She was diagnosed with kidney disease earlier this year, a regrettably common affliction among cats. They can go for many years without any notable ill-effects, but there is a sort of tipping point at which suddenly the kidneys fail. (It is likely, in fact, that she had it for quite awhile, but this year has begun to tip.)
She was somewhat distressed Thursday morning before we left, so we took her to the vet to spend the weekend there, in case things got worse while we were traveling. This was probably the best decision we could have made, as she rapidly declined. They pulled her through, somewhat miraculously--"Burning through the nine lives," said our vet--and she has improved dramatically, but she still requires a great deal of intervention--twice daily IV flushes with saline and a lot of tempting with food.
We are bringing her home this afternoon and will be trying to figure out with the vet what scenario we're looking at. We'd prefer she recover completely, of course, and we have many more years of her squonking around the house, but failing that, if her kidney function is gone past the point of no return, we hope she can pass away quietly at home surrounded by her stuffed monkeys. (Frankly, this is how I'd like to go, except maybe for the bit with the monkeys.)
Anyway, think good thoughts if you got 'em, and I'll update as we learn more.
Update: We've brought her home. The vet says that they're basically doing nursing care now, and we can do that easily enough ourselves. She needs a lot of IV fluids and is on an enormous cocktail of meds, but she's much more cheerful and Kevin managed to tempt her into eating a few treats. (A side-effect of the meds is nausea, so her appetite is very poor.)
Our best case scenario is that she pulls through this, continues to improve the way she has, and can taper down on some of the meds and the fluids. Unfortunately, her kidneys are in pretty bad shape. (Quoth the vet, "The bloodwork numbers were above what the test could actually measure--now at least we've gotten them down to "really really high."")
Absolute best case, she's probably got a few more months, maybe up to a year. Which sucks, but we knew once she was diagnosed that she was on borrowed time. We're in nurse mode now until next week, when we'll get more bloodwork done and see what it's looking like.
She is currently sacked out on the bed and purring when petted, so at least she's content with the world, and that's the important thing.
UPDATE: She's drinking on her own (even with the massive amounts of IV we're pumping into her) and is very interested in cat treats. I have to bring them to her and put them in front of her and then pet her, but she'll eat them as long as she doesn't have to do much of anything. So that's a great improvement!
She is also very energetic when fighting off the oral meds. So...err...yay.