Tennison
on the bed, via flickr

Last night our cat Tennison died. She was 17.

IMG_4480
with my son, via flickr

A couple weeks ago she started eating less, then stopped altogether; I fed her by hand for a few days, but after a while she lost interest in that as well.

I thought about taking her to the vet, but she didn’t show any signs of being uncomfortable or in any pain. I couldn’t feel any tumors or see anything wrong. She didn’t even seem particularly hungry. She just seemed ready to be done.

cats under the couch
under the patio furniture, via flickr

I would not have imagined seventeen years ago that she and her brother would be with me this long, or play such a role in my life. I got them at the Berkeley pet shelter, in the summer of 1995, when they were just a few weeks old. I had been house-sitting some friends’ cats, and discovered that I liked their company, and became desensitized to them after a while, so I went looking for my own. There they were.

After she stopped eating she just did what she’s done for the last couple years, which is sleep pretty much constantly. Sometimes I thought she was spending more time in her box, or on the couch, awake. Though I could never be quite sure if her behavior was changing, or I was paying more attention to her.

Suspccious cat
reading my books, via flickr

A couple months after getting them, I asked out a fellow Davis historian I’d known for the past year. We were engaged a couple months later. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. Getting the cats made clear how much better life could be when you’re not alone.

A few days I ago I noticed that her voice was hoarser, and she had trouble speaking. Not that she was ever a great talker. I started spending more time carrying her around. She was moving very slowly, and I wanted her close by.

Occasionally I (rather selfishly) thought, I’m almost finished with the book, so don’t mess it up by dying now. Perhaps it’s wrong to think that she could sense that I was too focused on the book, and had enough energy to wait for me to finish.

It's my computer now
taking over the computer, via flickr

After I sent it off on Sunday, she seemed to decline more rapidly.

Yesterday we spent part of the day in the garage (she walked in while I was working there), then, as we’d done for the last few days, I put her up on a patio chair in the afternoon, and sat beside her while I read. In the evening I brought her inside, and tried to feed her something. She wasn’t interested.

Film noir cat
film noir cat, via flickr

She went over to the water dish, and spent a few minutes there. I could swear at one point she was staring at herself in the bottom of the metal bowl.

My last picture of Tennison
the last picture, via flickr

I kept her with me on the couch, then when she was tired of that, I put her in the box with her brother. Occasionally I stroked her fur. Sometimes she purred a bit, but mainly she just lay there. She didn’t seem to have the strength or desire to move. It felt to me like she was winding down.

When I went to bed, I put her on the foot of the bed, where the cats have slept for years.

At some point during the night she got down, went into the hallway, stretched out, and died.