I used to regularly rescue kitties. So many people dump cats onto streets. Most rescues come beaten down from stress, lack of food/water, hurt when darting across streets while dodging traffic, cat fights with dominant males/females, and suffering ongoing abuses from humans (kicking, hitting, throwing, etc.).
Nearly every stray I've taken in was sick, nearly on death's door, or disabled. One couldn't pee (a boy needed to have girl parts because he was so blocked); one had a paralyzed paw; several had Feline AIDS (cats can live with the disease for several years if treated); and some were dying from untreated kidney infections.
So... I've had lots of kitty deaths including two who died in my arms. I had Oreo from 4 weeks old to age 20-- and when he died I vowed "never again! no more cats!" And then Petie my philosopher boy-changed-to girl died; then disabled Bouncie who was never expected to live past 24 hrs after her birth (she lived nearly 18 yrs). And daggone it, a year after Oreo died, a cat looking just like him showed up at my door, barely alive... and yeah, I took him in...
Yesterday, we found out he's very ill. And, he probably won't live long. I don't know if... if I can ... get through it. Ill-cat care costs hundreds to thousands, which I don't have. I had to choose to let Bouncie go, which went against my no-kill values, but as a cat born with her legs twisted, she already endured enough kitty aches and pains. I did physical therapy on her starting 14 hrs after her birth, every day until she could stand, climb, walk...and she had a 'good' life overall. But we both had enough pain to last a dozen kitty lifetimes. It's always a dilemma whether to let a pet go, because we love them like kids.
I'm very sorry for your loss, Helen. I often write poems for people who've lost kitties. If you would like me to write one for you, tell me about your cat and how you first met in a private message.