I currently live with two wonderful young cats, who were preceded a few years ago by two magnificent very old cats. D. was a macho alpha except when confronted by thunder or loud noises, at which time he'd run away as fast as his enormous, jiggling belly would allow. He reminded me a little of Ernest Borgnine in "Marty." He was the strong, silent type, choosing to meow only when something was really, really annoying.
Right before he died, I waited in a little exam room at the vet's office after they took him away to insert the needle that would deliver the drugs to stop his pain and suffering. I prayed that they would keep him back there forever, because it would mean he was still alive.
Then I heard it--not quite a yowl, far from a cry, but loud enough to wake the neighbors. Had I not known it emanated from a sick, frail cat, I might have thought that a crabby old man had wondered in while yelling at the noisy neighbors. How dare you! the sound exclaimed.
The vet brought D., still complaining loudly, back into the exam room. He crawled into my arms, and looked me straight in the eye. I tried to tell him that I heard him loud and clear, and I was sorry, and it would be OK. And after a minute or two he seemed to understand that he was safe and home once again, and lay down with his head against my hand to wait patiently for whatever came next.