The vet told me yesterday to watch out for him losing interest in food and water, and becoming lethargic.
I didn't think it'd happen so quickly.
Last night I hand fed him some tuna around 6pm, and using a syringe made sure he was getting water, but after that he showed no desire to eat or drink, although bizarrely he did seem to enjoy the experience of having water hosed down him!
Since coming home last Thursday from a week at the vet, he's shown no interest in the cat flap, but last night after eating he made his way to it and stuck his head through for a look outside. I opened the door for him and let him sit on the back step with the door open, where he seemed to enjoy the smells and sounds and sights around him.
After about 15 minutes he got up and came back inside. If I didn't know better I'd say he knew this was his final look at the big wide world.
He slept on the bed with me last night, jumping down at about half past five this morning and going to the wee bed made up of blankets for him in the living room.
I got up at around half past six and tried to persuade him to eat, but he wasn't interested. I did manage to give him some water by the syringe method, but it was clear that he wasn't himself, and he just wanted to lie half-sleeping. I kind of knew last night that this was the way it was heading.
So I made the incredibly hard decision that today was the day.
We spent the next few hours on the sofa with him lying comfortably on my lap being cuddled, and me trying not to disturb him too much with my crying.
Then it was into the car for his final journey, to visit the wonderful people at Una McLean's veterinary surgery in Glasgow, who have looked after him since he was a very tiny kitten 7 years ago. In particular I must mention Ann the nurse, who has been there for years and has known Ernie all his life, and Louise and Julian, the vets. I would not hesitate to recommend this practice, they are wonderful and caring.
If you've never seen an animal euthanased before then I'd be the last person to suggest you go out your way to do so, but if you find yourself in the horrible position, then it's not as scary as you might think. It's just a wee anaesthetic injection, given kindly, carefully and considerately by one of the same vets who has looked after him for the past week or two. He gently fell asleep and died being cuddled by me, and he was purring loudly almost to the very end. It seemed more of a difficult decision to take the life of a purring cat, but Louise pointed out that if I had left it another day or two then he would have been really sick and feeling like shit. It was inevitable that he wasn't going to last, so it's a small comfort that he was allowed to go while he still felt relatively OK and while he was happy enough to purr, and compos mentis enough to know that I was with him, hopefully comforting him.
Thank you to everyone who took the trouble to send Ernie good wishes, and thanks also to everyone who sent positive vibes his way without telling us. The vets who have been looking after him are still amazed that he made it through the first day or two, and made it as far as this, still fighting, with blood readings so astronomically high. He was a fighter and we shall miss him.
Rest eternal grant unto him O Lord, and let Sunlight perpetual shine upon him.