Dealing with Feelings of Guilt After Euthanasia

euthanasia-guilt

Guest post by Sarah Chauncey

For several days after the vet gently stopped my 20-year-old cat Hedda’s heart, I couldn’t get past the feeling that Hedda didn’t want to die, or at least, she wanted it to happen in her own time, naturally.

I had been one of those people who was adamant that I would not choose euthanasia unless I believed Hedda felt death would be preferable. I didn’t believe her life was mine to end. Nobody would likely look at a photo of Hedda, compared to her prime, and say it was too soon. But all I cared about was whether she felt it was too soon. I felt like I betrayed her trust.

I’ve heard people say that, in this situation, we choose the path that will give us the least cause for regret. With euthanasia, no regret is usually not an option. Except for those instances where an animal is in acute distress and nothing can be done, the timing for euthanasia is rarely clear-cut. It’s also largely influenced by our personal beliefs, and our resources.

No regret is usually not an option. Except for those instances where an animal is in acute distress and nothing can be done, the timing for euthanasia is rarely clear-cut.

During our last 24 hours together, I vowed that if there were any negative karmic repercussions from my decision, that I bore them wholly (I also really, really hoped there weren’t).

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Hedda

How Guilt Tries to Protect Us

Guilt is the mind’s resistance to what is, a futile attempt to change the past. In the context of euthanasia, guilt prevents us from feeling the full pain of having to say goodbye to a being we love. In a roundabout way, our mind tries to protect our heart by creating thoughts of guilt: “I should have…” “I shouldn’t have…” “I gave up too soon,” “I waited too long,” etc. Those thoughts—the mind’s incessant activity—keep painful emotions stuck in our bodies.

The thing is, guilt doesn’t change anything. It simply makes us feel miserable. And guilt compounds the grief, because as long as the mind is whirring, the heart can’t process its pain.

After Hedda’s death, I wanted to know that she forgave me. Because that wasn’t an option, I was the one who had to forgive myself.

I wanted to know that she forgave me. Because that wasn’t an option, I was the one who had to forgive myself.

Guilt and Inquiry

In the midst of all my inner turmoil, I came back to what I’d been practicing for several years. Guilt is simply a thought—the thought that I should have done something differently. So I decided to examine that thought.

The following is loosely based on The Work by Byron Katie, combined with questions a good therapist would’ve asked me. For each of us, the answers may vary. My answers don’t indicate what your answers “should” be—they’re what came up for me. The questions, though, can give you insight into how your thoughts of guilt may be trying to protect you.

Is it true that I should have done something differently? I don’t know. Let’s say “yes,” just for the purposes of this exercise. Let’s say I believe I absolutely should not have deliberately facilitated Hedda’s death.

Can I be absolutely certain that that thought is true? No, of course not.

Can I see a way the opposite statement might be equally or more true (i.e., that I absolutely should have ended her life)? Well, yes, but then there’s a story behind that, which is that if that was true, then maybe she had been suffering for a while, so I still wasn’t off the hook.

What if this was absolutely the perfect timing, and I didn’t do anything wrong. Could I see that as a true statement? Yes. [Huge energy shift here]

If I didn’t use up energy believing this thought, what would I have to feel? Pain, loss, grief, emptiness. It’s much easier to distract myself with thoughts.

If I didn’t believe the thought “I shouldn’t have had her euthanized,” what would I feel? Relaxed, calm, expansive. Appreciative of her love and our time together.

This series of questions helped to release me from the shackles of guilt. Not entirely, but substantially. I came to see that “guilt” was just a way of distracting myself from feeling the pain and sadness, the silence (SO MUCH silence), the ache in my chest. Guilt also prevented me from appreciating the mystery of life, of love, and of death.

I don’t mean to sound like “and everything was sunshine forever more.” It wasn’t. I still missed Hedda’s physical presence—even more than when I’d been distracting myself with guilt thoughts. Yet once I was able to feel the waves of grief directly, unencumbered by guilt, I found that each wave dissipated more quickly.

black-cat

Hedda

Finding Self-forgiveness

Letting go of guilt doesn’t mean the love is gone, or we miss our cat any less. It simply frees us to experience what we’re feeling in the moment instead of trying to change the past.

There’s a popular quote, attributed to multiple people, from Lily Tomlin to Jack Kornfield, that says, “Forgiveness is giving up hope of a better past.” We all do the best we can, with the resources we have, in each moment. A friend of mine, when thinking about the euthanasia of her cats, turns to another quote, from Jeff Foster, “Simply let go of the illusion that it could have been any different.”

If you can’t stop the torrent of thoughts, that’s okay, too. Try to show yourself the same compassion you’ve shown your cats. Grief (and guilt) are painful enough without adding an extra layer of feeling bad about feeling bad.

If grief or feelings of guilt are interfering with your day-to-day life, it’s okay to seek professional help. There are growing numbers of pet loss support groups, both in person and online, as well as one-on-one counseling options. You are not alone.

p.s.-i-love-you-more-than-tuna

Sarah Chauncey is the author of P.S. I Love You More Than Tuna, an upcoming gift book for adults grieving their cat. She runs @morethantuna on Instagram and Facebook, “a celebration of nine lives,” and she started #tunatributes, a support community for people grieving their cat. She lives on Vancouver Island.

78 Comments on Dealing with Feelings of Guilt After Euthanasia

  1. KLF
    November 13, 2020 at 7:45 pm (2 weeks ago)

    I was very thankful to find this post. We had to put our 20 year old baby girl down yesterday and I am filled with guilt and sadness.

    She’d been declining slowly for the past few months, down to only 5 pounds and just wasn’t herself anymore. Then over the last couple months she had blood in her urine even after 2 rounds of antibiotics. In the last 2 weeks her eyes began filling with blood, making her nearly blind, in pain and scared. She was still eating, but urinating outside her litter box, hiding and so lethargic. The vet couldn’t find a definitive reason for her decline and the blood in her eyes, but she was over 20 and likely her body was starting to shut down. We had the option of steroids and pain meds to make her comfortable, but there was no guarantee and we opted not to put her through that to maybe get a few more days or weeks. She HATED the vet and I just couldn’t ask her to keep having to go it was so stressful for her.

    My guilt comes from wondering if we should have just tried, maybe all she needed was some steroids and pain meds and she’d still be here meowing for dinner. She was so upset and hissing and crying at the vet before the procedure and I just feel like I failed her after all these years together. I wanted it to be so peaceful for her and it was at the very end, but she was so stressed beforehand. I hope you forgive me baby girl…I would have done anything to make you happy. I just didn’t want her to get to such a bad state that she was in severe pain and suffering, that may have broken my heart even more. They say you never want to make the decision a week too early or an hour too late but I just don’t know what the right decision was.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 14, 2020 at 4:58 am (2 weeks ago)

      From what you’re describing, it sounds to me like you made the right decision for your girl even though it was devastating for you. While every cat and every situation is different, I’ve always felt that it’s better to make the decision a little too soon rather than waiting too long.

      Reply
  2. Brittany
    October 19, 2020 at 4:39 pm (1 month ago)

    It has been a month to the day that my husband and I had to say goodbye to our sweet boy Rascal. Some people say it gets easier as the days go on, but I have come to find out that the pain of missing him cuts deeper and deeper into my heart. I adopted Rascal and his brother Teddy 13 years ago, they are both beautiful big Tabby cats. About 2.5 years ago, I found a red lump on Rascals low ankle. I took him to the vet and they did surgery to get a good biopsy. I can still remember the phone call to this day from the vet telling me that sadly, Rascal had a very aggressive cancer called Fibro sarcoma. I was devastated. I did all of the online research that I could, took him for a second opinion, and took him to an oncologist to talk about our treatment options.

    The oncologist told us that due to how aggressive the cancer is, we should fully amputate his right leg, undergo chemo, and radiation immediately. My husband and I were in complete shock. We were told that even with doing all of that radical treatment, Rascal would most likely only live a year and a half before the cancer would be back. We thought about our options, how much stress any of that would put on our baby, and made the decision to let him live his best life.

    A month ago, when we put him down at home, was 2.5 years after his cancer diagnosis. During those 2.5 years we gave Rascal ALL of the love, hugs, cuddles, and play time that we could. We soaked up as much time as we could with our sweet boy, but all the time in the world truly wasn’t enough. He was my best friend, he followed me everywhere I went, and to this day I wake up and look for him and instantly realize he is no longer with me. When I think about it, I feel my heart sink.

    Over the last few months, Rascals tumor on his foot had grown so big. We were keeping it clean by washing it a few times a day, and helping him stay mobile by taking him to the vet weekly for cold laser therapy – which worked wonders! He could still walk after all of this time, which shocked our vets. Due to Rascal wanting to bite at his tumor, we had to keep a recovery collar on him when we weren’t around him – this was just for the last few months. But thankfully for COVID, we had been working from home and most of the time didn’t need to use the cone.

    The last 24 hours with Rascal seem like a blur. We woke up on Friday morning and he was his usual cuddly self. We took his nighttime bandage off his tumor, but something was different this time. The tumor wouldn’t stop bleeding. We kept cleaning it off, for what must have been 30 minutes. It kept gushing blood, there was so much of it that Rascal was slipping on it while we were trying to keep him foot and the counter clean. All of the sudden he started letting out this deep cry – we had never heard this before. His whole body went completely limp. We had to lay him on the bathroom floor were he continued to cry, bleed out, and the defecate.

    We rushed him to our vets office. I held him in the back of my car and told him it was going to be okay while he was gasping for breath. All of this escalated out of nowhere – my husband and I were in shock. The vet wouldn’t allow us in the building due to COVID, but came out after they did blood work to tell us that he was dangerously anemic. They believed that the cancer was causing the anemia inside his body. We had to make the choice to have them run further tests, and possibly do a blood transfusion – but if it was the cancer causing the anemia that the same problem would follow time and time again until it was too late. I didn’t want Rascal to struggle – and it pained me to think about putting him through any thing else – he had been the strongest boy for 2.5 years. It was the most difficult thing I have ever done to decide enough was enough for my baby boy.

    My husband and I made a early morning at home euthanasia appointment with a vet we didn’t know. I wanted him to pass away at home in my arms. We pulled an all nighter with Rascal, we didn’t sleep a wink as we didn’t want to miss out on any last moments with him. When 6:30 rolled around and the vet pulled up to the house, I lost it. I was trying to talk myself out of the procedure, but knew in my heart that Rascal would suffer if I didn’t do this for him.

    I sat with Rascal in his favorite room, on the bed while the vet administered the sedative shot in the back of his neck. She didn’t warn me at all that pets can have different reactions to sedation. Unfortunately, the experience was a little bit traumatic for me, and I haven’t been able to let it go. Rascal seemed calm and like himself for 5 minutes after the shot, he didn’t seem sleepy at all. He actually got up to walk and didn’t realize that his body was so limp due to all of the medications/pain killers. He jumped off the bed, and I tried to catch him, but he ended up landing a little off and tipped over. His head bumped against the dresser and I started crying asking the vet if he had just hurt himself – she told me there was no way that he could feel anything due to all of the meds. She said he just wanted to get up and walk around but his body couldn’t do so.

    I was bawling silently while holding him, kissing him, and telling him how much we loved him and how much he meant to us. The vet gave him the final shot after we spent a few minutes hugging on him. Saying goodbye to my best friend was devastating – I have cried every day since. I knew it was going to be sad saying goodbye, but I had NO clue that I would feel guilty. The moment he was gone all I could say was like I felt like I murdered my baby. How could I do that?? He trusted me and I killed him. These thoughts have consumed me for the last month, and I don’t know that they will go away. I miss him so much, all I wish is that I could pick him up and hold him again.

    My heart goes out to anyone who has lost their baby or is in the process of having to make this decision. I keep asking myself what if we would have chosen to amputate at first? Maybe it would have cured him? But given all of the information we received, we thought we made the best decision for him. After all, he was a 17 pound cat with arthritis in one of this shoulders, so amputation could have made another issue altogether. Sometimes I think that I could have done more for him, but then I try to tell myself that I could have done more TO him and that that is not what he would have wanted. I wish he could have been with me forever. He was the best cat. His brother and dad also miss him more than words can express. We love you Rascal.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 20, 2020 at 5:03 am (1 month ago)

      Oh Brittany, I’m crying after reading your story. I’m so so sorry – what an awful way to lose your special boy. Despite everything he went through during his last 24 hours, I believe that he knew without a doubt that you were holding him and kissing him during those last few moments. Be gentle with yourself as you mourn Rascal. You went through an extremely traumatic experience. You may want to consider getting some help to cope from a counselor specializing in pet loss and/or post traumatic stress. My heart goes out to you.

      Reply
  3. Lynn k
    September 30, 2020 at 7:59 am (2 months ago)

    I lost my Cleopatra at the end of January of this year she was a perfect happy little spunky thing in one night about 5 o’clock in the morning I woke up to her crying and what looked like throwing up brown stuff it turns out she had a blood clot it happen suddenly she lost feeling in her back legs and her tail I rushed her to the vet promised her that I would save her when I got to the vets office he said there’s a little chance that she would make it even with surgery to try to remove the blood clot she was 11 years old we didn’t know if she never walk again or feeling her tail her back legs I still feel guilty that I didn’t take the time and the money to see if there was a chance to save her and to call the cardiologist then I had to go to sleep quietly in broke my promise to her When I saw she couldn’t breathe and rest her to the vet when this happened I feel like I let her down I promised her she’d be OK the guilt is eating me up every day I think God that I have her sister has siblings still with me but it’s still really really difficult I can’t get past this I don’t know if I did the right thing or how to know perhaps I could’ve saved her I don’t know

    Reply
    • Brittany
      October 20, 2020 at 10:24 am (1 month ago)

      Lynn, I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your Cleopatra. I understand the feeling of guilt so well. I lost my baby Rascal a month ago to cancer and haven’t been able to get over the “what ifs” or the thoughts about that I could have done more to save him. Please know that you made the best decision you could have for your baby. There are so many unknowns in life, and I hope that if anything, you are able to know for sure that you saved Cleopatra from any future pain or suffering that she might have had.

      Reply
  4. Elly
    September 30, 2020 at 12:04 am (2 months ago)

    My beloved Squibs was put down last Saturday. I had him for 12 years since I was 10 years old.I am still in shock. I have so much guilt from how I treated him the last few days. I had moved to a new apartment and he came with. He was urinating outside of his litter box a lot . Did some research and it said it could be he’s stressed about the new environment. I was becoming so frustrated with him I would scold him. Then one day I woke up to him partially paralyzed. Took him to the vet and he had a brain tumor, I’m soooo depressed thinking about the past and how I shouldn’t have yelled at him so much. I didn’t know what was going on there wasn’t any symptoms. No one else saw anything wrong he was eating and everything. It was too late and I had to say goodbye all of a sudden. I miss him so much my sweet boy. I just want to know if he knew I loved him so much And if he forgave me when he left

    Reply
    • Kat
      September 30, 2020 at 7:15 am (2 months ago)

      Omg squibs I’m so sorry. I understand that feeling of being upset/then regretting not being more kind when you realized what was going on. I can relate. It’s okay. I can tell from your comment that… you loved squibs. It’s okay to be human and have emotions like you did. Nobody likes to pick up cat pee, and nobody likes the stress of moving apartments. He knew you loved him. He KNOWS you love him. Send those thoughts and intentions out in the world.

      We never “die” forever, our energy just changes to a different form that we are yet to individually understand… it’s never too late to remind squibs how much you love him. I had to unexpectedly put my little Kiwi down in June and still I feel occasional guilt about some things, but I just send love out to her instead. I actually got an orchid as a gift not too long after and I named it after her, so everyday when I check on it I ask it “hiya kiwi, how’s it goin?! Looking great!” so I can make sure I give her love and keep her in my life. Just an idea.

      Reply
  5. Chris
    September 25, 2020 at 5:38 am (2 months ago)

    My Angel Charlie was put to sleep over 2 years ago and I still feel racked with guilt. I loved him LOVE him so much but hate myself that I could not be there for the procedure. I was in a terrible state crying and shaking the vet tried to calm me down as I was making Charlie upset but I couldn’t he suggested that I don’t be there when it was done but let me have a few minutes with him alone before hand.

    To this day I wish I was stronger for him and stay with him while it was done, when I think of it if feel so much guilt and can never forgive myself.

    Reply
  6. Wendy
    July 28, 2020 at 1:50 pm (4 months ago)

    I am feeling like you all are ! Feel guilty like I didn’t try hard enough even though the vet said it was not a guaranty to work surgery and how many times do I put my baby boy through pain ? It all started this past Monday it came on quickly ,my 23 month old male cat couldn’t pee and was in so much pain , took him to vet they drained his bladder and they subscribed meds but they didn’t work , he was hiding on us and just sounded so sad and in pain .He was blocked and needed expensive surgery which wasn’t even guaranteed to work so he would have to go through it a second time and might not work then either and it’s a very painful and tricky surgery I had to do the most humane thing to do and let him go last Thursday night .I get upset with every noise (especially birds chirping) I hear cause he was so snoopy he needed to be every where there was action , even making super or in bathroom he had to be there with you . I miss him sooo much . Keep thinking he’s coming home from vet but he’s not .keep hearing him meowing . He was on wet food he was to spoiled to eat dry food so it wasn’t from the dry food ! It’s just an awe full awe full thing which happens to male cats which I didn’t even know was a thing and I grew up on a farm with cats everywhere. Really need to find a 100percent cure for it . Not one that’s not guaranteed to work cause this is so devastating to us all . This is the worst thing, to have your baby in pain and you can’t help them .

    Reply
    • Sharyn
      September 21, 2020 at 6:55 pm (2 months ago)

      I am sorry Wendy for your loss. I went through the exact same thing in
      Feb. 24/2020 and my boy was the same age. I also let him go.
      What a horrible situation…and the guilt is overwhelming.
      Stay strong, you will be able to move on….I now have a new little girl named
      “Silk” and she has helped me a lot.

      Reply
  7. Lisa Hill
    July 20, 2020 at 10:12 pm (4 months ago)

    These post have really helped me. Tomorrow my Boomer goes to sleep. 14 years ago he came to our house and decided this was home. We fell in love. He is my gentle giant. In his younger years he hit 30 pounds and was a big cat teddy bear. He got to about 20 pounds then stayed there for years. He never offered to bite or scratch. Definately just a lover boy. A few months ago he started eating less and less. We thought it was dental. The vet pulled a couple teeth and he got alot of antiobiotics for his gums and he seemed like his old self for a few weeks. But then the eating would stop… more antiobiotics.. then food stimulates… nausea meds.. giving him fluids… maybe it is arthritis pain… added pain meds… still not eating.. predisone shot and he was so hungry we gave him a bite of chicken and he almost choked to death. After that he refused all food. For 2 weeks I have been giving him kitty milk with a syringe… he is down to around 10 pounds and is basically a skeleton. I have fought this so hard… we’ve spend so much money at the vet; but they now think its probably a cancer in his stomach or throat stopping him from eating. Even if we do the MRI’s and other test, how much can we put our poor baby through. I’m broken hearted. I think he still loves to cuddle and drink water and walk around but thats not anything compared to his previous quality of life… and the cuddles comfort me. But I love him and feel so guilty.. just one more day.. .just one more day… and tomorrow he will go to sleep and not have any pain anylonger and why am I feeling like I am betraying him? This isn’t my first experience, but I love so much and so hard. My mind tells me I am doing this for him but my heart still breaks.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 22, 2020 at 5:24 am (4 months ago)

      It’s such a hard decision and my heart goes out to you, Lisa. I wish you strength and a peaceful and gentle passing for Boomer today.

      Reply
      • Lisa Hill
        July 23, 2020 at 9:05 pm (4 months ago)

        Thank you. He did go to sleep very peacefully. The sedative before relaxed him and I think he felt so much relief for just that little time. He wasn’t hurting and he just took a nap like so many times before. My heart still breaks because I wanted him with me forever, and I’ll grieve for him a long time but I know he isn’t in pain anylonger and that is our sad responsibility, to make sure no matter how much it cost us (and I don’t mean money); that we make the choices best for them.

        Reply
        • Kat
          July 23, 2020 at 10:14 pm (4 months ago)

          My heart goes to you Lisa. Rainbow bridge. <3

          Reply
    • Karen P
      July 23, 2020 at 3:34 pm (4 months ago)

      I lost my Radar after a long battle with cancer. He was my special once in a life time boy. But, it was time..The decision as way beyond gut wrenching, but it was the last thing I was able to do for my sweet boy.

      Reply
  8. Laura
    June 14, 2020 at 12:36 pm (6 months ago)

    Yesterday June 13th, I had to make a difficult decision very quickly and put my cat down. It was awful and I feel so much regret and wish I could rewind and handled things differently. My beautiful cat Sookie was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure in March 2020. The vet had prescribed her medications to help alleviate the symptoms of CHF. She took her meds like a champ, except for her blood thinners; they were too bitter. I would take her to her follow up appointments and the cardiologist would modify her dose of medications if needed. The awful thing about taking her to the vet is that she would literally panic during the ride to the vet; she hated it. During these car rides she would panic, vomit and poop too. It was awful to see her suffer during these car rides to the vet. As time went on, these car rides to the vet were stressing her out so much that she would have difficulty breathing. I promised her that when the time came I would make sure she was comfortable at home instead of having to put her down at the vet after a stressful car ride. This perfect vision did not happen. I noticed my Sookie’s behavior was changing; her appetite was decreasing, she was hiding more, isolating herself more and breathing more rapidly than usual. I was hesitant to take her to the vet and was hesitant to call in home hospice care. I didn’t know what to do. I figured if I took her to the vet I would risk stressing her out but they would make her feel better and adjust her medications. If I asked for hospice care, I felt like I was cutting her life short when there was a possibility she may have more months to live. Well I ended up taking her to the emergency vet which I wish I never did. The car ride was horrible, she was gasping for air, crying and I thought she was going into cardiac arrest. When we reached the parking lot I called the vet and told them my cat was having difficulty breathing. Due to COVID I could not go in with her. The vet tech met me in the parking lot and took her. I then got a call that she was on Oxygen and X-rays showed she had a lot of fluid build up. They said I had to make a decision really quick to consent to treatment to remove the fluid. At that point, I told them to just per her down. I figured I stressed her out enough, if I was to move forward with the procedure, then fluid was just going to accumulate again over time. Who knows how the car ride would be on the way back. They ended up giving her a sedative to relax her. I asked to be with her when they put her down which they allowed. The sad part about this whole thing is that she gave me unconditional love for the five years I had her and I couldn’t even reciprocate back and let her leave earth peacefully. My vision of euthanizing her peacefully at home just went out the door. I keep asking myself why I decided to take her to the vet. I feel so selfish because subconsciously I thought the vet would be able to treat her and I could have more time with her. Instead my decision to take her to the vet just stressed her out. I hate myself for this and just wish I stuck with my gut feeling. I just feel like I didn’t get the closure with her because she was so out of it at that point; she looked so miserable and it was all my fault she was like that. I miss her so much and the guilt is just eating away at me.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 14, 2020 at 3:13 pm (6 months ago)

      I’m so sorry, Laura. I’m glad you were able to be with her at the end, but I know that’s small comfort right now. My heart goes out to you.

      Reply
      • Laura
        June 15, 2020 at 1:52 pm (6 months ago)

        Thank you Ingrid for your kind words.

        Reply
      • Laura
        June 15, 2020 at 2:03 pm (6 months ago)

        Ingrid, I’m so grateful for this site. I find it to be very therapeutic and helpful. Everyone’s post is quite meaningful and my heart goes out to all the parents of fur babies.

        Reply
    • Katja
      June 14, 2020 at 7:50 pm (6 months ago)

      I am bawling reading your story, Laura. Sookie is so lucky to have had a mom to care for her so much…. a mom who always questioned how to best care for her… how to best keep her alive and happy. You took her to the Emergency Vet because that’s what your instincts told you — your instinct to protect her and care for Sookie at all costs. Everything you wrote shows me that you are an incredibly loving cat mom. None of this is easy and it’s okay to cry and cry and cry and cry now… and also in 7 years when you think of her again.

      I have to put my little babe down tomorrow and I’m devastated as well — but I want you to know that your story really touched me. What if you’re mislabeling your emotions as “guilt” when it’s really just the understanding of how much you loved her and how much she meant to you? If we didn’t feel any emotions at all… what would that mean? Maybe the outstanding amount of pain and sadness we feel is directly proportional to the amount of intense love and joy our cat(s) brought to our lives. It’s OKAY to feel sad and emotional. If anything, it shows how much you/we loved them. <3

      Wishing you peace and calmness. I'm so, so sorry. Sending you a virtual hug with so much love.

      -Katja

      Reply
      • Laura
        June 15, 2020 at 1:48 pm (6 months ago)

        Thank You Katja for your kind words. What you said makes a lot of sense and helps me put things into perspective more. I’m very sorry about your fur baby and I also wish you peace and calmness during these times. Sending you a a virtual hug right back. Please take care.

        Reply
    • Carole George
      June 27, 2020 at 4:32 am (5 months ago)

      Laura I am grieving for Finley. I had him euthanised at home and believe me the experience was not any better. The vet gave him a sedative which freaked him out and I found myself holding him down so he couldn’t run away and hide. The guilt is unbearable. He had heart failure and hyperthyroidism. I wish with all my heart I had just left him to die naturally with palliative care. My heart is broken.

      Reply
      • Katja
        June 27, 2020 at 9:37 am (5 months ago)

        Hi Carole. I just had to put my cat down a couple weeks ago and felt drawn to respond to your post. My vet also came to my house and euthanized her while she was in my arms. It took a lot of thought and tears to get me to that point as part of me also wanted to just keep her *forever* and let her pass naturally. My heart is also broken.

        However, my vet is great and I talked a LOT with her while she came over about it and whether putting her asleep versus letting them pass naturally is the kind thing to do, and there isn’t a doubt in my mind that being there for them while it happens so they can hear our voices and our hugs is always the answer.

        Reading your post made me think of an analogy, particularly when you expressed your guilt about him trying to run away. — imagine there’s a child (human) who is following a cute squirrel and ends up in the middle of the road and cars are passing by scaring the actual heck out of him. His mom spots him and loudly says his name and starts to chase after him. As he sees this, he naturally feels emotional and starts to cry and sprint out of danger and to some wooded area to get away from the loud sounds of cars whizzing by, honking horns, and when he gets there he continues to cry because he’s scared and doesn’t want to be alonE and doesn’t know where his mom is. (As a nanny- I can contest that almost always, when you yell for a kid, it’s like they naturally run in the opposite direction, ha)

        Anyways, in the above example, do you think he was running from his mom because he didn’t want her there with him the whole time to comfort him? Or do you think he simply ran because he was just scared of the moment and it’s a natural bodily response? But as soon as his mom was with him and cuddling him, they could work through it and peace would come over him.

        Imagine if the mom never yelled her child’s and chased after him and comforted him… imagine if that boy just ran to those woods and cried… and felt lonely and scared and sad and helpless until the end of his days. Imagine if you weren’t there the very moment your sweet kitty’s heart failure and hyperthyroidism hit its breaking point and he spent his last moments in complete fear and pain.. and loneliness without you, like that little child under a tree without his mom.

        What you gave your kitty by being there with him through this, even though it may have felt HARD and SAD for you to watch him have a natural bodily reaction to run… was the ultimate sacrifice. You gave up your “innocence” or lack of knowing how he might have felt in his last few moments (imagine you were in the shower or on a trip to the store when it happened)… and you made an invisible deal with him that you’d allow yourself to suffer the pain of seeing that but in return give him your time, attention, love and comfort in the time when he needed it most.

        You are loving, kind, and your kitty will live on through you forever.

        Reply
    • Carole George
      June 29, 2020 at 3:59 pm (5 months ago)

      Laura I was in exactly the same position as you. Finley had congestive heart failure and hypothyroidism. He hated the journey to the vet and always cried uncontrollably as soon as I put him in the basket. I also had to make the decision to have his lungs drain again or let him go. I decided to have him euthanised at home in the garden. The vet arrived and injected him with a sedative. He went into complete panic and was so scared I had to hold him down in case he ran away. The guilt is unbearable. There is no right way for an animal to die. The only thing I would say to anyone contemplating euthanasia at home is ask to give your pet the sedative yourself in tablet form. That way if he is already on medication it is nothing frightening or out of the ordinary. It is too late for my little Finn but I hope it will help other owners to lessen the stress on their beloved pet.

      Reply
      • Laura
        July 8, 2020 at 12:06 am (5 months ago)

        Hi Carole, thank you for sharing. I know Finn was very lucky to have you as a mom. The choice of euthanasia is never easy and I’m starting to see that there is not really a right or wrong way but what matters is your heart is in the right place to do what is best for your fur baby at that given time under difficult circumstances. I know my cat would have done the same thing too if I was able to euthanize her at home; I could only imagine that she would of ran under the bed and I would have had to drag her out….it’s just not easy. Sending a virtual hug to you.

        Reply
  9. Elinor
    March 1, 2020 at 6:25 pm (9 months ago)

    This is such a helpful site. I had my part-Norwegian Forest cat Maisie put to sleep a few days ago, and I am not so ravaged about guilt over that decision, as from the feeling that I could have prevented her getting to that point, at least this soon.

    She has had hyperthyroidism for four years, and I have been medicating her for that time with various medications, three times a day. I was living with my partner when she first got sick, and he helped me when he wasn’t at work, but because I was retired I got the lion’a share of the work. We also had to syringe feed her for a while as she stopped eating, lost a lot of weight, and one vet told us we were looking at euthanasia back in 2016. But I did some research and suggested syringe feeding to the vet, and with commitment from me and my partner we got her to come good and put on weight. So that was wonderful.

    After that, I got into the routine of medicating her and I just got used to it. I explored the possibility of radioactive iodine treatment, and took her to a specialist vet about it, as this would have completely cured the hyperthyroidism. Unfortunately he said her condition was complicated by some sort of chronic gut condition: either lymphoma or inflammatory bowel disease, and that the treatment would be too risky as the cat has to be isolated for several days. I look back on that and feel guilty as I think maybe I should have tried again for another opinion later when she was more stable.

    Anyway my partner and I separated in 2017 and I had to look after her myself after that. But I got into the routine of medication, regular vet checkups, and interventions for various flare ups along the way.

    Then she started getting lots of problems with her bowel movements, and became severely constipated. She had an enema a couple of times, and the vets suggested a laxative. So I started giving her that in the morning, but she was eating erratically and only small amounts, so often she didn’t get a sufficient dose. She was also staring to get poo on her fur, and dags on her bottom, due to incomplete defecation. I tried to clean her up as best I could, but she’d get very cranky when I touched that area, which was so unlike her normal placidness. She had always been such a loving cat who loved being handled.
    Anyway, I learned along the way about things like washing your cat’s bottom, and did this in the laundry sink. She hated it, but at least I felt it was something I could do to help her

    Then I was told to give her paraffin oil in a small quantity of her food. So I tried that, and the first time I did it she did eat it. And this is where the guilt starts. It did lead to a bowel movement and she got messy round her tail and bottom. I wiped it off as best I could when I saw it, but I thought “I’ll wash her later when I’ve got time.”

    Well two days later she got flystrike in her bottom and the maggots dug so deep into her she had to be put down. Because I’d let her go outside, which she loved doing, the flies had got to her, and I never knew this would be a risk. I’ve only found it out now by googling and I just hate myself that I didn’t wash her bottom sooner (I did it on her last day, which is how I found them), and do more research to know about this risk. The vet was very kind, and told me the flystrike developed so quickly because she was so weak and immune compromised. Her bottom had been sore and inflamed for some time, despite frequent vet visits and my attempts to manage her constipation and clean her up.

    Another thing I blame myself about is that I noticed her drinking water more and more, to the point of obsessiveness, and in hindsight I feel I should have put her on a strict renal diet, but I didn’t. The vet tested her kidneys and said they were declining, but not end stage or anything like that, and they didn’t suggest a renal diet at that point. Whereas my other cat is on it (mainly – I’m going to be more strict about it from now on). But the cattery lady I talked to said the drinking was a sign she should be on that diet, and that it solves the kidney problems.

    I think that if I’d done that, she wouldn’t have been so dehydrated and perhaps not got so constipated. So, more guilt there.

    To be honest I was really struggling to cope with the situation as my health is not great due to chronic fatigue syndrome. But I did my best and spent a fortune on vet visits, blood tests, etc. I am retired and have enough money to cope with the cost, so I am luckier than most in that I had more time and reasonable finances. Early in the piece the cost did worry me, but then I just decided I would spend whatever was necessary to keep her going and have a reasonable quality of life. In the end though, the vet said an operation on the wound would be so extensive, and she might well not survive the op, that he advised against it. He said it was likely she would suffer a lot in the recovery process if she even got through the operation. And she might need more than one op.

    So my guilt is that I feel I could have prevented the awful way she went. She was in a lot of pain from the maggots, and I so wish her end could have been more dignified. I know she would have likely died this year from one cause or another, but I thought it would be heart failure or a seizure. She has had seizures regularly over the years.

    But I just miss her so damn much now she’s gone – far more than I expected – and I would give anything to have her back even just for a few more months or weeks. She was the best cat ever. Loving, beautiful, cuddly, intelligent, and a constant companion in my life. I have one cat left now, and he is lovely, but he is not her.

    I long to find some peace over this, and end this emotional pain which torments me.

    Reply
    • Laura
      June 15, 2020 at 2:18 pm (6 months ago)

      Elinor, I’m so sorry for your loss and I understand what you are going through. Unfortunately when difficult decisions arise, I feel like any best decision we do there will always be some guilt associated with it. I recently put my cat down 2 days ago and I too am experiencing guilt. It’s clear to me that you did everything you could for Maisie. The fact that you let her go outside shows you were allowing her to do things she enjoyed. All I see is love that you gave her. I wish you peace during these times and I hope you will remember the special moments you had with Maisie. She was lucky to have you as a cat mom.

      Reply
  10. Meg
    February 16, 2020 at 6:51 pm (10 months ago)

    I chose to put my girl to sleep almost a week ago and I’m gutted with guilt, sadness, and even some anger.
    She was almost 8 and had been diagnosed with diabetes last summer. She was doing well with a diet change and meds. In November she had a severe bout of dka and was hospitalized for a week and they weren’t sure she would pull through. It was expensive but she was saved. We vowed that if it happened again we couldn’t put her through it again. Around New Years we noticed she was thinner. I took her to the vet and her bloodwork showed elevated liver Vet recommended additional testing but we opted to go with a more conservative plan of adding some meds for ibs or possible lymphoma (I wasn’t about to put her through surgery to do a biopsy). She lost another pound in the next week and a half. She had a hearty appetite but was always hungry…. always. Her body wasn’t processing any of the food she ate. She was wasting away. Sunday morning she ate but by Sunday afternoon she was visibly in pain. She wouldn’t eat. I gave her an appetite stimulant and some chicken. She later threw it up. She vomited the next morning after she drank water. I took her right to the vet when they opened. Again the option was to do more testing but by then her temp was down, she had lost over 1/3 of her regular body weight and we had no guarantee that we’d get her well. We decided to end her life. But could I have done more? Should I have done more? This was my girl and I let her down. Is being dead better than going through the treatments? I can’t wrap my head around it

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 17, 2020 at 6:05 am (10 months ago)

      I’m so sorry about your girl, Meg. Based on what you’re describing, it sounds to me like you made the right decision to let her go. Unfortunately, second guessing yourself is part of the grieving process, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else tells you. I hope in time, you can find peace with your decision. My heart goes out to you.

      Reply
    • Ana
      March 3, 2020 at 4:22 pm (9 months ago)

      Meg! First of all thank you for sharing your story. About 6 weeks ago I had to make the same decision you did. Naomi my beautiful 13yo chihuahua had what me and my husband thought was a severe case of DKA, we took her to vet and the vet said her body was no longer absorbing any nutrients from the food she ate. She had also lost a huge amount of weight. He said she probably wouldn’t survive but we could try steroids for a week, however we would run the risk of her probably not progressing during the week and us having to watch her go through a slow painful death. At the time I was 8mo pregnant Idk if being pregnant leads you to make “ irregular” decisions. We chose to put her to sleep. I still remember her laying on the exam table kissing my face as I cried. As if she was saying her final goodbye. The day after was the worst I felt like my heart had been pulled out of chest and beat to a bloody pulp. I kept thinking what the f&&&’ did I do? She trusted me and I killed her?! The guilt was intense. I still feel guilt today. Maybe I gave up too soon? Maybe I didn’t do enough? What if we would have tried to treat her? We had gone through so much together. I miss her so much. I think about her every day. All I wish for now is that my daughter who will born any day now carries some of Naomi’s spirit in her.

      Reply
  11. Agela Abdullah
    February 3, 2020 at 1:18 am (10 months ago)

    I had to say goodbye to my little Gnocchi today. It crushed me. The vet was so kind, and I was with my boy the whole time. Every time I close my eyes I see him laying on the table completely trusting and loving me. I miss him so much and have do many feeling competing for attention. I just keep looking at photos. My poor little potato. I miss him so much.

    Reply
  12. Minh
    November 25, 2019 at 12:19 am (1 year ago)

    The anguish of losing a pet companion that provided unconditional love is like no other. I have personally experienced home euthanasia for three beloved cats in the past four years. I wanted to share some valuable lessons so that others can learn from it.

    1) Please do not wait until your cat stops eating. I previously used that as my marker, but I have since changed that. My mom’s cat stopped eating in the morning and we called the vet for home euthanasia later that evening. Unfortunately he vomited a few hours later what looked like black coffee beans, however I later learned that he had internal bleeding and vomited it out. The vet said he was hours from passing away even without intervention. The vet had a hard time getting a vein for the sedation as my mom’s cat was so weak and was suffering. All of us humans have had physical injury, but we continued to eat. So it is when a cat is in EXTREME pain that they will stop eating. You do not want to wait until it gets to that point. You want your cat’s last days is to still be able to eat his favorite kitty treats.

    2) If you are using a vet that you never used before for home euthanasia, make sure you ask them what sedation they are using in advance of scheduling. And then check with your primary vet that you trust. I had a home mobile vet use Dexdomitor. That particular vet said that my cat will likely vomit before being sedated…..and she did vomit horribly is her last waking minutes. I later asked my primary vet about Dexdomitor and she questioned why that other vet used it because it is rarely used for sedation for euthanasia. Vets commonly use Telazol and Propofol, which does NOT cause vomiting. No one should ever experience their cat with induced vomiting, when other sedations do not cause that.

    3) Make it very clear to the vet that you want to handle and how you want to situate your cat BEFORE the sedation injected. My cat was walking near the vet on the floor and the home euthanasia vet scruffed my cat by the neck forcefully and raised her where her front legs were not touching the ground. My cat screamed out loud for fear. The vet then proceeded to inject the sedation while my cat was screaming. This vet never allowed me the option to carry my cat onto the bed and situate her. My cat was never aggressive and was terminally ill. The forceful scruffing and raising her upper body in the air was painful to witness. What should have happened and has happened with my previous cats was the vet would gently raise the skin of the nape and inject the sedation while the cat is laid down and held by the owner. Always set clear expectations on how you want to situate your cat with the vet in the very beginning. (I have since complained to the owner of the vet firm).

    I rarely comment on online forums, but felt compelled to share my experience and lessons learned so that others would be spared the pain that could have been avoided. I realize that there will never be a perfect scenario when your beloved cat is euthanized. I would want my last days to be where I am happy and being able to eat my favorite dessert. Not vomiting or in intense pain. Although an immensely painful decision, we pet parents have the ability to prevent unnecessary suffering for our cats. Throughout my cats life, I always kept them from harms way and we all should do the same toward the end of their life. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 25, 2019 at 6:18 am (1 year ago)

      This is great advice, Minh. I am absolutely horrified by what happened during your cat’s euthanasia – I’m so sorry you had to go through that. Not only did that vet use an unacceptable drug protocol, but the lack of caring and compassion is compoletely unforgiveable.

      Reply
  13. Lena
    November 12, 2019 at 1:42 pm (1 year ago)

    Someone please help me. I feel terrible. I rescued this feral cat a few months ago, and she always went potty inside and was terrified of me: then randomly she started loving me but it was because she couldn’t walk anymore. Her blood work seemed fine but we could tell there was an issue neurologically. I gave her a week and she could finally walk again. But she wouldn’t stop meowing at every second and she wasn’t sleeping and couldn’t differentiate food vs other random things. She finally loved me and I showed her love. And I feel like I betrayed her by euthanizing her. But she was confused all the time and even though she regained ability to walk she seemed like she was starting to lose vision. I regret euthanizing her though. I would take it back if I could. I hated that she pooped and peer everywhere but now I wish she was here to do that.my house is so quiet without her meows. I just want to pick her up and love her but I euthanized her

    Reply
    • Bob Varden
      November 12, 2019 at 8:30 pm (1 year ago)

      Lena, you should feel good that you gave the kitty a happy home away from the street, or wherever you found her. A 20-yr-old cat has reached and used up all of their “9 lives”. You did her a favor, even if you can’t see it yet. Guilt you should not feel, but it’s natural when we fall in love with our pets.

      Reply
  14. Bob Varden
    November 8, 2019 at 7:23 pm (1 year ago)

    Woofis was of unknown age, but likely around 10 or more.,.,a rescue cat who appeared in an area where I feed & care for a few homeless cats, 6 yrs ago. She had been exhibiting symptoms like defecating & urinating outside her litter box. The vet gave her hydration, a shot of Convenia, did some blood work and said it was urinary infection. A day later she stopped eating and vomited up some blood. The on-call vet vet (Sunday) said to take her to the emergency hospital, which I did. The emergency hospital did some tests, gave her more antibiotics, ultrasound, and said she was “very sick”, had small “deformed” kidneys, and needed an extensive course of more antibiotics over several days. The initial charge was $1,684. Upon hearing about the deformed small kidneys and how sick she was, I felt that more treatment would be both counter productive and even more expensive. I decided upon euthanasia and carried through with this decision, holding Woofis while she died. Do I feel that I made the “right” decision? Not really. I wonder if she would have recovered had I been more patient and gone that extra mile of treatment (and expense). I adored this kitty. Only cat I ever had who slept with me and sat on my lap while I ate. I was truly “her person”, and she loved me too. Yes, I feel both sorrow and guilt.

    Reply
    • Denise North
      November 9, 2019 at 12:33 pm (1 year ago)

      Bob,
      I’m sorry to hear about your loss. It’s a terrible decision to make but realize it’s the most compassionate thing you could have done. I spent a few thousand dollars praying for remission unfortunately it never worked. I watched my beautiful boy struggling and realized he was never going to get well and couldn’t bear to see him suffer any longer. I recieved a Beautiful card from the vets yesterday and the entire staff wrote personal and heartfelt notes which brought back memories and tears. Please know you did thing right thing regardless of how we feel you stopped the pain. I wish they could tell us how they feel but we must watch and observe the signs. I may never have another kitty again because it hurt too much but this site is very helpful to be able to share our thoughts and support.

      Reply
      • Bob Varden
        November 12, 2019 at 8:43 pm (1 year ago)

        Thanks, Denise. I have had to put down 2 other cats in the past, but Woofis’s death has put me into a tailspin depression..possibly because she was an “only” cat and the others lived alongside at least one other cat at the time. I am starting to conclude that my grief is mostly about feeling sorrow for me, and not for Woofis. Home is mighty lonely as there is no one there. Still, I am guessing that this scenario is universal for folks whose pet die. Thank you.

        Reply
  15. Gina
    November 2, 2019 at 7:27 pm (1 year ago)

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I found your post during a Google search. Much needed wisdom right now.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 3, 2019 at 5:23 am (1 year ago)

      I’m glad it was helpful, Gina.

      Reply
    • Kirsten
      November 3, 2019 at 4:33 pm (1 year ago)

      Same here. Had to say goodbye on Friday and have been heartbroken all weekend.

      Reply
      • Denise North
        November 3, 2019 at 6:37 pm (1 year ago)

        It’s been a week and I’m still feeling terrible. I drove by the vets not realizing what I was doing and the sorrow came rushing back. That special little fur face has a hold on my heart.

        Reply
  16. Diana McCorkle
    October 17, 2019 at 7:50 am (1 year ago)

    My birman boy, Gus, was the sweetest blue eyed talking kitty ever. He was so mischievious his whole life. He had kidney disease, tumors and terrible arthritis and to make it all bad, he quit using the litter box totally. He still had a great appetite even on his last day. He was crying out more and more toward the last day. He needed bottom baths daily because he didn’t clean back there at all cause of arthritis. He let me wash him daily without a problem cause he seemed to sense it was the only way to survive. He started getting diarrhea and it became hard to clean the carpets for two days. He smelled bad even after getting daily baths. The whole house started getting really stinky. I had to keep shampooing the rugs. I was even going to get vinyl plank tiling throughout the whole condo for him. He got to the point where he couldn’t empty his bladder fully without me helping him. I had a wedding that I had to be away for two days. I didn’t want to leave him alone with a cat sitter that can’t take care of him like I did. I decided to take him to the vet to see if he had an infection that could be treated like UTI or something. When I went the vet said there was no infection and it would be best to euthanize knowing I was going to have to be away. So I cried myself crazy silly and let it happen. Now I am torturing myself thinking I cheated him out of a little of his life and he was so terrified that day. I makes me sick and now it’s too late. It is over. His girl birman, Abbie, who is remaining is his age and is so heartsick. I feel guilty at what she must think that I have done too. I wish I could bring him home but know it will never happen. Just no solitude!

    Reply
  17. Alena
    August 19, 2019 at 2:01 pm (1 year ago)

    Thank you for this post. It is helping me grieve more properly and helping me know I am not alone. Hugs to all those who have love and lost their pets. I am confused why we as a society do all the things we do with animals. But at this point it’s like I’m doing the best with what I know. I don’t ever want to have another cat again…but here I am with one, having euthanized two of them. I’m heartbroken but also I’ve lived a life with so much love in it. So much love that I can get, and receive back 10-fold. I feel like animals are instant forgivers. I hope everyday that my cat can forgive me, the guilt is overwhelming. I pray she is in Heaven. I am starting to see some memories come back, which were overshadowed by my own guilt. I hope I get to see her again and that my own experience in Heaven is full of her meowing. As much as I hated it and have been relieved these past few days for “some quiet”, I still hear phantom meows. I miss her dearly and I loved her more than I even knew I did.

    Reply
    • Katja
      June 14, 2020 at 8:04 pm (6 months ago)

      Alena, I know what you mean about loving her more than you even knew you did. I have to put my little girl down tomorrow (totally sudden/unexpected illness that progressed over 1 month) — and it’s like I’m learning so much about myself and life all at once. One of those things is the realization that I didn’t even realize how much joy she brought me because I was just so used to her cuteness and kindness. I was so used to her being there when I came home from work… out walked out of the shower and she begged me for water from the faucet. We get used to these things and it just becomes our everyday “normal”. I think the sadness/tears we become overwhelmed with when it is their time to go, is life’s unique way of showing us the incredible amount of love and memories we had together. It’s inexplicably difficult… but also special. Pets are so special.

      They have always said that you can’t have *good without bad* or *happiness without sadness.* It’s just the yin and yang of life.

      Hugs to you too. Shedding a tear for your loved one also. <3

      Reply
  18. Kenzie
    August 15, 2019 at 8:53 pm (1 year ago)

    Thank you so much for writing this. For my sweet Rain it didn’t feel clear cut at all. The vets wanted to keep running tests but we had already spent thousands of dollars trying to figure out what was wrong and treat her. My partner and I don’t earn a lot of money and this was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my entire life. We talked about it a lot beforehand and agreed it was best for us, and best for our kitty who hadn’t been eating, meowing, playing, or acting like her full self. We were scared if we kept going she would starve to death which just felt so inhumane. But the doubt remains, what if she got better? Even for a little while? But even knowing all that and knowing we couldn’t have afforded to go on without taking on additional debt makes me feel horrible. I hate that money EVER has to be a factor in treating kitties. I feel like we did the right thing for her but I still regret that we had to put her to sleep. I crave her forgiveness. Reading this made me feel like I’m not so alone. And it helped re-contextualize how much we love and miss her and that these are normal feelings to feel. It’s a tough decision to be in to decide when to end the life of a loved one. I think all I can do is recognize we did our best with the resources we had and honor Rain’s memory. I’m sorry about Hedda, I can tell from your photos she was a really wonderful kitty.

    Reply
    • Laurie
      November 13, 2019 at 8:53 pm (1 year ago)

      Kenzie,
      I’m so sorry about your experience. Mine mirrors your sad tale. I can/could not get a straight answer from my vet as to why our 12.5 year old stopped eating. It was very gradual. He is also on prednisolone. Fluids, blood work, appetite stimulant was tried. He was in worse shape this morning. Vet called this morning and wanted us to come back for more tests. He was all over the place of what could be wrong.No fever yesterday so I declined antibiotics. 4th day no eating and now no drinking. I have an appointment for in home euthanasia tomorrow. All he does is sleep and I may have to wake him up to put him to sleep. He may or may not have an intestinal tumor, infection, and/or other ailments. We just went through this with another cat a couple of months ago. The 3rd dx was stroke or brain tumor. Or maybe brain parasites. The visiting vet said it was likely a brain tumor when I described the symptoms. My regular vet was way off with treatments and now I don’t think I can rely on him. This is so hard!

      Reply
      • Sara
        December 31, 2019 at 11:06 am (11 months ago)

        Laurie and Kenzie-
        I just had this same scenario. Laurie, my 13 year old cat stopped eating. We tried the steroids and appetite stimulants and while they worked for about a week, my kitty regressed and stopped eating again. He went from 14lbs (avg healthy weight when he was feeling good) to 7lbs. So I took him in yesterday to say goodbye. Docs offered more testing but I feel like after 2 months of not really eating, moaning at times, peeing every where that he may have been suffering. I’m still heart broken thinking maybe I could have done more. With him we did do an ultrasound a couple months ago which showed issues with both kidney and liver – and likely cancer. I just felt like I couldn’t help him anymore and feel so sad. your stories make me feel better about my ultimate choice even though it was a terrible terrible thing to have to do.

        Reply
  19. Karen
    August 1, 2019 at 3:06 pm (1 year ago)

    I just had to put my beloved Siamese Bandit down. I absolutely know it was the right thing to do. I’ve waited too long for two previous cats and never wish to do that again. When the pet’s bad days outnumber the good ones and you look into their eyes and see pure misery, it is indeed time. Would that the same could be done for me if I’m ever in agony with no hope of a cure.

    I did want to comment about something weird that happened at or around the time of passing. After administering the drugs, the vet listened for his heartbeat and told me he’d passed, then left the room. I put my face in front of my love, looked into his clouded eyes and said, “Do you see me? I love you!” I then laid my head along his body and heard a low purr. I lifted my head and put it back down and still heard it, very faint and for a very short time, but it was there. I believe he was acknowledging my love and giving me comfort the only way he knew how.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 2, 2019 at 5:25 am (1 year ago)

      I’m sorry about Bandit, Karen. What a lovely thing to have experienced in the sadness of having to say goodbye to him.

      Reply
  20. Alysia
    May 30, 2019 at 11:13 am (2 years ago)

    We had to put our 14 year old Denzel down 2 days ago…Over the last month he went from limping to dragging his back feet…Left eye closed and drooling everywhere, then unable to eat or drink over the last week. Even the pill we would shoot down his throat would sometimes still be there in the morning because he wouldn’t/could’t swallow… He lost 3lbs in 2 weeks and the big boy who was once almost 20lbs was under 10lbs.

    We tried antibiotics, steroids, anti-nausea, hunger stimulants, pain meds and I don’t know what else…but I have this guilt of “what if we tried the fluid injection and nausea injection” would he have bounced back? Denzel looked a lot like Hedda. Beautiful. D was my wife’s cat first, I came into their lives and fell in love with the punk…. What’s most difficult is we have a 2 year old who doesn’t understand “where’s Buddy??” My heart is sad, I’m sure he probably had cancer but not knowing is eating away at me. We didn’t do the MRI…should we have? Would we be telling a different story? I don’t know…thank you for your post.

    Reply
    • Elaine Harrington
      May 31, 2019 at 7:49 am (2 years ago)

      its never easy. Over the past 15 years we lost six cats. Five of them died within months of each other after having all of them for over 15 years together. My most recent was last August. Blue had bee a 20 pound Russian Blue. He became skeletal and wa s crying and peeing and just miserabel. For the first time ever I put him down instead of waiting. I have not forgiven myself. The only thing I can tell you is second guessing only adds to the pain. There is a greater plan and reason which I am trying to come to terms with. I look at their pictures, I have memorial plaques in the back yard and we remember only the good. Cherish what wonderful time you did have and then begin the healing process. Its cliche, but true. All of my sympathies for your family,

      Reply
  21. Zoe
    May 11, 2019 at 6:06 am (2 years ago)

    On 09/05/19 at 10.11 I had to make the hardest most heartbreaking decision for my 16 year old Edward pts.
    Old age and disease had over ridden him. He was an amputee by 1 years old due to a car accident and back then the vet said it was the time. I refused to let him go, he exceeded all medical expectations as they shared his injures would decrease his lifespan. We had a friendship much greater than any human I know. Unconditionally .
    I’m finding daily great comfort in this post as I nurture my aching heart .Thank-you .

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 12, 2019 at 5:25 am (2 years ago)

      I’m so sorry about Edward, Zoe. I’m glad this post offered some comfort.

      Reply
  22. Elaine Harrington
    March 7, 2019 at 10:04 am (2 years ago)

    I understand, I put my 18 year old Blue down August 7 th and still can’t get past the what ifs. All of my other animals died at home, but they did suffer at the end. I don’t think there is right answer, its just painful. You do what you think is right and in time its more memories, less pain. Blessings, Elaine

    Reply
  23. rafe
    March 6, 2019 at 6:36 pm (2 years ago)

    I had to have my cat put to sleep two days ago he was filled with cancer and couldn’t eat or drink I kept going to different vets and they were unanimous about PTS I realized their expertise . after syringe feeding him food and water for 3 weeks I felt I was doing more harm than good. I was there all the way through the process, I know his suffering has ended, but mine is just beginning , I had 15.5 great years with my Leo and miss him so much

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      March 7, 2019 at 6:10 am (2 years ago)

      I’m so sorry, Rafe. My heart goes out to you.

      Reply
  24. Elaine
    January 8, 2019 at 9:27 am (2 years ago)

    I put my 18 year old cat down August 7th and I’m still miserable about it. I knew he was miserable, but I had always waited it out before. The horrible part was that I brought him to the Humane Society and there was nothing humane about the way they treated either of us. I wasn’t allowed to come in and say goodbye, I could hear him yelling and then thye returned my carrier with the whole zipper ripped!!!!!! I replay it over and over. Its the right thing but it still carries terrible guilt that we have to learn to forgive ourselves for.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      January 8, 2019 at 3:23 pm (2 years ago)

      Oh Elaine, I’m so sorry you have such awful memories of his final moments. I hope you can eventually find peace. My heart goes out to you.

      Reply
  25. Dustin
    January 7, 2019 at 8:08 pm (2 years ago)

    3 days ago I had my 22 year old calico, Roxy, euthanized. Her condition got so bad, so quickly. It felt like out of nowhere she’d lost several pounds, couldn’t walk, and was constantly in a daze. Ending her life was probably the right decision, but I also feel like I betrayed her, and I feel like I’ve lost a part of myself. She and I grew up together, I had since I was 6, I named her myself. I’m struggling daily with forgiving myself.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      January 8, 2019 at 9:15 am (2 years ago)

      I’m so sorry, Dustin. 22 years – that’s amazing! And yet, no amount of time is ever long enough. My heart goes out to you.

      Reply
  26. Gary Mitchell
    December 8, 2018 at 9:59 pm (2 years ago)

    I had to get the vet to put my beautiful Persian boy to sleep .He was sixteen and a half
    years old having been with me all that time.Stopped eating was crying and became
    very thin.Gave me huge amounts of attention before becoming inactive.To keep him
    alive would be for my sake.Putting off euthanasia several times before deciding to end
    his misery.It hurts terribly and the silence but his eyes told me what had to happen.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 9, 2018 at 6:17 am (2 years ago)

      I’m so sorry, Gary.

      Reply
    • Name*
      July 24, 2020 at 5:15 am (4 months ago)

      JAKE was Gary’s boys name and he was a Himalayan Red Point Persian,
      Lovely keep you warm all night Persian boy.

      Reply
  27. Connie - Tails from the Foster Kittens
    August 26, 2018 at 3:54 pm (2 years ago)

    When my cat Em’s time had come, she did not want to go. She wanted to remain with me as long as she could, despite what cancer was doing to her body. I attempted to make the appointment several times and each time she told me very clearly she was not ready. In the end, I made that appointment without her consent. It was beyond time as her poor body was ravaged by the cancer, but I have always regretted that I ended our time together before she was ready. I do not regret the decision, I do not regret doing it, but I regret that it had to be that way. I wish she had been ready. I know what I spared her and am glad that she didn’t have to suffer additionally..

    Reply
  28. Amy
    August 25, 2018 at 8:40 am (2 years ago)

    Thank you for sharing your experience. It was most helpful.

    Reply
  29. AKP
    August 23, 2018 at 12:39 pm (2 years ago)

    thank you….i still struggle with these feelings. my beloved kitty had lung cancer and it was getting harder to breathe. The vets warned me to do it sooner than later so that she wouldn’t be trying to rush her to the vet while she was suffocating (she said that’s how they die from lung cancer). I guess that thought scared me enough to do it…but i still postponed it 3x. She was still very vibrant in most ways so it was an excruciating choice…

    Reply
    • Danielle
      August 24, 2018 at 3:08 pm (2 years ago)

      My year and a half baby had fib. He ended up only five pounds at the end.I felt my baby’s heart stop. I cried,screamed,was very sad. But, I knew it was the best thing. I knew it was the best thing I could do. Yes,it hurts like hell, he was a baby but in the end I did the best thing

      Reply
  30. Pat Wolesky
    August 23, 2018 at 7:28 am (2 years ago)

    I think guilt and second-guessing are extremely common, no matter what you choose. My beautiful Raleigh died naturally, and I felt guilt that I didn’t euthanize her, because the last couple weeks of her life were very hard on her and me. I think ultimately you make the best choice you can and learn to live with it.

    Reply
  31. Jennifer
    August 22, 2018 at 10:14 pm (2 years ago)

    Guilt continues, for years. It’s a struggle between the heart and the mind. I can rationalize what I had to do, but my heart aches, making me question my decisions.

    Reply
    • Brian
      August 23, 2018 at 5:30 pm (2 years ago)

      Exactly.

      Reply
  32. Janine
    August 22, 2018 at 8:13 am (2 years ago)

    I think guilt over something like this is very common and it is hard to move past. I am dealing with guilt for putting Pono down, even though I feel I did the best thing for him. I couldn’t let him suffer any more than he already was.

    Reply
    • Denise North
      October 27, 2019 at 6:25 pm (1 year ago)

      I’m so glad to find this website I thought I was alone since so many people think cats are not real pets as compared to dogs.
      When I explained to my coworker why I was crying he laughed at me. Something that has been stamped into my mind forever.
      My poor Hobbs kitty was diagnosed with cancer only a month ago. I noticed he was losing weight so I moved up his full exam. When they gave me the news my heart sank. I’m recently recovering from breast cancer surgery so it’s a double whammy.
      We decided to try treatment which involved weekly chemotherapy treatments. He responded well the first 2 weeks he got his appatite back and started gaining weight. Then the next 3 weeks his white cells were declining and could never survive treatment. I knew he was suffering but it was very difficult to tell. Despite what was going on inside him he looked great on the outside except for the last 2 days before I made the decision to send him to a peaceful place of no more pain. I can physically feel the guilt like its stuck in my heart.
      I can’t ever forget how he looked the day I brought him in for his weekly treatment. He looked very sad and limp. So I knew he wasn’t responding to treatments. I was not with him because I just couldn’t see his sad face and now that just adds another layer of guilt. I’m grateful that I found this site to tell my story.

      Reply
      • Ingrid
        October 28, 2019 at 5:34 am (1 year ago)

        I’m so sorry, Denise. I’m glad this site has been helpful to you as you mourn your precious boy.

        Reply
  33. Elaine
    August 22, 2018 at 8:02 am (2 years ago)

    On August 7th I had my 18 year old adopted Russian Blue, named Blue euthanized. I had always let the animals pass on their own. He was skeletal and I finally felt it was the best thing, but the guilt and pain were overwhelming. We contacted a reliable Pet Medium, and Blue told he he wanted a memorial, which we had planned on anyway and told me not to be upset. I still cry, and i still feel miserable, but better when he told me he did not know how to get out of this skin. He didn’t know how to let go on his own. I hope this is some comfort to those going through this. Thank you for sharing a very difficult time. In memory of Blue

    Reply
  34. Joan
    August 22, 2018 at 7:28 am (2 years ago)

    We all grieve in different ways. Ending the life of my spitfire torbie Matilda brought relief and peace after many months of up and down suffering and huge vet bills. Ending the life of my Ozzie the good luck black cat was much harder. He was in pain, yes, and had used up more than his 9 lives in his 17 years but was not yet on death’s door. I still cry for all my furry babies in kitty heaven. Thank you for this article and I will look for the upcoming book as a future gift for friends who are now dealing with end of life issues.

    Reply
  35. Nora
    August 22, 2018 at 5:30 am (2 years ago)

    Thank you for this thoughtful post.

    Reply

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