I had brought a box of Kleenex. I've done this before.
Our vet quickly examined Snicky, who was limp and exhausted. She emphatically told us it was "time," and then did the job in seconds. This time, unlike last time, I wasn't wracked with uncertainty. This time, I had gotten a clear message, along the lines of what I've heard many cat people say: "You'll know: they always tell you when they're ready to go."
Well, my vet and I disagree that there's anything consistent or universal about these situations. End-of-life decisions are always terrible; I believe we wouldn't be human, we wouldn't have hearts, if we ever had an easy time deciding to end a beloved friend's life. We have to expect confusion, uncertainty, guilt, horror, pain, and grief — as the burden that tempers our great power to end suffering.
At least this time was fast. Our vet knew exactly how to handle Snicky and us.
A few hours afterward, my husband said something like, "Well, at least we have back-up." Yes: three cats still at home to distract us, including two youngsters. When we adopted Wendy and Possum back in 2009, it was partly with this day in mind.
There's still an emptiness in the house, a hole in our hearts. Snicky was with us through our entire relationship. Although she was never an extroverted or noisy cat, she had considerable presence, and we feel her loss everywhere. But the sound of the kids chasing each other, and the weight of Snalbert and Possum on the bed last night were comforting.