We came home last night to find a happy cat waiting to get outside to use the pine straw, half an hour later he's uncharacteristically flopped next to his food bowl waiting for dinner and panting like crazy. This is so uncaracteristic of Mickey that we crated him up and off we went to the emergency vet, the same one we dealt with Luna with only six or seven weeks ago. They whisked him off to the back, took an amazingly quick look at him (I guess when a diagnosis is this solid and obvious it doesn't take long at all) and told us the prognosis: congestive heart failure and the related pulmonary edema, along with an acute thrombosis blocking bloodflow to his rear limbs. Treatment at this stage is difficult, and rarely effective for very long. So we made the always difficult decision to put him to sleep. They gave the shot while we were cuddling him and talking to him, and it was much like luna - one second they're there, the next they're not. I've done this for more than my share of animals recently.
He arrived in 2000, littermates with Minnie. He was always the big, gangling cat, seeming built like a basketball player (tough to imagine in a cat, I know, but just think very long legs.) He was the ham of the bunch, and was always ready with a dramatic flop to announce his intentions to receive some tummy love. Among the four, he was the get-along-with-everyone character, who bridged the divide and happily coexisted with both Minnie and the two marriage-induced arrivals: Sammy and JoyJoy. Now those three will have to work out the power structures all over again. He was the office cat, having taken over the study since the renovation. The picture was taken one day when he curled up for a nap on the opened scanner. (It's a cat scan!) He had a serious affinity for desk chairs, anything paper, piles of clean laundry, and high-denier nylon luggage. And he had the absolute loudest purr I've ever heard from a cat. And I'm really going to miss him.