I thought I knew what was going to kill Kosette. It was going to be kidney failure. After all, she'd had kidney disease for over a year, and her kidneys were going to crash. Or it was going to be that the arthritis in her hind legs would progress to such a point that she'd no longer leave her bed, not even to use the litter box.
Neither of those are what happened.
But first, let me tell you the story of how Kosette came to be Kosette. When I was a freshman in high school, I had two cats: Oatmeal and Sugar. As was common at the time, both were indoor-outdoor cats. Oatmeal was ill (he died in 2003) throughout his life and tended not to eat as well when Sugar was around. So, one night, I decided to keep Sugar outside so that Oatmeal could eat better. (We had a shed with a cat door and bed available for her to sleep in that night.) The next morning, Sugar wasn't there. 4 months later, Sugar was returned to me... but that's Sugar's story. Two months after Sugar went missing, my mom posted a sob story ad in the Classifieds about Sugar. We got a phone call from a young adult who didn't have Sugar, but did have a kitten she needed to find a new home for.
A kitten named "Kissy", who I promptly renamed Kosette (from Cosette in Les Miserables). Kosette made up for her lack of intelligence with a passion for cuddling and playing. She had a penchant for making me laugh and smile, even at times when I didn't feel like doing either.
So, nearly 18 years later, Kosette was slowly dying of kidney disease. Until the last two weeks of July, when I noticed her behavior change. She seemed more confused than normal and didn't want to cuddle as much. On August 1st, I noticed her eyes were unevenly dilated. I contacted my vet, who's become a friend, who warned me that in a cat Kosette's age, that was often caused by a brain tumor.
We made an appointment for her on August 6th--18 days before her 18th birthday--hoping that it wouldn't be a brain tumor. The night before the appointment, she screamed whenever she was awake and alone... but didn't want to cuddle. She just wanted us around. On the way to the vet, where she had previously been quite comfortable, she screamed the entire way. At the vet, she tried to hide, and again didn't want to cuddle.
The vet looked at her eyes with a flashlight, and there was a tumor. We chose to put her down, to prevent her confusion and fear from increasing.
Somewhat surprisingly, my grief after her death hasn't been as bad as I expected. I think I did a lot of grieving while she was still alive, when I realized she wasn't herself anymore. The first few days were hard, but since then, I've really been okay. Kosette is buried at Rob's parents, joining Sugar and Min.
9 days later, we adopted Ethel, my primary lap buddy from Chesapeake Cats and Dogs, who had been waiting for a home for over 3 years. Who is currently on my lap as I type this.