This is something that I almost didn't write but I need to write it to keep going here, so forgive me my sentimentality.
I won't lie - having the Secret Cat die last week was awful. She was 19 years old, and although we didn't start to look after her until she was about 10, it still feels like a lifetime.
In the end, we had her put down by the vet. She had been deaf and blind for about a year. Surprisingly, she adapted well to moving into a new house, and she learned to find her way around. Gradually though, she got sicker and sicker, slowly getting thinner and thinner and wasting away. Part of it was arthritis. She clearly was uncomfortable moving. But part of it was the slowly evolving diabetes that we didn't know about.
Lots of people said we should have her put down, but we always thought that she was still enjoying life. She'd find the sunny spots somehow. She'd find her way to the kitchen when she could smell us cooking and ask us for some meat.
In the last fortnight though, things went downhill fast. She got painfully thin. She seemed to have trouble walking straight and seemed to get lost. And she sometimes got very weak and couldn't straighten her legs out. We would find her crouched on the floor in the morning, stranded in the dark for who knows how long, waiting for us to rescue her.
A cat that can't or won't move is a cat that is suffering. And we couldn't watch it, and there was nothing we could do to help her. So we took her to the vet one last time.
It was such a hard decision to make. I knew what my decision was though, when I found myself hoping that she had died overnight so that it would be over for her, and for us. At least this way we could be there with her as she died. I think she deserved that.
I'm glad that we had her put down when we did. Any earlier and it wouldn't have been right for us - we would have felt that we did it for convenience. Any later and it wouldn't have been right for her - she would have suffered too much.
But it doesn't make it easier when the time comes. It had never occurred to me that you sometimes need to plan these things. There was no last minute call to the vet, begging for help in an emergency. There was just an appointment made, a schedule to keep.
We walked out with an empty cage. And she danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon - she danced by the light of the moon.