Is a cat really scared when they are put to sleep?


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Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra – It's always bothered me that they are so frightened when they are taken to the vet to be put to sleep. Also, they are given an injection that paralyzes them, which I think would be very frightening for them. Would it be better to give them a sedative at home and then take them to the vet? Is that an option? I would really appreciate a reply. Thank you so much for all your very helpful articles. I look forward to them every day.



Hi – thanks for your email Sue. You wrote about your concern regarding if cats are extremely frightened when they are put to sleep. I have personally seen thousands of pets euthanized. Personally, I don't think they are frightened. I think that they are scared a bit just being out of their home environment but most cats that I see euthanized are so sick – that it is their time.

Basically – what we give is an overdose of an anesthetic – something very similar to what they would give if they were going to have anesthesia/surgery. I really believe that is very peaceful and very quick.

An article that might be helpful to you is When to Consider Euthanasia in Cats.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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About The Author

debra-primovic Dr. Debra Primovic

Debra A. Primovic, BSN, DVM, Editor-in-Chief, is a graduate of the Ohio State University School of Nursing and the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Following her veterinary medical training, Dr. Primovic practiced in general small animal practices as well as veterinary emergency practices. She was staff veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Clinic of St. Louis, Missouri, one of the busiest emergency/critical care practices in the United States as well as MedVet Columbus, winner of the AAHA Hospital of the year in 2014. She also spends time in general practice at the Granville Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Primovic divides her time among veterinary emergency and general practice, editing, writing, and updating articles for, and editing and indexing for veterinary publications. She loves both dogs and cats but has had extraordinary cats in her life, all of which have died over the past couple years. Special cats in her life were Kali, Sammy, Pepper and Beanie.