with Lilith being so weak already, and the tumor so large. That was September 11, and I remember feeling the date was ominous.

I took her home and I spoiled the fuck out of her. Made sure she got outside in the sun every day; banished the dog for a while every day so there could be cuddle time without jealous dog interventions; fed her meals in bed if she wouldn’t come out to the kitchen. I harbored foolish hope that multiple daily servings of gushifood would somehow reverse her emaciation and let her go on a little longer.

By last week it was obvious it was hopeless. The tumor was large enough that you could feel it just on casual petting, sticking up past her ribs; you didn’t have to be a vet to find it. And she was starting to show signs of suffering. She didn’t stretch out in her sunbeam any more, she just sat there hunched over. Her grooming got worse, to the point that she no longer cleaned herself after using the litterbox. I knew it was time when I tried to get her to eat some process cheese just to get some calories into her – process cheese used to be her kryptonite, she’d come running from anywhere and be begging around your ankles within seconds of the wrapper’s rattle. She sniffed the cheese, gagged, ran away, and threw up. The internal pressure of throwing up made her squirt liquid poop. She yowled the whole time Arb restrained her and I washed her bum, and then growled at me whenever she saw me the rest of the night.

The last day of her life was this Sunday, and by then she’d forgiven me so she spent it mostly sleeping in my lap. I managed to get her outside for the only half hour of sunshine we got that day. And she didn’t eat much so there wasn’t any vomit/poop/butt washing drama.

Monday morning we took her to the vet. They gave two shots, the first one intra-muscular to relax her, then the actual lethal one by IV. Her last conscious action as she passed out from the first shot, was to smear her cheek scent glands on my hand. Then the vet shaved her tiny front leg – it was so tiny without fur – and the vein was blue, and she asked, are you ready to let her go, and I whispered yes, and by the time the plunger was halfway down the needle Lilith wasn’t breathing any more. I took off her collar and her neck was as limp and floppy as the naked baby birds you find on the sidewalk in spring. Then the vet wrapped her in a towel like she was a human baby and gently carried her away behind that door and I’ll never see her again.

Fuck cancer so hard.