Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: June 22, 2023 by Crystal Uys
Making a decision about whether it’s time to let a beloved pet go is one of the hardest things anyone loving a cat will have to go through. What can compound the difficulty of the decision is that most cats don’t like going to the vet’s. Having the euthanasia performed in the comfort of your home, perhaps even in one of your cat’s favorite spots, can help make saying goodbye a more peaceful experience for both cat and human.
When I first published Buckley’s Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher nine years ago, I heard from so many readers that they had no idea that having a pet euthanized at home was even an option. Thankfully, home euthanasia has become more common since then.
I write in Buckley’s Story:
“There was never a doubt in my mind that when the time came, Buckley would die at home. I had never been comfortable with euthanasia done in veterinary clinics. Even though I had assisted with many of them in my years of working at animal hospitals, and they were usually peaceful experiences, I did not like the idea that an animal’s last moments would take place in such a sterile and unfamiliar setting. No matter how peacefully veterinarians and staff try to make this final transition, most pets are stressed by veterinary hospital visits, and pet owners can be left with their final memory being one of a stressful experience instead of the peaceful one it can be when done in the pet’s home.”
Not all veterinarians offer home euthanasia, but many will do if asked
Not all veterinarians offer home euthanasia. Those that do generally don’t advertise the fact. I feel that asking a veterinarian whether they offer this service is extremely important while the pet is healthy, rather than waiting until there is a need for the service and then to find out that it is not available.
In recent years, some veterinarians with house call practices have embraced the concept of home euthanasia, and these vets can be a great option if your own vet does not offer it. Even though you won’t have an ongoing relationship with these vets and they won’t know your cat, they are experienced with making the euthanasia process as peaceful as possible.
A peaceful goodbye in familiar surroundings
Home euthanasia can make the final goodbye a peaceful, and sometimes even beautiful, experience. There will be no stressful or upsetting car ride. You won’t have to see healthy pets or other pet owners as you walk into the clinic with your pet for the last time. You can create a calming atmosphere and surround the cat with what she’s familiar with, providing comfort and support. You can hold a ceremony that suits your personal and religious beliefs. You will be able to spend as much time with your cat’s body as you need after your cat has passed without being disturbed by veterinary staff. You will be able to grieve in privacy and on your own terms.
Is in-home euthanasia right for you and your cat?
While I believe that in-home euthanasia is always preferable to having to put your cat through the stress of a final visit to the veterinary hospital, for some cat parents, watching their beloved cat die at home may simply be too difficult. Cat guardians who have decided against in-home euthanasia usually do so because they worry that they won’t be able to handle the memory of their cat passing in a formerly favorite spot in their home. Like all decisions involving euthanasia, this is a very individual and personal decision. There are no right or wrong answers.
A directory of veterinarians who offer in-home euthanasia
The Pet Loss Support Page offers resources for your cat’s end of life and beyond, including listings of veterinarians who will perform in home euthanasia by state (don’t let the outdated design of the site turn you off, the information is current. Simply click on your state in the upper left hand corner.)
Have you experienced a home euthanasia for one of your pets? Would you consider it for your cat?
This post was first published in 2013 and has been updated.
Featured Image Credit: Wanwajee Weeraphukde, Shutterstock
About the author
Ingrid King is an award-winning author, former veterinary hospital manager, and veterinary journalist who is passionate about cats.