The day started normally enough. Noko had slept on my bed and yowled a bit during the night.
By morning, she usually migrates to a spot to my left at about hip or waist level, and rather closer to the middle of the bed than I particularly like. If she was still there when I woke up, I’d give her pats until I was awake enough to get up. Sometimes that would be 30 minutes.
This time, she got up with Mark in anticipation of breakfast and he noticed that her right hind leg (the most arthritic one) was kind of turned out. After breakfast she hung out on the couch with Mark, and sat rather awkwardly on his lap. She was rather creakier than usual. She got down off the couch for some reason, and when she went to get up again, she couldn’t quite make it: I heard a scramble and small thump, then a yowl when she asked for help. Mark helped her back up.
I came out and sat with her and was still with her when she wanted down the next time. She was clearly moving awkwardly, and took a bit of a tumble when getting down – a distance of about 14″. I went to help her and her back legs weren’t behaving, kind of scrabbling. Her back end was listing strongly to the left, so I held her hips straight and she propelled herself to her food and water mostly with her front legs. I continued to hold her steady while she stood there: she had her back paws right up beside her front paws and was struggling to maintain her balance, even though she was standing on a grippy mat. After that, I figured it was about the regular time for her to have a pee, so I put her in the litterbox and held her steady. She’s had some pee problems on and off recently, so she wasn’t as wigged out by this help as she might have been before. She peed without difficulty and I lifted her out again.
Eventually we got her back to the couch where she spent much of the day on Mark’s lap or on the warm spot after he got up.
I had to be out between about noon and 3:30, and Mark tended to her during this time. By the time I got home, her front legs weren’t behaving and she couldn’t get up at all, so we went to the vet. Her limbs were all rather stiff, so it was awkward getting her into the carrying box; I had to lie her on her side and because she wasn’t bending, she seemed to fill the box completely. She seemed very uncomfortable.
With the sudden onset of these serious neurological problems, the vet felt the prognosis was grim. There were four different possible issues, most of which either couldn’t be tested or couldn’t be effectively treated. One of them (was it the one linked to kidney failure?) would show something in the blood, so I asked for a blood test. I’d had Noko in a few times over the last year for various problems, and she always seemed to be a little dehydrated. Recalling that she always felt much better after rehydration, I asked whether that might make her more comfortable. The vet didn’t think it would help much, and it was only about an hour before the office closed, which didn’t leave much time for her to absorb the fluids. (I had never before thought to ask how that process worked and so I didn’t realise that it took hours.) The vet did give her a painkiller as well as a sedative, which we hoped would let her relax some. The thought was to see whether her condition would change overnight.
We knew she was completely unable to get to the litterbox on her own so we devised a cozy bed for her to lie so that we wouldn’t have to worry about her peeing on anything during the night and she would still be reasonably comfortable even if she did pee. We used a shallow plastic tote bin, Noko’s pillow from the office (a standard-sized pillow – synthetic and now lumpy – that I’d had since I was a kid and sun-faded bright teal pillowcase from Ikea dating from my high-school years), the red towel that we had been putting on top of the pillow for months in case of pee accidents, the large blue towel that was on my bed in case of pee accidents, and Mark found some robust plastic in the form of a heavy-duty British Library bag. The pillow fit nicely in the bin, then the large blue towel folded up, then the plastic, then the red towel. We put Noko on top.
I put this box-bed on the floor beside my bed (also on the floor) so that Noko was within arm’s reach and tucked her in for the night.