So we need to talk about Max.
He turned 17 in October, and while we've been saying things like "if he's still here in a year we'll be incredibly lucky" for...well, several years now, there's no denying his age-related decline has officially accelerated over the past couple months. He is moving slower, and less. His appetite is unpredictable and oh my lands, he's just so tiny and frail and...old.
The weight loss is the worst. He once topped the scales at a whopping 15 pounds of mostly muscle. He now weighs barely 7. He is skin and fur and bones. Holding him feels like holding a fragile and weirdly elongated kitten.
The thing is, he's not sick. Or in any pain or discomfort (other than your typical age-related complaints, like stiff joints, fading eyesight/hearing, and a highly delicate digestive system). I mean, I'm sure if I took him to the vet and had them run a bunch of tests that they'd find SOMETHING, but...well, this probably sounds horrible but I don't want to put him through any of that. I don't even want to put him through the ride in the car. (He gets easily stressed and violently carsick.) And at 17 years old, what are we even going to do about the "something"?
We've made an unspoken deal, he and I. I'll do everything possible to keep him comfortable and loved and happy. He'll let me know when that's no longer enough.
Right now this is what everything possible looks like:
Special treats for his joints, a high-calorie nutritional gel, two kinds of grain-free wet food (regular plus kitten), grain-free dry kitten kibble, a second joint supplement (sprinkled on the wet food), and Fancy Feast Broths, for some fun. Basically anything and everything we can do to tempt his appetite, maximize his calorie/nutrition intake, without upsetting his stomach.
He still purrs when you pet him. He still sleeps curled up behind my knees every night. He still wants to be on our laps pretty much the rest of the time. (He's on my lap right now, nestled between me and the keyboard.) He is still unfailingly loving and patient with the boys, particularly "his" Baby Ike. He still walks around serenading the desiccated husk of his Puppy and just yesterday I caught him playing a little game of some kind behind the curtains in the master bedroom.
He enjoys sunny days out on the back deck. Sometimes he'll venture down to the yard and frolic a bit, slowly. He enjoys drinking from the sink, turkey cold cuts and stealing empty tuna fish cans from the recycling bin. He is happy and content and, in so many ways, just fine and just like his old self.
He's just now, really, a very old self.
And I love each and every single moment we still get with him. You're still the best cat, Max.