After a family discussion regarding whether to euthanize poor Al or to keep him at home quietly, it was clear there was no support for taking him to the vet for a clinical way out. I spent most of the day holding him (which was not the most pleasant of tasks, as the poor animal had no control over his bladder). At night we did leave him with Iris while the grownups ventured to a party (our party spirit was of course boosted by getting text messages from Iris constantly describing poor Al's decrepit condition).
We got home around 2:30 AM, and I went straight to Al, who was resting quietly. I snuggled him up on my chest, where he always wanted to be, and held him. Eventually I dozed off for a few hours, and when I woke up around 5:30 AM, he had passed on. Rest in peace, poor Al. You never did get a fair shake in life.
Al was found as a kitten, with one sibling, in a puddle of oil in a mechanic's shop in San Francisco. His sibling passed away as a little kitten, and Al himself only lived to seven. His health problems were endless and strange: he couldn't retract his claws, he never weighed more than five pounds (even when we embarked upon a program of giving him unlimited canned food), he sneezed and drooled, he shedded constantly, flea preventive medicines didn't work for him... Al's health improved after we finally ponied up $1,800 to have virtually all of his teeth pulled, and he had a few relatively good, but still skeletal, years. He was always a companion to our various foster kittens (whereas the other cats generally can't be bothered with them).
In a rare moment of grace, Al was captured for posterity just the week before he died, by the amazing Thomasina deMaio:
Al was also active on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/allofalbert Heartbreakingly his voice has gone silent far too soon. Rest in peace, Al. You are missed.