Making a decision about whether or when the time is right for euthanasia is one of the hardest things someone loving a pet will ever go through. Unlike human medicine, veterinary medicine is fortunate to be able to legally offer the option of gently ending suffering when there seems to be no hope for recovery. My most difficult decision was the one I had to make last May, when Amber came down with a sudden, severe illness.
I spent the afternoon with her before my vet came to the house. There are some markers that can be used as guides. Pain is one of them. Animals, especially cats, are masters at masking pain, so this can be difficult to detect.
Another marker is appetite.
The Decision to Euthanize: When is it Time?
For most pet guardians, the first indication that something is wrong is usually when a pet stops eating. A third important marker is dignity. Is the pet still able to relieve herself on her own, or does she need assistance with urination and defecation?
There is no one right answer.
The emotional aspects of making the euthanasia decision can be incredibly complex. Religious beliefs may also impact the decision. Denial can play a significant role in the process. However, getting stuck in denial can become paralyzing. When it comes to dealing with a terminally ill pet, love and denial can be intricately linked, and it can sometimes be difficult to separate one from the other.
Making the euthanasia decision is a lonely decision. One aspect to making the decision that is not often talked about was recently addressed in a beautiful post by Robin Olson of Covered in Cat Hair.
This is very very difficult, but we owe it to our animals to give them every option and every day we can. But the euthanasia decision should never be based on our own discomfort with the dying process.
And I believe that when we do connect with the essence of our animals and manage to set aside worry and fear for even just a few moments at a time, we will know. Ultimately, the only way any of us can make this decision is by listening to our animal friends with our hearts, not with our heads. It becomes a decision of love, not something to be reasoned out on an analytical and intellectual level. And that, too, makes it the loneliest decision. Have you had to make the euthanasia decision for a beloved cat?
What helped you during the decision process? Euthanasia: Knowing When to Say Goodbye. Make a Conscious Decision to Get Happy.Address: S. Check us out on Facebook. When To Say When. So your cat is very sick, their quality of life is drastically decreased, and either because of your financial situation, or because there is nothing more that can be done, you are out of options for treatments to improve your cat's quality of life or longevity of life. When do you call it quits.
That is a very hard decision to make, and there is no good answer for it. Everyone has a different point at which they are ready to stop and end their cat's suffering. Only you can make that decision as to when. But, here are a few things to think about to help you make that decision. One of our criteria's for recommending euthanasia for a cat at All Feline Hospital is no hope of getting better and no quality of life. What does that mean? Keep reading. No hope of getting better.
This is not a cut and dried process. Some diseases have a good chance of getting better, but the financial and emotional costs involved in this process may be more than you can handle. A financial example: if your cat eats a lily, and develops acute kidney failure that destroys both kidneys. But, most of us just don't have that kind of money to spend. An emotional example: if your cat is hit by a car and can't walk or control their eliminations.
This might be something that with several months of drugs, physical therapy, and intensive care, that your cat will be able to walk again and control their eliminations. But in the meantime, you work a full time job, you don't have any help at home, and your cat is dripping urine and stool all over your house.
You find yourself getting angry at your cat, even though you know it is not their fault, and you start resenting them for taking all of your time when you are not working.
You don't want to, you love your cat, but the healing process is so prolonged and so time consuming, that it is eating away at you.
If you don't have help - physical and emotional, then it may not be worth it in the long run. But, there may just not be any hope of getting better. An example of this would include chronic wasting diseases like end stage inflammatory bowel disease. You may be willing and able to do anything and everything for your cat, but their may be absolutely nothing that anyone in the world can do, regardless of how much money or time you can devote to your cat.
When to Consider Euthanasia in Cats
Some illnesses just can't be fixed. At this point, you have to look at your cat's quality of life. Quality of life. This is a measurement that you, as your cat's owner and lifelong friend, are going to be able to make the best assessment of. We can give you the medical facts, but you are the one who sees how your cat is at home.
Quality of life is going to be a little different for every cat depending on their age and pain level. Probably the two primary things to look for are does your cat still seek you out for attention and respond well when you give it to them, and is your cat still eating and drinking. If your cat is hiding all of the time, either under the bed or in a closet, then they don't feel good. They may very well be following a deep seated instinct that when they feel they are close to death, they need to go off alone to die.The cat we had to euthanize, Pica, was hyperglycemic.
The hardest decision any cat lover ever has to make is to euthanize a pet. Our cat Pica was still purring for treats, begging for his brush and responding to our touch. I spent more time crying before taking him to the vet for euthanization than at the time he peacefully went to sleep. My eyes leaked late at night. This is a high protein, low carb and grain-free premium dry cat food. His weight improved but his two other diseases related to diabetes mellitus worsened. Inflammatory bowel disease and pancreatitis.
Three weeks ago, the latest diagnosis bordered on ketoacidosis. Life threatening. Pain medication offered such enough relief to allow Pica to sleep. The first sign he was heading into a tailspin was when he urinated on our rug.
Increased his prozac; followed up with the pain reliever, buprenophine. Immediately we tapered prenisolone, which makes it extremely difficult to manage diabetes. Still a mystery. Cerenia was a god-send, too; offering inflammatory relief as well as vomit prevention.
Love is a strong force. When I started putting together a medication list for our pet sitters, which included twice daily Sub Q injections, and directions on how to deal with constant diarrhea, it became obvious to me that Pica was not getting better. He was not improving and, in fact, was getting worse. The pain medication masked his discomfort. His blood glucose readings were toand that was on a good day, which meant he suffered from prolonged hyperglycemia. High dosages of PZI did not help.
I learned more about feline diabetes and the various related diseases that can accompany that infliction than any human being should ever have to know. Jackson, Pica and Tessa, the 3 Weintraub household cats. The most humane thing we could do for Pica was to euthanize him. All the modern medicine in the world and daily attentive care could not turnaround his health problems. His muscles were so weak he could not keep his balance. But still, I did not want to give up hope or quit loving him.
And that was just selfish. To keep him barely alive so I would not have to live with the pain of separation was so much more incredibly painful than the pain of letting him go.Go to Page Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. Originally Posted by wanderlustgyrl.
Thank you all again so much. Your wise and kind words have given me much to think about. I've decided to spend this weekend with Chloe, really listening to her and reading her body language, and letting her know she is loved and that everything will be ok I think I need that more than she does. Even if "right now" isn't her time, I know that she is close. She is tired.
I need to be strong for her, and that means making tough decisions. Maybe I'm the one reluctant to let go, not her. I'll keep you posted and in my thoughts. And yes I'll give Chloe a pet for you. I just dealt with a cat who was fading away for about a year or so. I had made the choice not to go through any extreme measures with him cancerand by the end, it got to the point where I just automatically picked up a paper towel when I walked through the door, knowing what was coming.
Of course, it was tiring for me, and I'm sure WAY more tiring for him. I never actually spoke about it to others when it was happening, but man, was it tough on me. After going through that, I would never think to talk down to someone going through the same thing.
After all, you KNOW your cat. You KNOW that she is fading. You just do what you can do I wish you the best, and only hope when the time comes, it came as quickly for as it did my little Jethro.
I'll never forget "the day". I came home from work and saw my boy laying by the stove. He gave me "the look". I just knew that he was telling me that living was just WAY too tiring for him. I do firmly believe that this is the last gift that our animal friends give to us.
Best wishes to you. I know that this is a terrible place to be in. I just wanted to give all the people who shared their stories and advice with me an update. About a week and a half ago, and after much deliberation, stalling, and just plain hoping for a miracle, I decided to have Chloe euthanized.
I still had my doubts, wondered if I should wait longer, try more steroids, etc, but in my gut I knew that all I would be doing was prolonging her misery and also setting the stage for a possibly more traumatic and painful departure from this world.
It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I cried the during the procedure and for days afterwards. When you have a companion for that long they become one with your life.
It really is like losing a family member. For anyone considering it for a chronically ill pet, euthanasia is a very, very humane way to end an animal's suffering. The hardest part is for us, the humans, because we can't say "I'm sorry" or let them know we love them in a language they explicitly understand while it's happening.
At least, that was the hardest part for me. But they do not feel a thing and pass with dignity.This actual scenario played out in my practice today…. Chaka, a once stunning Balinese girl was waiting for an exam and blood tests when I arrived at the clinic this morning.
Today Chaka looked like a skeleton with matted hair. Her eyes appeared sunken from dehydration and she struggled to breathe. Sweet Chaka has had more than her share of medical problems, many of which were chronic and required ongoing treatment. Steve was devoted to her nursing care and follow up visits. Her last medical crisis happened a year and a half ago. Steve and Chaka enjoyed another long stretch of blissful feline-human camaraderie. Chaka was looking worse by the moment.
My assessment led me to conclude that it was time for the discussion with Steve about sparing Chaka from further suffering. Steve was initially resistant to the idea of euthanasia. I explained that cats do not leave this earth gracefully; that they stubbornly cling to life and can suffer for days. In my opinion it has become our sacred responsibility to make the choice to let go when there is little or no hope for recovery.
In short, the unique daily routine you and your cat have shared has become severely altered. However, the final decision is up to you, the pet parent.
Your veterinarian will provide support and counsel through the process. In her early years in practice, Dr. Kent began to see a need for a separate medical facility just for cats, where fear and stress would be reduced for feline patients.
Inin a former home in Santa Monica, Dr. Along with other forward-thinking feline practitioners from across North America, Dr. Kent founded the Academy of Feline Medicine in Through the efforts of these practitioners, feline medicine and surgery became a certifiable species specialty through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners ABVP.
Kent became board certified in Feline Practice in the first group to sit for the Feline exam in She certified for an additional ten 10 years in There are now 78 feline specialists in the world. The present day WHFC facility opened in It was the fulfillment of a vision for a spacious, delightful, state of the art, full service cat medical center that Dr.
Kent had dreamed of and planned for over many years. More Posts — Website.If you decide to euthanize, deciding when to euthanize can also be a very difficult and painful decision. Making the decision in advance will help you to not doubt yourself, which can lead to guilt and regret. A cat can appear to be moments from death, and with the right treatment, able to regain most of its health. Your veterinarian can assess the effectiveness of the prescribed treatments by doing additional blood work.
When treatment fails to improve the blood work of your cat, it is time to start preparing for the end. A good veterinarian will always make it very clear, regardless of what they would do, the choice is solely yours. If you have not been able to make a decision in advance, it may become very clear to you euthanizing your cat is the most compassionate gift you can provide.
Sadly, all cats do not respond positively to treatment of renal failure. Your veterinarian will be there to help you decide from a clinical perspective, but the decision is a personal one only you can make.
What makes the decision confusing is at one instance your cat may appear to be moments from dying, yet with the right treatment, able to bounce back and regain most of his health. Most cats with renal failure will progressively lose weight over time in spite of your best efforts.
Blood work may reveal your cat has low potassium levels, high phosphorus levels, and very high BUN and creatinine levels. However, I caution you against making the decision to euthanize your cat based on bloodwork results only.
With a thorough treatment plan and thoughtful care, you and your veterinarian can provide your cat with an enjoyable, productive life for many years to come. There are several quick and easy changes you can make at home to help your give your cat an edge on easing kidney disease and renal failure challenges. Whether or not you decide to euthanize your cat is always a personal decision. Symptoms of the Final Stages of Kidney Failure in Cats The most common symptoms: Hiding Anemia Sudden weight gain or loss Mental confusion Heart failure Twitching Restlessness Dull, sunken eyes Seizures Inability to walk Blindness Body odor Refusal to eat Incontinence Very bad breath Reduced or no urination Low potassium levels, high phosphorus levels, and very high urea and creatinine levels Cats experience many of the above symptoms throughout each progressive stage of kidney failure.
As cats get closer to death the symptoms become much more severe. Kidney disease escalates through four stages, and symptoms escalate as well. Watching your beloved pet suffer more and more may become intolerable.
However, symptoms alone are not a direct indication your cat needs euthanasia. Your veterinarian will be there to give you the clinical perspective and provide guidance. Ask your vet what they would do in your position for a more informed view of the situation. Some cats will ultimately die peacefully on their own without euthanasia.
However, many cats will not. Things can get quite ugly. So, how much suffering is too much? Only you can make the decision. The best indicators of a favorable response to treatment are: Good appetite Normal personality Strength and stamina Minimal weight loss. Indications your cat is not responding to treatment: Hiding, acting differently, mental confusion Sudden weight loss and loss of energy Dull, sunken eyes or blindness Refusal to eat and very bad breath Blood work may reveal your cat has low potassium levels, high phosphorus levels, and very high BUN and creatinine levels.
Make the decision based primarily on behavior and physical condition, not on bloodwork results. Remember, each cat is different. Powerful Tools for Cat Renal Failure Challenges There are several quick and easy changes you can make at home to help your give your cat an edge on easing kidney disease and renal failure challenges. Learn more about cat renal failure.
Ask your vet about Epakitin. Home cook for your pet. Go to our slow-cooker recipe page and try one of our cat food recipes for kidney disease or renal failure.Some forums can only be seen by registered members.
Her main sympton is chronic and persistent liquid consistency diarrhea. Originally I took her in for a battery of tests and blood work, which all came back normal except that the vet determined her lower intesting was swollen and that she most likely was suffering from IBD.
At that time I tried switching her food to healthier brands, and while she would get better for a few days, she eventually became completely intolerent. While I was comfortable with the thought of steroids, I did agree to trying a trial steroid that only lasted for a few days in the system, to see how her reaction was.
I didn't help, so I didn't pursue more steroid use. Since then I have tried every quality store bought food under the sun all meat types as well. I've settled with Evo, but at this point it doesn't matter what I feed her, her symptoms are constantly present.
I tried to make raw food as well. I fed it to her for about a week and it did no good. A few weeks ago I thought she might pass away. She grew very thin, listless and wobbly on her feet. She had almost stopped eating completely.
My boyfriend decided to take action and began feeding her all sorts of treats the kind cat food that aggravate her the most which she happily gobbled down. Yes she went to the bathroom A LOT, but she did put on a few pounds. Fast forward to today. Last night within a half hour she vomited and had a liquid diarhhea episode these typically occur 5 times per day which got all over her paws so I had to wash them in the sink happens a lot.
She's always drinking a TON of water, always hungry since everything goes right through her. I'm tired. She's tired. I really don't have the will to continue on like this, as my quality of home life has dropped dramatically in having to spend so much time cleaning and caring for her.
I love her so much but I've made an appoitment to have her put to sleep on Friday.Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Cats - Ask Dr. Angie
I guess I just want to know that it's ok to "give up", that other people have done this, and that I'm not missing out on some miracle cure they may have recently come up with. Thanks for taking the time to read my story Karen. I've read your post a couple of times before replying and to be honest there's one thing you said that really bothers me.
You talk about the quality of YOUR home life declining and you're tired of cleaning up the cat all the time. The decision shouldn't be based on your quality of life but the cat's. When we adopt our pets it should be with the intention of a life time commitment to the pet.