Apparently, and unbeknownst to us, Scarlett has recently been reviewing college brochures and filling out college applications. Although, we have been joking about this for quite a while, when we found this out, my first thought was "It's not time yet. She should be with us a few more years at least."
So yes, why have we been joking about our elderly 21 year old cat dying or "going to college" as we call it? What sort of horrible person does that? Well, let me explain.
When we moved back in our house after the remodel about 3 1/2 years ago, Scarlett's, um, house-keeping habits took a severe turn for the worse. She peed on everything that was on the floor. We couldn't leave clothes on the floor, shoes on the floor, purses or book bags on the floor. We couldn't even leave *rugs* on the floor. We had to move our papasan chair and our wicker chairs out of the house and into the garage because they had cushions on them and they were close enough to the floor that, well, they served a particular purpose. I argued on behalf of Scarlett that she was old and cranky and the move probably stressed her out so much that she was mad at us that she had to pee on everything.
Then she peed on the twins while they were sleeping. And that's when I decided maybe it was time to put her in a more enclosed space, the master bathroom. About that time I was whining about Scarlett on Facebook and one of my FB friends suggested that she had dementia, even giving me a checklist of signs. I am ever grateful to that person for giving me that information. Our whole attitude changed from being perturbed with her to being protective of her and making sure she was safe and healthy for her final days. Months. YEARS. We turned the master bathroom into Cat Assisted Living, with food, water, toys, and several beds she could sleep in. Every visit in there includes quite a bit of kitten loving.
Did I mention that all happened about 3 1/2 years ago? And she is still doing very well? Both Dave and I agree that we want her to live the fullest life she should and we will do absolutely nothing to hasten her demise. And until recently, it has looked like she had quite a few more years left in her: she is still spry (hopping in and out of a basket to sleep), she eats like a pig, she always goes in the litter box now that she knows where it is. (Apparently, the peeing on everything before was because she was lost). She may be deaf and she may be blind, but actually not really too bad of either. She still PLAYS WITH YARN! What 21 year old still plays with yarn? Our sweet little grandma, Scarly-scar-scar.
So what has happened. We had her groomed/shaved a couple of weeks ago, which was only the first time in her life she needed it. I love it because she seems so much happier and can move around easier and her fur is so fun to scratch now! But around the same time (and not related to the grooming), we noticed a bloody discharge coming from her nose. I felt guilty because I was afraid she had caught a bad sinus infection from Fred (who had one when he arrived). However, our vet suggests that it is more likely a polyp or a tumor. And it's not likely something that is going to go away on its own. And even she agrees that with a 21 year old cat, the options for treatment are limited to hospice.
Fortunately, our vet clinic has a "dean of admissions" who makes house calls for the college interviews, and can help in Scarlett's transition to dorm living. (That's what we're calling heaven now--the dorm.) I am not ready in way or shape for her to go. We are having the best cuddles we've had in years over these last few weeks. She is even snuggling under my chin and resting her paw on my face. But her breathing is getting noticeably worse. She's still eating well with a good appetite. And she's still spry and happy.
But as much as I have joked about it, I am not happy to see this ending. I'm not ready for her to go to college yet.