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.

123 Comments on Dealing with Feelings of Guilt After Euthanasia

  1. i put down my Nemo, an orange tabby, two days ago. He could still run and jump up and his eyes were clear, but he had been suffering with inflammatory bowel disease for three years or more. For a couple of years, I gave him steroids, and special food. He seemed not to be too bad. He would throw up and have diarrhea once in awhile but I dealt with it. In the last six months, he went downhill. I took him to an oncologist and they did an ultrasound. She said it was either a severe case of IBD or possible lymphoma. She put him on another special diet and chemo. When I gave him the chemo, he got deathly sick so I stopped that. The diarrhea and vomiting got worse even with meds. He would have sometimes l0 bowel movements a day, not always diarrhea. He would sit on the floor and get poop on the floor and he would defecate on my bed and treadmill. Last Saturday and Sunday night, the diarrhea and vomiting would not stop. I even considered putting him down that Saturday night but it would not have been at his regular vets office and they all knew him. I was up for two days in a row cleaning up the mess. This Monday, I called his Vet and I said that it is time but I want to bring him in first for the vet to make sure. I took him down and the vet examined him again. He had lost so much muscle, his spine was sticking out. The Vet said I had been giving him hospice care for a long time and it would only get worse and never better. I asked him what he would do and he said, end his suffering. I signed the papers and left. I could not stay. I feel guilty because he always wanted to go outside. I wish I had let him go outside and eat his favorite cat food. He was always on a special diet. Also, since I took care of him for son long i n this condition, I would lose my patience with him and I feel so bad about that. I have the same disease and am not well so I think that is the reason. He said in his carrier at the vet’s office not knowing what was about to happen and he looked happy. This did not help. I am destroyed with guilt and wish I had not taken him in but the diarrhea was nonstop and he had pain when he had this. I am beside myself.

    • Sorry for your loss – Nemo sounds like he was a great companion. Be kind to yourself, understand what you chose was out of love – that is what Nemo would want you to do. There will never be another Nemo but there are cats out there that need caring owners like you!

    • I’m so sorry about Nemo. We do the best we can. And remember, nothing ever disappears/“dies” in actuality.. energy only transforms to another type. Nemo is still all around you. It’s okay to feel sad, upset, guilty… and any other feelings you are experiencing. Let them flow you and transmute them into love because everything you did for Nemo was all out of love. It’s okay. I wish you calmness and comfort. I know this is such a hard, hard time for you. <3

  2. This last Saturday, my boyfriend and I said goodbye to our sweet Ramona. She has been chronically ill since the start of 2019, and possibly earlier. Before I knew of her chronic illness,
    I would get annoyed at the spots she chose to throw up on – I still feel immense guilt for being distant when I was annoyed with her instead of comforting her. Her poor little face on those occasions haunts me to this day. Why didn’t I have more compassion and understanding for that poor Angel at the time. Once I understood she was chronically ill, I made sure to comfort her and make her feel safe no matter where she threw up. On the day she passed, she walked over to me every time she threw up because I think she knew I would comfort her. I hope I made her feel safe.

    It feels like her poor little body deteriorated so quickly. She was chronically ill, yes, but we were able to manage her symptoms so long with medication. I always waved my hand when my boyfriend mentioned her not making it much longer. She always seemed vibrant and perky in my opinion, despite the vomiting incidents. Then one month after almost a year and a half of managing symptoms, her meds seemed to stop working. She was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. It feels like it was too soon for her to go. She was only 11 to our knowledge.

    The night before her euthanasia procedure, my boyfriend and I stayed up all night with her. Holding her, giving her endless love and crying silently. I drove my boyfriend and Ramona to the vet the morning of the procedure. Ramona didn’t know I was driving at first, and got excited when she heard me speaking to her. That was the first time I had seen her face light up all week. It makes me feel like we let her go too soon.

    However, when I really think about it, our poor Angel was unable to eat, keep down water, hold in her urine, was unable to poop for days, and had difficulty walking/breathing in her final week. Everyone around us tells us we prevented her from more inevitable pain and did the right thing. I just can’t help myself from thinking it was too soon, or we could have done more to save her.

    Seeing her lifeless body after the euthanasia procedure will always haunt me, but I know she needed us in the room with her when it happened. I couldn’t imagine leaving her alone in her final minutes. I just wish I could have more time with her. She was always so sweet and loving and had a gentle personality.

    She became the center of our world, and we always referred to her as our baby – and us as a family of three. I miss her so much and keep thinking I need to give her nightly medication, or carry her into the bedroom to sleep by my boyfriends side at night. I will always love Ramona and hope she can forgive me for the times I should have been more understanding. I hope to move past this guilt and stop replaying the bad memories, because we definitely had many good ones.

    I have many videos and pictures of her on my phone of us cuddling. I don’t think she held anything against me – she was truly an Angel sent from God. I thanked her so many times for her love after she passed. I will always remember her.

    • Thank you for sharing. It is helping me with the guilt of euthanazing my Shyshy who had a tumor under his heart.

    • Really, thank you for sharing. This made me cry. I can feel the love you held (and hold) for her. She was so so lucky to have you. <3

  3. Thank you for this beautifully written piece. The stories on this piece resonate with me. My cat Lou of 20yrs didn’t have a diagnosis either but we knew his kidneys weren’t good and his heart and lungs were deteriorating also. He had just started to have little seizures I’m guessing because of the build up of toxins in his body. He had a really long seizure (wobbly walking & crazy eyes) so in the midst of it took him to the vet. He had recovered and the vet said we could take him home if we like but…. and that but was what I was fearing…. vet went on the say we were just prolonging the inevitable. They gave us a few minutes to think about it but I wasn’t thinking clearly at all. I wished we had gone home to think about what we wanted. Like Sarah I thought he would’ve been further on before we made that decision. In a flash I thought, I don’t want him to have another scary seizure and to have to come back to the vet again freaked out. But the look he gave me just before/as the sedation was being administered was one I’ll never forget. He wasn’t ready to go. I felt I totally betrayed him and his trust in me and I’m finding it hard to stop feeling guilty. The ‘what ifs’ and ‘could’ve dones’ are playing constantly nearly 3 weeks later. I’m trying to convince myself it was the right thing to do but feel anything but. Could I have done more? The vet clinic couldn’t get blood from him a year ago and didn’t follow up to see if we could try again. It seemed everytime we took him there euthanasia was mentioned. Like it was too hard for them to get blood so they gave up on him. Maybe I should’ve tried another clinic? Our last vet got us to sedate him for bloods before coming in and did the procedure with you in the room. But this clinic took them out back and when advising he stay on so they could try again and after being there for a few hours trying to sedate and get blood Lou was scared and over it and I was scared to put him through that again. From that time on I would be stressed about asking for arthritis medication repeats as they’d want to see him and the trip to vet stressed both him and I out. I knew he couldn’t be fixed, I knew his time was near, I just wanted more support for care in his old age and to be able to keep him comfortable with the least amount of stress. I hope that palliative care for animals becomes more readily available, so that we have no doubts that we have done everything possible to help them transition to the next phase. 3 months before Lous death, we went through palliative care with my father. Yes it’s bloody hard and yes, I had the feelings of guilt and regret but he was able to pass when it was his time. I wish we could have the support to be able to do this for our pets too. Maybe I’m imagining it couldve been better. My heart couldn’t take much more, I can’t shift that thought, I’ve let him down, I owed him way more than that. I hope to eventually find peace with it, with the help of writing like this and the comfort of knowing I’m not alone.

    • We had to do this with our pet as well – he was having very bad nights and you could see the fear in his eyes. When we finally made the choice that day was a good one for him and it was extremely hard bc it didn’t seem right really (even though he was terminally ill). I keep positive in knowing that sedation was the most painless way to go and if our sweet boy would have died during one of his episodes… he would have been terrified, in pain and possibly alone. I know it’s hard but I think you made the right choice. You may have saved him from a horrible end.

    • You are not alone. I am so sorry this happened to you and your baby Lou. It’s been over 8 months since I had to say goodbye to my sweet Rascal. He had terminal cancer, the second to last day of his life, his tumor ruptured and he bled out all over our bathroom floor. He was screaming in pain and his body went limp. He defecated on the floor and had never done that in the 13 years of his life. He cried out in pain all the way to the vet. He seemed to be a little better at the vet, they told us that he had extreme anemia and that we could do a blood transfusion but that we would only be prolonging the inevitable. I did not want to see him
      Bleed out that like again, so, we took him home and scheduled for someone to come out to our house the next morning. I second guessed my decision the entire night. Rascal was my best friend and I couldn’t see him be in pain again. It was terrifying. But I totally relate to your feelings of guilt. He wanted to cuddle me the last morning, and I couldn’t stop crying. I don’t know that the guilt will ever go away… I miss him more than words can say. And I too feel like I failed him. But it is a little easier knowing people that have been through this also feel the same way. I hope you find peace soon.

  4. I’m so glad I found this post. I’ve been struggling with guilt about having
    my beloved Kipper put to sleep last Tuesday. Because I never got a firm diagnosis for her, I’ve been tormenting myself with the thought that, if I’d persisted with her treatment, she might have got better. The feeling that Kipper wasn’t ready to go has also been troubling me.

    Last Tuesday, I asked the vet whether Kipper was likely to make a comeback from her recurrent (and awful) diarrhoea and lack of appetite. She replied that, although we couldn’t be sure, Kipper looked very much like a cat with terminal lymphoma. When I asked if it was too soon to put her to sleep, the vet shook her head. Although reassuring, these answers haven’t quietened my feelings of guilt.

    The questions in this post have helped me release some of my doubts and anguish. I still feel very raw – Kipper was the closest thing I’ve ever had to a soulmate (partner included) – and I miss her dreadfully. But this has helped, so thank you for that.

    • Hi Rachel.
      You are right. Just being able to read others stories is comforting. To know that so many feel the same way about their loss. Today has been a week since we had to let our cat go. Last week, it was suggested that one day we should get a new cat and I just immediately thought that I would resent it too much, compare it too much to our old cat and feel some kind of shame for moving on. That’s the grief I guess. I will admit though, yesterday I glanced at the cats needing homes out there and my heart feels for them and I think that will ultimately make us take the plunge and welcome a new family member in with its own personality and quirks for us to tune into.
      I hope you will find your happiness soon.

      • Thanks, Anthony. I read your story below and my heart just broke for you. May you find peace and happiness, whether that means adopting a new cat or not.

  5. Thankfully, I have found these stories. Although I am a father and husband, I feel very alone in this grief and guilt that I feel for euthanizing my ‘little girl”. Portia was 12 years old, we got her as a kitten along with her sister. After 2 years and a new baby, her sister started becoming very aggressive to Portia and so we had to adopt her out. That was hard but also there was relief that Portia could now walk freely around the house without fear of being attacked. Over the next 10 years, she has created her story and history in our house with us as a member of our family. She was amazing and so gentle and created this world of meows that le you know exactly what was on her mind.
    She had been showing signs something was wrong. She would occasionally throw up her food. We took her to the vet, and they could not find anything wrong with her at the time. This was last summer. Suddenly over the last few weeks she has been having issues going to the bathroom in her litter box and would go wherever she was. We thought it was the smell maybe and bought a new type of litter and changed the litter boxes. Two days ago, she threw up….it was like a human vomiting and she was obviously in immense pain. I got her to the vet and because of Covid, I could not be in with her and had to wait outside. Eventually, I decided to go home and then the vet called and said she needed to go to a specialist animal hospital for treatment and even that may not work. The cost was more than I could imagine and after talking with my wife, we had to make that choice. My wife grew up with working animals and although she feels the loss, she has been through this many times and is dealing with the choice we made as being the best thing for Portia. I have never lost anyone close to me, so grief is not something I have had to deal with. Along with this grief though is the crushing guilt that I should have paid whatever the cost to try to save her. I keep trying to convince myself that I saved her from more pain, but I just can’t get past this. My youngest son is distraught, and he cries a lot and every tear he sheds and every time he says he misses Portia and why did she get sick and why couldn’t they save her just brings me to my knees with this overwhelming guilt. I have never cried over anything this much. I cannot look at any place she frequented in the house; I am just missing seeing her there. I should have taken her to the vet again sooner or another vet. I woke up 2 days ago with no idea that a few hours later, my little girl would be gone. I could not be there for her in her final moments because of Covid. I feel I would have changed my mind had I have been in the room with her and done whatever it took.
    I have seen in these posts that people can eventually move on. I am grateful I can express my feelings here with many people that will understand exactly what I am going through. I needed this outlet.

    • Sorry for your loss. Sounds like Portia was a great family member. It does get easier with time. I highly recommend giving a new cat or kitten a new home with your family, you will never forget Portia but sounds like she would want you to share the love with another lucky feline companion.

      • Thank you for the kind response. We have removed her items except for her bed in the family room. We moved its position in the room so it is still there but not in it’s normal spot. We are starting to get used to the empty spaces (though I still can’t go to the basement, the smell of the litter is still in the air) and we are doing more things together as a family which has been lovely. I told my youngest child that we need to make new memories and Portia would be fine with that. New kitten? One day maybe…..

    • I’m sorry for your loss. I just lost my little girl Sweetpea. It’s tough so tough I have exact same feelings. I found a petcloud group online support because I’m just that messed up. I’m writing gratitude list daily now and meet face to face with others having same guilt and loss

    • It’s early on Saturday, May 1st – the family sleeps – and I sit alone with my tears in anticipation of saying good-bye this afternoon to Oreo, our 10 year old Tux cat suffering from acute renal failure. There is no guilt at what is to happen, just the deepest sorrow to the reality we’re losing a most beloved member of the family.

      Oreo came to us three years ago, with his brother Steve, by way of the local Humane Society. I had just lost my precious Princess Kitty (rescued at 6 weeks) after 18 years of wonderful companionship, across two marriages, three kids and an array of typical life challenges. The one constant was Kitty’s omnipresence at my side. The loss of Kitty was near-catastrophic for me and despite the hustle and bustle of a busy household, the emptiness I felt was unbearable and I knew I had to let new family members of the furry type find our family.

      And what found and chose us was two incredible 8-year old brothers, the calmest, most handsome guys you can possibly imagine. With no history to them other than Oreo being on the pudgy side, they immediately became tight family fabric without missing a beat.

      Despite all out efforts to maintain Oreo on a healthy diet, and a medical regime including subcutaneous fluids three times a week through IV the past six months, ultimately the cruelty of disease would prevail. Oh how I will miss Oreo’s personality, particularly his chutzpah at regularly booting me off my office chair as he preferred the feel of soft leather to the hard seat chair that I would be relegated to. But I’ve never minded and usually would just willingly abdicate before it even became a point of discussion.

      How will Steve take the loss of his brother – how often they snuggled together at the back window musing over the exterior going-on’s, neither really motivated to do anything more than watch intently. They hung together as only brothers can do. Brothers-in-arms is how I described it. I am now burdened with worry and guilt about Steve. I can’t replace the loss of Oreo for him, but I know I have a responsibility to be for him whatever he needs me to be.

      So here we are. Why are we burdened with this responsibility? It’s rhetorical, I know the answer, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Just hours away from saying good-bye. The one answer I don’t have is why it seems so much more difficult to say farewell to these fur balls than it is to the two legged kind.

      And, just as Kitty did in coming to me that fateful, sorrow-filled day in 2017, quietly staring up at me, her eyes telling me she was ready, Oreo has done the same this morning, although doing so from the comfort of my leather chair I had happily offered up.

      It was a wonderful three years. I’ll miss you Big Guy. God Speed.

      • It’s harder with pets because they love us unconditionally, without criticism or doubt. I am experiencing the pain and loss too since this past Wed. I hope you will be alright.

    • I just wanted to update our story as it seems not a lot of people do that and I’m always wondering what happened next. It has been 2 weeks since she passed and the smell of where Portia’s litter box was has dissipated and now I really miss it. I look for it every time I go to the basement but it’s gone. Everyone has gotten a lot better now with missing her. We spoke about it and all decided we should open our home to another cat. We will be getting two sister kittens in a couple of weeks. My children are excited, I know I will be once they are here. We are going through the process of buying all new beds and litter boxes and toys etc.
      We laughed thinking what Portia would have made of having these two overly energetic kittens around. She loved a slow life and a lap to sit on.

      • Hi Anthony,

        I’m so glad to hear that you and your family are healing. I have no doubt you will be a brilliant dad to your new bundles of fluff.

        I’m still quite weepy, but slowly getting better and adjusting to life without Kipper.

    • I’m really sorry for the loss of Portia and know how hard grief and guilt hit. We went all out for our dog, thousands of pounds, and I have guilt in the other direction, that we prolonged her suffering as well as now being in debt. I really identify with the awful sense of loss you describe, there were days I couldn’t go home because Belle wasn’t there anymore – I had never known distress like it. After a year another dog came along, happily and unexpectedly, but I needed that time and space in between to grieve. I am posting today because my two degus have had to be put to sleep this morning and I feel guilty, like you, at not spending the money for further tests, even though they were both very unwell and it would have probably prolonged the suffering rather than provided a cure. It seems like sometimes we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

    • I am sorry for your lost and I hope that you heal.
      I totally understand your pain as the same happened to me yesterday. I woke up without knowing that after a few hours I would have to make the hardest decision ever and my sweet Paci would be gone.
      Since that I cant stop crying. A massive part of my heart and soul is gone.
      I send blessing to all people like me that are grieving.

  6. I’m so sorry for the loss of your dear, Millie. Cancer in cats is nothing short of a beast, robbing us of special years with our cats. Even though there was no other choice for your Millie, nor for my sweetie Lina, it is still an extremely difficult decision – it may be the best choice, but it’s heartbreaking that such a choice takes them away from us. I had to make the difficult decision for Lina early in December. She had been diagnosed with cancer in her mouth as well. My heart is still heavy, but I am devoted to her sister, Bella, and trying to make Bella’s life the best a cat can have. My girls are black and whites as well, although I don’t think they are technically tuxedo kitties. I hope you will be able to think of wonderful memories of Millie and that thinking of better times will help you and your daughter through this most difficult time.

  7. Our beautiful Millie, 10 years old, was born in our home with her sister, Hallie. Tuxedo cats, sisters & best friends, Millie came down ill a few weeks ago. The first vet found nothing, we are quite sure she didn’t give her a thorough exam. Her second appt. 1 week later was at the vet hospital where she received excellent care. A cancerous tumor was found under her tongue, and we were told she was in pain. We had them run every test & do any procedure that would give us the best possible chance to bring her home. The vet assured us her condition was advanced, and my daughter asked the absolute right question, “what is best for Millie, not for us” which led to us needing to make the most difficult of all decisions, to put her to sleep. We said our goodbyes as we tried to hold back the tears so we wouldn’t frighten her. I have never experienced anything like this and wonder why doing the right thing is often so painful. She went peacefully and we reminded ourselves she is no longer in pain, but the pain for us is excruciating. Our loss & grief is overwhelming, losing Millie is like losing a child. It hasn’t even been 24 hours since she passed, yet the house is empty without her, and while everyone is telling us how wonderful we were with her, she gave us far more than we could have ever given her.

    • Sorry for your loss of Millie – she sounds like she was a great loving cat. We went through this a few months ago and its so hard. We lit candles and placed lots of our favorite pictures all around the house to remember him.

      As much as it hurt us letting our beloved Hudson go, doing so before his suffering became extreme was the right thing for us.

  8. My fiancé and I had to say goodbye to our tabby Yoshi on February 20th 2020. She was only six years old. We rescued her literally off the streets. Her litter was dumped in the back alley of a shopping plaza. We raised her from a small baby to a gorgeous, sassy, loving lady. She bonded with me instantly and rarely let me out of her sight. She slept in my arms every single night. I have a couple painful chronic illness that leave me disabled a lot of the time. Yoshi was always at my side.

    She suddenly became ill one night and we rushed her to the vet. Blood tests showed she was in kidney failure. The vet didn’t know why and insisted we put her down right now. I was shocked and angry. I’m not putting her down when you can’t even tell me why she’s sick. The vet tried to talk us out of tests because she assumed we couldn’t afford it. We could. Even if we couldn’t I’d take on the debt. We left her over night.

    In the morning the vet called and said her kidneys and bladder are full of stones. Massive stones. She was still eating and drinking so I said I want to bring her home. We both knew she wasn’t to go and we’d like her to go on her own terms in her home. The vet refused and told us to put her down immediately. When we said no and that we’re coming to get her the vet said she wouldn’t allow us to have her back. What the actual hell!? I asked to speak to the head of the clinic. She’s our usual vet and has known me nearly 20 years. She confirmed Yoshi’s diagnosis and agreed she wasn’t ready to go yet and let us pick her up. I had her note on my file that the other vet is to never treat any of our pets ever again.

    I was supposed to meet a new specialist that day but cancelled. I would never forgive myself if she died while I was gone. The specialist refused to rebook me. It was now or never. I opted for never. It was worth it.

    I stayed up over 24 straight hours with Yoshi. All she wanted was for me to snuggle her. My fiancé took photos of us throughout the day and night. I have no memory of that happening, I was so focused on her. She ended up getting a second wind and acted almost normal for a while but crashed again. When she started being unable to walk we made the decision to let her go. That second wind though still haunts me.

    Yoshi passed away in my lap and I couldn’t move for over an hour. I’m still tormented with questions. Was she scared? Was it painful? Is she safe now? Does she hate me for doing this? Did I make a mistake? She trusted me and I feel like I betrayed her, she was only six! The grief is still so raw nearly a year later. Some days I hate myself for letting her go. She had no symptoms of illness until it was too late.

    In March our humane society rescued several cats from a hoarder and named them all after greys anatomy characters, my favourite show. It felt like a sign. We rescued little Miranda Bailey, a darling calico. She had such a rough 2 years in that hoard. She’s a beauty now and so loving, I adore her, but I’m still destroyed from Yoshi.

    • I’m so sorry about Yoshi and all you went through, Bekah. It sounds to me like you did exactly what was right for Yoshi. You brought her home so you could spend some more time with her, which she clearly enjoyed, and you let her go when you were both ready. That second wind is not unusual at the end. I’m glad you now have Miranda Bailey to help you heal.

    • Today I had to put my cat blackie down he was with me for 6 years was my best friend. He was a black Siamese cat when he first came to me he was very scared stayed under the bed for two and a half hours and I stayed on the floor for that same amount of time after that we became best friends. It was so hard today but I didn’t let him die alone I held his paw and said Daddy loves you and he took his last breath. I feel guilt cuz I wonder did he want to die that way and just haunts me did he know that I loved him at the end.

      • Robbie, so sorry for your loss. I went through this a month ago. I believe your act was a courageous act of love and service to your beloved Blackie. You were there for him 100% to the end. For me, looking back, I had become accustomed to my cat’s illness and suffering so that at the time I was filled with doubt about my decision to end his life. With time I realize it was the right time. Reading outcomes here of loving owners who waited, perhaps too long, helped me with some of my own doubts.

  9. I am still grieving the loss of my kitten AJ. He was abandoned by his owners and was given to me as a gift to mend my broken heart after my cat of 12 years did from kidney failure. AJ ate a piece of string and I barely saved his life with surgery, but it worked! Or so I thought. I let him out of the bathroom too soon and my big cat played too rough and his intestines ripped open where the stitches were. We were at the Emergency vets at least 3 times that weekend and we held on to see his vet Monday morning. They would not make time to do the surgery again and at this point he would cry when we hit a bump in the road and his breath smelled like poop. I made the decision to euthanize him because I didn’t want him to suffer anymore. I feel like I gave up on him after he held out all weekend. Why did I give in so easily and let people talk me into putting him to sleep. I will never forget how he laid in my arms limp after they gave him the pain killer and how his beautiful green eyes turned pink from the medication. It has been 3 years and I still feel so much guilt. He got off to such a horrible start in his life and I was supposed to give him a better one and I killed him. There is so much more that went on, but I can’t possibly explain everything. I have 3 more cats, but they are already older than AJ and had a chance to live, He was only 6 months old! I don’t think I will ever recover from this pain and I miss him and I wish he was still here. So very much. Instead of him heeling my broken heart it broke even more.

  10. TLDR: Euthanizing sucks, guilt over it was a way of staying connected to my cat – ‘Im sorry’ I cried to my deceased friend days after. That made me feel he was still with me. When I let go the guilt I lost another piece connecting me to him.

    We euthanized our beloved 16.5 year old cat Hudson 4 days ago. After 11 months of dealing with lymphatic cancer and hyperthyroidism we made the difficult decision based on the fact he was losing weight rapidly, was at the point where his spine and pelvis were prominent, had no body fat and had no possibility of regaining the weight. The hardest part is he did still have some level of quality of life, he could walk, be held, use his litter box but after a year of struggle we sensed he was suffering more than enjoying life. Ultimately, the guilt of euthanasia is correlated to the guilt of how long we prolonged a life that would have naturally ended many months prior.

    • I’m so sorry for the loss of your dear friend, Hudson. I hope, with time, your guilt will ease. It’s so hard to let our beloved fur kids go. I also think we struggle with euthanizing because it’s not a part of life when it comes to human loved ones. I recently euthanized a beloved fur kid and it definitely does suck. I’ve struggled with that decision, but keep telling myself the cancer had the upper hand. I hope you’ll be able to find peace in good memories of your boy.

  11. I had to say goodbye yesterday morning December 31, 2020 to my little tabby girl Newie. She was a little tabby/calico who i rescued from a colony 14 years ago. I was just fostering her but she ended up staying and being my little Newie Girl.

    She had started to breath odd a few years back. It seemed she was breathing from her mouth and gasping for air. Took her to vet and they gave her nebulizer treatments and antibiotics. She never developed any other symptoms aside from this weird breathing and sometimes mucus. The vet office said it was a chronic condition and I continued to bring her in for nebulizer treatments and meds. She had complete panel blood work in September which was fine.

    As of December 30, She was eating and would come into kitchen and look at us wanting her daily whipped cream. Well yesterday morning i woke up to find her not able to lift her head and laying under couch and was in distress. I knew this was not good and called vet. Brought her in and they said she either had heart failure (which never was diagnosed or brought up previously) or blood clot or ?? It happened so fast.
    I adored her and wish I could of had more time to help her if she was needing a different medication or diagnosis.

    So the last day of 2020 I bid farewell to my Newie and had to do the same for my cat Rambo in August from Stomatitus that ended in Liver failure after going thru surgery and so much treatment. It was a sad year for sure. Lets hope 2021 is better.

    • I’m so sorry, Linda! It really feels like our heart is being ripped out of our chest when we love our little beauties. I hope you’re managing okay. I also hope that 2021 is a better year especially when it comes to the little fur ones us humans look after and love dearly. Robin

  12. I’m glad to have found this website and the great thoughts and ideas and comments on getting past this dark time. My Lina, a darling and goofy girl, had fibrosarcoma in the mouth. I knew from the onset she probably didn’t have 6 to 8 months, which appears to be typical, because the cancer was in her mouth. Her doctor seemed pleased with the cancer spot during the examine prior to her second steroid shot, which we hoped would slow the growth, but, with signs the growth was worse, I took her back to the vets just two weeks after the second shot. Her doctor said there was nothing but pain management now. I chose right then to euthanize her. I think it was the best thing, but oh my mind is a mess!! She was so strong in the fight to get her in the carrier that morning and she’d only lost .1kg since the last visit, but I was scared she was already in pain and couldn’t/wouldn’t force more time on her. I do have doubts and they are killing me. Perhaps because we only had 2 months and 2 days post diagnosis, and most likely because without the issues she was experiencing, she still looked like my beloved little girl. The guilt is real and the loss is deep. I have her beautiful sister still with me who I love to pieces. I’ve had to acknowledge to myself that the bond between my Lina and I was stronger than I realized. I’m broken hearted she’s gone and devastated that I’m so emotional in front Bella, her sister. I know it takes time, but this past week has been one of the most difficult of my life. Lina was only 11.5 and was doing great until late August. Still she lived everyday the best way possible, loving life and me. My thoughts are with all other cat parents who are experiencing loss and guilt and what could have beens, especially this time of year.

  13. 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.

    • 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.

      • So sorry for uour loss I went through similar situation with my cleopatra last January I still cry n miss her

    • I’m so sorry for your loss. I just had to maje this heartbreaking decision on December 10th, 2020. Our precious Jingles was 14, had hyperthyroidism and kidney damage also. It was so hard. I miss her everyday and keep expecting her to appear wherever I am. I’m still trying to forgive myself but it so hard.

      • Forgiveness will take time, but it comes. Be gentle on yourself. You made a decision out of love for Jingles. I’ve been struggling with my decision, but am working on my grief and guilt. I loved my girl dearly and truly believe I made the decision just ahead of her getting into a bad place with pain and further physical problems. RIP your dear Jingles. Remember wonderful times you had with her.

        • Thank it has been so hard. I cry a lot for her. She was there for me when nobody else was. She comforted me when I was sad. She was a sweet kitty.

          • I hope the crying helps. Doing so comes from a place in our soul where we loved our fur babes to deeply. Remember to take care of yourself in honour of Jingles. **hugs**

          • Thank you Robin. It helps a little. I am taking care of myself as much as possible. She definitely left paw prints on my heart. It was the most difficult thing to let her go but I knew it was best for her. I still wait for her to be there in the kitchen when I’m cooking. She was always there watching and wanting treats. I miss that. I still talk to her which I did all the time. I also still serve her food and treats. She answered me sometimes. she was such a sweetheart. I got her Christmas gifts in the mail the other day and that was heartbreaking and cried a lot that day. But it’s getting a little easier.

    • KLF, I can relate to your story. Our precious Lou was also 20 years old, I knew he wasn’t in the best shape, he had arthritis and was on pain meds for that, which in turn was affecting his kidneys. After not being able to get bloods from him a year ago I knew that we would just be managing symptoms till the end. I had just lost my father (who lived in a different city) and the feelings of guilt I had there for not visiting more, the reason? Looking after Lou in his old age. I had a wonderful friend who looked after Lou while we spent as much time as possible with my father before he passed. When we got home from the funeral, I could see that Lou had deteriorated just that bit more. He had an insatiable appetite so I am guessing he had developed hyperthyroidism also. I noticed the odd small seizure also and knew one day the big one would come. I just couldn’t bring myself to euthanize him so soon after my father. Of course it was on the day I was out all day and then after feeding him I had to go out again, that was when it happened, luckily my husband and son were here and when I got the call we agreed to meet at the vet. When they got there, he seemed better and I wanted to take him home but knew I needed to get him checked out. They said we could take him home to spend some more time with him but that we would only be prolonging the inevitable, his heart was weak, lungs not good. So we decided to euthanasie there and then even though my heart wanted to take him home to spend a bit more time with him, he looked ok but I was afraid he’d seize again and I’d be putting him through more pain. I picked him up and he rested his head on my arm, something he never did. Then when I put him back on the table for the sedative he was once again scared & wondering what was going on. I wanted so much to yell out stop!! Now I wished I had taken him home so I could’ve been sure he was ready and hope that we could have arranged a calmer ending.
      I feel I have so much guilt that I am slowing the grieving process down. It is such a horrible feeling. You are not alone. I hope you have found some peace. I hope to one day too.

  14. 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.

    • 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.

  15. 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

    • 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.

  16. 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

    • 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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 .

    • 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.

  19. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

    • 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.

  20. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

    • 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

      • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  21. 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.

    • 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.

  22. 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

    • 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.

    • 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

    • 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.

  25. 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

    • 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.

  26. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  27. 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!

  28. 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.

    • 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

  29. 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.

    • 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!

      • 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

    • 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,

  32. 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 .

  33. 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

  34. 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

  35. 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.

    • 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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..

  39. 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…

    • 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

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

    • 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.

  43. 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

  44. 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.

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