Fatty Liver Disease was the culprit and ultimately it became a question of Smudge's quality of life... if we had gone for the one surgery option that was available to us, months of intensive care would have followed -- weeks of recovery in the vet hospital and then feedings through a stomach tube every two hours after that for another 2 months to try and nurse her liver back to health. Smudge would have suffered and been unhappy with a stent in her belly, a "sweater" to keep it from getting caught and a lampshade collar to keep her from pulling it out. That isn't life. With only a 60% success rate, the vet warned us that even if we did everything exactly right she could still be taken from us... Smudge deserved better than that and we knew it. It was time for us to put aside our selfishness and our grief and let her go home. When she laid her head down at the end of the shot I think my heart, which had been strained to the limit already by the simple act of making that decision, broke completely. I know that we made the right decision by helping release her from the pain she was experiencing as the condition worsened. But that knowledge is a thin blanket against the cold.
The only comfort I can find in tonight's loss is that, in the final minutes that we held Smudge, she gave us all the love she had by purring just as loudly as ever.
[edit 0820 10/28/06] Here is the link to P's entry about tonight