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. Making this decision for a beloved pet can be agonizing to the point of being nearly impossible for some pet guardians.

And even though there are some guidelines that can help with the decision process, ultimately, nobody else can make this decision for you. It’s between you, and your pet.

My personal experience with having to make the euthanasia decision

I’ve had to make this decision three times. In April of 2000, Feebee lost his battle with lymphoma. After tolerating chemotherapy well for almost seven months, he declined rapidly, and instead of choosing more aggressive chemotherapy and blood transfusions, which might have given him some more time, I choose to let him go. And Feebee, in one final act of unconditional love, took the decision out of my hands: he died in my arms while my vet was on her way to my house.

Those of you who read Buckley’s Story already know how difficult my decision was to let Buckley go in November of 2008, when her severe heart disease was compounded by multiple other problems. I probably held on a little too long with her, but I’m now at peace with my decision. She, too, died in my arms, with my vet’s gentle assistance.

My most difficult decision was the one I had to make last May, when Amber came down with a sudden, severe illness. She was in intensive care for four days, and her prognosis was so poor that I decided against pursuing more aggressive treatment and took her home. I spent the afternoon with her before my vet came to the house. Amber laid on my chest, and looked right into my eyes as she took her final, peaceful breath with my vet’s help. I’m still not entirely at peace with this decision, a part of me will always wonder whether I gave up too soon.

How do you decide when it’s time?

There are some markers that can be used as guides. Pain is one of them. No pet parent wants to see a beloved pet suffer. Animals, especially cats, are masters at masking pain, so this can be difficult to detect. Another marker is appetite. 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?

Dr. Alice Villalobos, founder of Pawspice, a hospice program for pets, has developed a Feline Quality of Life Scale that can help care givers determine quality of life based on criteria such as pain, appetite, hygiene, and whether the number of good days outweighs the bad.

Each relationship is unique

But decision points aren’t the only part of the equation. Each pet and each relationship between human and animal is unique.  There is no one right answer. And that’s why making this decision can make you feel like you’re all alone with this awful responsibility.

The emotional aspects of making the euthanasia decision can be incredibly complex. In addition to the love for the pet, and the fear of losing him and not being able to imagine life without him, a care giver’s prior experience with illness and death, be it of a pet or a human, will influence the decision. Religious beliefs may also impact the decision.

Denial can play a significant role in the process. When faced with difficult situations, denial is a natural defense mechanism that initially saves the person from anxiety or pain. 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.

A lonely decision

Making the euthanasia decision is a lonely decision. While others may provide support and advice, ultimately, nobody other than the pet’s caregiver can make this decision. And that’s where things get challenging. I’m currently dealing with a situation where a client’s cat has been ill for a long time, but the client is not ready to make a decision. She’s gone far past the stage where I would have made the decision, if the cat was mine. But at the same time, I can’t fault this client for not being able to make a decision: her cat, while medically in very bad shape, still responds to her, still purrs for her, and still eats well.

Sometimes, it can be hard for a caregiver to really see how far an animal may have declined. Watching a pet deteriorate a little more every day is hard, but seeing the decline happen a little bit at a time can feed the natural amount of denial most people have that the pet just isn’t that sick. Sometimes, it takes a visit from someone who hasn’t seen the pet in a while to make the pet’s guardian realize just how much the pet has declined.

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. Robin’s 14-year-old cat Bob has lymphoma, and has recently stopped responding to chemotherapy. He’s also dealing with multiple other problems. Robin writes:  “Try to watch out for the urge to just get it over with because YOU are suffering watching this natural process occur. This is very very difficult, but we owe it to our animals to give them every option and every day we can.” I couldn’t agree more. We don’t want our animals to suffer, that’s a given. But the euthanasia decision should never be based on our own discomfort with the dying process. I encourage you to read Robin’s entire post about Bob’s battle with cancer, and her struggle to do the right thing for him.

Will you “just know?”

It is often said that we will “just know” when the time is right. 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.  It takes courage to set aside our fears, and to tune in to the animal and really “hear”  them.

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.

The sad reality of making the euthanasia decision is that there is probably no way to ever be completely at peace with it. 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?


178 Comments on Euthanasia: The Loneliest Decision

  1. I’ve only been through this once – October 22, 2014.

    We brought Spike, a brown and black feral tabby, home from the farm where he was born when he was about nine weeks old. That day in 1999, I promised him he would have a wonderful life. And he did.

    He moved with us three times – the last from Georgia to Maryland. He was cantankerous and finicky, but tender-hearted and oh, so sweet. It was like he never stopped being a kitten until the last year of his life. At fourteen, he began slowing down, his appetite dwindled. The vet said he thought maybe it was cancer. Spike had just turned fifteen when tests confirmed it. By then he was having a hard time walking.

    The vet was not very compassionate. We had to beg him for pain killers for our little guy – he treated us like we were drug addicts or something. When we asked for a referral – a name, anything – someone who could come to our home to help with Spike’s passing, he was all “You could look on the internet. Or we could just do this here now.” No thanks, Dr. NoBesideMannerWhatsover.

    When we got him home, Spike’s back legs weren’t working anymore. He just lay on the bedroom floor. Every once in awhile, he would look in our eyes and howl, even after we gave him the painkillers. Somehow, I held it together. I didn’t want him to see how distressed I was. It was like I was on autopilot. Online, I found a traveling veterinarian who was able to visit us that night.

    We took turns sitting with our baby, letting him know that it was okay to let go before the doctor got there. But he held on, his breathing becoming more and more labored. When the vet arrived it was dark outside, and we had classical music playing because it soothed our nerves. We held and petted Spike while the doctor gave him both injections. He slipped away gradually, like the tide going out.

    I’ve made peace with the decision to let him go, but can’t really accept his death. For weeks I saw him in the apartment, could still smell his scent on the blankets of our bed, hear his little voice in the middle of the night.

    We brought home a long-haired orange and white rescue kitten we named Charley this past January. At twelve weeks old, he was skin and bone – had worms and an eye infection. Five months on, he’s happy and rambunctious, goofy, vocal and super affectionate. He’s grown rather fat. I fall in love with him a little more every day, but my heart is still broken.

    Late at night, I lie awake thinking if I could turn the clock back to this time last year, maybe we could get Spike treatment – something that would have kept him with us longer. Though I believe we have souls, and that animals do too, I’m pretty much an agnostic. Not sure if I’ll ever see my Spike again in another life.

    But I would give everything to hold him one more time, and smell of his sweet little neck.

    • Thank you for sharing Spike’s story with us, Todd. I’m always shocked when I hear about vets who are as callous as Dr.NoBedsideMannerWhatsoever – thankfully, they are few and far between. I’m a big proponent of in home euthanasia, and I’m glad you were able to have a vet come to your house to ease Spike’s final passage. I’m also glad you have Charley to help you heal. Of course he will never replace Spike, and a part of you will always miss him, but I like to think that our departed cats are happy when we open our heart to another.

  2. It has been 8 weeks (tomorrow) since I had my tiger bear, Zesty euthanized and I am more at peace with the decision than I was.

    I drove myself crazy at first, questioning my decision with my vet and other knowledgeable people, but finally I accepted it somehow, it is over and done and nothing will change it.

    You know in your heart you did it for the right reasons, to not allow your baby love to suffer. I will never know if the timing was right, but my heart was in the right place and while I am missing her more all the time it seems, I do remember the love we shared.

    It has helped me somewhat to put her ashes, a few favorite pictures and stuffed animals, her photo album etc on a shelf unit in my room. I still cry when I look at her pictures, but I know it time it will be easier. I am putting her photos I had printed in an album today. I had a canvas done and a wonderful collage poster as well with some of my favorite photos of her. I will poast a couple photos of her shelf and poster (as soon as the frame arrives) and I would love to see other kitty remembrances as well over there.

    Extending gnetle hugs and tears with all of you that have had to do the same with your beloved kitty (and doggie) friends.


    I have been looking, online and at one rescue group so far for a new cat to provide a forever home for. I cannot decide which kitty to get, there are so so many cats and they all deserve a home and people that cherish them.

    I though perhaps a tabby cat, but I know in my heart I want a tortie with her coloring, but not sure if my heart can handle that either. I hope I will know when the time is right. Just choosing one is hard too. I heard today that our local animal control center has 500 kittens alone on intake, many of them sick. It is heartbreaking. I will not adopt a kitten however, too many adult cats that need homes.

    • I’m so glad to hear you’re doing better, Susan. You’ll know when the time is right to bring another cat into your life, whether it’ll be a tortie or another color cat.

  3. I also experienced the loss of 3 animals so far and it is the worst situation imaginable. I had to make the decision to put 1 dog and 2 cats to sleep and it killed me every time.
    The guild that comes with it, eats at me ever since I made the first decision to put our sweet little dog Tess to sleep.
    Tess was a terrible dog, a dog that many people would have given up on, long before she gotten sick. She was always very difficult and bit whenever she didn’t like something, she barked all night at a fly, or and nothing. It didn’t matter she never listened to any command we ever gave, her but we loved her to no end.
    After the age of 2 she started to have one illness after another, we practically lived at the vet and I bet some of the exam rooms he had, were financed with the money we payed there every month.
    when one illness was battled, another would came along and this went on for 14 years, we never gave up,not through epileptic seizures, several strokes, blindness, incontinence, kidney disease and many more ailments, we stood by her until the day her kidneys were shutting down and she vomited constantly. She stopped eating all together and walked in circles to no end.
    I called my husband at work and told him I had called the vet and he said we needed to put her to rest, that it was time.
    That was on a Friday, the vet stated that if she got worse over the weekend she would suffer tremendously and I did not want this to happen.
    So with a heavy heart I told the vet to come to my house to put her to sleep. She always hated to ride in cars and I did not want her last experience to be one of fear. My husband left work to met at the house, so we could be there together when her final hour came.
    The vet arrived and Tess crawled out of the little bed and started barking like crazy, it brook my heart, did I make the right decision?
    the phone rang and my husband asked if the vet had arrived? I said yes and asked him where he were, how come he wasn’t home yet?
    He said he be there soon, but I think he did not want to make it there in time, he was afraid of the final minute with Tess.I couldn’t wait any longer, I was loosing my heart, if I waited any longer I couldn’t go through with it.

    I picked up Tess put her on a blanket on the kitchen counter and held her tight, crying and sobbing while the vet gave her the final shot of her life, she was gone within seconds and became very limp in my arms.
    That was the worse moment in my life. I killed my baby, my sweet Tess was gone.
    When my husband arrived he had tears in he eyes, he took Tess in his arms and this was the first time I seen my husband cry like a baby, he rocked her back and forth and buried his face in her fur. It was heartbreaking.

    Later that afternoon be dug a grave for her and wrapped her in her favorite blanket, added her toys and some treats; she should not go hungry.
    I know it sounds stupid but it made me feel better and buried her in our yard under the trees she loved so much.
    Many hours later we were still in shock and suddenly my husband got up and went outside, I followed him and he made his way to the shed . He came out with a shovel and I asked him what he was going to do?
    With tears in his eyes he said he needed to dig her back up, to hold her one more time, I ran to him and hugged him and begged him not to do this, this only would make it harder for him, finally he agreed and it took a very long time before we could move on from this loss.
    I know that ever since that day, whenever we have to make the decision to end a life, It is never out of convenience or without guild, it is never easy to make that step but out of love for our pets, we do what is right.
    we deal with the broken hearts afterwards, when the suffering of our baby is over.
    We have 18 rescue cats at this time and they will live their life to the fullest until they have to pass on, but the thought that this will happen 18 more times is daunting …
    So good luck to us all and may you cherish every day that you can spend with your pet

    • I’m so sorry about Tess, Doris. It sounds like you did everything you could for her. I don’t think it’s possible to ever be completely comfortable with making this decision, no matter how “right” it may be under the circumstances. Your final words say it all, and it’s all any of us can do: treasure every day we have with out beloved pets.

  4. I to had kitttys put down ,one for kidney failure and the other for FIP, the last one was just a kitten and it really upset me. Never saw a animal have a seizure,test came back as vet thought,so we had a put down. I didn’t want to,but it was the right thing to do. The little cat was in more pain then I know until I saw her seizure,we some times are selfish with hopes they’ll pull through-but this was not the case! I don’t feel guilty,I know in my heart I did the right thing for her. She was a sweet kitty,only ten months old,her name was LOVIE,and lovie she was,I miss her. This is a very good post to help people understand sometimes this is nessary—for the animals sake!

    • It is even more heartbreaking when it’s a kitten, Judy. Lovie was fortunate that you were able to make this decision for her, even though it was so hard for you.

  5. I am so glad to hear you say that the final decision is with the caregiver. Unfortunately I didn’t know this three years ago when I took my 17 year old calico to the vet when she was having balance problems. They took her in back for blood tests then came out and told she needed to be put to sleep. I begged and pleaded with them to let me take her home for just a day so my husband and daughter (who had gotten her on a Brownie trip to the animal shelter in the second grade) could say goodbye. I promised to bring her back and they said she wouldn’t live long enough to come back. The I demanded to know why she needed to be put to sleep and they showed me some high results on her tests. Then I demanded they give her back to me and they said no. I tried to think of how I could get her back. I thought of storming the back but I am not prone to violence. They finally agreed to wait long enough for my family to come in. I got them out of bed and they came down and my daughter held her as they did it. I changed vets of course but I am still angry to this day that they didn’t give me any choice.

    • I don’t blame you for being angry, Beth. As far as I’m concerned, that vet completely overstepped his or her boundaries. I’m so sorry you had to go through that.

    • Oh Beth, I am so sorry you had to go through that horrid experience. The vet had no right at all to refuse releasing your pet, she should have been able to have some final comfort at home with the family. I am so sorry for your loss and for the extra heartache you had to deal with.

  6. I’ve had to make this decision 4 times over the past 40 years. I can offer no hope and no help to get through this without extreme pain and suffering. I’ve read everyone’s stories detailing the time leading up to the decision and the ultimate, horrible moment of saying goodbye. I can offer hope and help after you’ve lost your sweetheart. I don’t allow myself to recount or relive the sickness and the end. If such thoughts occur, I immediately recount details of all the years of health and happiness, special moments, games we played, endless hours of love and affection. If you do this, you’ll find yourself smiling with happiness as you realize how lucky both you and your cat were. Finally, while you can never replace a lost love, you can love again, and there are so many precious creatures that need a home and love.

  7. It has broken my heart every time I’ve had to have a pet put to sleep. My 19 year old dog, Pepe that lost bladder control and was going blind. He was the first and it was like losing your first born. Puss was a stray at 4 weeks but kidney failure got her. The vet suggested putting an IV in her and they would keep her in the cage and it might give her a few more months. Puss was a dignified cat and didn’t deserve to be stuck in a cage. She went quickly after the shot. I also changed vets immediately. Babycakes we held onto a little too long but she went into that sweet goodnight at 19. Sabrina the tortie that showed up at door one day and never left was 21 when she went completely blind from kidney failure. Such a sweet and loving cat, I couldn’t let her go on scared from being blind. Max and Alex(a) came home with us from a shelter just a few months different in age. Alex, a gentle grey Russian developed a cough which worsened in just a couple of days. Turns out she had lung cancer and died on vet’s table with the sedative, not the last shot at 23. Just a few months later my handsome boy Max had a few strokes and apparently kitty Alzheimers. He cried all the way to the vets and when he was gone, the vet, the tech and my husband and I were all sobbing. He was 23 too. Right now we have Baby 13, Bella Luna 7, and Sasha 4. But all of them were special in our hearts.

  8. I’m sobbing like a fool right now. I’ve lost so many cats over the years… ask if their urns in my curio reminding me of their sweet souls, even the ferals I could never pet.

    But it is Mercury that I beat myself up about, even now 12.5 years later. I met him and his sister Bijou right after birth, he was a brown tabby, she was a silver tabby and both of them had extra toes. Mercury was the largest cat I’ve ever had, not fat but so long and tall. I graduated high school when they were 3 months old and they came with me as I embarked on my new life. Mercury slept next to me every night, his head on my pillow and his long body stretched out with my arm around him. Over the years I moved back and forth from NY to CA. They went on planes (with me in the cabin) and even in the car the last time, when I was 6 months pregnant and they were 7. Mercury loved that I was pregnant, he would lay on my belly and purr like crazy. When my daughter Ava was born, he laid on the other side of her while she nursed and always slept right next to her when she napped. She was tough on him with pulling his ears, fur and using him as a chair, a teething ring and everything else. Not only did he tolerate it, he sought her out and purred! He loved that girl as much as I did… and if I couldn’t have loved him more before her birth there are no words for how I loved him afterwards.

    Mercury started drinking a lot and not acting like himself around age 9. The vet said he was in the early stages of kidney failure and that we could do our best to get as much time as we could. He turned 11 in 2003 and he was thin and not very active, even with my daughter. The vet taught me how to give him subQ fluids and I did that every other day for 6 months. By December he weighed a mere 9 lbs (he was normally 17lbs) and I knew it was time. But I couldn’t do it. I was terrified of life without him. In December 20th I found a 12wk old kitten that looked exactly like Mercury and I brought him home. Mercury and this new kitten, Bébē, would lay on my chest together for hours. On December 24th Mercury was nearly comatose and I desperately tried to find a vet to euthanize him. Every place was closed until the 26th.

    I cried myself to sleep holding him and on Christmas morning I put him on top of the radiator to keep warm while I went to have family dinner. My stepfather was watching him and called me to come home around 3pm. As I drove home in tears I saw the most breathtaking sunset I’d ever seen. I stopped to take pictures, it was that stunning.
    I got home at 4:45pm and my stepfather told me Mercury had just died, 20 minutes earlier, at the exact moment I had stopped to take pictures of that sunset. I grabbed his body and screamed and cried in a manner I had never done. I held him all night, sobbing and in the morning my friend drove me too the vet so he could be cremated. The vet had to forcefully take him from me and I was insane with grief.

    I went home and little Bébē wanted to play. Then, that night, he came up next to me and poor his head on my pillow while I sobbed into his fur. I felt so guilty for letting Mercury get so bad, for being so selfish and I still cry over what I did because I couldn’t let him go.

    Bébē slept with me like Mercury did every night. I am convinced Mercury told him how to be the cat that I needed to get through the loss of him. And I think he waited to die until I brought that kitten home out of the blue.

    Bébē saved my heart, especially when I had to euthanize Bijou a year later for the same reason. Bébē is a big cat and our bond is tight. But he was diagnosed with kidney failure when he was 9 as well. He is now 11 going on 12 and is still doing great!

    I know the day will come with Bébē and I hope I have the strength to let him go before it gets too bad.

    • Oh Rebecca, I have tears streaming down my face after reading your story. I believe that sometimes, cats wait for us to be gone before they pass because they know it’s too painful for us to witness. I really feel that that’s what happened with your Mercury. And he also sent you Bébē so you wouldn’t be alone after he died. What an amazing soul.

  9. I made this decision for the first time with my very first cat Labor day weekend September 2007. My oldest cat 18 plus years Simon health was going down hill. I knew it. I got him when he was 9 weeks old at the local SPCA. My kids were 6 and 4 years old at the time I brought furry little orange ball of energy home. Over 18 years later my daughter and I had to the Vet again he was dehydrated and loosing weight. Vet said he could run a bunch of expensive tests but at his age what good was it going to do. He got him back on his feet some what and my daughter and I decided we would try one last time with some extra supplements from the vet. Then Labor day weekend came and he was sleeping in my office on the spare bed and I could hear one of the cats breathing funny. I thought it was Tigger snoring again but Tigger wasn’t in the room it was Simon having problems breathing right next to me as I worked. I picked him up and didn’t know what to do. Holiday weekend, expensive Vet visit??? Lots of prayers. I kept a close eye on him all weekend. Simon would eat off and one. I talked to my son who was in the Army at the time and away. He told me it was time and he understood. There were more labored breathing problems through the weekend. By Tuesday I took him back to the SPCA to be put peacefully to sleep because I wasn’t able to pay the high Vet bill. I know it was right as hard as it was at the time and I will always miss him. My cat Tigger also lost his battle with Diabetes January 2011 and he suffered terrible. At the end just like Jackson said he lost his ability to use litter box on his own and was all bone and fur. I held on way too long for Tigger. He was born in my house he was always my baby boy. He was barely 10 years old. No there is no easy answer, but holding on isn’t the right answer when they are clearly suffering. I will always miss Simon and Tigger but I do have more love to give. My current rescued loves are Sebastian and Buddy.

    • You are so right, Janice – we never stop missing them. I’ve always felt, too, that we can carry on the love we felt for our lost cats by giving another cat a home when we’re ready.

  10. I have had to make this decision 4 too many times. It is heart wrenching – an ache that never goes away.

    However, my lovely vet told me once that “animals do not have a fear – or even an expectation – of death. They accept it unconditionally – just as they do our love.”

    I have always held on to that, I hope it helps some of the people here when they are facing this painful situation, as it has helped me.

  11. I’m there right now. My beautiful rescued Siamese stopped eating and is, I’m sure, in the last stages of renal failure. I have to take her to the vet tomorrow and am dreading it. My 12yr old twin daughters are struggling with it too. We will try and make the right decision for her. But it’s heartbreaking. We don’t know how old she is as she was a feral. At the time the vet thought she was about 1. That would make her about 16 or 17. She’s had a great life with us and us with her. So so sad.

    • My heart is with you. I just found out this week that one of my elder girls has kidney disease. She’s started on saline and is finally eating again. How long has your cat been struggling with kidney failure?

      • I’ve had to take my Siamese, Simone, in several times this year because of respiratory issues and during blood checks, we have noticed her kidney levels going up. But this escalated quickly and she’s lost a lot of weight. I will see the vet today to see what can be done for her.

    • I had to put down three cats and one dog in a four year period.
      I held each animal and we listened to Pavarotti’s Ave Maria several times before entering the Dr.’s office. I held each as they passed. I thought the music gave me an inner calm so the anxiety I felt was not passed on to them. I like to think they passed a little easier.

      • That’s an awful lot of loss so close together, Mary Jo. And what a wonderful thing to do to listen to beautiful music so you could be calm. I’m sure it helped your cats and dog, too.

  12. I have had 4 cats in total, 2 of which I had to put first was 6 years old, she had bladder cancer, my other was 6 as well and was urinating all over the place and he had to be put down at the vet because he had renal disease. I hated making those decisions but they were both in pain and no quality of life was there. I currently have a 15 year old and a two year old who hate each other, but life goes on.

  13. I have had 9 precious furbabies in the past and all but 2 were very hard decisions….I think the hardest was a beloved cat of both my hubby and i…Rumor was a wonderful Red Tabby that weighed about 16 lbs….not all fat either…anyway we had him for 9 years of playful, loving fun and then he couldn’t lift his tail so off to the vet who thought that he had a bruised tail bone so we started him on steroids which worked great for a few months and then his tail went back to being limp so my vet ran blood tests and found he had cancer…what a horror! Lymphoma to be exact…we or i should say I decided that he would tell me when it was time…not eating or playing would be when…so he lived another few months and just stopped eating which was a very good sign, not to mention it was hard for him to eliminate with his tail problems…I had been greiving for months since the original diagnosis but my hubby was totally unprepared for his passing…it was soooo very hard! But Rumor as well as all my other fur babies wait for me at the Rainbow bridge….Tony, Kizzie, Tally, Rumor, Murry, Patches, Sabrina, Frisky, Rosie…I also had a terrible experience with loosing a baby…little Rosie was from the feral colony that I cared for…someone had dumped her mama by the colony and moma had 4 babies…Rosie, Lily, Daisy, and Cosmos…anyway Rosie looked sick so I cuaght her and took her to the vet…she was soooo skinny and sick poor baby! He told me she had an URI, anemia, dehydration, as well as worms…he gave me some meds and I tried my best to save her but she died in my arms 2 days later…what a heartbreaker! I then caught Mama, Jasmine and her other 3 sibs and they are doing very well now! It is always hard to loose those that we care for, be they human or furry babies…I have 13 cats now and hope they all live a very long time!

      • Thanks Ingrid…I hope I have them for a good long time! But I will always do my best for them and as painful as it is this is part of it…I am sure that I will be heart broken after each and every passing….I hope that others don’t give up on having fur babies because of this VERY painful decision…the love you get from them is worth more than anything!

  14. Twice. One cat I nursed through cancer as long as possible until she began going downhill faster, she was just worn out and breathing became more difficult and I knew it was time. She was 16. My other girl was 18 and had become very frail and as if she had developed altzheimers. She was not responding to attention any more and I knew it was time to let go. It’s always a heartbreaker. RIP precious girls.

  15. One vet told me, when they can’t find the litter box anymore. With my 17 year old girl, this advice helped along with when she ‘forgot’ how to walk, then I knew.

    • That was a deciding factor for me with my first cat, too, Elsie. When he couldn’t get out of the litter box by himself anymore, I knew it was time.

  16. What helped my husband and I determine if euthanasia was the decision for our cat, was a poem from our vet, that depicted their current life to what had been. I’m sorry I can’t remember the poem in it’s entirety and don’t want to botch it. That gave us the clarity to make the choice.

  17. I’ve done this many times with both my cats and my dogs, and each time my heart absolutely breaks, but I promised each of my sweet furbabies from the start that I would do whatever it takes to give them the best life possible, and I kept my promises. I am always there with them, touching and speaking to them, looking into their eyes as they cross over and see heaven for the first time. What a beautiful day it will be when my time comes to join them! As I read this article with teary eyes, having just put down my sweet tortie/calico Puddin in April, my heart goes out to the other posters for their losses. The love of a pet is an unconditional form of love. Treasure them now and forever.

  18. I had to make the heart wrenching decision to euthanize my best friend six years ago, and to this day, I miss him terribly.

    Let me tell you about my Mozart, a.k.a. MoMo.

    Mozart came to us via a rescue Momma we had taken in that was pregnant. She had 6 kittens : 4 solid white, 1 solid blue and 1 blue w/ tuxedo markings. There were 5 females in the litter, only one male. The one male was the only one in the litter that had the most mesmerizing ice blue eyes! He was probably the smartest kitten I had ever came across, and soon had my heart wrapped around his tiny paw!

    We had placed all of the kittens and their Momma in their forever homes, except of course, this unique, funny, intelligent little male. He had HIS forever home the second he was born.

    As Mozart grew, so did our love for him. All of our friends and family adored him, and he became one of the most loving, intuitive cats I have ever had the pleasure of sharing my life with. He also became one of the largest cats I had ever seen. At 6 months old he stood at least 10 inches tall at the shoulders, and by the time he was a year old, he weighed 21lbs and stood 16″ at the top of his head! He was 21lbs of gorgeous cat, with those piercing blue eyes.

    MoMo was with me through so many milestones of my life. He was there when my only child grew up and moved into his own home. He was there through my divorce. He was there when I decided to go back to college as an adult. He was with me through a decision to move from Ohio to UpState New York and back! He was my best friend …

    When he was 17yrs old, he had a swollen chin, so of course, he visited the vet. His chin was swollen from a blackhead, which the vet explained was quite common in older cats. The vet wanted to do a geriatric blood screening on Mozart, which I agreed to, because the vet was sure I was mistaken on MoMo’s AGE! Because, at 17 years of age, Mozart had all of his teeth, still ate his dry food, had no cataracts or clouding in his eyes, no gum disease, and could still hear EVERYTHING! After a week, the vet called me and was amazed with the results: ” I don’t know what you are doing, but whatever it is, keep it up! Mozart’s blood work came back as that of a 5 year old cat!” I just grinned and thought to myself, ” That’s my boy!”

    Two years and 9 months later, my world changed. Three months before his 20th birthday, I lost my best friend.

    Mozart was still that same vibrant, playful senior that he was when he shocked the vet with his health nearly 3 years prior. He still had all of his teeth, still ate dry food, still had his sight and hearing. But, one morning I woke up to find him paralyzed from the middle of his body down to the tip of his tail. I rushed him to the vet to to find out that he had a blood clot that had settled in his groin area and rendered his back half paralyzed. The vet advised me that even if Mozart was given a blood thinner that there would be so much permanent damage that he would never walk again.

    The staff left the room so that I could say my goodbyes to my Dear, old friend. As I sat and stroked his head and cried, Mozart looked at me as if to say, ” It’s going to be okay, I will always be with you.”

    I held Mozart while the vet gently sent him to the Rainbow Bridge. A piece of me was gone and I had an irreplaceable hole in my heart. He gave me so many years of love, laughter and understanding. Mozart is buried in my yard, with a tombstone that reads ” Our Beloved Pet”… but only because I couldn’t find one that said, ” My Best Friend”.

  19. on Dec 31 2013 I had to make this decision. My precious 19 year old Jasmine was not doing well for a while. Her arthritis got so bad she could no longer get on bed or chair. Then she was diagnosed with diabetes. For 6 months i gave her insulin twice a day . Then one morning I woke up and discovered she had a stroke. I knew in my heart it was time, and she had been living with pain for a while. I still cry thinking about her. She was the most loving cat i ever had. Now my 16 year old kitty was diagnosed with kidney disease. She is on two medicines and twice weekly subq fluids which she absolutely hates. She seems to be doing well, I pray she stays well for a long time.

  20. My wife and I adopted two sitter kittens from our local shelter. They were the joy of our life. Sissy and Tatum. One day w came home to find Tatum coughing and fighting to breathe. After taking him to the vet we were told she had feline leukemia.

  21. Oh how I can empathize with all of your comments. I have only had to euthanize one of my six cats over my lifetime. I have a special love for Maine Coons. My first lived 18 years. He hated, absolutely hated, going to the vet. I knew that his time was coming and chose to let him die at home. He did. At 3 in the morning and in my arms. I woke 10 minutes before he died and he is under his favorite hosta plant in my yard. Gulliver, my second Coon lived to 17. He just slowly became more debilitated. When he stopped eating that’s when I made the decision. My vet and vet tech. were wonderful. I chose to bring him home in his carrier so the other two cats could say good-bye. Interestingly, the other male cat was the only one who sat by the carrier for about 15 minutes. He did a lot of smelling of Gulliver and the just walked away. Gully is buried next to Rocky under the hostas. Lots of memories in those two Coon cats.

  22. I’ve only had to euthanize one of my cats so far. I had 3 cats, and they all got a common type of worm. A daily course of wormer sorted out their diarrhea. But I noticed the youngest, he wasn’t much over a year old, wasn’t improving as well as the others. He started spending a lot more time sleeping under the bed. He was bony and started refusing treats. I went to wipe out his ears, and thought it looked a little yellow in there. I’m a LVT so brought him to see what my vet thought, and within 24 hours he was neon yellow all the way down his temples and his belly was bloated. We agreed that it was likely FIP. His liver was failing fast. He perked up one last time, ate some tuna fish, and we waited for my mother (he was her baby too) to get out of work. I’m glad I’m an LVT so I can euthanize at home and cry all I want. The hardest part was that he was still a baby, and he was extra special to us because he started out very scared and half feral when I trapped him, and turned into the sweetest most cuddly little boy. For months I thought I saw him walking around if I would get up in the night. I woke up crying one night because half asleep I thought he was lying in bed with me and I was petting him. I’m ok now, he made room for us to keep another special boy who had survived a brain injury.

        • I too have felt my babies with me after they have gone. We lost our kitty of 17 years old and we saw her in our yard for about a year. Three years ago, we had to euthanize our 14 year old terrier, it was very traumatic. He would pop up in our yard and snuggled to my husbands feet at night. I think they comfort us in our grief and let us know that they are okay.

    • How fortunate your baby was to have found the love and comfort from you for his short life. Thank you for being there for him. All animals deserve the same.

  23. right now is very difficult time for our household. We have a rescued baby, who is only 4 years old. There is a golf ball tumor growing so fast it has doubled in size within a week. The vet did not give much hope for her after 6 months. I think Monday my husband and I will make the decision to give her dignity and peace.

    • bc, My heart goes out to you. For me it was such a difficult decision, but I knew deep down it was for the best. It kills us to see them suffer knowing there isn’t anything further we can do. I always say animals are lucky to have the option to die with dignity an opposed to humans. Sending you hugs and prayers as you help your furbaby cross over to the Rainbow Bridge. She is lucky to have pet parents who love her so much.

  24. I posted this on the other post Euthanasia: To Be With Your Cat, or Not? when I meant to post it here… feel free to delete the first one.
    I realize there have been no comments since last July. But I had to make the impossible decision to euthanize my 14 year old kitty Zesty yesterday.

    I am alternating between being mad and sad and just heartbroken, heartsick.

    I’m in denial even though I sat right here and let the vet give her the shots and end her life

    why didn’t I say no and lock my door and not let her in and not let her do what she did to my baby.

    I held her down on the floor while the doctor stuck her with a needle and she tried to get away . I picked her up and put her on my lap and she was asleep before I knew it with her eyes open and she was just so still and she was gone so quickly after the second shot.

    why didn’t i keep her here longer? I know I said I did it because I didn’t want her suffer, but I want her back. I just want to hold her.

    what gives me the right to decide when her life should end?

    why didn’t I stay with her longer after she died? I clipped her fur in three different places and put it in a baggie. I put her in the box she liked to sleep in in the closet, on top of a towel and I had to tuck her tail and her feet in and i covered her with the other end of the towel and she was so heavy in my arms walking her down to the car and then from the car to the building at the pet cemetery. I looked at her again in the car and again when I got to the cemetery and again before I left and I touched her soft fur and I kissed her side and I said I love you baby girl

    I went back today and she brought out Zesty’s cremated remains in a little glass box I had given her the day before. My big beautiful kitty reduced to some ashes in a little glass box.

    The stupidest little things make me cry, Looking at the towel that she was laying on after she died, her scratching post, her cardboard scratcher.

    All the little things we will never do together again break my heart. I am so glad I have so many pictures and videos of her.

    I read this somewhere today and it brings me a bit of peace:

    “The most consoling words I have received are from someone who has had to make the decision so many more times. She said that the only time you actually know for sure when the right time to let them go is, comes when you wait too long, watch them suffer more than they should and regret it. better a week too soon than a day too late.”

    Grief is a process and doubts and regrets and denial and anger and pain are all a part of that process, and it sucks, big time!

    • I’m so sorry for your loss, Susan. I can feel your pain and grief in this comment as if you were sitting across from me. My heart goes out to you.The person who told you it’s better to make this awful decision too soon rather than too late gave you wise advice, even if it won’t do much to lessen your pain right now. I hope in time, you will find comfort in all the memories of your time with Zesty and that gradually, the memories will bring smiles rather than tears. Be gentle with yourself during this difficult time.

      • Thank you! At this point I am looking for affirmation from her vet and the vet that came to my home to perform the euthanasia that I indeed did the right thing.

      • I’m sitting here in tears, reading this, because I can relate to how you feel. I’ve had to let numerous cats go over the years, and it tears me up every time, even when I know for certain it was time. But as said, it’s better to do it a little early than too late, and I could bear the idea of my cats suffering. We’re not perfect, we do the best we can given a difficult circumstance, and this is a final act of let them go and feel no more pain.

    • I totally understand your pain. After I lost my cat I just so wanted him back, wanted to hold him again. But in my heart I knew he was suffering. They can’t make the decision so we have to do it for them.

  25. I am struggling with this decision as I type. My Fiona is 21 years old. Aside from an occasional bladder infection and a few tooth issues over the years she has been vibrant and healthy. Just recently (last 6 months) she has begun to not use the litter box, not groom and to often appear disoriented. I have taken her to the vet several times and keep her health closely monitored, physically she is fine aside from the expected “high normal” readings on a few of her vitals.
    At times she gets lost between where she is laying and her food bowls and often caterwauls in distress when she cannot figure out where she is. I have to clean her on a daily basis as she continually has urine and feces stuck to her long hair (she is part Maine Coon), She often defecates or urinates and lays in it. In addition her appetite is great and she is still VERY affectionate. She will never EVER be too much trouble for me, but I what I struggle with is at what point am I being selfish and making her suffer?

    • My heart goes out to you, Debbie. It’s such a difficult decision. Unfortunately, only you can make it. The fact that she still has a great appetite and is very affectionate makes this even more challenging for you.

  26. I have had to make this decision 3 times thus far and each time stayed with my kitty. The last time I had to do this it was a horrible experience, so much that I have anxiety thinking of the next time I have to make this decision with my kitty who is almost 16 yrs old. Last year I had to make this decision for my 6 yr old kitty who had heart disease. He declined so rapidly, with 2 small heart attacks with 3 weeks. In the end it was a blood clot that put him back in the hospital so I made the decision I knew had been coming. I am not sure what happened, maybe they didn’t give him enough pain medication or something before bringing him to me but when they gave him the first injection (it was 2 in total), he looked at me and just let out this horrible scream. :-(. I totally lost it. They quickly administered the last injection but that totally scarred me. I know I did the right thing, but in those last few seconds of his life he was crying and looking me right in the eyes. They told me that sometimes the injection stings and that is why he cried out. I will be with my 16 yr old kitty when the time comes and will make the decision, if necessary. I just hope it is much more peaceful than the last time.

    • I am following up on my post from last summer. I had mentioned that my last experience was horrible and I was dreading having to make the decision and going through the experience when the time came for my 16 year old cat, Biddle. Well, that time came 2 weeks ago and he was 16 1/2. It happened very suddenly and I knew it was time. Of course, I kept replaying the last time I had to make that decision and how horrible that was. So, I talked to the vet and she assured me that he it would be a peaceful moment, so to speak. I held him in my arms as I have done 3 times before w/ my other kitties and he peacefully went over the rainbow bridge. I am soo sad and I miss my constant companion but I wouldn’t trade any of those 16 1/2 years for anything.. even knowing that this day would come. It’s always easy to second guess ourselves but I think in our hearts we always know when it’s time. As I believe besides loving them unconditionally, as they do us, helping them pass with dignity and peacefully is the biggest give we can give them.

  27. Maybe I’ll get flamed, but I feel like this is a decision people too often jump to, and don’t let their pets die natural deaths.

    • I think it’s a very individual and personal decision, Spooky. I agree that in our culture, there’s generally a strong discomfort with the dying process, and as long as a pet doesn’t suffer, there’s nothing wrong with allowing things to unfold naturally. It goes without saying that none of us want our cats to suffer, and unlike human medicine, with animals, we do have the option to do end suffering if it’s indicated. Robin Olson describes this particular aspect of the decision process beautifully in the article I link to in the post.

  28. I wanted to thank you for this article. After a couple days of abnormal behavior, I took my cat to the vet this morning to find out her kidneys are failing. She’s staying at the hospital for a couple days in hopes that some medication and fluids can give her a few more months, but at 19 years old, the vet isn’t hopeful. It’s likely that this will be a decision I’ll have to make a couple days from now. I still don’t know how I’ll be able to do it, but knowing I’m not alone helps.

    • i had to put my cat Kawala down at the age of 19,
      she had kidney failure,I believe she told me,I couldn’t accept,didn’t want to either,she got to where she didn’t eat,urinated on self,I made that decision,it was so hard,still haunts me.

  29. Thank you for this article. What I want to know, and I can’t find an answer anywhere, is why does it hurt so much? Just thinking about it is tearing me in half. I could not gather my wits to speak to the vet today without breaking down. I’m a 45 year old mechanic for cripes sake.

    My Pepper is 15 and has lost her appetite. Vet X-ray showed a lung mass. Her left eye has sunk and turned inward. Ultrasound guided aspiration for testing, results today: They missed and need to try again for diagnosis.

    My Pepper is the sweetest kitty ever on earth. After the phone call this AM, Pepper is in bed with me, purring lightly as I pet her. I burst into uncontrollable sobbing and she moved up into my lap and licked my hand.

    She shows no sign of distress yet; she sleeps all the time, but she uses her box, grooms herself, and can get up and down from the bed. She will eat a little each day, but not enough for sustenance.

    I am not a believer but I pray for a peaceful end before I have to decide. I’m sure a lot of this is residue from the grief of losing my childhood dog to the needle 30 years ago. I’ suppose I’ve never lost the guilt I felt watching her look in my eyes as she went.


    • I’m so sorry you’re going through this with Pepper, Greg. I know it hurts when we have to face losing our best friends. There’s nothing anyone can say to make this easier. As much as you can, try not to get ahead of yourself, and try to stay in the moment as much as you can. I can guarantee you that Pepper isn’t worried about test results, diagnosis, or prognosis. She’s just living each and every day, and enjoying being with you.

  30. It was tonight that my sweet boy Willow went to heaven, so I can’t believe I’m seeing this article! The whole process has been surreal and I’m hurting because making the decision didn’t feel good at all. I do think it was the right thing to do, but, you are right, you just are not going to be comfortable with it. My kitty was precious and I’m so grateful for him. He wasn’t going to get better and was struggling. Quality of life from here would have been bad for him, wasn’t eating…not even his beloved tuna. I went with the idea I could bring him home from the Vet if her exam showed me something, anything hopeful….in my heart and love for him, I knew he wasn’t coming home with me. I’m home, looking at his toys, food, chewed paper that he liked to do and the litterbox. Leaving for Thanksgiving to be with my daughter, but somewhat unable to get rid of his stuff right now. Maybe tomorrow morning…what a gift he was!

    • I’m so sorry about Willow, Holly. You don’t have to get rid of his stuff right away, unless it makes you feel worse having his things around. When my first cat died, it took me over a month to put the litter box away (I didn’t have any other cats at the time.) Everybody grieves differently. Do what feels right for you, and be gentle with yourself during this difficult time.

  31. It’s been awhile since I’ve had to euthanize one of my cats. We did however lose our beloved dogs: Max & Abby. Abby we just recently lost due to cancer. Max back in 2012, infection which caused his diabetes to spiral out of control. I was out of town when it happened, but thankfully made it home to say my goodbye & spend time with him. When I got home, he couldn’t get up to greet me, so I knew it was time. I held him as our vet gave him his last medicine. Our cat Penny who was raised with Max was sleeping in his bed when we got home from the vets office. That was the only day she did that and never did it before nor since then. She is 13 now & I often wonder if our pets remember their buddies or if after time, they forget. I know humans don’t when we lose a loved one.

    • I’m sorry about your losses, Tauni, and so close together, too. I, too, wonder whether our pets remember their lost companions – I like to think that they do!

  32. My late cat “Kisses” made it very clear that it was her time. I to was in denial about her getting sick. Kisses stopped eating, but I was still hanging on to hope. Until one day she went out side her litter box. She had never done that before in all her 18 years. It was her way of saying she was sick and ready to go! Its been a few years, but she Kisses will always hold a special place in my heart!

  33. Your article has brought tears to my eyes Ingrid. I went through this twice last year – we lost Trinity, one of our feral babies, late spring after he was hit by a car that broke his jaw beyond repair. And mum and dad lost their beautiful border collie to cancer just before Halloween.

    Trinity’s accident was so sudden and the outcome devastated us both, regardless of the fact that he was feral. They’re such amazing creatures, and to see a grown man reduced to tears over this crazy bundle of fur who’d only been in our life for 18 months was testament to the wonderful cat that he was. It was an awful decision to make but undoubtedly the right one – the only thing I’ve struggled to make peace with was leaving him with the vet for that last moment, and this is the first time I’ve admitted this ‘out loud’. Because he was feral the assumption was that it would be best for us to step out, and I regret it every day. Even typing this now has tears flowing down my face. I really feel like I failed him in that one last moment.

    But life continues. We’ve had one or two new arrivals since (although no more thanks to our wonderful vet’s support with TNR!) and mum and dad’s new baby has smiles all round since her arrival 3 weeks ago. No replacements….just more gorgeous animals to shower with love 🙂

    Em x

    • I’m so sorry about Trinity, Emma. I know it’s hard to let go of regrets. I’m glad you were able to open your heart to new arrivals – perhaps they will bring more healing to you as time goes on.

  34. Thank you for this article and the excellent suggested links. It made me think of my Miko, and the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was decide to let him go. He had a kidney blockage and was very very sick, the vet did not think that treatment would be successful and even if it was, he could have a relapse nearly immediately. The vet that took him in on an emergency basis was very compassionate and clearly cared about animals so much; she made sure I understood all my options and when I made the decision, explained the whole process. I knew I had made the right choice when the pain left my baby’s eyes. I still miss him, and sometimes call my new furbabies the wrong name, but they don’t seem to mind. I think of their future, my older cat Monkey is a rescue that I got when he was 6 already. But I don’t dwell on it – what will be, will be, and we will have all the years that Nature intends to have love and purrs and cuddles.

    • “We will have all the years that Nature intends to have love and purrs and cuddles”- I love that statement, Carysta. I’m sorry about your Miko.

  35. I, too, have had to make this awful decision three times. With Schienny, it wasn’t too hard. She had cancer in her bladder. She was on meds and comfortable until one day, I saw her eyes change. They looked dull and uninterested. She was still eating, purring for me, using her box.. but she didn’t look happy anymore. We had a wonderful vet who had been waiting for the right time.. .he came to the house and took her while she rested on her favorite spot on the couch, with me and her “dad” right there with her.

    The second time, too, was not too difficult. Cat with a thyroid condition, not responsive to any treatments at all, started losing weight and looking unwell. He went to sleep peacefully with his mother, my mom, by his side stroking his face.

    The last time, the third so far, was by far the worst. My Tuff Guy wasn’t well. My vet couldn’t find anything but took us on our word, based on the changes, that somehting was going on and kept doing testing, to finally uncover a very small tumor. Caught early, we were able to give him some chemotherapy and keep him comfortable for quite a while. Eventually the tumor was growing and starting to make him uncomfortable. I was ready, but his dad was not. I could see more signs based on his daily activities and habits. Dad was his primary owner(before we were married TG was his) and so I had to ease him to the realization that his delay was for HIM and not the cat. With our vets help, he finally sat down, had a talk with the cat and agreed that all the signs were indicating it was the best thing to do.

    All we can do, as good pet parents, is PAY ATTENTION and LISTEN to our hearts and what our kids are trying to tell us with their behaviour. They’re going to purr for us, they love us. They’re going to try to eat, especially if we encourage it. They want to make us happy. Their reluctance, changes in habit, the look in their eyes… those things will guide you. Don’t be fooled.

  36. Thank you so much for this. Nicely written. I am at this point (again) with a cat with an oral mass. She is still eating and drinking on her own, and very interested in food. It seems that she is not done fighting. But what you capture so well is how tricky and not-clear-cut the decision can sometimes be.

    And yes, I’m listening to my intuition for guidance, and tuning in.


  37. One of my friends just told me her cat has pancreatic cancer that has spread to the liver. He’s not going to live much longer. I tried to give her advice, but I think this post will help her even more. Will send it over ot her now. Thank you for writing about a difficult subject. xoxo

  38. Thank you so much for the kind words, Ingrid. I’m sure it was a difficult time for you as well. I read Buckley’s Story [the first book I bought for my kindle]. I know it must have been very hard for you with Buckley, as well as Feebee and Amber.

    Although I wouldn’t wish this position on anyone, it’s very reassuring to hear from someone who has crossed this bridge and made it to the other side. It’s calming to know that life [and sanity] are at the end of this path at some point.

    Again, thank you.

    • Aww, that makes me (and Buckley!) feel so special, to know that we’re the first book on your Kindle! I promise you, it does get easier. You’ll never stop missing Smidgen, but the pain will eventually lessen.

  39. I had saved this article to read because I knew our little Smidgen was declining and we’d perhaps have to make this decision at some point. But I just couldn’t bring myself to read it until now.

    On Tuesday we were indeed faced w/making that decision. Of all the cats I’ve ever known, it was the first time I’ve ever had to make that decision for one of my own.

    Smidgen was 18+ years old. He had been dealing w/kidney failure for a short while, but then in the past few days he’d begun to have serious difficulty breathing. He was in congestive heart failure. It seemed everything that would aid his situation in one case would seriouly effect another illness he was combating. They gave him days and told us how difficult it would be to watch. [my concern wasn’t w/my distress if it going to be that “unpleasant”, but Smidgen’s. I couldn’t stand to see him struggling to breath so hard]

    It was, without a doubt, the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. And, like you with Amber, I am plagued with doubts and second thoughts.

    The final moments play over and over in my mind. The moment when he seemed resigned to his fate and climbed up on his carrier for one last look outside. And the moment when he laid his little head down for the final time. These memories tear at my heart.

    We have 8 other cats. I told my husband, I’m not sure I can do this 8 more times. He was deeply affected as well. Being in the room w/Smidgen at the final moment broke his heart.

    Although I read this article in retrospect to making the decision it was truly a gift. Thank you. I feel for you that you’ve had to decide so many times already. It takes a strength I hope I have if it’s ever needed again, but I pray it’s never needed.

    • I’m so sorry about Smidgen, Reneda. You’ll continue to replay those final moments in your mind for a long time, but you’ll also remember that you were there with him during his final moments. He knew he was loved. I hope in time, memories of your time with him will replace those sad memories of his final moments. It’s hard – especially when it’s so fresh. My heart goes out to you and your husband.

    • Oh Mason, I’m so sorry to hear this. I know that when the time comes, you’ll make the right decision for Gum Drop. Hopefully, that time is still far in the future.

  40. This is such a tough subject for any pet lover… Thank you so much, Ingrid, for addressing this hard and highly dramatic topic with so much insight and love. I have never had to make this painful decision and I am completely terrified at the thought of ever having to face it, so much that it’s even hard to even think about it… but reading your articles on this subject is making me feel that there is a WAY – as painful as it may be – to LISTEN to our beloved pet letting go our own fears. I still remember your answer to my comment to a previous article on this same subject, when you told me that, if ever I have to face this terrible decision – I will be able to listen with my heart.
    Thank you Ingrid, your words are so precious!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Anna. And I have no doubt that if you ever have to make this decision, you will know what to do. Your big heart comes through in every comment you leave here.

  41. I really enjoyed this article and appreciated the links especially the quality of life scale. Having made the difficult decision numerous times over the years, it’s one that never gets any easier. With Coco, last year I made the appointment for the vet to come over in-home euthanasia (highly recommended) a couple times and canceled. Coco rallied each time, her fear of leaving temporarily appeased I facilitated did a shamanic journey together as a preview and final communication to ease any concerns and tie up up loose ends. The next day she peacefully transitioned in a favorite sunny spot in garden back to light. It was the easiest pet loss I’d ever experienced and I advocate pet guardians to learn and practice basic intuitive communication techniques and/or work with a professional animal communicator.

    • You address two excellent points, Layla. It’s never too late to change one’s mind – just because you made an appointment for euthanasia doesn’t mean you have to go through with it if the pet rallies and isn’t ready. And I agree, consuting with an animal communicator can be very helpful. Even though we all have the innate ability to communicate with animals, it can be hard when it’s your own cat, and especially when it’s such an emotionally charged topic.

  42. The only way I have been able to deal with this painful decision is to share it. My husband and I recently had to let our Pipsqueak go when it was clear that her long, slow decline was not reversible. She could not care for herself and rarely made it to her box. We knew she was hurting because her usual little squeaky voice took on a painful yowl. We knew that her 14 years with us were good ones, and that it was time to let her rest. But even as we held her and the vet eased her transition, it was a painfully emotional time for us. Knowing that we both felt it, though, helped.

    • I’m so sorry about Pipsqueak, Pet (what an adorable name!). It does help to have someone else who loved your cat just as much as you did to go through this difficult time with.

  43. I don’t even know how to respond to this article. The difficulties that go into this decision are so emotionally and physically draining. To let a much loved little one go, is just so hard to decide. I can’t add anything here. I can only read this knowing my tears are frequent with my little one. Hopefully I will know for sure when to stop her from trying so hard to stay alive. Each time I feel I need to let her go, she rallies. So how, just how???

    • I know it’s hard, Bernie. The best any of us can do is treasure every moment we have with our little ones, and listen with our hearts. She’ll let you know when she doesn’t want to fight anymore.

  44. I have done it, twice. First with a very young , the other one was quite old, both were sick, no possibility of recovering, and both times were so hard to face, but I have always thought it is an act of love.

  45. That is a great post Ingrid. I am dealing with just that problem right now. I have an older cat, don’t know how old, and she is really thin but seems happy, eats, poops and pees and cleans herself. She enjoys sitting next to be when I watch TV.
    Anyway, I feel like if you really know your cat well, you can tell by the look in their eyes whether or not they are tired of fighting to stay alive. It has worked for me many many times. Unless like Bob, they just have a disease that is not going to get better and making their life miserable.
    Take care.

    • It sounds like your kitty is still enjoying life, Marg, and you’re right, the look in their eyes usually tells us when they want to go. Unfortunately, with cats like Bob, it’s really difficult. Even though he’s not going to get better, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s ready to give up.

  46. A wonderful article Ingrid, thank you. It is the one horrible and worst decision in life that I dread. I love animals, all animals. I get so sad when one has lost their life. I regret having to make these decisions with my dogs or cats. It is so hard to see them helpless, sick and to think of the inevitable. I tear up just thinking about it sometimes. You have given your kitties the best life and so glad that they were soul mates.


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