Guest post by Elizabeth Colleran, DVM

The software we use in my practices will color code appointments by “reason for visit.” The one for euthanasia is, as one would expect, a very dark color. A few weeks ago, I came to work. As usual, I looked at the schedule before rounds to see any issues that needed to be covered before we convened. My heart sank. The first two appointments of the day were euthanasias.

While in many respects, I think of euthanasia as a privilege to perform when suffering is the alternative, nevertheless, it is always hard on me. Not as hard as it is for clients who don’t want to give up, but emotionally trying. I watched my Dad suffer to death for 3 months in an ICU so I know how important it is to assist in ending suffering.

“We veterinarians think of ourselves as healers.”

We veterinarians think of ourselves as healers, capable of diagnosing, curing or managing illness and injury. When we can no longer do so, our role in the pet’s and family’s life changes. We are not allies in the fight any longer. We must advise the course to prevent suffering; sometimes that means death.

In that same week, my brother called from 3000 miles away to talk to me about his 11 year old Clumber Spaniel, Hattie, who was in the hospital. He needed me to help him make decisions. She was very sick and it was Friday afternoon. One plan was to stabilize her through the weekend and perform surgery on Monday, a course that may or may not have improved her condition. I reviewed the diagnostics with her doctor. We had a long conversation about likely outcomes. Her odds of getting better were poor but not impossible.

I told my brother that he should take it one day at a time. Give the doctors permission to provide all the supportive care she needed, including a blood transfusion and see how she was the next day. On Saturday, her condition was no better, maybe even a bit worse. My brother was so sad. He loved her and wanted her home and healthy. My job as sister and veterinarian was to tell him to stop, to let her go because it was clear if he did not that her decline would be terrible for her.

He did as I advised and knew that he had made the right choice. It still makes my cry as I write this to have to break his heart.

“The choice to break our own hearts to save another
from suffering is true compassion.”

The choice to break our own hearts to save another from suffering is true compassion. Everyone wishes to have the decisions disappear by circumstance. To have a beloved pet die a “natural” death, without suffering, is often not possible.

Every euthanasia is a little piece of heartbreak. We hug our clients if they need it. Help them make choices. Tell them how much we honor them. Try to make it as quiet and peaceful as we can. We include whomever they wish and try to provide comfort and closure. There is no harder task in my profession, nor one so important.

Dr. Elizabeth Colleran is a 1990 graduate of Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. She holds a Masters of Science in Animals and Public Policy, also from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. In 2011, she was the President of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP). She is a Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, Specialty in Feline Practice. As the spokesperson for the AAFP initiative Cat Friendly Practice, she speaks at major conferences around the country. Dr. Colleran owns the Chico Hospital for Cats in Chico, CA and the Cat Hospital of Portland in Portland, OR.

127 Comments on Euthanasia: A Vet’s Perspective

  1. I had to put my 12 year old beloved cat to sleep 24 hours ago. He was in end stage renal failure, hadn’t eaten in 10 days and stopped drinking for 2. The day I called for an at home euthanasia, he couldn’t walk well for being so weak. The vet that took care of him didn’t do “at home” euthanasia and my sweet boy was always so scared to go to the vet. After the sedative, he was nauseous and had the dry heaves He wanted to get off my lap. He seemed to then relax and the vet shaved under his neck to find a vein. He seemed to still be okay. Then when he was injected with the final shot, he raised his head and cried out and grimaced as in agony and never once had I ever seen this look on him before. He died with this grimace on his face and his teeth showing. He never once grimaced, showed his teeth, snapped or bit anyone in his life so this was extreme and not him. Did the final shot hurt him? Was he in excruciating pain that he cried and grimaced? I wanted to give him a peaceful death and this was not it. I am not convinced he was totally sedated and am guilt ridden and can’t stop crying. My last experience with euthanasia was not this way. He was such a sweet and loving cat and trusted me. I hurt him in the end and let him down. I wish I knew what happened. I can’t stop thinking about it and him and can’t function.

    • Oh Jeanine, I’m so sorry you had such a horrific experience. If you feel that knowing what happened would help you cope with what happened, I would ask for the records from the home euthanasia vet and have your regular vet review the protocol so they can explain to you what may have happened. More importantly, you may want to contact a professional counselor who specializes in pet loss to help you cope. In addition to grieving the loss of your beloved boy, you lived through an extremely traumatic experience, and you may benefit from having someone help you process this. My heart goes out to you – you lived through every cat parent’s nightmare.

      • Thank you Ingrid. I am going to do what you suggested. I am having such a difficult time processing this through my grief.
        I have been in quarantine since March 2020 when the pandemic started for health reasons and my Boo Boo was with me every second of every day. We shared so much love together and he really enjoyed us all being home with him more during these times. Every room I go in, his memory is there. I have had cats since I was 16 but this is the deepest bond I shared in my life by far. I miss him so much. He didn’t deserve an end to his life like this.
        Thank you for your blog and for your kindness. It means so much.

  2. My beloved cat Trevor was just shy of his 16th birthday. He was our family cat. A beautiful Siamese. In January he was diagnosed with a serious bladder and kidney infection. My vet warned me that after the blood tests he might be in kidney failure. But of course I wanted to do anything to save him. The infection cleared up with the antibodies. He was mostly his old self but he drank copious amounts of water and occasionally missed the litter box

    Six weeks after the initial diagnosis I took Trevor into the vet for a follow up. He was eating well he was pooping normally. But he was missing his litter box at least every other day I was hoping he just needed more antibodies but when the vet did his blood work and urinalysis he said Trevor was in acute kidney failure. 16 years before I had literally watched my cat die for six months. It is not pretty. Trevor was an old soul. Kind and loving so I made the decision to end his life right then. Neither my husband nor son expected it. I held them till they brought his “cocktail” in and I stretched out so he could do the same. He has slept with me often so I just coped in his ear and kissed him like we were going to sleep he relaxed in my arms with only a couple times of disstress. When the assistant came in with the towel we put in on the table but I kept kissing him and caressing telling him to sleep. They were concerned about the vein in his leg but were able to use it. Thank goodness I don’t think I could have taken the needle to the heart. He simply stopped living. It was over

    I came home washed everything and put it away It is two days later and I am incredibly sad to say I miss him is an understatement But Trevor taught me a valuable lesson. When I had to put Tucker to sleep I vowed I would not get attached again. Trevor was our sons cat but late one night while I was watching TV he had been with us for five weeks he jumped up on the couch a pond that little kitten wormed his way into my heart. I would not have missed the last15 years for anything. I will get a kitten again not right now I am too sad and I would want him to be Trevor and he can’t be. There is only one Trevor and he is gone

    15 years just wasn’t long enough

  3. We are very lucky to have a cat-only vet center, and they walked us through two euthanasias, and while it was heart-breaking in both cases it was the right thing to do, and our vets walked us through the experience with such compassion and grace – it made very difficult days a little easier.

  4. I have had cats all my life, so there have been many many trips to the vet to have a cat euthanized. Pretty much most of the time it was due to a debilitating illness that made it more merciful not to let the poor animal suffer. I guess I’ve been lucky…each and every time, the procedure was painless for the animal, and the vets and techs were supportive and sympathetic. I applaud their ability to see this day after day and still go on. I don’t know how they do it.

  5. I am nauseous with guilt and turmoil. Trying to spare my beloved 17 year old gentle loving cat a painful decline or crisis as she had a mass on her heart and was having trouble breathing – despite the protests of my son and husband I made the decision to euthanize her. The vet seemed rushed. He administered a pre-mix with KET to sedate him but after only two or three minutes tried to inject euthanasia drug via his leg. The vein burst, my cat was struggling to breathe – so then he tried to plunge a needle into my cat’s heart but missed. My cat despite being supposedly sedated screamed – a muffled scream – but screamed. The doctor plunged the needle in again and my cat screamed again. I asked if his heart had stopped and he stuck his finger in his eye and said yes. After the assistant told me it was gas not a scream. Did my cat feel the pain or was it a reflex scream. Was he really dead after? Why did the doctor not use a stethoscope to verify. I feel like I brought this animal that trusted me to be tortured to death – and that is the last thing in the world that I would have wanted. I am devastated.

    • Oh Susan, I’m so sorry you had such a horrible experience. Based on your description, the vet not only lacked compassion and caring, but also lacked skill. My heart goes out to you – it’s hard enough to have to let your beloved cat go, but to have the end be so distressing – I can’t even imagine what you’re feeling.

  6. Somewhat unexpectedly, I just had to put down my kitty, Sid, my best friend of 15 years. Her kidney disease finally came calling and she went downhill fast. I agonized about what to do, finally recognizing that it was time. Unfortunately our vet couldn’t make a home visit for at least five days. I knew she wouldn’t make it that long. I desperately didn’t want to have to bring her into the office for this so I found a vet who could come right away. For some reason, I had a bad feeling about this—not knowing who was coming into my home. While she was a calm cat, she didn’t love when new (disruptive) people came into the house.
    By this day she was pretty wiped out—comfortably sleeping most of the time, lifting her head for pets or to get up for some water. I wanted her to stay like that, very mellow, when the guy arrived (I so wanted this to be easy for her), so as a precaution, not knowing if he’d be quiet or barrel on in, on the advice of a vet tech friend, I gave her a small dose of ativan.
    She didn’t seem to have a paradoxical reaction, she was relaxed (awake but wiped out, comfortably stretched on her blanket) but every 20-30 mins she would insist on getting up. She couldn’t stand—I’d hold her body and she’d move her legs across the floor to lead where she wanted to go, then she’d plop down again and zone out. Does it sound like she was stressed? I’m anxious that her last day was miserable and prolonged; this went on all afternoon—the vet was hours late. I’m hoping she was like me on ativan when unable to fall asleep (eg, on a plane): sedate/feeling good with the occasional burst of resistance.
    Anyway, as feared, the vet wasn’t nice. I had my baby settled on the floor in a quiet back room when he came stomping in, and before even saying hello (to either of us), he loudly demands that he can’t do it on the floor. Ok. I moved her to the kitchen table. This change of space and light of course made her to want to get up. I had to gently hold her down while arguing with him about using a sedative before the euthanasia shot (I had to insist).
    As if it wasn’t going badly enough, the vet wouldn’t let me hold her or even keep my hand on her while he gave her the first shot. The tech held her down. Which means his touch (not mine) and the needle were the last things she consciously felt?
    As she’d already been fairly unresponsive, the sedative took immediate effect (so he said). To test this, he sharply tapped her poor little nose at her eye. It was horrible! I can’t get the image out of my mind. She didn’t react but this must have been adding to the trauma for her.
    She was completely still following the sedative so perhaps it did quickly work. However, she did not look settled. Her eyes were wide and unfocused. She looked defeated and sad the whole time, not sedated.
    Thank god she’d had the sedative, though, because he jammed her vein many times to get the needle in, finally managing to get just a little of the shot in. That first try didn’t work. He said because of poor blood pressure. So he flipped her over and started roughly poking at a new leg, finally getting most of the liquid into her. He stood up and announced, “she’s gone.” But her heart was still beating. I told him this and he roughly pushed my hand, which had been resting on her side, away to feel it himself. Then he went back at poking her poor leg and eventually managed to finish the shot. After another minute, he again shoved my hand away to feel her chest, then he did the same banging on her eye area (ugh), eventually getting a stethoscope to listen for her heart. Again, “she’s gone.”
    I feel heartbroken about every element of this and like I made bad choices. Maybe a trip to the office to see our kind, gentle vet would have been better. She got to be home this way, sure, but it was so unpleasant. Was she aware of this? I’m hoping the ativan was working and then the sedative. Because this was not a nice few minutes for her, not at all.
    Also, while I tried to be present and comfort her during this terrible time, I feel like I lost control of the situation so early… I don’t know if I was really there for her, either sufficiently comforting her (I was so distracted by the vet’s behavior) or demanding the respect and dignity she deserved. Actually, I know I didn’t do that last part. I should have made him stop and be kind. I want to change every single moment of what happened.
    As if all that weren’t bad enough, I am haunted by the possibility that she wasn’t passed when he took her away. He was so rushed—I somewhat don’t believe her heart was really stopped when he listened to it. And I didn’t get a moment anywhere in there to say a proper, peaceful goodbye.
    The whole thing was awful. I desperately hope it wasn’t as bad for her as I fear. It’s hard enough for her to be gone—this dread I feel about it all is just too much.

    • Oh KC, I’m so very sorry. Based on your description, I suspect that she wasn’t aware of much that was going on after she received the sedative. I hope in time, the memories of these final hours will fade for you and be replaced by the good memories of the years you spent together. Be gentle with yourself during this difficult time. Your grieving, and your grief is complicated by this experience.

      As for the vet, what he did is horrible on so many levels. There’s simply no excuse for this kind of conduct with a cat at any time, but especially not during this final, difficult time.

  7. My cat had been in pain for only a few days, but the last day, he was suffering too much. We took him to the vet, and the vet said that he had blockage in his bladder area or something, he said it was like trying to pour wet sand through a funnel, and that he had bladder crystals. That alone hurt me so much. Then the vet came in with the bill, saying how much the surgery to fix it was. We didn’t have the money to pay for it, so our only other option was euthanasia. We had to put him down. And I feel so so so guilty , because if we had been able to pay for it, he would be curled up by my feet right now. But I feel like if I try to stop feeling guilty or sad, that I would be betraying him. I love him so much, and I want this all to be a dream. But I know its not, and it won’t be. This was three weeks ago, I miss him

    • Grace, please don’t feel guilty You did the best you could for him. We don’t always have sufficient funds for large veterinary expenses, but you did the correct thing to relieve him of his suffering. He knew you loved him and that you would never do anything to hurt him.

    • My thoughts are with you so sorry for your loss. Hope you are feeling a little less guilty. You did the very best for your cat.

  8. I lost two special cats before Cleo Catra and her daughter, Abby T. Tabby, came into my life, and lived for years as “shop cats” in my antique/ collectibles shop. They were popular greeters and would let customers carry them around, or play with them on the floor. When I sold the shop 8 years ago, we all “retired” together, and all adjusted happily to living at my house, instead of the shop. Just last year, mom cat – Cleo – was diagnosed with diabetes. She was the best cat ever (Maine Coon mix) and had a beautiful, loving way about her. (More than once, people told me she had “an old soul,” which I believe for so many reasons). She tolerated the insulin injections twice and day, and her levels stabilized……but last June, while holding her, I noticed lump on her chest…. which was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer. My wonderful, very caring vet, did all she could, but we all knew it wouldn’t be long. In July, we agreed that I could take her home for the weekend (it was Friday) then bring her in for the last time on Monday. She knew. And I’m sure she didn’t want me to go through that with her……..and she quietly passed in the car on the way home. Cleo Catra was about 15. Abby is now about 14 (they came to me as rescues)
    …….we miss her mom very much, every day. I would have done what was necessary to end her suffering, but she took that decision from me.

    • I’m so sorry about Cleo Catra, Marilyn. I really do believe that sometimes, they try to spare us from having to make that difficult decision and go on their own.

  9. I had to make the hard decision to put down my 4 month old kitten Marie, she got really sick one night and we took her to the emergency vet she couldn’t stand on her own and her temperature was really low. She was a really healthy kitten up to that point she was a little thin but she always ate a lot. They told me she would need a blood transfusion and to stay there over night but the cost was too expensive I was willing to try and pay for it anyway I could but it was honestly impossible for me to afford it on top of that they said her chances where still really low. My heart was broken when I had to make that decision I was really attached to her cause I was with her since she was a week old before I took her home.She was like my little girl. It took me a really long time to make that decision and I’ll be honest I kind of hate myself for making that decision because I wanted to do something for her to keep her healthy I didn’t want to let her go, but she was suffering. I couldn’t do anything for her. When it came time for it to happen and they put her on the table she got up and walked to me and I could see how much pain she was in but she walked towards me and laid in front of me and it broke my heart I begged if there was anything else but at that point there was nothing else that could be done. I still remember the whole process after that it’s imprinted in my memory and I never got over having to make that decision and I still find myself crying over it. I miss her so much it hurts but I had to stay strong cause when I adopted her I also adopted her brother he is a healthy kitten and is about to reach a year old but I just keep thinking these days what would Marie look like now how big would she have been by now? I wish I could say I had a peaceful experience but I still haven’t recovered fully from the events that night.

    • Oh Karla, I’m so sorry. It’s always hard to lose a cat, but when it’s a young kitten, it seems like it’s even more devastating. My heart goes out to you.

  10. My husband and I have had many cats over the years. When they get old, when they look like they will start to suffer, we have to make that decision, and it hurts so much. But we had the pleasure of having them around for fifteen, sixteen, eighteen, nineteen years. We have two vets. One will come to the house, and gently get down next to the our beloved kitty and gently put him/her to sleep. Sometimes, we’ve had to go by emergency to our other vet. Again, they are gently put to sleep. And then the vet – a man – starts crying along with us and we’re all in tears and can’t stop for a long time. I don’t know how he does this week in and week out. The fact is, though, I think the cats and dogs who have loving owners and send them to their last sleep at (hopefully) just the right time, are luckier than people. MUCH luckier. They have someone to take responsibility and help them go gently into that good night.

  11. This was a terrific article! I am struggling with my decision from just over a week ago…just as I would have struggled had I waited too long and caused my beloved Zesty any more pain.Too soon, too late, impossible decision.

    • You used the phrase “beloved Zesty”. I am sure the feeling was mutual. DO NOT feel sorrow over the decision. Zesty would be horrified to cause you sorrow. YOU did not “cause” the pain. You were there with Zesty and you suffered just as badly. Focus on how ZESTY would want you to feel.

  12. I had to make this hardest choice for my Miko several years ago, and I will always be grateful for the compassionate vet who helped me. My regular vet was overbooked and could not see me but from the symptoms I was describing, wanted to make sure I saw someone and recommended where to try. The vet gave me all the options, and helped me to understand what Miko was going through. The prognosis was very bad, and I decided to do the right thing. Hardest decision I’ve ever made, but would have been so much worse without the caring of the vet. She made sure I had time to say goodbye, and explained the whole process to me. I know that this must be hard on vets because they love animals too, and thank goodness there are so many good ones out there.

  13. If I’d listened to my vet and my cat, rather than my breaking heart, I would have done the right thing and helped Blue be released from his agony instead of insisting on trying everything known to mankind (sort of a kidney transplant) to prolong his life as he deteriorated from end-stage kidney disease. I could have eased him peacefully into death, rather than watching him suffer so badly those last five days while I willed the steroids and antibiotics to work (it was futile, but I could not let him go), then having him die gasping in my arms.

    If I learned the lessons Blue tried to teach me, then when it’s Zander’s turn, and his early-stage kidney disease turns to end stage, and he moves from enjoying life to merely enduring it, I’ll listen to him and to my vets, and give Zander the peace I stole from Blue. When supportive measures no longer make him feel good, but only serve to prolong the misery or just slightly lessen it, I pray I have the bravery I lacked before.

    • Jeanne B., I feel for you. Your story is similar to mine. I feel guilt at not letting my Mama Cat go before she died scared and in pain in my arms. I’d rather she had gone peacefully to sleep and slipped away, not scared, not in pain, but don’t feel guilty, learn from it and know that letting a beloved animal go is the right thing to do when there is no hope and all they are doing is suffereing. You did what you thought was right at the time, but now you know when you are faced with that decision again to make the right one for you and your pet.

  14. I had to make this decision in mid July. I knew that I had to be with my baby. I would never forgive myself if I hadn’t been, even though it was the very early morning. He was disoriented and wailed and I knew immediately I had to let him go, even though it killed me inside. He had been through so much for two and a half years. I spoke to him before the vet came in and sat with him for a few minutes after he was gone. The only thing that was discomforting was his eyes stayed open. But I could tell by his eyes he was gone. And when I got his cremains back, I made a memorial for him, which I will always have. I know not everyone can handle being with their beloved pet at the end for whatever emotional reason and each individual decision is exactly that, an individual decision.

  15. I had to put my cat of 16 years to sleep July 4, 2014. He has been chronically ill (diabetes) but stable. He got very ill & because of the holiday we had to rush to the pet emergency clinic. It became clear that I had to stop his suffering. They asked me if I wanted to step out. I feel blessed that I had the time to hold him, kiss him & tell him how much I loved him & how much he meant to me. Although he was so weak, he purred. I know he knew how much I loved him. I did hold him the entire time. I did not want him to be scared or alone. My experience was peaceful.

  16. I cannot even imagine the heartbreak I’d feel doing this aspect of the job. I am incredibly empathetic, and I’m not sure I could handle this aspect of being a veterinarian. Even watching my clients suffer emotionally in counseling was a difficult task for me, knowing that they had to figure things out for themselves, and I just needed to be there to listen.

    I applaud veterinarians as they do so much more than help us heal our precious fur babies. They are very special people indeed.

    • It IS hard on them. I go every other Saturday to get treatment for my cat who has pancreatitis, and am pretty close to one of the vets in particular. She said how hard it is when she comes in & there are two or three euthanasias scheduled on a Saturday morning, but she understands. She told me she feels absolutely certain that it is because most people have Saturday & Sunday off to grieve and compose themselves before having to return to work on Monday. I also appreciate that while she will try to be helpful and take her clients’ feelings into account, when an animal is suffering she will INSIST it go now, as she did with my son’s cat who unfortunately died due to a dryer accident. I was on the phone with her when he came to and I could hear his cries. She said oh, no, this won’t do – I have to go. My son called me within 5 minutes to say he was gone, that she had said he wouldn’t make it and it was cruel to let him suffer.

  17. I was shocked by how devastated we were when our family dog died. What helped a bit was looking at pictures of her. I had one as my screen saver and compiled an album of her photos. Time made it easier, but we were profoundly sad, recognizing what an important part of the family she had been. I kept looking down, as I had when she was around, missing her terribly.

  18. Hi there,
    I was a Euthanasia technician for 3 years working with the RSCPA in Australia.
    Its tough. I am glad you have a heart for people who have to euthanase their pets.
    Sadly my euthanasia was mostly animals people didn;t want any more.

  19. I lost my beautiful Mama cat last summer to what my vet thought to be liver cancer. It happened so fast. One week she was fine, the next she was gone. My vet tried a few things, force feeding was the worst of it all, but she just went downhill and I knew I had to let her go. I made the appointment for the next day wanting one more day with her, but she died early (about 1:30am) that morning in my arms. She was scared and I believe in pain. After that I have a much better respect for euthanasia. I had to let her baby go a few years before due to FIV and she went quickly and painlessly unlike poor Rob’s experience. I wanted Mama to go the same way, with no pain, and not scared and with me there. I respect when people don’t want to be there, but I feel the animal will feel better if their owners are there, at least feel more comfort. I did hold my baby until she stopped breathing telling her how much I loved her and that I would see her again and to let go. It’s been almost a year and the pain for me is still there that I didn’t let her go peacefully.

    • I have no such respect for those that are NOT there for their cats last breath. I’m positive it gives some degree of comfort. Unfortunetly I’ve had to be there many times to see my beloved animals leave me forever. If I hadn’t been there I couldn’t live with myself.
      My last cats death seemingly happened so fast, a day and a half, since I noticed him hiding. The vet never told me what was wrong. This was on 5-14-2012 and she said he was suffering , gave him the fatal shot and left. No ones ever spoken to me about what was wrong tho his med records mentioned heart failure. To this day they continue to ignore me. He was a special and much loved cat.

      • Neela- I’m sorry to hear about your experience and sympathize with how frustrated you feel with not being told what was wrong. I was not there and cannot create an opinion on what happened, I am sorry for your loss.

        What bothered me was your lack of respect for people who are not there for the final moments, open your heart a little and understand that not everyone grieves the same and for some it is too overwhelmingly traumatic to stay. I’ll agree that some people are just callow, but they didn’t have an emotional investment in the first place, what kind of bond did they really have with the pet? In my 12 years as a vet tech I’ve seen the spectrum and have to say that those who couldn’t stay in the room trusted us to ease their pet gently into the next life, surrounded by love (and tears), and they themselves were too traumatized to stay and watch their pet breathe their last.
        In the case of those pets who’s owners were callow and didn’t have a strong bond, well, they got to feel all that love come from us as we cuddled and petted them to soothe them in their last minutes.
        I have been present for all of my pet’s deaths, from accidents to euthanasia, except one. My beloved Syd who I raised from birth. Once he was asleep I had to leave the building and I don’t regret that. The last thing he knew was that he was safe in my arms, and very tired.

        • I can’t imagine not wanting to be with my cats in those final moments, but I agree with you, Karl, it’s a very individual decision, and not everyone can handle it. If a guardian knows that they will be too distraught if they remain present at the end, the cat will pick up on the guardian’s distress, and not being present, in those cases, is a loving choice in that particular situation.

      • Neela, I understand your feelings, but there are people out there who just can’t handle it. The pain is just too much for them and also these are the same people who can’t go to funerals or even visit sick loved ones in the hospital. It’s just impossible for them. We must respect people’s feelings even if we don’t agree. It’s not that they don’t care it’s just so emotional that they break down. I for one will always be there for my cats or any animal that would need someone to hold them. If my friends could not do it, I would, but not everyone can. It’s such a personal thing that it’s almost impossible to judge. Some people are just not that strong, be proud of yourself that you can do it, but don’t judge others because they can’t.

  20. I never got to hold my cat. I never knew I had a choice. With a recent diagnosis of lung cancer, he lost a lot of weight to skin and bones. I was not told of my baby’s eyes remaining open after the sedative, just the breathing through the mouth and vomiting/gagging reflex. As he fell asleep, the vet took him to the back to put the cathetor into his front paw. Came back after 5 mins with him. My cat looked already dead but he apparently was still breathing (I don’t remember this but my partner said he was). As my cat laid on the table, he injected the final syringe into the tube and instantly my cat was gone. I don’t know if my cat suffered. All I remember was the first loud meow with the first injection (Sedative) and then the gagging, and final open eye sedation. No one I’ve talked to had the same experience and I’m still having issues with the non-sleepy, dreamy, perfect euthanization that everyone seem to have. I never held him before the injection, just after everything was done.

    I know I did the right thing to prevent suffering but somewhere in my heart I feel guilty that he may died in pain or scared. It’s been 3 months since and I miss him dearly.

    • Rob, I don’t think that necessarily means that your cat suffered. There are a lot of reactions they can have to sedatives, and there can be involuntary muscle reactions, even after death. I worked in a shelter and I can remember seeing cats who were to be euthanized who had been given the sedative, and their heads were usually lolling and they were drooling. Please be easy on yourself – you did the best you knew how, and you ended his suffering. And if there is a next time, you will know then that you can hold your cat.

    • I feel so sorry for you and had an experience where a vet did an exploratory surgery on my cat and said the cat was filled with an agressive cancer (his belly swelled up and he started wobbling when he walked) and pushed me to put him down while he was already under.
      The vet never gave me a chance to say goodby to him while he was awake before surgery. This was yrs ago and will never forgive him for that. The decision to put him doen was probably correct but to never has had a few moments witb him forfore would have meant alot to me.
      I not a professional but it sounds like your kitty wasnt suffering as u think, dont be so hard on yourself. It’s awfully easy to say that to someone else.

    • Thank you everyone for your kinds words and thoughts. My best friend also put his cat down 5 days later but he described his experience with another vet as peaceful, etc. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get another pet again. I know coming out of the box into the vet he looked so scared and I never got him to purr or settle down before the final moments. I did get to hold him after he passed but it wasn’t the same.
      I know he wasn’t eating or drinking and during the final days leading up to my decision, and at 3am that morning, I talked to him in bed and I rubbed his cheek and told him I loved him and that I had to make a decision. He licked my finger as if he understood. At least in some small part of my heart, I try to think he understood.
      This will be my last reply and I’ll be unfollowing this link as I need to move on and this just opens the wound again. (I’m about to cry at work). My baby’s remains still lives with me in a cedar box placed in a special place. I thank the pet crematory for the best service and understanding.

      Thanks everyone for caring

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