When my husband returned from Paris, he was relieved to see Bertie looking about the same, but he also said, "I wondered if he's checked out already." I knew what he meant. Bertie used to be our companion, hanging out with us at the table, on the sofa, always nearby. But he's spent the past two weeks sleeping and lying quietly in the same spot on the floor at a distance from us. He'll purr when we pet him, listen when talk to him, and he tolerates his food syringes, fluids, and pills like a gentleman. He looks pretty good, too, just skinny, with wobbly back legs. But he doesn't move except to drink water and use his box. I haven't even seen him in the bathtub recently.
Is he giving us a message? Probably, but it's not 100% clear. Our vet was hoping he'd bounce back for a while once he got the right balance of fluids and diuretics to make him feel better. He's not bouncing. But the only sign of pain or discomfort is his withdrawal. Is that enough? I don't know.
I've heard many cat people say, "They always tell you when it's time." I don't believe that at all. I've never experienced that clarity; I've never gotten one of those memos. It's always a messy, uncertain, miserable business, weighing an old friend's quality of life, deciding about death. It's never clean and neat, and even when it is, it's usually obvious only in hindsight. In the moment, I always feel like I'm making a horrible decision. Because it is a horrible decision, even when you're making it correctly. I've never known certainty as I've made it, it's more like bowing to the inevitable; I've seldom felt at peace about it. It's easier to just avoid the decision... as I suppose we've been doing. Bertie's patient attitude has been helping that along. Is that unfair to him? Maybe, probably, I don't know. Maybe we'll figure it out at the vet this afternoon. I'll keep you posted.