Buckley in front of the maple tree

Making a decision about whether or when the time is right for euthanasia is one of the hardest things cat guardians will ever go through. I’ve previously written about what can help a cat guardian make this difficult decision. But once you have made the decision, there are still more things to consider.

One is location. I am a firm advocate of in home euthanasia. I’m always surprised when I hear from my readers that, until they read Buckley’s Story, they had no idea that having a pet euthanized at home was even an option. There are few veterinarians who offer home euthanasia. Those that do generally don’t advertise the fact, but some will come to your home when asked. Housecall veterinarians can be a good option for in home euthanasias. The In Home Pet Euthanasia Directory can help you locate a veterinarian who performs in home euthanasia in your area.

Another decision you will need to make is whether you want to be with your cat during the euthanasia, or whether you simply can’t bear to see the final moment of your beloved cat’s passing. This is a highly personal decision, and there is no right or wrong answer. I have been fortunate that I have been able to be with all of my cats at the end. They all died in my arms, and I can’t imagine not having been with them during those final moments. But I also understand why a cat guardian wouldn’t want to be present.

I believe that knowing what to expect during a euthanasia can help cat guardians decide whether they want to be present, or whether they would rather say their good byes before the vet gives the final injection.

What happens during euthanasia

If a euthanasia is done the right way, it can be a a peaceful, and sometimes even beautiful, experience. Unfortunately, not all vets are good at this task, and there is nothing more upsetting for a cat guardian than to have a beloved cat’s final moments be a struggle rather than the gentle death it should be.

For most cats, going to the vet’s is a stressful experience, which is yet another reason why I advocate for in home euthanasias. However, regardless of whether the euthanasia is performed in your home or at your vet’s office, it is helpful to understand what happens during euthanasia.

Normally, the euthanasia solution is injected into a leg vein, often through a catheter that is placed in the vein. This requires that the cat be restrained, and for most cats, this will be stressful. In order to facilitate placement of a catheter, the veterinarian should first give a sedative injection subcutaneously (under the skin.) Most cats will tolerate that type of injection better than an intravenous one. The sedative will allow the cat to quietly fall asleep. Once the cat is asleep, the veterinarian will give the final injection into a leg vein. However, depending on the cat’s condition at that stage, finding a viable leg vein may be difficult, and sometimes, the final injection is giving into the abdomen or heart. This is not painful for the cat. With abdominal injections, it can take up to 20 minutes for the cat’s heart to stop beating. Heart injections stop the heart almost immediately.

Once the final injection is given, the cat will usually take a deeper than normal breath, and,typically within six to twelve seconds, go limp and into what looks like a deep sleep. Your cat’s veterinarian will place his stethoscope on your cat’s heart to verify that the cat’s heart has stopped. In some cases, you may see what is known as “agonal breathing,” a series of sudden, convulsive breaths. This can be very disturbing to witness, but your cat is already unconscious at that point, and will not feel any pain.

What happens after euthanasia

Arrangements for your cat’s body should be made prior to the euthanasia. Regardless of whether you choose burial or cremation, if you’ve chosen to be with your cat during euthanasia, make sure that your veterinarian allows you plenty of time to be with your cat’s body so you can say your final good-bye at your own pace.

Being aware of what happens to the body physically after death can help make this time a peaceful rather than distressing experience. Unless your veterinarian closed your cat’s eyes immediately after she died, her eyes may remain open. Body fluids and gas may leak out, so be prepared if you want to hold your cat, and wrap her in a blanket or towel. Blood tinted fluid may leak from your cat’s nose or mouth. Your cat’s body will gradually become colder and stiffer.

During my years of working in veterinary clinics. I’ve heard far more people say they regretted not being with their pet during her final moments, than people who were present but wished they had not been.

That being said, this is a deeply personal decision. Only you can know what’s right for you and your cat, and nobody should judge you for the choice you made. In the end, all that matters is that your cat knows she was loved by your throughout her life.

182 Comments on Euthanasia: To Be With Your Cat, or Not?

  1. I’m a caregiver for stray and feral cats for about 6 years now. I’ve had cats come and go and not knowing where they went and how they are doing after they’ve been gone.

    There is a particular one and half year old stray cat that i’m fond of though. I can pet him and carry him to a table for a few seconds and he purrs a lot too. He’s been coming to our deck to eat and sleep but a month ago, he’s been chased by another male feral who’s been territorial. I haven’t seen him since that time until 5 days ago. He came back that morning, cautious at first, but as soon as he saw me, he went straight to me. I was so happy but got surprised to find him limping. There was what seemed to be a puncture wound and the leg was broken and hip didn’t look good.

    I did call an animal shelter who took him in on the 3rd day as soon as I caught him. They said it was a bite of unknown origin so he will need to be quarantined for at least 4 months. Also as it was infected, they will have to give him massive doses of antibiotics. He will also need to be amputated and the surgery would cost a lot. They will not pay for this as they deemed him un-adoptable. They said they he had to be euthanized as per recommendation of the vet.

    I hoped that they gave him a chance because they assumed they are not able to handle him. He was just scared and traumatized by unfamiliar surroundings. He must’ve been really scared. I just feel so guilty if I made the right decision of allowing them to have him euthanized just because they deemed him un-adoptable. He was calm when he was with me, and he communicated by meowing. He was able to walk and jump still even though he wasn’t using one of his hind legs anymore.

    I feel like I’m the one responsible for his death and not given him a chance. They didn’t tell me how much it would cost exactly, but only said that it would be very expensive. But I should’ve asked anyway to see if I can afford it. I feel so sad and I miss him. We had a deep connection. He deserved to have been given a chance.

    • I felt like I betrayed him. He came back to me knowing i’m his savior. He was so happy when he saw me and he seemed fine except for the limping. He ate and went in his cat box under the deck. It was easy for me to coax him in the cat trap. I felt like I subjected him to more trauma by sending him to the animal shelter. I feel really sad and in grief.

      • Kate, you are obviously a dear caretaker of stray and feral creatures. Not all cats can survive such a harsh life. Your decision was the kindest that could be made in his condition. Very few people can afford to pay the treatment that would have been the best the vet could do for that poor injured creature, and there would be so much pain involved in the surgeries and healing–and even if he could be given the best, he may have had pain for the rest of whatever life he remained to him. Relief from all pain and fear was the best thing you could give him. Do not think that he felt betrayed, you were his deliverer. At times like that, we must make the decision that results in the least of those sufferings, even though it’s one of the hardest things we might ever have to do. It iis our responsibility as human adults to allow a creature who has been injured to that extent the kindest gift, the decision to let him go to his rest. I congratulate you for your brave and selfless decision–I know it hurts as only we who have been through this situation and had to make this difficult decision can understand. There is no blame here. Even if you could afford the expense, it would have been wrong to subject that poor creature to the only treatment the vet could possibly give. My sympathy to you for your hurting heart. You did the right thing.

        • Thank you Carol for your kind words and understanding. But I think what’s killing me most is the fact that his injury seems to have gotten worse from how they have handled him. And I feel really bad about that. I feel I have subjected him to more pain and suffering from the fear and agitation he has experienced. He could have left this life more peacefully. 🙁

    • Dear Kate, I feel your pain. I did the same decision with my own beloved cat recently, and feel I betrayed him. But I’m also second guessing my career choice, for I’m a vet student. Professionally speaking the vet who took care of my cat did the right call for pushing me into euthanizing him, for he was ill at the moment, and might not have survived the treatment. But every bit of my intuition said, that he would have deserved a change, for he was mentally bright and alert even though dehydrated and weak. For the vet he was just another older ailing cat. For me he was everything, and I would have been willing to pay anything. Now I’ll never know if he would have made it after all, and have to spend the rest of my life with this feeling.

      Some sensitivity seem to get lost during the vet training, losing it is even encouraged. I’m not saying veterinarians don’t love animals, they do, but they have to make decisions for animals they don’t know personally. The 10 minutes at the examination room is nothing compared to the lifetime shared with the owner.

      • Thank you Minna. I feel your pain.

        I hope you and I can learn from this, so that in the future things would be different and hopefully better. I’m sure you will be a great veterinarian if you still wish to pursue it. Given the fact that you have experienced this, you have a perspective of how it feels like from the other end. And hopefully know what best to do and give good guidance to those who need it.

        I just wished in my situation that they have given him more chance because, like your cat, my feline friend was still so much like a regular cat just with the limping. He was happy every time he sees me. He was still young and has the will to survive. I just feel so guilty that I probably should not have agreed to their rushed decision and maybe I should also have been with him during that time.

        I cry with you.. I know it may take a while, but I pray you can also feel better soon.

  2. I don’t know if anybody reads these comments anymore, but I desperately need an outlet, so…
    My wonderful cat of 15 years was euthanized on Monday, and I’ve been trembling in regret ever since. He was the most human, kindest cat I’ve ever known, and he trusted me completely. He shouldn’t have…
    He had CKD Stage 3 and developed upper respiratory problems just before the weekend. He had thick mucus in his nose, and struggled to breath through his nose. I tried to help him the best I could (I’m a vet student myself), but on Monday morning he was so weak he was able to walk only a couple of steps. I took him to a vet, who said he would need i.v. fluids (fine by me) and antibiotics (fine by me, that’s why I took him there). But then the vet started to back off, and said she doesn’t think his kidneys could take it, and he would probably die in a couple of days for kidney failure. And then she recommended euthanasia, and in a complete haze and panic I allowed it to happen. My sweet, trusting cat saw no harm coming on his way, and rested against my hand while being sedated. He didn’t die very quickly, for his loving cat heart tried to beat again and again. After he had passed away the vet commented, that he left with his boots on. What??? I didn’t want him to leave with his boots on, but give him every change there is. Now I cannot eat or sleep or function. I keep going over the situation in my head again and again. Why I didn’t fight for my cat? I can’t bear this pain… I had promised him that he would die peacefully at home in my arms. He wasn’t in any pain (had pain medication for the CKD). I feel like a murderer. I can’t believe it’s my fault his heart is not beating anymore.

    • I’m so sorry, Minna. I wish I had words of wisdom for you, but all I can offer is my sympathy. I hope in time, you’ll find comfort in knowing that you WERE with him when he passed, and the last thing he felt was your loving hands against his head. My heart goes out to you.

    • Dear Minna, I feel I must speak to you, your heart is so obviously broken, and your mind so troubled. I am elderly now, and have “lost” a number of beloved feline friends over the years. I have talked to many people about this devastating loss. First of all, here’s a big virtual hug for you in your sorrow, Minna. I see this happened just now, and you are still in the first stages of grief. These are shock, anger, denial, depression, acceptance, in no particular order, they just keep playing over and over until you can begin to bear it. It’s normal. It’s the same whether the loss is human or animal, it is devastating. Guilt is another emotion after such a loss, and two people have told me they felt like murderers after the loss of a human parent–even when the parent had been in the care of caring professionals for a long time! What a blessing to have had 15 years with a feline friend such as yours. I salute you for your diligent care over the years, and thank you in his place. Your little friend would not blame you, or think you had any part in his necessary leaving. He would thank you for the thousands of meals, the thousands of pettings, the thousands of loving words you gave him over the years of his very long life. And a good life it was, because of you. Whenever you feel overwhelmed, stop and think of those gifts you gave him over his lifetime. It was time for him to go, Minna, you made the right decision. Let go of the blame, your little friend wouldn’t want you to hurt in his behalf. I know, from having read your words, that you gave him the most important thing a human or animal can get in this world–love. It’s what we all need. You will recover yourself as days go by. Why, my husband and I just howled with grief after losing our ten-year-old Wabi Sabi cat a year ago. You have a right to feel lonely and sad after such a loss, but you must be kind to yourself. It is not your fault–instead, you can proudly wear a badge of honor for everything you did for your little friend for so many years. We are only human, and losses like this are inevitable. You don’t need his forgiveness, if he could speak he would thank you wholeheartedly for being brave enough to allow him his rest. He is at rest now, and he would want you to have yours. May the days to come bring you relief and a calm heart, knowing you gave him the best life he could have had. Love, Carol

    • Dear Minna, my heart goes out to you. I am so sorry for your loss but you obviously loved your sweet cat and let him go out of kindness. I’ve been there and know how brutal the second guessing can be. Please remember you were with him when he passed. He was not alone and obviously dearly loved.

    • Dear Minna, I too felt responsible for having our twenty year old Alya euthanised in November. I drove her there, gave the OK and she died peacefully on my lap. I know you feel responsible, but you made the difficult but right decision. You had 15 years with him, so try to remember the good times, which vastly outnumber the bad. Trust me it will get better, and one day you will be able to count and remember the good times you and your cat had, rather than his demise. He will always remain in your heart as does Alya in ours. Just writing this has given me a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye.

      • Thank you Doreen and Chris for the compassion. I truly appreciate all of you who have taken time to answer.

  3. Hello,

    Thank You for all the useful info you share on your website. I had to euthanize my 17 year old calico cat two days ago after a 4 months struggle with squamous cell carcinoma and after at least 10 visits to 4 different vets. i am devastated and the guilt is eating me up mainly because the last half hour did not go smoothly. The vet used some kind of medication that made her vomit, have seizures and emit agony sounds…and my heart is breaking till now. He had to give her three injections because it was not working her heart was still strong. the image of her seizures and cries don’t leave me. I feel like she already feels betrayed for doing wait I am doing and on top of it it was painful. I am very sure I ha to do it because the tumor was getting worse and I could see that she was miserable but I cannot help but feel that I betrayed her. but mainly what’s upsetting for me is agonizing euthanasia process. I would appreciate any feedback you can share. Thank You

    • I’m so sorry, Rana. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell exactly why things went so badly, but usually, the very first sedative given will put the cat into a very deep sedated state, and most cats will not be aware of anything that happens after that. I know it’s very hard to shake memories of a euthanasia that has gone badly, and my heart goes out to you. You may want to consider looking for a therapist who specializes in pet loss and/or post traumatic stress to help you through this.

      • Thank You Ingrid for your kind words…
        I am trying to accept that this is what i was able to provide her with during these turbulent times and praying that she did not feel anything….I am grateful that it was an at home euthanasia and she died in my arms whilst i was singing to her and praying and asking her to forgive me…she was definitely not aware, but i couldn’t believe the vet’s reassurances…something was off. i am better now but like you said it seems like it’s some sort of PTSD…
        The outpouring of love from friends and family is very helpful and hearing your words is also very is soothing. Thank You Very Much

  4. I had to have my 4yr old cat euthanized today. It was extremely heartbreaking. We talked about the treatments that could be done but were guaranteed to work. His temp kept falling even though he was on a heating pad. The doctor said that even if we did the treatments that my cat looked like he was ready to give up. I made the heartbreaking decision to have him euthanized and I wanted to take him with me. I was there and petted him, told him that I loved him. The doctor checked & there was no heartbeat. After abt 10 mins they bring him out in a box. I cried all the way home. I got home & opened the box to pet him one last time & thought I saw him breathe. I told myself it was jst my mind playing tricks. I placed my hand on his side & he was actually breathing. I called the vet immediately & they said bring him in. I set the box on the counter & me & 2 other women watched as his side raised & lowered. 1lady grabbed him up and took him in the back. The lady at the desk said she’d heard about it happening but never saw it in person. It was so surreal. And broke mine & my 6yr old daughters heart even more.

    • Oh Amy, how traumatic for you and your daughter, i am so sorry for your sad experience–most unusual, so unusual that this is the first case I’ve heard. we who love our furry friends suffer for them, but I feel sure your cat was not conscious of what was going on at that time, after the euthanasia drugs were introduced into the body system. But for you and your daughter, I deeply sympathize. My husband and I also cry all the way home, too, every time we part with a euthanized pet and leave the vet’s office without our pet, and sometimes howl at the moon in our grief–or the sun, as the case may be. It takes days for the experience to fade out enough to slow the grieving process. You and your daughter will heal as time goes by, but in the meantime, you can be assured that many of us here on this worthy site share your sorrow and wish you healing, from deep in our hearts.

  5. I was there when I suddenly had to put my cat Dusty to sleep due to congestive heart failure. He was having trouble breathing and stopped eating two days ago. He was still active but tired since he couldn’t get enough air. His enlarged heart was pushing up against his windpipe and that’s why he couldn’t breath or eat. What bothers me to this day is that although I was there and talking to him, petting him and he knew I was there, I was on his side while he faced forward. I feel I should of been directly in front of him so he could see me. This part tears me up. I was there holding him but did he know it was me? It was all so sudden, lack of sleep, shock, last minute decision and having never done this. Hopefully he really knew it was me talking to him and holding on tight to him.

    • Ricardo, I think you mean you were there holding your Dusty when euthanized into blessed sleep by a veteranarian. If so, it did not matter where your face was at that time, what surely mattered much more to Dusty was the comfort of feeling your caring, familiar arms holding him. Of course he knew it was you! An animal knows his master’s touch! How wonderful that you were there for him then, Ricardo. It’s a terribly hard thing to be with your friend at the time of death, but it’s also incredibly brave, and you can rest assured that Dusty is at peace now. So please rest your mind. Maybe after a while you could do something to commemorate Dusty’s memory, something positive in remembrance, that will help to lessen the grief. You’ll know what to do. This advice comes to you from a person who has lost four beloved furry friends and knows what you’re feeling–that you could have done something differently to have made it better. This is a natural reaction, I’ve had it myself. Saying goodbye to a beloved pet is so traumatic, you can’t plan each step of the way. But give yourself credit for doing right by your friend, just by being there at his side.

  6. Last Sunday, we had a much loved Alya euthanised. She was about 20 (we got her as a young adult cat, so not sure exactly) We were going to do it Saturday, but the vet suggested we take her home and fuss over her.
    We are glad we did. Took some last, bittersweet photos, Alya enjoyed her favourite meals and she spent a happy, purring half hour curled up on my chest.
    We’d made the appointment for 12.30, and it was agony watching the minutes tick by. Sometimes time moved slowly, sometimes quickly. Time came to go, so we loaded her into the carrier for her last drive. The vet was very good though the odd mieow of complaint from Alya as they inserted the canula was gut wrenching to hear from the next room. I’m not ashamed to say I nearly lost it. Anne couldn’t stand it so she left.
    Alya was brought back in, wrapped in a towel an placed on my lap. She was aware, but quiet. With my voice breaking I told her we loved her, and patted her for a minute. I nodded to the vet, and she gave the first then the second, fatal injection. Alya gave one small moan, almost like when she was snoring, and went limp on my lap. She died peacefully in my arms, smelling my scent and hearing my voice.
    She’s buried in the back yard, near our other cats that she knew.
    I’m an a rational atheist, but I’d been down to that area to water the ground to make for easier digging. I’d made several trips, and didn’t see anything unusual. When I’d dug the grave, I looked around and saw a plastic flower that I’m sure wasn’t there the before. So we placed the flower on her. I’d wrapped her in an old shirt, as she just loved sleeping on my work shirts, the smellier the better. She also had a piece of plastic with her details placed on her. Perhaps one day an archaeologist might find it.
    It’s now Wednesday night here, and that is my one big internet night of the week. Alya usually keeps me company. No more. Our laps are empty, and we are feeling a little empty too.

      • Thank you, Ingrid. She had a long, happy life, and we have great memories, and plenty of pictures. At least we were able so say good bye to her.

  7. It depends on every owner, some of them may prefer natural death and some chose euthanasia for their pets as they can’t take anymore to see their beloved pet to suffer anymore. as a cat lover, i don’t force anyone to undertake euthanasia. but i prefer to euthanize my beloved cat muning as she suffers Renal failure. 🙁

  8. Last Saturday, I made the painful decision to put Beauty down. She was being treated for a cornea ulcer and had improved immensely when suddenly she stopped eating. I was back and forth to the vet with her every other day, picking up appetite stimulants, special food etc. The vet’s last suggestion? Force feed her. The following day I took her to see another vet. He said she had liver failure/disease.
    She was so trusting….the technician could not get the iv into her little vein. She was very dehydrated. She asked me to step out of the room. I assumed I was making her nervous. When I stepped out momentarily, Beauty cried out for me. The technician still could not get the needle in. The doctor, bless him, was very quiet, respectful, and efficient.
    It is the worst feeling, coming home with an empty kitty carrier. I am haunted by her eyes, and I feel like I failed her.
    I hope and pray that heaven is real, just so I can see her again and tell her how special she is and how I love her so much.

    • I’m so sorry, Patti. It’s so hard to lose a beloved cat, and when the final memories are so difficult, it’s even harder. I believe that she knew you were with her in the end, and that she knew how much she was loved. My heart goes out to you. Be gentle with yourself as you mourn your beautiful girl.

  9. This is very long:

    We just had a very painful loss and I am desperate for relief. Reading the comments helps. Our story is tragic and traumatic for us as we just had our kittie Genie euthanized on Dec 7th at 7:45 PM.

    Her Story: she was saved from a kill shelter, by our renter, just hours before she would have been destroyed. She was a Tortie and she was an absolute doll. When he moved away, we took her in. I had cat sat her for 2 years already and we were buddies already. She died at 5 years old and she went fast and unexpectadly.

    she was Unflappable, easy going, loved to ride in the car with us, loved her carrier..even slept in it in the house. loved to be held, talked to, brushed. we called her a Ninja because she had some really incedible moves…just unbelievable. we loved to watch her go.

    she would try to wake me up by running super fast and ramming into me while is slept and then running away and doing it one or two more times. she would lay on the bed while did my morning routine and asked to be petted and brushed. i couldn’t resist her eyes telling me to pay attention. she loved me so much. i work from home so she was a constant companion. i held her while i worked.

    she was smart, didn’t claw furniture, bite, growl or scratch people. even when we had to force feed her, she never aggressed against us. She would love to look into my eyes and kiss/love bite my nose. she was pure love.

    three weeks ago, i noticed she wasn’t eating and she was vomiting. i found her a different cat food hoping she would eat that but she would only eat treats.

    a couple of days later, she looked depressed, wouldn’t play, didn’t respond to affection. i picked her up and she wrapped her arms around me and she felt just like a rag doll. She would hide, sit in a position with her head down. she didn’t seem to even know who we were anymore. i couldn’t get her to kiss me or rub my nose. i felt rejected.

    i took her to our vet. she had a fever and an infection. we started force feeding and administering several medications and appetite enhaners. i used the Feliway plug in. she started to eat a little bit and had fought off the infection. We were heading for FL for a month and since she seemed to be regaining her eating, the vet said to go ahead and take her with us.

    she stopped eating agian but we could cajole her into eating. she still wasn’t eating enough. we had to leave and we took her with us. we got her to eat a little bit on the 21 hr drive but we knew she had to be starving.

    upon arrival to FL we immed. took her to see a vet. he tested her blood, said she was severely anemic and needed an emergency blood transfusion.

    We took her to Urgent care at U of Florida. they did tests and found that her body was rejecting her own blood. she had the tranfusion and that encouraged a yellow thick fluid to form in her belly. it was tested and she was found to have FIP plus an autoimmune disease that caused her to reject her blood. FIP is 100% deadly. they recommended euthanasia. we were stunned. she was only 5 and it happened so fast out of nowhere. one say she’s our bright, loving kitty and the next day she’s hiding and not eating!

    We took her home for 2 days to get some space to wrap our heads around what was happening. She only got worse..couldn’t jump onto her chair anymore and only slept. We knew we had to take her to be euthanized so we went back to the urgent care center.

    My husband held her while I looked at her face. Just before the vet performed the euthanasia, she looked into my eyes and kissed me. We asked the dr to hang on. we both were changing our minds. i reminded myself and my husband that if we don’t do this, she will starve to death.

    I am absolutely devastated that she was alert and responsive. I wish she had not looked into my eyes. I’m just ruined. we had to kill her while she was bright and awake and responsive. every other cat we had to put down were so sick and out of it that it was a relief. this was not a relief. the guilt is hard. she trusted us and we killed her. she was an innocent and that is what makes it even harder.

    my husband said that some day that will be a special memory. right now i just want my baby back.

    • I’m so very sorry for your loss. FIP is such a horrific disesase, and it’s especially terrible because it affects young cats. I hope in time, you can find peace with the memory of her final moments. Based on what you’re describing as far as her physical condition, there is no doubt in my mind that you made the right decision for her, no matter how gut-wrenching it was for you. I know there’s nothing anyone can say right now that is going to make you feel any better. Losing a young cat is devastating, and the pain you’re feeling must be immense. My heart goes out to you. Be gentle with yourself as you mourn your baby. Perhaps this article will help you a bit: https://consciouscat.net/2018/08/22/dealing-with-feelings-of-guilt-after-euthanasia/

      • thank you so much…your words and others’ experiences help. i still don’t understand why she got spunky and her personality brightened up in that moment….i’ll never know. she was probably just being a cat.

    • Did they not give her a sedative before? I just lost my baby girl yesterday but they gave her a sedative before it happened and allowed me to hold her for as long as I felt I needed.

    • Awe I just read your story and is so sad.i too have a very sick tortie and I am going through what you’ve described.i feel like my child is dying.she is 11 and was healthy and then all of sudden she went completely downhill.

      • I see I am among like minds with similar thoughts and experiences.

        Our 16 year old cat had to be euthanased on February 4. I had been through this before with my other cat but this was very different – both in the lead up to the decision and the process itself. I was traumatised by her last moments and feel that I failed her.

        My previous cat had kidney failure at age 14. His decline was long and slow, like a roller coaster with ups and downs. His euthanasia took place at home and was a beautiful if profoundly sad passing. Afterwards I had nothing but peace about the decision and knew it was right.

        Our girl was 16. She had only been ours for four of those 16 years. Her health had always been excellent and there were no signs at all, apart from some minor weight loss which I mistakenly attributed to age. She also appeared tired and a little withdrawn, again, not atypical for an ageing cat.

        I was unprepared for her to suddenly stop eating and drinking and enter a steep decline. All up, her decline and death took exactly five days. I thought I knew what death in elderly pets was supposed to look like but I was very wrong.

        I know now that it comes at its own time and place for us all. I also know that had I not euthanased her when I did, we would have lost her that week anyway and probably after more trauma and suffering for her.

        All tests had come back blank for the usual suspects. They didn’t know what was wrong with her. I suspected cancer given the speed of onset. In any case, it didn’t matter. There seemed no point in investigating it further because it would only lead to more time in hospital, more tests and probably for no better an outcome.

        This is my rational brain talking. We all know it takes a long time for the head and the heart to line up. It is harder if you are stuck at a point because there was some trauma about the death, it was sudden or unexpected or some other factor involved.

        I still feel as if I betrayed her, putting her in the car to take her to the vet which she hated, letting them take her into a back room to put the port in her leg and then holding her face, telling her I loved her while looking at her wide, disbelieving eyes as the light went out of them and her body went limp. The image is seared into my brain. It was so unlike what happened with my other cat that I felt ill afterwards, sure that I had made a terrible mistake.

        I’m sorry for all of us and the choices we have to make. Life is cruel sometimes. Even when you think you have some choice or control, you can be shown in the most devastating ways that you ultimately don’t.

        The only thing we can do is keep talking about it with people who care. That allows us to process what happened and to find some peace. I believe it will come with time but it doesn’t mean you forget. Love to all who have been there xx

        • I’m so very sorry about your experience with your girl, Mel. When an illness progresses that fast, it complicates the grieving process, and adding your euthanasia experience on top of that – I can’t even imagine what you’re going through. Thank you for sharing your experience, your beautifully written account brought tears to my eyes. My heart goes out to you.

          • Ingrid, it’s been a couple of weeks and this is the first time I’ve come back to read your comments. Thank you for your kindness and compassion and thank you for providing this place for us all to talk about our experiences. It is so appreciated.

    • Wow. I lost my own fur baby in December. Boxing Day to be exact.

      He had come to me as a stray. Randomly appearing every day for food. He was so ragged and skinny but he was adorable and I made the decision that if I couldn’t find his owners then I would take him. After a couple of weeks I took him in when we found he had no microchip etc.
      He was feral at first but he turned into the most loving cat. He made best friends with my kitten and they were two peas in a pod.
      I had had him for nearly two years when tragedy struck. I woke up on the 22nd December to a letter saying my poor baby had been hit by a car and had a suspected broken pelvis. His bladder was not working and there was no response in his legs. I was heartbroken. I spent days by his side, hoping something would improve. He was alert and awake. And whenever I visited him he would drag himself over to me to cwtch in to me and give me kisses. He was okay in himself but his body was giving up. The vets said there was no chance of his bladder regaining use and as both of his legs were paralysed in one way or another he would not be able to walk. I knew I had to have him put to sleep. When I went there that day they brought him into the room and he was so happy. He was cwtching up and trying to get in he box. I think he thought he was coming home and it just breaks my heart to know that he thought that but yet I was leading him to his death. I held him and I was there for his last moments. But even nearly two months later the guilt of it all is still haunting me. Like you, the fact he was awake and alert was just the worst part cause it did feel like I was betraying him even though I know he would have no life. I am so sorry for your loss and I hope you find some solace. I am still trying to come to terms with it and I guess everyone is different x

      • That’s rough, Izzy. It is very sad to see someone you love in pain. I know at the moment we still feel as if we did some wrong by our companions but it is so hard to take the human aspect out of our thinking.

        I told my boys that what would happen with Lulu was no different than having an anaesthetic before an operation. It was something I had experience with so I could tell them with some certainty that although we were sad for the knowing, she would know nothing.

        They know that I’ve struggled to reconcile the logic and the feeling and I’ve been very honest about it with them. It isn’t easy, even when every indicator is that you are doing the right thing by a being you’ve loved who is being spared further suffering.

        Thank you for your kind words and I hope you are doing okay, despite it all. We need to give ourselves some forgiveness perhaps but I know that is hard.

        Thinking of you.

  10. a vet came to the house, promising it would be the best thing for my Baby Boy. It was te best way to show my love. He had been through so much medical treatment in his life, two very painful urinary blocks with hospitalization, where he turned to me at visits so very grateful just for my face full of love and my hand on his face and neck, repeated herpes ocular ulcers requiring scraping and painful healing, endured so bravely and often that a cone became as much a part of him as a collar, and now kidney cardiac failure, really my failure for allowing a final teethcleaning, and overzealous with vet in overloading his heart with fluids to fix his kidneys….Through all that he always trusted and loved me, crying if I sneezed or coughed or raised my voice n anger and sobbed for any reason. I was promised this way to relieve his difficulty breathing and living for me would be so much easier for him and peaceful and painless than a trip to the ER, a final gift of love to him. Instead, rather than save him from the fear and anxiety, I let him down when it counted most. He was lying peacefully on the sofa next to me as we discussed the impending last moments of his incredibly caring life. I gave the final okay to thwart further discomfort of breathing and upset with the promised short-lived “sting” of the sedative. Instead of a peaceful passing, He suffered intensely with that first shot. In a second he went from lying comfortably on the couch, nodding off, to standing as if electrically shocked, with eyes wide in pain and fear and disbelief that I would do this to him.The incredible pain and betrayal were his last conscious thoughts, and I’ll never get over it. I let him down and wish I could hold him and tell him I”m so, so sorry and love him so much. . . and want him back…Even for a few more days.

      • Lynda, I feel obligated to email you about the sequence of euthanasia that we experienced when parting with our beloved ten-year-old cat about three weeks ago. We had been through x-rays, blood tests, the works, tried medicines and still she didn’t or couldn’t eat. The vet suspected pancreas problems, but we’ll never know. She hadn’t eaten anything for over a month, and we couldn’t ask her to go on any longer, as weak as she was getting. On December 21st, we had an vet appointment to euthanize her, and agonized all morning, saying our goodbyes, only to be called and told the appointment had to be delayed five hours. That afternoon was torture for us, and i held her on my lap and she looked up into my eyes with such love, with me knowing what was coming. Lynda, listen to me here: Our cat did not get the sedative at all. Lying on the table, the vet could not get the euthanization needle into her vein on one side, and so she told her assistant to turn her over so she could try the other side. But the assistant didn’t hold her tight enough, and she actually got to her feet and started walking towards me, as though to ask me for help. She had immediate stood up, just as you described, like she had had an electric shock, her eyes were totally black, and she took two steps toward me like looking like a robot. The assistant grabbed her quite roughly and slammed her down on the cold table, missing the towel, and I tried so hard to move the towel under her. The vet then tried the other leg, has trouble finding the vein there, too, but just when I cried out a prayer to God to help us, the vet found the vein, and within only 10 seconds, maybe less, our dear little friend found peace at last. I am only writing to tell you this, Lynda, because I am haunted by that beloved little face, those dilated pupils, what I perceived as her seeking help from me, and that was WITHOUT any sedative at all. I believe our cats reacted to what was happening by going into shock. I was so angry that no sedative had been given to her first! But then I remembered that the vet told me there was always a risk involved with the sedative (as you discovered). Nevertheless, I was so angry that my dear little friend had not been given (what I thought would have been) the comfort of a pre-sedative, that I have blamed myself ever since for not insisting on one. Now I see that the result is the same, either way. However, just as you are tormented by the memory of your dearly beloved pet’s reaction to that very pre-sedative that mine did not have, I am tormented with the memory of mine as she reacted to being held so firmly. I have read that wild animals don’t feel being killed by another animal once they go into shock, and I believe firmly that is what we both saw happen to ours. I don’t think my little one was aware any more, at all, now that I’ve read your account. You and I must come to terms with what happened, and realize that our little ones were getting the best euthansia that is normally offered, with or without sedation. So we did the best we could for them, and nobody can do better than than. Thanks you for sharing, Lynda.

        • Dear Carol,
          Thanks so much for writing. That look in their eyes is what I /we may never get over. I think I’d have healed better from the loss, and begin to think only of the wonderful memories like everyone says, if he hadn’t had such a horrible experience. $650 to make this easy for him, and it was so awful. He WAS lying there peaceful, but the “standing” was more of a leap into the air onto his hind legs, wide-eyed and terrorized, after the previous second lying comfortable in a blanket just hearing us talk softly around him. He had even eaten and drunk water while we were there talking about whether to wait another day, since I actually had another appt for the following day. I so wish I’d waited. He’d “recovered” briefly before. Perhaps the different vet that would have come the next day would have been able to administer the sedative (the “sedative” was NOT…it’s what made him jump up in shock because of the so-called “sting” that I questioned as being like a flue shot? yes, I was told…Well I don’t jump up from the chair in shock when I get a flu shot…and he’s had plenty of shots from vaccines, etc. that don’t cause this. it’s supposed to be a sedative, but it created the worst memory for him…his last experience with me, whom he loved and trusted with his life, and I caused it and murdered him I’m no longer convinced that euthanasia is the best way to go (unless already in an emergency situation. the website for this service says no one ever regrets doing it too soon, they always regret waiting too long. I remember saying good’by to my previous love of my life, him unable to eat, lying on the bed, telling him I loved him..he couldn’t hold himself up to walk anymore…that was clearly the end, and perhaps I should have let him go a day or two sooner, but Baby Boy, who loved me like no human ever has, was still trying..eating, drinking, even went outsde to pee even though it made him gage with the effort…I should have at least waited until the next day since I already had an appointment. Maybe he’d have been with me another week or two, I know not forever, he had cardiac and kidney failure and I couldn’t give him the fluids for his kidneys because they accumulated in his chest.One cardiologist wouldn’t give him anything…because his kidneys couldn’t handle it, the other gave him something, but he had such a difficult day recovering from he “tapping” of fluids from his chest I was afraid it was from drugs….maybe the other vet could have helped me see better how little time he had left though bravely trying to stay here for me….or at least be able to administer the mis named “sedative” in such a way that it actually would have been him just drifting off to sleep, which is THE reason for doing this at home…no big deal for him, just drifting off to sleeo, instead horror, feer, shock, terror, the last conscious memory, and I hate myself for doing that to him. He was SUCH a good boy, he cried when I coughed or sneezed or was upset for any reason. We wereso close. He’d be upset right now that I am sobbing uncontrollably while writing this. I miss him so much. and now his littermate sister, who is lying in front of me, has kidney failure too…fluids.. more.. no more, she’s already had an echocardiogram to ensure her heart can handle it.EVERY vet should recommend that.and fully explain why. …………..I know we can’t keep them with us forever. Vets need to be censured for doing what you experienced. Except in emergencies, the process needs to be modified. I HAD pain meds and other sedatives I could have used….Its unethical to sell the inhome as painless…that’s what their website says without serious cautions that for all cats there will be a “sting.” their word, that will at least open conversation about risks, and further caution about how some cats, like mine, react. My reg vet said later she’s had a cat bite her and jump off the table with the first “sedative” injection. I’ve had surgeries myself and it’s not like that. I avoided the company that said they did it IV like yours because I KNEW that would NOT go down well,but a little shot of “sedative” should be very very gentle. NOT so, at ALL, horrific, traumatic, and something AWFUL we must live with. Imagine doing that to a human. There ARE other ways as I said, I had drugs in my house I could have used…that would have premedicated for the “sedative” if anyone, incl. my reg. vet, who knew the very sensitive nature of my cat VERY well, had told me. It’s unconscionable and something I’ll never get over. I feel guilty that I try NOT to think about him, because as soon as I do I start to cry again… I hope you’re doing better. I’m also upset because of “friends” who don’t understand or care…don’t apparently want to be around me until I “get over it”..instead of supporting and crying with me….Take care, at least there are some of us trying to give these God-given creatures that fill our hearts and lives the best we can

          • Dear Lydia, I am both heartened and saddened to hear that both of us are suffering from the “last moments” syndrome of pet loss. What we as humans perceive as a “look” of disappointment in our actions, may not BE the last moments our pets would have experienced, being in a state of shock. The “leaping” you mention is something our cat did twice the day before she was euthanized. i’d be petting her, with her on the couch and her head in my lap, when, after minutes of softly petting her, she suddenly LEAPED almost staight up in the air and continued the high leap right over the coffee table in front of the couch, to land on her feet on the far side of the table. This was repeated at the vet’s office on the exam table, just before the vet found the leg vein, on the second try. She didn’t get off the table, but was grabbed by the vet’s assistant and held down again. I saw her face just a foot from mine, and the eyes were totally black and dilated. That is the face I’ve seen over and over during the past month, since that day. That look, the one you judge to be a look of “how could you, you were my friend, save me!” was not that. After reading about pet euthanasia experienced, I have come to think that the totally black, dilated eyes indicated that she was in shock and not aware of her own physical reactions at that time. AND EVEN IF THAT LOOK IS WHAT I THOUGHT AT FIRST, EVEN IF THAT WAS THE LAST “LOOK” SHE GAVE ME, IT DOES NOT AMOUNT TO MY PET’S FOREVERMORE OPINION OF ME. ARE YOU KIDDING? AFTER ALL THE LOVE SHE SHARED? I GIVE HER CREDIT FOR BEING SMARTER THAN THAT! WE (I AM STUCK IN CAPITALS, IT’S MY KEYBOARD THAT OFTEN DOES IT. I’M NOT SHOUTING.) ALSO, THIS SITE WE’RE ON (conscious cat is a goldmine of help for you and me, Lynda! There is much wisdom to be found here, and comfort, from others like us, and experienced therapists, too. Where was I? Oh yes…this is important. I read here on one of the conscious cat links, that a loss therapist says that guilt, yes guilt, is NOT the worst feeling we can experience after losing a pet or a person. Heartbreak is the worst, and guilt is the alternative the mind takes to keep us from fully accepting and experiencing the grief inside. I just read this yesterday, and I’m trying to “get it” even though I cried my eyes out doing it. I’m sorry you don’t have folks nearby who can understand and sympathize with what you’re going through. I do. I understand, and I sympathize, from the bottom of my heart. It’s true that letting the healing nature of time wash over us is the best path to healing, but there are things we have to come to terms with, and I think the most important one is that, no matter what we think about those last moment in our pet’s life, they don’t cancel out a single good moment we shared.
            We loved them enough to do the best that our human minds could do for them, and that’s how it happened, and so be it. I will not allow that moment, no matter what it meant to my beloved little friend or to me, to take away the credit I need to give myself for providing her with what I consider to be the best life she could have had, filled with love and companionship. I do say a lot, don’t I? It’s because I type as fast as I thing, sometimes. My heart goes out to you, Lynda. Please heal along with me. Carol

          • I just had to let my 12 year old beautiful and sweetest Maine Coon ever be euthanized last night.I cant get the horrific memory out of my head that once given the seadtive,she jumped up from a lying position and nuzzled my neck trying to hug me as if to say..”please Mama,I wanna live!!” She finally laid down and I was so distraught,that I couldnt stay for the final injection,and for that I’m totally beating myself up.I feel like I took her life too soon,although she had lung tumors that were causinf her many intermittent agonal breathing episodes daily.I’m an emotional mess after the lack of a peaceful passing.

  11. We had to put our cat Booger down today…..15 Yr. old Black Shorthair. I have, and have had, other cats, but he was different, special. He was the heart & soul of our home. Even though we’ve been down this road 6 times before over the past 30 years, today was the hardest. I personally could never NOT be with any of them when they passed on. I have always made sure that the last thing they saw in this life was me, looking at them, holding them, loving them. It’s a real gut-check moment, and takes quite a while to move past, but I’ve felt they they’d deserved that decency & love. It’s quite literally like voluntarily ending the life of one of your “children”. It tears open your chest and rakes at your heart. But, the more it hurts, the better of a person you must be. I know people who’ve just dropped their pets off to be put down & left to go shopping, never to speak of them again. That’s sad. And we took him to the vet, (We’ve known Dr. Fred C. for over 35 years…he’s the best there is), no in-home service for us, but he was wrapped in his favorite towel, and was held closely in the car….very soothing, very relaxed. He actually went to sleep on the table in the vet’s office (not due to his medical issues), he was that chilled out. Plus it was afternoon time, & that’s prime nap time. He had to be woken up from his sleep to be put to the big sleep. I have to smile at that as there’s so few “funny” things to ever remember about euthanasia. He was the best boy ever, and I loved him like I have never loved another pet, and I have loved them all, but he was so special. I also wrote a note & left it with him so the cremation people would know who he was. Plus, it was good therapy. It reads:


    My name is Booger. I was also known as Boog, The Boogster, Boo, Boogie, Mr. B, The Booger Cookie (‘cuz it rhymed with Sugar Cookie, and I was so sweet… ). I was 15 years & 3 months old when I had to leave. I truly loved my home & life, and my “Parents” said I was “the best kitty cat that ever was a kitty cat.” I tried hard to be good, and most always was. Mom & Dad said I was never any trouble, and that I was always laid back & easy going. Even the Doctors at Old Canal (My Vet Clinic) said the same thing. I never gave them ANY trouble, ever. “Boog Don’t Care” my parents would say. But, sometimes, in my younger days, I’d be “Full of Boogers”, or “All Boogered Up” as they liked to say. Those were fun times! My parents loved me so much, and I loved them back just as much.
    Anything I needed, they gave me, whether it was Tuna’s every Saturday, crunchy treats every night after dinner, walks outside in the sun, expensive medical care, a clean warm towel out of the dryer to sleep on, or just head, belly, & butt rubs….they always took the best care of me & loved me deeply. I always felt full, safe, & warm with them. I will miss them so, so much. Anyways, I just wanted you to know who I was. Please take good care of me when you prepare me to go back home to be with my parents forever……”
    Booger 10/24/18

    • I’m so sorry about Booger, Scott. I’m glad that letting him go was a positive experience for you, if that word can ever be used for euthanasia. I wish everyone could have this kind of experience. It’s always going to be very difficult, but when it’s as peaceful as you experienced, it makes such a difference.

      • Thanks Ingrid. They’ve all been hard to let go of, but him much more so. I think that people that have multiple pets over a very long period of time, while loving ALL of them greatly, tend to find one that is extra special…one that bonds closer, one whose loss is felt harder than the others….he was that one. It’s so empty here today. 🙁

    • I’m sorry to hear about The Boogster. I also had to put down my cat, Anni, of 18 years and it was indeed the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. You want to talk about an amazing kitty… she was it. Cats are so underrated. Dogs get more love from the world but we cat people know how truly incredible, smart, and lovable cats are. RIP Booger. Say meow to Anni for me. ❤️

    • I just euthanized my boy, my favorite boy, the one who cried when I coughed or sneezed, who climbed on my and whimpered if I was upset. We did this at home, and i thought it would be painless and peaceful.I was told the first shot of sedation would be a sting, but he jumped up after lying there calmly and with wide-eyed fear struggled to get away until the sedative took affect. I’ll never forget the look in his eyes. Does this happen or is it because they used the wrong sedative? Immediate wide-eyed panic in his eyes. My boy that I was trying to relieve his struggles. Does this usually happen? How can I prevent that with other cats? My husband said it didn’t happen with out previous cat for whom he was there without me (I’ve never been strong enough). I feel so bad he had to be scared. He was lying there peacefully before that shot.

      • I can only speculate as to why your boy had such a bad reaction to the sedative. Perhaps the needle hit a sensitive spot, perhaps he had a reaction the particular drug that was used, perhaps he was simply startled by the injection. None of this is going to change what happened, and my heart goes out to you for having gone through such a traumatic experience. I wish I could offer you words of wisdom to ease the pain, but I know right now, there’s nothing anyone can say that is going to make this any less painful for you. FWIW, a friend of mine went through something similar with her cat, and while it took a very long time for her to get past reliving the experience, she eventually found some level of peace with it. If it’s an option for you, I recommend finding a therapist who specializes in grief counseling and/or trauma counseling.

  12. My partner and I went through an extremely traumatic experience over Labor Day weekend. Our 2-year old tabby suddenly and unexpectedly developed multiple seizures..Took him to emergency vet but we could not afford expensive imaging and MRIs. They believe it was either epilepsy or brain tumor, leaning towards brain tumor. Blood tests all came back normal. He was having at least 4-5 seizures A DAY. Doctors said they have never seen anything like it. It was utterly heartbreaking and we could not let him suffer any longer. Everything happened so suddenly and so fast, with no warning. We decided not to be present, I don’t regret it because it was just too painful. It is so heartbreaking that something so horrible could happen to our precious boy who was so young, only 2 years old! Please everyone, love your animals, hold them close, life is so short.

  13. Reading these comments makes me understand why I’ve been so upset after euthanizing my cat I’d had for 15 years. She’d had seizures about 4 times over the last 3 years, but had 2 back to back seizures and a possible stroke Labor Day weekend. Because the last vet visit had been so traumatic that she had a grand mal seizure in the car on the way home, I called the vet who told me my cat was in organ failure (mainly kidney) & the kindest thing would be to gently put her down because he said she likely had some brain damage & it would only get worse over time. She was also scratching like a maniac & pulling out her fur with her teeth. Her fur was getting more & more matted. She’d gotten weak in her hind legs, but could still jump on the bed most times.

    The vet was very certain that this was the best way to end her suffering & prevent worse suffering. What’s still bothering me very badly is that when she saw the vet & tech (they came to the house), she hissed & showed her teeth. She would not calm down even when I put her in a quiet room. The first sedative has no real effect, she had to have another, she was still hissing & crying. At this point I was sobbing & started vomiting. The vet finally went ahead and euthanized her, quickly (as much for his concern about me as my pet). Several hours later I was still vomiting, freezing cold, in pain from an autoimmune illness I have, and my blood pressure spiked to 206/106 & would not come down even after I called my doctor & he said to take an extra dose of blood pressure medicine & anti anxiety meds. After a few hours like this, I spent 3 hours in the ER, did stabilize & came home.

    I wanted so badly to give my little friend a gentle passing,but that failed and she went out terrified, angry,& defending herself. And those images are still bothering me and I feel awful.

    Any thoughts, please? Thank you.

    • I’m so very sorry your cat’s euthanasia was such a traumatic experience for you, Karen. I urge you to consider getting some counseling to help you through this, ideally with a counselor who specializes in pet loss. If you can’t find anyone local to you, you may want to check out this website: http://www.griefhealing.com/index.htm I believe Martha Tousley offers remote counseling.

    • I just put my beloved Mr. K down on Oct 8th…he was 17 I’m glad I was able to hold my baby in my arms til the end…hard decision but the right one…ear cancer and he stopped eating … I truly believed he made the decision for me..

  14. Hello, I have to ask if anyone felt a little guilty or tortured about if they put their babies to sleep too early. I made the decision to put my baby to sleep 2 days ago. Had her since she was a month and half old, would have been 12 in August. It was all sudden within the last month. She never had health issues other than a little overweight but about 30 days or so ago, maybe a little less her breathing changed, took her to er was put on oxygen found fluid in her lungs and chest. It was crushing her lungs, had some taken out chest, even though her breathing never fully recovered but was able to bring her home.

    Within a week it got worse, worse than before, this time she couldn’t hide how much pain she was in, it was all in her eyes and face even though she was trying to act strong. I couldn’t bear seeing her like that took her back to hospital, was put back on oxygen and discovered fluid came back and was crushing her lungs. It was still in her lungs from before hadn’t got clear answer yet dr thought cancer, we had ruled out any heart issues. With seeing how much pain she was in and how quickly it came back and how aggressively it cane back within a week and possibly seeing a long road of suffering for her and poking and prodding, I decided to let her go.

    The decision crushed me I lost it while signing the papers and spent some time with her awhile before and after it was done in room. I lost it right after and that first night after i got home was tortue and hell, playing everything over and over. She also wasn’t eating the last day or so before taking her back.

    While spending time with her before the Dr came in her breathing was a little better I noticed but still labored but I knew those because she had been an oxygen tank for a while but it got back a little worse torn that time also since you was out of the tank. I also noticed she had lick her lips once which made me wonder if her appetite had returned but I also figured it was because of the oxygen tank and that it would only be temporary she hadn’t been showing interest like she had before in eating, in her favorite foods or drinking any water, the day before I took her I had even bought her a flowing water fountain because I know she likes flowing water and she showed no interest in that either.

    The doctor had thought possibly cancer with her lungs and told me that if an option was available for treatment depending on the type of cancer it will most likely just be chemo, and I knew already I wouldn’t want her to go through that because of what my auntie, my grandma, my uncle, and others have went through that I seen. Now that I look back, which sucks because I can’t take that decision back I wonder if I should have waited even though she might have been suffering a little bit more, it might have turned out to be something that would have helped her to feel better and had more time to enjoy life.

    A part of me feels like I killed my baby, and this is what I can’t move past, I should have got more tests and got a second or third opinion, I was just so overwhelmed but seeing how severe and how quickly everything happened to her and knowing her age, and the worst part was seeing her in pain, that broke my heart and hurt me to the core and I felt like I didn’t protect her. And to make it worse I wasn’t really that fond of that hospital, it was a quick reference from the main vet when I took her initially because of her breathing problems and she had to be put in the oxygen tank. The doctor didn’t have good bed manners and didn’t seem as compassionate as I would hope or the nurse but they treated her correctly as far as it seemed. Even through putting her down I could see that they tried to put off as being compassionate but I could still see that they were numb and frankly if I had been more prepared I would have never kept her there or had her put down there. Only one person I seen seemed to have some compassion during that time, once I get her remains back and the urn I’m also going to get her records to go through myself and get an opinion to see if what the doctor said seemed logical or not. I should have did it before but was so overwhelmed by the situation, I need to know realistically was that the right choice at the right time because it’s tearing me up inside, that was my baby and my heart. Seeing her last moment broke me but I’m glad I was there for her, it wasn’t an option not to be.

    • I’m sorry for your loss, Raven. Based on what you’re describing, it sounds to me like you made the right decision. The sad reality is that we’re probably never going to be 100% comfortable with having to make the euthanasia decision. It’s an awful decision to have to make, but yet, trite as it sounds, it’s also a gift to our beloved cats, even though it is so very difficult. I hope in time, you find some level of peace with all of this. Be gentle with yourself as you mourn your cat.

      • Thank you for that, I just feel tortured because I feel like I gave up too soon on my baby. I wouldn’t want her to keep suffering but when I see other stories about all the things other people tried with their pets I just wonder should I at least have tried one or two more things before making that decision. I feel like it all happened so quickly. Also, I apologize if it was a little hard to understand some of my first post. I was doing voice to text so some of it didn’t come through correctly. Thank you again though, I’m not in the best place mentally and realize it’s just going to take awhile to work through this.

  15. Recently I had to put my tortious shell calico Luna to sleep at only 4 years old. I had rescued her from the pound where they had labeled her “Healthy” and “Flea free” when I got her home I discovered she was in fact near death she wasn’t just a calm cat like they described and she was COVERED in fleas. It took a month but I nursed her back to health. For the next few years she was the light of my life kept me going with the struggle of a chronic debilitating illness.
    Then 1 day a month ago she started showing symptoms of Asthma we took her in to the vet and he gave her a steroid shot which stopped the gasping for air but all of a sudden she just wasnt her self any more.. no more running around the house all crazy eyed no more howling at the moon (she did this it was adorable) no more luna it seemed. She would just lay there. For awhile she was getting better but then she took a turn for the worse I couldnt get ahold of a vet until the weekend and by that time she was struggling to breathe. We rushed her in and they informed me that she had HCM a heart condition that causes the heart muscle to thicken making it incredibly hard to pump blood and making simple colds or flus really hard to fight. The steroid injection unknowingly made this worse and progressed her heart problem. They took the X-Rays which showed water on the heart and lungs. They informed me after trying really hard to save her that it was time…

    I wasn’t expecting it at all she was getting BETTER! No one warned me that their eyes dont close. She couldn’t give her a sedative because it would cause he to convulse most likely with the state of her lungs so they had to hold her tight and push her leg up while she stared at me and reached for me then inject her. It was over so quickly I felt myself wanting to scream no stop… It was so hard and it was the very first time I had EVER been in the room with one of my pets. I lost a part of my heart when she passed and I didn’t even know she was gone till they told me because she was just staring at me. It was traumatizing and unless you are prepared make sure you know what you are doing because they cant always give the sedative.

    • I’m so very sorry about Luna, Ana. Losing a cat is always hard, but under the circumstances you lost Luna, it’s devastating. My heart goes out to you.

  16. We were with our 14 year old girl when she was put to sleep just yesterday, April 14, 2018. She had cancer and was very sick. We stayed with her the whole time and then the Vet took her away and wrapped her in her blanket and put her in a little coffin box. I did not open the box before we buried her. I did not want my final image of her like that but now I am feeling guilty about not doing it. We miss her so much. That was the hardest thing I ever went through. My son and I held her while she passed peacefully. Thank goodness for that. I just wish I could get over the feeling so guilty about not opening the box for the final goodbye.

    • I’m so sorry about your girl, Lana. It sounds to me like you said your final goodbye when it really mattered: when you and your son held her while she passed peacefully. Try to focus on that, rather than feeling guilty about not saying goodbye to her body.

    • I’m so sorry. If you don’t mind me asking what type of cancer was it? I just put my little girl to sleep today due to an aggressive lung cancer.

      • She had brain cancer. We don’t know how long she had it because she never showed symptoms until the past 5 weeks of her life. It started with her eye glazing over and sinking in. Then weight loss and she started walking wobbly. She lost all muscle mass in her legs. We put her on steroids because she never seemed to be in pain. The last week she completely went down and in a lot of pain. So we knew she was ready and we did not want her to suffer anymore. The vet said once she was gone she palpated her and she felt numerous tumors. I am so sorry about your little girl. They are our family.

  17. I knew it was close to my cat Alonso’s time so I wrapped him in his blanket and while getting in the car he made A terrible sound while breathing like he couldn’t catch his breath he did this all the way to the vets.I feel guilty that he started to breathe like he did because he was not in the house.he kept breathing like the gasping and got his first sedation shot I was holding him and talking to him I just hope he could hear me and feel me holding him. Then he fell asleep and had his last shot passed away peacefully. I feel so guilty that maybe me taking him to the car to take him to the vet made him in such distress.

      • I would feel much better if I knew he could hear me and could feel me holding him and rocking him. While getting his first shot that put him in a deep sleep. Does anyone know your cat can know this while he is close to dying?

  18. I took my buddy Omar to the vet just a few hours ago. He had stopped eating normally and just wasn’t himself he would just sit up and stare it just wasn’t the way my buddy “O” has I called him behaves. So when I went to the Vet I knew something serious could be wrong but I hadn’t planned on carrying an empty container out of that office. So when we had the blood work done the vet sat next me to me and broke the news about the results and how high the number were. She and her technician made the process as bearable as it could be and it gave me some comfort to be with him until the end. This is the first pet I have had since I was a kid and at 50 yrs. old it was as hard as it was at 15. I cried and the vet hugged me and I shook the assistant’s hand and walked through that waiting room to my car with an agonizing feeling with that empty box minus my beautiful Russian Blue-Tabby Omar. But I’ll always be thankful for the way the staff treated me and I am glad I was there with my buddy until the end …….

    • I know how you feel. On March first I had to euthanize my nearly eighteen year old cat Dakota. He too was my first cat as an adult. Together we battled bladder stones and diabetes. In the end it Wa chronic renal failure. I fell guilty for euthanizing him and for not taking him to the vet sooner. They too were compassionate but I cannot get over losing him.

  19. Be with them.

    Nobody can say for certain what they see hear or feel between the first sedative and final dose. But they know your voice and touch subconsciously.

    be with them for a hundred reasons.

    • I so much agree. Our handsome Charlie was euthanized yesterday, he was dying of acute liver failure. I was so grateful he came back home to be with us as he was semi feral and was trying to hide the fact that he was sick and wanted to hide. I miss him so much. It was a peaceful death.
      I was given time to spend alone with him which I truly appreciated. On that day for the first time ever, Charlie who was meticulous about his appearance, had not been able to groom himself. While I was with him, I gave him a nice combing with a very soft brush and I could see he was relaxing and knew he was loved. When the vet came in it took only 5 seconds and Charlie was gone. I miss him more than I can express, but being there with him, and having the time to comb him, and comfort him, was for both of us, a precious time, and he passed on to the rainbow bridge leaving only good memories behind, lots of good memories. I miss you Charlie.

      • I NEEDED to see this today. I’ve never been a cat person. My daughter got a feral cat to trust her. That was 8 months ago. This cat wouldn’t let us pick him up but did allow us to pet him. Sunday night I arrive home and he’s not in his heated cat house. I was wondering where he went. Monday afternoon he shows up on my porch and is walking in circles. He’s not acting right and his leg keeps going under him. I’m thinking he must have been hit by a car. Call the vet take him in they do bloodwork. He has feline leukemia. He’s not producing red blood cells. They told me he was prob born with it.I had him put down today. The hardest thing I’ve ever done. Feral cats normally go away to die but my baby came back as yours did. Thank you so much for posting this I so needed this comfort right now.

  20. I had to put my 21 year old cat to sleep a couple of days ago. It was without a doubt one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life. We got her from a shelter when she was 5 months old and the first time I saw her she just stole my heart. She was with us before our children were born and was with me through the ups and downs of life. She had saddle thrombus, (blood clot to the hind legs), in October and recovered. However, about a month ago she started declining. Her last week she had good and bad days but then refused to eat so I had to make the heart wrenching decision that it was time. She was so sweet her last day and we spent it together. She was purring and kissing me and just genuinely happy. When we got to the vet she was a little bit nervous but I just kept talking to her and when we went into the room she seemed ok. I stayed with her the whole time and it’s almost like she knew what was happening. It was so hard but I didn’t want her to leave this earth alone and I was her mother so I had to be with her. As hard as it was, I would have regretted not being there. I would absolutely do it again if I had to. I did think about home euthanasia because the office was busy but she was already sleeping so she didn’t hear anything.

      • Thank you. Growing up we had many cats and 2 of them lived to be quite old 16 and 24 but not positive of the age of the second one. I never thought my current cat would live this long but I’m so lucky to have had her all that time.

    • Thank you Ingrid. The household is so different without her and our dog went over to where her bed was, smelled it and then looked at me. It just broke my heart all over again. We do want to adopt 2 cats but I think I need some time.

  21. My sweet kitty Jasmine is scheduled to be euthanized tomorrow. She is 4 years old and I’ve only had her for 3 months but she has a brain tumor and can no longer stand up without falling over. My heart is broken but I’m so glad she has come into my world even if only for a short time. I got her after having to euthanize my 17 year old kitty Bean who had cancer. I never imagined I would lose 2 sweet furry babies in such a short time.

  22. I’m bringing my gentle giant, Maxine, to be euthanized in a couple of hours, when the vet clinic is closing. Inoperable cancer. I can’t stop crying, but I want to be strong for her at the end (so embarrassed, crying in public, too). Any last minute suggestions? 🙁

  23. Thank you Ingrid for this entire blog but mostly for this particular one. I have such intense, gut wrenching guilt about the day my Phantom was euthanized that I still have days that I am unable to do much of anything but sob and she’s been gone for almost 10 years now. She had, unbeknownst to me, been having “little” strokes for about 2 months. (There were always in her sleep so I truly didn’t know they were happening and she didn’t seem any different.) But the final one paralyzed her head and we knew it was time. My husband WAS with her, I couldn’t take it. She was MY baby, she came into my life at a difficult time and came all the way home to Ohio from California with me after my separation. She flew on the plane, in the cabin, in her carrier which I insisted I would MAKE fit, period. I feel so much that I let her down and I can only hope that she will forgive me and still meet me at the Rainbow Bridge one day. I have promised my current fur baby Smudge, I will not leave her side, even if it comes that that day. Thank you for sharing what happens and that you can at least ask for a home visit. It’s still so difficult but I won’t break this promise.

  24. No one wants to be there to watch it and I certainly did not. However, I couldn’t imagine leaving my cat in a room with strangers to be put down. I felt I owed it to him to be strong and be there with him at the end. He was scared enough and like most vet offices, he could hear barking dogs which always upset him (probably from his times being in a shelter). I still can’t think about the whole situation without feeling intense guilt, grief and despair. I chose to have him sedated which I thought meant he would go to sleep first, but he never fell asleep. I felt rushed as it was a last minute decision (after he’d been ill for some time and just wasn’t getting better) and the vet’s office was closing for the day. The staff tried to be nice, but you could tell they just wanted to close up and go home for the day. He yelped and then his eyes were like watching a light switch go off. It’s a horrible experience and every time I think about it, I feel so much guilt. I wish I had taken him to a different vet and the whole experience had been handled better, not just for me but for him as well. I learned a lot of lessons from that experience, unfortunately. I have found a different vet for my remaining cats and I will never let that happen again.

    • I’m so sorry you had such a bad experience, Kathie. I hope eventually these memories will fade. And I’m glad that you found a different vet.

    • Hi Kathie,
      Just wanted to say that I was searching for someone who had had a similar experience in putting their pet to sleep under rushed circumstances, and then I read your post which, I am sorry to say, matched mine a lot.
      This evening I cried for my cat who I had euthanised a year and a half ago. I haven’t cried properly about it until now, partly because the euthanasia itself left me with so much guilt that my mind wouldn’t let me go there.
      I understand your terrible hurt for your cat’s last moments. That is how I am feeling very much right now. This evening I happened to look at a shared video of a dogs last day with its owner, and at the end I saw.how the owner had ample cuddle time and space to reassure the dog. I wondered why I had not had this with Alfie!
      On Alfie’s last day, he was sick as anything, and this was made worse by the painkillers I had been instructed to give him, which left him dehydrated. I was watering him with syringe into the mouth and around that point I realised it was time. My appointment was with the same vets I had gone to a week before. The receptionist couldn’t have been kinder. But the two vets were, shall I say, polite enough but clearly just wanted it to be done quickly. It was awful, looking back.
      Alfie had no personality to show at this point as I imagine he was in so much pain/numbness. I wanted to ask to be with him for a few moments but, like you, for some reason I went along with they guidance without asking them to slow down!! I will never forgive myself for not even allowing him to lie down comfortably, instead of them injecting him while he balanced on his crooked leg… I couldn’t hug him properly as they propped him up, and within a minute I managed to just glimpse into his eyes as he went out like a light. I just couldn’t believe how fast it was.
      I, neither, will make the same mistake again with my other pets.

      • I’m so sorry about your awful experience, M. It is completely unacceptable for vets to rush a client through a euthanasia – it makes me angry every time I hear a story like yours. My heart goes out to you.

        • Hello
          My cat died last week. I had him 22 years! I ferl bad because I didnt have him euthanased so either way……x

  25. My cat Betty passed away very suddenly three months ago. She was only 6 years old. A routine steroid shot (which she’d had before without problems) sent her into congestive heart failure–she was gone within 48 hours from the time we realized something was wrong.

    So many of these comments describe what I thought–hoped–euthanasia would be like. I felt so strongly that I wanted to be there with her, but I sort of wish now that I had not been.

    She was in the ICU in an oxygen cage. The vet had been able to stabilize her at first, and her breathing had initially improved. But she threw a clot the second night at the hospital, and we got a call at 4:00 in the morning that she was going downhill very fast. She was panting and in clear distress. She felt so poorly that she did not seem at all like herself, nor did she seem to register my presence. But I wanted to be there to comfort her during her last moments.

    When the vets moved her out of the cage she was in to the table to administer the shots, her yowls of pain and fear cut me to the core. I had to leave the room and was crying hysterically. I’m crying as I remember it. They gave her the first shot to sedate her and brought me back in, but she did not fall into a peaceful sleep. Her eyes were open and she was gasping for breath. I said goodbye and that I was sorry, and I had to leave again because I could not stand to see her draw her last breath in pain.

    Once she was gone, I got to spend a few minutes with her in another room. She looked like she was sleeping. I told her how much I loved her and thanked her for being a good pet. I apologized again and again for letting her down–for asking for a steroid shot instead of pills because she refused to take pills, for not taking her to vet sooner when her heart started to fail because I didn’t realize what was wrong with her. I’m grateful to have had that time with her when she looked like she was at peace.

    Despite this, the memory of those last few moments before she died still haunts me and brings me to tears whenever I think of it. I try not to think about it much, but the memory springs up unbidden sometimes and chokes me with tears. All I wanted was to protect her, and watching her in so much pain without being able to do anything about it was my worst nightmare realized.

    To those commenters who feel selfish for knowing that you couldn’t watch your pet pass–I sincerely hope you can forgive yourselves. Being with your pet as they pass can, I’m sure, be a peaceful experience, but it’s not always. Don’t beat yourself up for wanting to avoid having a painful experience seared into your memory forever.

    • Oh Kaley, I’m so sorry you had such a horrible experience. I hope that in time, you can focus on the final moments when you held her when she was already gone, rather than the awful moments leading up to that. My heart goes out to you. Thank you for sharing what you went through, I know it will help others who may have experienced similar situations.

    • My cat Mruczek had to be put to sleep today, but i am not sure if i didn’t wait too long for that, i think today morning he was in pain , i had to rush him to emergency with my mom. I was going to stay with him, but before they started , my super called that a fire alarm went on in my apt, i knew right away that my mom left milk on stove top , so i only kissed him and told him that i love him and i had to leave. Now i feel so bad and guiltyand sad that he had to stay alone, but by the time we got to the hospital he was miauing from pain , and i am not sure if i could witness him being in such a pain and agony.

  26. My vet came to our home to euthanize our cat. It just happened today. Snoopy was 20 years old, just 3 months shy of being 21. She’s had kidney failure for about 9 months. We were giving her sub-q fluids and an appetite stimulant and an anti-nausea pill. After her kidneys failed she became dehydrated and her appetite failed but with the pills and the sub-q fluids, she was able to maintain a good quality of life. Until about 6 weeks ago she would still occasionally go for a walk with us (she used to walk with us every day), still look out the window with interest, still groom herself, seek us out, etc. Then about a month ago, she went into a serious decline.

    She spent all of her time sleeping in one spot. But when we would go in and pet her she would still purr and be happy to see us, so we were OK with that. We moved her food bowls close to her so it would be easier for her to eat, and we fed her tiny meals several times a day because she would eat more that way. She couldn’t groom herself any more, so we tried to rub her down with a washcloth, but she hated that.

    Then 2 weeks ago, her appetite seriously declined. She had already lost a lot of weight, she couldn’t afford to lose more, and even with the appetite stimulant, etc., nothing helped. When she got up to walk to her litter box, her legs were very shaky. Her back legs and belly were very matted because she could not groom herself and she didn’t want us to do it. She still purred when we pet her so we checked on her often throughout the day, sitting by her for a little while and gently stroking her and speaking to her. But we knew she wasn’t going to get better and the vet told us she would only suffer more since she was starving to death.

    So we knew it was her time.

    It tore us up to put her down, but thankfully the vet was willing to come to our house. The vet explained that she would inject the anesthetic into her vein but that she wouldn’t do it unless they could find a good vein, and I had to be prepared if the needed to use her stomach. The vet did not discuss sedation, and now I know to ask for that in future.

    However, even without the sedation, the euthanization went smoothly, I think because it was a very experienced vet. She and her tech had brought a large soft blanket which we set on the spot Snoopy liked to sleep on, and the vet had my husband and I towards Snoopy’s front so we could talk to her, pet her, etc., and we actually sat there and stroked her for a little while before the tech restrained her hind paw so the vet could get a vein. Nothing was shaved. The vet got the needle in very quickly.

    However, when the injection started, Snoopy did try to jerk away for a second and let out a little growl and struggled for a second, but then she went to sleep just another second later. It happened very quickly.

    I think in future I would like to sedate my pet to remove even that little struggle – it only lasted a second but if I could have made Snoopy’s end completely peaceful… on the other hand, I was there with her, and telling her we loved her throughout. And after the vet allowed me to gently hold her and kiss her and brush her coat so she could be cremated with dignity. The vet even told me she would gently get out the mats on her belly I couldn’t get out, if I wanted her to, before we buried Snoopy.

    I also appreciate that the vet allowed us to gently stroke our cat and soothe her for a bit before she started the procedure. And when she first came to our house and I asked her if she was sure it was a good idea to put Snoopy down, she said to me, “I’ve seen cats many times have one or two good days right after the decision to euthanize has been made, but then they will go back into decline. But if you need me to leave and come back in a few days, we can do that. We want you to be completely comfortable this is the right decision, and if that means we leave and come back even 3 or 4 times – we can do that.”

    I really appreciated that she respected that I knew my cat and my decision. Ultimately we decided to go ahead because I knew that Snoopy was not going to get better, and I wanted her to die with dignity. She was such a dignified cat, I couldn’t bear the thought of her not having the strength to get to her litter box and I knew she was quickly getting to that point. But it was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. I didn’t want to say good-bye to her, but I was trying to do what was best for her, not for me.

    • I’m so sorry about Snoopy, Shefali. It sounds like you found a wonderful, compassionate vet to help her on her final passage, and despite that one moment when Snoopy jerked away, it sounds like it was a peaceful experience. My heart goes out to you.

    • ¡Hi! Shefali O’Hara

      I think that taking the decision to euthanize our beloved friends is so hard, but, is our leading occasion for show them our comprehension and empathy, and thanks we can gave them a less painful sleep. My vet used a sedative intramuscular injection before the final one, it was only the discomfort of the first shot, quickly and good, without struggle, Garfi went after that to his sunny spot, he had FIV and was the time to say goodbye. I think as you do, that sedation is not only a choice but a must for the best of our friends.

      • Lucia; I just came from euthanizing my cat Opie. He was 15 but had been abandoned by his previous owner so I had only had him 4 years. I have spent 6000 in medical bills on him in the last four months which I had to borrow. I would have spent another 6000 if I thought I could have saved him. He died very peacefully as my vet did the same as yours. Bladder cancer. I held him in my arms and he basically slept away. I loved him so much and it is very hard to see them die but I would never just leave them to die alone.

  27. Thank you for writing such insightful and compassionate article. On September 26, 2014 I chose to have my precious Cleopatra set-free from her painful and quickly deteriorating life. She was 14.5 years old and had been with me since she was 5 weeks. Cleo had been a constant and comforting friend through so much heartache and pain in my life. It was time to return the kindness. She had developed a rapidly growing brain tumor. My other cat and I were doing most of her grooming … and Cleopatra had always been so proud of her beautiful fur coat! She was also having difficulty climbing into/out of the cat box, even though I had bought one with a low lip. Eating was also becoming a problem and it wasn’t unusual for her to become sick afterwards. On Cleopatra’s day of restoration, she made the decision for me about whether or not I would accompany her. After holding her in my arms and loving on her, Cleopatra walked into the cat carrier (a first), laid down, and looked at the vet tech. She was telling me it was time … and I let her go. Quite honestly, I think that if I had gone with her that I would have been so upset that her passing would not have been peaceful. The vet tech that was with her had been with her every visit and he held her as she drifted off to sleep to her place of restoration. Do I miss her? Yes. I still wake up crying for my sweet girl. Do I regret my decision. No. It was her time.

    • There’s such comfort when a cat gives such a clear signal that she’s ready as your Cleopatra did, Jan. It’s still a devastating loss, but it does help. I don’t think we ever stop missing them.

  28. I have had to euthanize 4 cats. 2 had cancer, one had heart failure and the other had chronic bladder issues. I just can’t bring myself to be there when they are put to sleep. It could be because I was with my mother when she passed and it was an awful experience. I hope she was glad I was there, but I don’t really know if I helped her or not.

  29. Yesterday I gave consent to euthanize my little boy. He wasn’t even 5 years old. He had peed all over the house for that many years. I tried everything I could to have him diagnosed but he didn’t have anything medically wrong with him. Then last week he obstructed, and they couldn’t clear him. They wanted to do PU surgery which would stop him from being obstructed but he would still have the same problem: the constant feeling of having to pee. It wasn’t his fault, but I didn’t want to live with him for 10 more years, being in chronic pain, whining and being stressed, hating the other kitties, not wanting to be touched or loved, hating me.

    So I made the decision, but when it came time to euthanize him, I couldn’t be there. In the hospital, with lots of pain medications, he was head butting and loving on me so much. But it was all the medication. And I couldn’t stand seeing what appeared to be a vibrant, young boy being destroyed for having a body that was hurting him. So I wasn’t there when they did it.

    And now I’m so sad, feeling like I abandoned him when he needed me most. I wish I had been there to hold his hand when he passed. But I was too selfish and now I hate myself for not being there.

    I’m writing this in the hope that it helps someone else in the future to make a better decision. I wish I had thought through this better and had been there for my boy. He was a good boy in a beautiful body that just didn’t work right. It wasn’t his fault. But it was my fault that he was all alone in the end.

    • I’m so sorry – both for your loss, and for feeling like you abandoned your little boy at the end. You made the decision that was right for you in that moment. Try not to be so hard on yourself. Thank you for sharing your experience. My heart goes out to you.

      • How do I get over this? I feel like I let him down so badly. I’d do anything to get him back. I miss him terribly. I can’t let this feeling go, how he should be here right now, and I made this horrible decision that I can’t take back. I want them to do the surgery and I don’t care about the pee and the whining, I just want my boy in my arms. At the time it seemed the right thing but I am so heartbroken. He was too young, a sweet little boy in a broken body. What do people do to get over it? Can it be gotten over ever?

        • Grief is a process, and unfortunately, there is no other way to deal with it other than to go through it. I wish I could tell you that you get over it, but I don’t think that’s possible. The pain will soften in time. Memories of the time you had together will eventually replace the pain of missing him, and your regrets about not being with him at the end. I wish there was a magic wand that could take your pain away! You may want to consider talking to a counselor who specializes in pet loss to help you deal with these feelings. There are also some great online resources. Petloss.com has an active community of others who have lost pets -perhaps you’ll find some solace there?

    • Thank you. I am currently trying to decide the same situation. So, just by reading your comment I am staying with my Jill to the end.

  30. I’ve had the pain of having 2 beloved cats euthanized so far. I was with both of them in their last minutes of life because it was only right: They had given me wonderful companionship throughout their lives and I would not abandon them at the end, no matter how painful for me. The first one was my first cat, a gray Persian named Abby, who was absolutely the sweetest, most loving kitty you could image. After 9 years with her, her kidneys gave out. Thank God I had a particularly compassionate vet who gave her a shot in her “hip” that put her into a deep sleep. I was able to hold her in my lap and say my goodbyes while she gradually got sleepier. When she was completely under, the vet returned and gave the final injection to the heart. And that was it.

    Unfortunately, a different vet euthanized my second cat, Trixie. He used the catheter in the foreleg method. My poor sweet girl was terrified and it turned out to be a horrible experience for both of us. Never again will I have it done like that. Anything is better than that.

  31. I would never not be present. I not only have cats of my own but I foster as well. I take on special needs cats some of which have a shorter span of life. I not only lost several fosters but had several of my own cats. My heart kitties had problems cause a foster thought to have a uri had fip and even tho im careful going in and out of isolation rooms several of mine ended up with it. Some with weaker immune systems couldn’t handle it Because I only adopt shelter cats I knew exposure for them was already probable but never thought id lose any to it..
    I lost over 20 in a year both my own and long term fosters. I was only able to give one the gift of euthanasia. I had to be with him. I had to know my baby was not alone. I never allow my fosters to be alone either. I wish not only more vets would offer in home euthanasia but that there would be emergency at home service as well. Because of the lack of even emergency care I had to uold some overnight and watch them struggle just being able to comfort them as hest I can till the end. The only regrets came when I wasn’t present because of one passing while I was away from the house or overnight when I slept. When I had to make that decision with Milo I was lucky my vet stayed open so I could come and help him. I only wish I had time to spend eith him afterwards. They were closed when I got there so I had no time. I will always try to be there for their final moments. It helps them and me. I have had to make this decision many times for my own and many for fosters. I always think they know whos there and can feel that love at the end.
    My hardest times have been when I wasnt there. I had someone break in to my home and horribly kill three of my babies a couple months ago. Thats the one that haunts me. My one vet is tone of the most compassionate people ive ever . When it came to the time I had to euthanize my oldest her talked to her and pet her before and after. I got that comfort from him as well. I only wish it would hace been like that for them or for the others that needed emergency help after hours. I truly think this can believe this can be a gift we give making the decision and being present for it.

  32. For me, not being there and holding my fur babies wasn’t an option. I had to be there, to hold them, pet them and love them right to the end. I recently had to let go of my 18 year old cat Cosmo. I had her since she was 4 weeks old. That was hard, but not as hard as losing my baby 4 year old tuxedo kitty Ambrosias. That will haunt me forever. Not the last moments, but that he was only 4, and he had a terrible disease that was so painful for him, and I had to decide to let him go. 4 is too young. Life can be so unfair.
    Peace to all who have lost their babies.

    • I’m sorry for your losses, Debra. It’s always heartbreaking to loose a cat, but a young cat like Ambrosias – I can’t even imagine.

  33. My family and I had to put our little Lily to sleep last night. My eyes are puffy and red from crying. We were all in there with her. She was calm and when the vet injected her it only took a few short moments as she was so so small (4lbs). She was only 6 years old, she was to turn 7 on April 18th. She had FIP and began losing weight so rapidly. Yesterday she could even stand. When she had a seizure we knew it was time, as we didn’t want her to suffer. I feel so bad that this had to happen to her, but my whole family, we are all glad that we could be there with her. She is our little baby and I would never want her to be alone in that. Her little eyes stayed open afterwards. We hug and kissed and pet her. It was so hard to leave her in the room afterwards. I wish so much that our furry family members could be with us for longer, as they are such an important part of our lives.

  34. I had to make the awful decision yesterday to euthanize my sweet and loving cat Tara. It was so unexpected, but she was terribly ill. She had lymphoma and had one chemo treatment, but her bowel was damaged (she had IBD too) and fluids started to leak out. I’m not entirely sure what happened to her, but they tried intensive fluid therapy and it didn’t work. They just couldn’t get her blood pressure to rise. She was in intensive care when we put her to sleep. We had to reach inside a cage to stroke her and talk to her. I remember she lifted her little head twice to look at us when she heard our voices. She fell asleep very quickly when the injection was administered as she was so close to death anyway. I don’t recall her eyes being open. They were closed. The pain is still so raw and I miss her terribly. I feel really guilty that I didn’t do enough for her. I feel like I let her down:( I feel like I didn’t spend enough quality time with her during her last days.
    The vet kept saying that she won’t feel anything, but I often wonder…how do they know that? Vets are not cats. How do they know what the cat feels?
    Tara’s last days were spent with me forcing tablets down her throat and horrible liquid that made her produce excess saliva. I feel so guilty that she suffered and that she maybe thought I was being horrible to her. The look on her face when she looked up from the cage was like she was saying … how could you do this to me? Don’t you love me anymore?
    On her last night at home (her second last night alive) I came home from work really late…I just couldn’t get away sooner! Tara was on her own from 7.45am to 6pm. She came down the stairs with a very sad look on her face…as if she felt abandoned by me.
    I had to put Tara’s sister to sleep 2 and a half years ago – she also had cancer. We decided not to go the chemo route that time and I regretted my decision. I went the chemo route with Tara and I regret my decision. I feel like I just can’t win.
    Also, I feel guilt that I didn’t manage Tara’s IBD very well and that the IBD led to the lymphoma! I wonder if stress triggered the cancer. I split with my partner a few months ago and Tara had to undergo a very stressful overnight journey to a new place:( She was 6 weeks old when she came into my life and I miss her terribly.
    Just thought I would share that.

    • I’m so sorry about Tara, Anne. My heart goes out to you. It’s natural to want answers to all the questions you ask, and feeling guilty is, unfortunately, almost always a by-product of having to make the euthanasia decision. Based on how you ask your questions, I can’t imagine that there’s even a slim chance that you let Tara down. If anything, it sounds to me like you did everything that could have been done for her. No matter how well we manage a disease, sometimes, things just don’t end well. It sounds like she knew you were there at the end. I have no doubt that she knew she was loved.

  35. I’m glad you covered this difficult topic. I, too, have tears in my eyes, but I strongly believe that after all the love our cats give us, we owe it to them to comfort them on their final journey. Is it easy for us? No, but our cat’s last moments are not about us, it’s about them. As someone who has been with many cats when they passed, I can say that I don’t focus on those moments as much as I think back on our good days together. I also agree that there is great beauty in the final breaths if you are lucky enough to witness them in a peaceful way.
    After we watched our cat, Bob die, we bathed him with soft cloths and wrapped him in a nice blanket. We talked to him and just sat with him for a very long time. I realize it’s not easy to do, but I also think there should be a time after the passing where you give the body and spirit a chance to part…where you give yourself time to have your goodbyes. I wish none of our cats ever died, but then in that sadness a new door is opened to saving the life of another deserving cat one day.

    • Thank you for this beautiful comment, Robin. The way you held the space for Bob when he was dying was one of the most “beautiful” death experiences I’ve ever heard anyone share. For those of you who would like to read it, here’s the link. It is difficult reading, but Robin’s raw honesty about Bob’s final moments and her immense love for him touched my heart then, and do today: http://www.coveredincathair.com/content/bobs-battle-lymphoma-goodbye-my-love-part-4-5

      • Oh wow…I just read that story, and it was too close to home. I miss my beloved Fred every day! I’m sitting at work at the end of the day with a sore throat from trying not to audibly cry. My eyes did not cooperate. I’m grateful for waterproof mascara and paper towels from the kitchen. I miss all of my cats who have crossed over. I look forward to seeing them again one day and, meanwhile, in my dreams. The dream visit is always such a special gift. All of the comments touched me, and I’m so sorry the lives we have with our pets can be so short and that we have to second guess ourselves and the needs of our pets when the consideration of euthanasia arises. I absolutely agree that it has never been an easy decision. I have to think forward to the cats that still need good lives, though, and when it comes to it – a dignified and loving passing. I’m really glad it’s now time to go home. There will be a lot of hugging tonight.

    • Thank you, Robin. I brought Shelley’s body home after euthanization, and did rest her in a little shrine I created. She was circled with all her favorite toys, some flowers, and some candles. I was with her like that until early evening, then felt ready to bury her in one of her favorite outdoor cat-meditating areas. A friend helped by digging the grave for me. It was at dusk when we finished, and I have never felt so much the contrast between no-life and still-alive. It was as much magical as it was sad. Then, a candle burned at that spot each evening and into the night for several days, until I felt finished. So, although I was in no way ready for her death (she was only 12, and nothing definitive was ever diagnosed about her health challenges), I feel I did process and honor her life and death rather fully. But, obviously, some doubts still linger in me!

  36. I´m crying too. In may of this year (2013) I decided euthanized Garfi at home, veterinary helped him with a first shot, after my friend get sleep he did the second one. I talked before with Garfi and I told him that I loved him, I will love him until I die. Reading you I think that I would like to take him in my arms in his last sleep, I put him in his bed whit my hand in his body. I think it was an honor have him in my life, so I chose being there for him… was the best for me.

  37. Tears are streaming down my face….in that last 15 years, we’ve had 15 cats! Strays, ferals, you name it….I’ve had two of my dearest kitties euthanized at home….a beautiful experience for me and our vet is wonderful….it doesn’t stop the extreme pain we all feel at the time but I did feel at peace being able to hold each one in my arms….this was a much better experience than having two killed by cars and one dropping dead from a heart attack….not to mention the ones who disappeared to “coyote land” and never returned. So know that euthanasia is a blessed method to use. BTW, we still have five cats! Michele

  38. It is so sad to read all these stories. As a vet we all try so hard to make it a pleasant experience as it can be. I think one of the best things you can do is to preplan the event with your vet long before the end. Most vets would be open to ideas about how you would like it to be, and as hard as it is to think about these things, I know in the long run it makes a big difference. if you leave it till the end you might be too emotional to ask the right questions of your vet. As a vet I much prefer for the client to stay with their companion, as they seem a lot calmer. I think it is also really important to know the euthanasia drug is really an overdose of anesthetic, so the pet goes into a deep sleep and the eyes open as they would in any anesthetic , so it is important to know they are already fast asleep and not actually looking at you when their eyes open wide.

  39. I have been there with both of the kitties I have had to have euthanized – one of advanced age with major organ shutdown, and one wasting away with cancer. Brat (first kitty) had a totally peaceful passing, with eyes closed. I expected the same with Willum, but though there were no struggles, after he was gone his staring eyes and protruding tongue upset me very much. For a long while, I thought that the next time, I would not want to be present. Now, 6 years after Willum’s passing, I have decided that whether or not it is a bit uncomfortable for me to experience, it’s the only final gift I have to give my beloved pet – my presence. And when it’s Snickyfritz’s time (she’s a pretty vigorous 17-18 now), I would feel guilty if I wasn’t with her, and I think I will be. But if there are issues with major illness/sudden death and a lot of emotional trauma (for me *and* Snicky) as some people have experienced, then I don’t honestly know what I’d do.

    • It’s good that you are giving this some thought ahead of time, Vicki, even though it’s hard. I think because of this, it will help make your decision a little easier when the time comes, but hopefully, that’s still a long way in the future!

  40. Years ago I would not have been able to stay with my kitties. But; my last 2 kitties I have and it was mostly peaceful. I was not prepared for Bear as his tongue came out and of course the eyes. And I was not offered to hold him and too distrot to ask as he was so sick it was sudden. Otherwise it was peaceful but; everytime I closed my eyes I saw that image. And Squeaky I got to hold but; when he got the sleeping shot he cried out. And that was hard. The vets and the techs were very caring and even though that happened I am glad I was with them both. It is a very hard decion to make.

  41. I was with my Angel Bobo and I truly have mixed feelings about it. I did in home euthanasia and was also haunted for quite some time every time I looked at the couch where “it” happened, at the clock, everything. It was awful for me. My vet and the vet tech had me wait in the hallway while they shaved Bobo’s legs for the injection (I can still barely write this, I start to cry all over again)….his meowing during it still haunts me. Then, when I was called into the room to be with him and we were all making him calm and soothing him with love and petting it seemed so awful to me to be calming him down and comforting him to put him to sleep. I felt as if I tricked him or something. He was my “soul kitty” and remains so to this day. It all still haunts me and I don’t know if I could go through that again.

  42. When my cat was euthanized it was very peaceful, but the vet did not give her a sedative. Within seconds, her breathing and heart stopped. My question, and one that haunts me, is what happens to the brain? Is it screaming for oxygen? What a horrible death? Please let me know… I will never do that to another animal. Maybe with a sedative..

    • The brain actually dies even before the heart stops, Marsha. The final injection takes effect in about 30-60 seconds. Unfortunately, some vets still perform euthanasia without sedating the pet first. The current preferred method is the “two-injection method:” extreme sedation, then the final injection.

      • Today I had my Tatty euthanized. He was close to 20 so he was with me for a long time. But he was my best friend and my only best friend. I have 7 other cats as I take in strays and I love them all but Tatty always slept with me. I called him my permanent fixture on my bed jokingly. I am told that one of my other cats will become my best friend now but Tatty had that special personality that made me happy. Tatty had a lot of issues and was miserable before I put him down. Fortunately for me Tatty gave me a sign. When the shot that was first given to him to relax him was given, he put his head down and purred. It indicated to me that he felt better. He was never much of a purrer and that was so sweet to me.

        If an animal is well hydrated before he or she is euthanized there is not much or any discomfort. I learned how to hydrate by putting water under their skin, which is painless for them and which makes euthanization painless for them. My vet told me how to do that and even gave me the needles and etc to do so.

        So tonight will be a sad night for me, and many nights to come, as my Tatty will not be cuddled against me. I have been told that I mourn much too long but it is something that I have always done and have not been able to stop doing. So I understand how you all feel and will pray for myself and you.

  43. It’s hard to even think about this…like the others, I’m already crying. I was with my Nicki years ago and would not have wanted it any other way. It would be the same for Katie & Waffles. As much as I don’t want to ask my vet, I should find out if they would come to my home. Just in case. Just so I know.

    Ok, now I need to go hug them.

  44. I’m sorry I couldn’t read the whole post because I started crying. I have had to have 4 kitties euthanized over my lifetime and it was never easy. The first time was my Bebe. She was 19. I never knew about the vet coming to the home or that I could even stay while they did it. I spent an hour in the exam room with her before they did. I had a kitten euthanized because it had contracted the feline form of AIDS before I got him. I had my Licorice euthanized but this time I stayed along with my daughter and my son. Then Katia never made it to the vet. She passed away in the car. I never knew there was a local vet who would come to the house until afterwards. The perfect ideal for me would be to have all 4 of my babies die naturally at home. It wouldn’t be any more comforting for me to have a vet come to the home and euthanize them. It may be more comforting for my babies, however, I still feel they wouldn’t be as comfortable because there would still be a stranger there. Hopefully I won’t have to make any decisions in the near future.

    • I think most of us hope that when the time comes, our babies just quietly slip away at home, Viki. I hope you won’t have to make any decisions for a very long time.

  45. I am at the office crying as I read all of your comments! My two indoor furr-babies are only nine-and-a-half years, so mercifully I won’t have to face this situation soon. I did take one of my ferals to see the vet because he was limping, and I cried on the way there and in the waiting room because I was sure they were going to tell me to put him down. Well, it was only a bite wound and they shot him up with antibiotics and he’s still giving me purrs for years now, but I’ll never forget that intense pain I felt when I ‘thought’ I was going to have to…and that’s for a cat who I’d only known for a few months! And as Ingrid says, this is a very personal decision, and I’m glad I know more about what happens so I can make a informed decision when I would need to. I’ve also know that my veterinarian WILL make a final house call. Probably not for the ferals, but in time I hope to be able to handle each one of them, enough to carry them and even put them in a carrier, so we’ll just see what the future holds. My heart goes out to each of you who’ve suffered the loss of your kitty friend.

  46. I’ve had two cats euthanized over the course of my life. One was a 10-year-old cat that I’d adopted on my 13th birthday. He was in end-stage FIV, a disease which had only recently been discovered at that time, and his body was ravaged by infections and pain. I knew what I had to do, and I told my mother that I would take him in for that final vet visit. That one was really traumatic because as soon as we got into the exam room he perked up and started resisting the vet. It was a struggle to get the injection into him because he was wriggling around, and at that time they didn’t do the sedative before the euthanasia drug. I’m glad I was with him for his last few minutes and that the last three words he heard were, “I love you.”

    Last year I had my beloved Dahlia euthanized because she was suffering from a rapidly spreading cancer. I had scheduled the procedure at a calm office the next morning, but she began having major respiratory problems while I was cleaning her up so she could die with dignity. I ended up taking her to the emergency clinic because at that point it couldn’t wait until the next day. The people at the clinic made the moment as solemn and beautiful as they could. They took me into a room where they’d laid out a fleece blanket on the exam table and gave me some time to be with her. Then they took her in the back and placed the catheter. I was with her for those final moments in the exam room: the sedative calmed her down and eased her terror at not being able to breathe, and seconds after the final injection, I felt her soul leave her body.

    I’m glad I was there for both of those occasions, even though my heart broke each time. I’ll never NOT be present if I need to have a cat lovingly released from suffering.

  47. I couldn’t imagine not being there. I just recently had to make that decision for one of my longtime companion kitties. It was very quick and upsetting, but completely painless for her. It’s important for me to be there for them till the very end as it would be for any member of my human family. My fur babies put all their trust in me and If I weren’t there for them at the end, I’d have immense regrets.

  48. It has always been peaceful for me. The last gift I could give my fur friends. I was lucky with three of my fur friends to do it at home. I held them on my lap. The last were at a real nice emergency clinic who were very compassionate.

  49. The decision is difficult, and as you say very personal, but I just have not been once and I regret it eventhoug it was so many years ago.
    I took my mom’s dog to be put to rest two months ago, and he knew I was with him as always when he went to the vet during his 17 years, and as sad as it was, it felt right.

  50. When my cat, Shelley, was euthanized she suddenly opened her eyes to a normal wideness, raised her head, and appeared to look straight into my eyes. Then she went limp, as you wrote.

    A friend of mine who is a vet tech told me that such a response is common, but it haunts me to this day (over 5 years ago, now).

    What do you think, Ingrid? Do you agree that such a response to euthanasia is common? What haunts me, of course, is that Shelley was asking, “Why?”. If it’s a common reflexive response, as my friend said (and why can’t I just believe her?!), hearing that from another person would be helpful!

    • I’m sorry you’re still haunted by Shelley’s final moment, Pam. It is common for the eyes to remain open during euthanasia.

      When Amber died, she was lying on my chest, and looked right into my eyes during her final moment. Painful as it was, I actually interpreted that as neither one of us wanting to let go of that last moment of physical connection, rather than as her asking “why,” the way you did with Shelley. I know it’s an overused term, but I really do believe that euthanasia is the “final gift” we give to our pets, and I choose to think that they know this on some level.

      I hope this helps at least a little.

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