Well, our little Ellie passed away last night, the poor dear.

Cancer wins again, and while I keep telling myself there wasn't anything I could have done to prevent that, I am beating myself up a little bit over the fact that she died on her own, likely suffocating to death.

We knew from the chest x-rays a couple weeks ago that Ellie had metastatic mammary cancer. The Inguinal and Caudial Abdominal glands on her right side were sporting serious tumors, and there was fluid buildup around her lungs. Our excellent Veterinarian was totally straight with me when we reviewed everything last month; surgery was off the table, and chemo was largely pointless--the enemy had simply advanced too far, and we were now in hospice mode.

I think Brenda & I both thought we were old hands at this part, fully able to manage Ellie's quality of life at this, the end of hers. You look for signs: not eating; hiding; eliminating out of the litter box; and, in Ellie's case, the big one: labored breathing. Well, the bitch of it is that througout the day yesterday, Ellie exhibited all of those behaviors, and I just kept manufacturing excuses and lowering the bar on what constitutes "quality life".

Last night, she simply couldn't get comfortable. I knew we needed to intervene, but I thought she could make it 'till Monday when her vet's open, and she could get a chest tap--which in retrospect is totally fucking insane thinking. This morning Brenda came to the bedroom in tears, with Ellie in her arms. She'd found her downstairs, where she'd been retreating to with regularity over the last 48 hours or so. I wasn't listening.

Brenda looked at me this morning and asked: "are we ever going to get this right?" We'd waited far too long with Emma, but at least when we did decide to end her suffering she was able to drift off peacefully. In Ellie's case, I allowed her stoicism to fool me into thinking we weren't quite there yet. The vet'd said to look for open-mouth breathing, exhauhstion. I hung on that "open-mouth" qualifier, ignoring all the other signs. Ellie was a tough broad, and I was happy to look the other way as that tough veil just kept falling apart before my eyes.

So, tough old Ellie ultimately went it alone.

What can I say? Ellie had a tough feline act to follow, with Emma blazing a trail through our hearts for 17 years, and then Hooper, in all of his canine Hooperosity. Ellie'd just given birth to a litter and been neutered when we brought her into our home, at around 4 years of age. She lived under the bed for several weeks until she figured out that none of us was going anywhere and she'd just have to get used to that damned dog. Adapt she did, and Hooper still bears scars from when he tried to get all up in her business when she wasn't in the mood.

And Ellie, without question, was the Ultimate Queen of Lapcats. I will definitely miss her attempts to push whatever it was that was in the way--laptop, iPad, book, dinner, dog, wife--to get to my lap, or the crook of my arm.

She just had this way about her. She seemed to always know what she wanted, and was generally happy to be sleeping or purring on your lap. She was also kinda stupid, to be honest, and I enjoyed being able to provide a loving home for her since I don't think she would have lasted long on the street.

Ultimately, Ellie was just happy; I really believe that. I think we gave her a nice life v2.0, after the previous owners let her get knocked up, and then gave her up, pregnant, when they moved, separating her from her brother in the process. These animals deserve better than that, and I think Ellie received better from us--while making us better at the same time.

Ellie deserved a longer life v2.0, but there isn't anything we could have done about that. So, just have a good thought for Ellie today.