Not that the comments mattered, but we decided to do just that. We called the Vet, made an appointment, and prepared for Betty's end. Wife stayed home with the kids, and it fell to me to do the actual duty of bringing Betty into the virtual smokehouse for her ultimate end.
Betty and her sister, Veronica more or less live upstairs, in a room they've staked out as their own. I think they actually took turns urinating a perimeter to scare off predators, or children. We've always had their cat carrier sitting open in the corner of the room, since it's a comfortable spot to lie down should they ever want it.
They have never voluntarily gone within two feet of that thing, remnants of their traumatic journey across the country while stuck inside that cage.
I entered their domain and looked around. This would be the last time I'd ever come in and find both cats. Ronnie was in her usual spot, on the back of the couch next to the window. Betty was nowhere to be found. As if she was already on to us. Eventually, I spotted her, laying down next to the cage. She didn't even bother to lift her head as I gently picked her up, murmured sweet nothings into her ear, and caged her up for the journey.
Ronnie lifted her head, assuming that I would next come to collect her, but instead I closed the door and left. I'm sure Ronnie was confused, and I mean more confused than cats tend to be on any given day. She had, to my knowledge, never actually been apart from Betty in her 17 years. Oh sure, they've been in different rooms of the house for hours at a time, but they've always been together.
Betty also soon realized that this was something different as I carried her downstairs and the kids and Wife said their goodbyes. Daughter knew what was happening, and was sad, but not nearly as broken up as Wife, who had, after all, been with these felines since 1990.
Soon enough, Betty and I were in the car, and we were driving to the appointment. By now, Betty knew something was wrong, and she meowed and howled like I've never heard her. My heart snapped in two to hear her cry. She didn't know where Ronnie was, and it freaked her out. Where was her sister? Why wasn't her sister in the cage with her? What was going on?
She howled the entire ride.
When we arrived at the Vet, she calmed down. Out of the car, things were easier to deal with, I suppose. I checked in at the front desk. The place was empty. They usually open at 10, but had me in at 9:30 so that I wouldn't have to see a bunch of other happy pet owners, or maybe so their other patients wouldn't have to see Betty's death march.
In any case, the only beings in the waiting room were the properly solemn receptionist and a one-eyed cat sitting on the counter.
Yes, a one-eyed cat. Freaky.
I brought Betty down the hall and into the site of her final departure. We took her out of the cage and I held her in my lap while a young woman brought in the forms and went over everything that was going to happen. They'd take her in the back and anesthetize her, then bring her back to me and the Vet would come in and we'd proceed from there. I wasn't listening much to what she was saying, wasn't paying much attention to the forms I was signing. My attention was focused on Betty. This poor little 6-pound mass of grey fur and skin and bones that was sitting my lap, panting pretty heavily.
I remember playing with her in Wife's old apartment, watching her chase after a ball in springier times. I remember building the big kitty jungle-gym from scratch for the two of them, and how they eventually spent almost all their time on one of it's three shelves. I remember spending hours searching for Betty, combing the neighborhood, miserable and sure that she'd gotten out and gotten lost, only to find her holed up behind the stove in the kitchen. I remember being surprised there was a hollow space behind the stove in the kitchen, and wondering if that was a good thing.
Now here she was, waiting to die. The Vet Assistant walked in to collect her, prepare her, and I let him take her.
Sitting alone in the room, I was wra