Gracie, c. 2002–March 6, 2021

Just a month after we moved into our current house, more than 16 years ago, we adopted a pair of young cats. The older one (at least in spirit), Juno, died several years ago. The younger one stuck with us until today, when Meghan and I took her to the vet to be put to sleep.

A medium-hair tortoiseshell cat, Gracie, sits upright on a window seat cushion at a table.  A place is set before her, a white plate and a green napkin with a fork, all on a red plaid tablecloth.  White curtains are closed behind her.  Her eyes are squeezed shut.
February 2014: Gracie patiently waits for her supper.

The shelter didn’t know exactly how old she was when we adopted her, but guessed she was perhaps two years old at that point, which would have made her more than 18 today. She was arthritic, and we suspect she was losing her sight. She was sick; she had a heart condition, and had been accumulating fluid in and around her lungs; the fluid wasn’t responding well to treatment, and was making it harder and harder for her to breathe. She had quite a regimen of medications, but Meghan had gotten very good at delivering her pills, and she was basically resigned to the twice-daily routine by this point. (Sometimes it was three times daily, in the last few months.)

With all that, until the last couple months, she clearly had some quality of life. She would sit on the window seat and murderbeep at the birds and squirrels in the front yard. She slept on the foot of our bed, and sat on or beside Meghan much of the time. She’d finally learned to tolerate — even enjoy — pets and scritches from the Bambina. But recently, she didn’t seek Meghan out very often; she stopped sleeping on the bed; she only rarely paid attention to the wildlife outside. We know the fluid was making it difficult to breathe, and we suspect that in the last few weeks it was interfering with her sleep.

A medium-hair tortoiseshell cat, Gracie, sits down on a beige armchair, her front legs tucked under her.  She is looking to the right of the photo, but isn’t paying close attention to whatever drew her eye.
February 2021: Gracie sits in some degree of comfort.

So it was time. It’s impossible to know when it’s the ideal time, but we knew it wasn’t the wrong thing to do, and the veterinarian confirmed our decision. She’s been pretty pampered here, but even more so these last weeks, and the Bambina fed her “chimken” (chicken that Meghan cooked specially for Gracie) from a spoon last night, as a goodbye treat.

It’s been hard today. We don’t know how to be in the house without her; she’s been with us the entire time, aside from that first month and a few days recently when she had to go to the hospital (we suspected at the time that it was the beginning of the end for her). It’s been hardest for Meghan — Gracie was really her cat, and she was Gracie’s human.

Rest in peace, Gracie. We miss you.