We have an informative article on Petplace called "When to Consider Euthanasia in Cats" that we promoted in our newsletter. We received some wonderful emails back about different thoughts and experiences we wanted to share with you.
If you are facing this difficult decision, I hope you take comfort in knowing that you are not alone in your pain.
To read the full article – go to When to Consider Euthanasia in Cats.
1.You can Never Be Prepared.
We've been faced with thi euthanasia decision many times over the years, even so more often as our beloved Abyssinians age and have more chronic health problems (CRF, CHF, diabetes, mammary gland CA). Possibly worst time was coming home late one night and finding Georgie Boy paralyzed in his hind quarters from a hematoma and he was crying out in pain and bewilderment. No amount of information about this possibility ahead of time prepared us for the reality.
Thankfully we have a wonderful veterinarian who is available any time. Our choice, which I realize is not for everyone, is to hold our beloved pets while the barbiturate is being administered, if possible, and if not to then pick him or her up and cuddle him or her in his or her final moments. We have chosen to cremation and to have the cremains returned to us to be included with my cremains upon my death and scattered where I have indicated.
It is never an easy decision to make. The loving support of friends who understand our loss and our wonderful veterinarian and his staff have helped eased our suffering at these times. Also knowing that our beloved pets are free from disease and suffering, have joined the others and are waiting for us on the Rainbow Bridge.
2. I'm Not Sure When is the Right Time
Thank you for your article on euthanasia. I currently have a sick cat who will probably need to be put to sleep soon. It is such a heart wrenching decision. I have been going by whether she eats, & how much energy she has. It is hard watching her go downhill slowly. Unfortunately my vet has no idea what is wrong with her, so treatment has basically consisted of keeping her eating & comfortable. I hope when the time comes I can make the right decision for her. It is so hard to let go. I don't want to end it too soon, but I also don't want her to suffer. Thank you for letting me share this. It definitely has got me thinking.
Fountain Hills, AZ
3. My Meatball
Meatball was my first pet. He was an 18 pound (but Vet certified healthy) ball of LOVE, hence the nickname. He followed my mom to her car in a walmart parking lot and convinced her that our home was his! I was 9 years old when I first met him and I knew he was MY cat! He grew up with my and my two sisters, attending tea parties and wearing a LOT of doll clothes. He grew up to be a completely social cat without a timid bone in his body. He would climb into the lap of anyone who sat down in our house and give them a kitty massage (kneading on their side or neck). He never had the high and mighty personality that some cats posses. If you called his name he came, if you walked into a room he immediately acknowledged your presence and would do anything to come snuggle with you. My mom called him my shadow because he was especially loyal to me and followed me EVERYWHERE.
I had just graduated from college when I started to notice Meatball losing weight. His appetite seemed normal and he was still his same sweet self. Just to be cautious I took him to the vet for a check up. Everything was clear so we tried some new food and everything was good for a few weeks. He kept loosing weight and soon I started to notice him becoming very lethargic and not eating. I took him on numerous trips to the vet and spent hundreds of dollars testing him for everything in the book. The vet still could not find what was wrong. I even left him at the vet for a few days to be force fed. He ate for about a week after that, but soon stopped. I was in a panic. In my mind I knew what I needed to prepare myself for but I was in complete denial. He wouldn't eat regular food, but would sometimes eat treats. I bought every kind of cat treat in the pet store, I even tried fish food because he would try to eat through the can on top of our aquarium. It worked for a few days but he wouldn't eat enough every day to stay nourished. By this time he had dropped from 18 pounds to 9 pounds! I could see his bones. He went into hepatic lipidosis and his kidneys started to fail. He began withdrawing, hiding from me which I knew was a sign he was in pain. I kept trying, it was all happening so fast and I was not ready to let go. I read so many stories online about people who went through the same thing and got their cats to start eating again and back to normal. I couldn't make him better, I felt like a failure.
Three days after my 24th birthday I took Meatball to the vet to be euthanized. He was 15 years old. We never knew what caused him to stop eating. I felt so heartsick and guilty. I never thought I would euthanize him, I felt like it was wrong of me to "play God" and that I would let him pass away on his own. I felt like I was killing my cat but I could not let him suffer, and he was suffering. I was still questioning myself, thinking I could make him better, but I think deep down I knew there was nothing else I could do. I chose to stay with him through the whole process. It was the most heartbreaking thing I have ever had to experience, but I have never regretted being there for him. I was strangely enough at peace when it was all over with. I was relieved that he was no longer suffering.
I can't offer any words of comfort to someone going through what I did, there is nothing that can take away your pain. All I can say is listen to your instincts and you will know when it is time to let go. Don't let your beloved pet suffer. I read this poem a few days before I decided to euthanize Meatball and it gave me a lot of peace:
"Help Me Make the Decision"
From: Newspaper-Dear Abby
If it should be that I grow weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep,
Then you must do what must be done,
For this last battle cannot be won.
You will be sad, I understand.
Don't let your grief then stay your hand.
For this day, more than all the rest,
Your love for me must stand the test.
We've had so many happy years.
What is to come can hold no fears.
You'd not want me to suffer so;
The time has come – please let me go.
Take me where my needs they'll tend,
And please stay with me till the end.
Hold me firm and speak to me,
Until my eyes no longer see.
I know in time that you will see
The kindness that you did for me.
Although my tail its last has waved,
From pain and suffering I've been saved.
Please do not grieve – it must be you
Who had this painful thing to do.
We've been so close, we two, these years;
Don't let your heart hold back its tears.
4. I just had to Go Through This
The article was a subject that hit me emotionally because I recently had to go through this very critical decision. My 11 yr old cat ,Cody, was my lil angel and best kitty friend. Just incredibly loveable, beautiful and so smart. For the past 2 years the doctor had thought my cat had allergies due to symptoms of coughing, scratching and dry skin. Well, on April 8th, we went in for his regular appt which appeared to go from monthly to weekly. The appts consisted of a check up, discussion of new or continuous symptoms and then a new try at a medication. My poor kitty had injested so many medications in the past 2 years of his life. At this appt–I knew as his owner and kitty mommy, that this dr visit was different by the pain and look in his eyes. My poor kitty looked defeated and just tired of all of these so called "allergies." The doctor decided to do an xray of his lungs to see why his cough had appeared to change. And the result was that my kitty had several tumors on his lungs as well as a build up of liquid. The choice was given to us to have some of the liquid taken out for a possible attempt at helping Cody have some comfort OR the dreaded euthanizing question. My husband and I were left alone to discuss the choices–with tears flowing. I just kept thinking of all my cat had been through, the increase in pain over the past week, the look in his eyes and of course…how do i say goodbye? This was my little boy–a kitty yes…but nevertheless my little boy. In conclusion, we decided to "put the kitty to sleep"…to end his battle with this mysterious disease that decided to show itself after two years. I had 11 awesome years with my baby kitty. And although I have a difficult time still today with the last memory of my poor baby ducking his head to go into his carrier for the last time…i know we made the right decision because it was only out of love for him. Cody will not be forgotten..and will always be loved…and there will never be another kitty like him. And to any animal owners that face this decision…all I can say is consider the well being of your animal (baby), make the decision carefully and with love..and try very hard to have someone there to support you.
An animal lover for life,
5. This Website Gave Me Comfort
I have read your article on euthanasia in cats, and this brought back not so good memories still fresh and hurting. I have been faced with this situation in March of this year, and "Good Friday" was to me the worst Friday ever. That was the day I had to send my sweet baby Isis over to the Rainbow Bridge, because she was so ill, and it was the toughest decision I ever had to make in my life. She passed away after spending 14 long and love-filled years with me, half of my life. We never realize just how horribly painful it can be until we are faced with the death of our little furbabies. I never thought I would be so devastated, and I thought I should share with you a website that helped me a lot through the grief. The address is http://www.petloss.com/ and this place is full of nice articles, poetry, a forum and also a live chat to have support when you most need it. Petloss really helped me when my world fell apart, and will help countless others, I hope, for many, many more years.
6. It's Never Easy
Being a cat lover and having had many cats of my own plus the many strays I have helped thru out the years I have been faced with the difficult decision of euthanasia many times. It's never easy but sometimes it's the only option. And I believe the kindest. When there is no quality of life and your furbaby is suffering and no longer enjoying life it's time to say goodbye and end the pain. I really believe if they could talk they would thank us. So even though my heart breaks when they have to leave I know I've done my very best for them and send them to the bridge with love, knowing I will see them again some day. I do have one question for you 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 paralizes 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.
7. I swear if I could hear her voice, she said, "I'm ready. It's time.
I wanted to share my experience that I went through with my cat, Lucy, back in January. She was diagnosed with a lung tumor and after a few weeks stopped eating. She would drink water when I poured it for her, but that was it. I tried everything, but she became very weak and lethargic. Of course I cried a lot, wanting to help her and telling her how much I loved her, etc.
One night she got down from her chair and went potty on the floor. The urine was red, and I knew she was in kidney failure. I cleaned it up and went to her chair where she had gone to lay back down. I was petting her and crying, and I just looked at her and sobbed, "I don't know what to do. What should I do?" She looked directly into my eyes and I swear if I could hear her voice, she said, "I'm ready. It's time." I even said out loud to her, "OK, I'll call in the morning." It was that clear. It was still the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life and I miss her so much, but sometimes I think if we just "listen" to them with the way they look at us, it might tell us a lot. People who are not animal lovers might poo-poo this, but those who can have "conversations" with their animals know what I'm talking about. It was a moment I'll never forget – the way she looked at me could not have been more clear. I loved her even more for doing that because she knew I loved her and wanted to do the right thing. Oh I still questioned it long after, but deep down I knew because she let me know.
So I guess what I'm saying is, rather than being so caught up in OUR grief, just listen to your pets by looking into their eyes. You might get the same message I did. In the saddest way possible, it was a beautiful thing.
Thank you for letting me share my story about Lucy.
Sheri D. Joyce
St. Louis, MO