Our cat has a name--Misty--but somehow we always end up calling her "The Cat". Last week one night she squawked and fell over. After that she could hardly walk. She'd take a few steps and tip over, sometimes sideways, sometimes backward.
We took her to the Veterinary Hospital (we're lucky enough to have a world-famous veterinary school in our small city) and they told us that she definitely had something wrong with her brain, but they couldn't be sure without further testing. I'm afraid that I drew the line at paying for an MRI. If she did indeed have a stroke, knowing that for sure would make no difference to treatment. So we took her home with steroids and antibiotics, not at all sure whether she would live.
About twenty-four hours after the stroke I became concerned because she hadn't had anything to eat, and wouldn't eat from a spoon. But after leaving a plate of chopped up pork roast near her, she did eat. Now, almost a week later, she's walking around and is clearly going to make it. She's slow and awkward, and doesn't have total control over her body, but she's getting to the litter box and the food bowl, and has even gone back to her insanely picky eating style, sticking up her nose at various food offerings for inscrutable and random reasons.
The vet told us that if she didn't get better, call them to discuss "quality of life issues". A curious sort of euphemism for euthanasia... But it does make you think about what it is that makes life worth living. Even though she's no longer in danger of dying, she basically moves from one soft, warm spot to another, with the occasional trip to eat or eliminate. Is this enough "quality of life"? Would it be different if she were human?
What will life be like for me, when I get toward the end?