The Guilt of Cat Euthanasia

Euthanising your cat at the right time and for the right reasons is a good thing. It is kind, gentle and proper cat caretaking. A lot people would love to have the same opportunity for themselves! However, there is one uncomfortable aspect of euthanasia that has to be recognised. It is when you have to decide to euthanise your cat because you have decided that you cannot afford to pay a $1000 or £1000 vet bill (or more) on tests etc. that may bring some benefit but may not. There may be bills beyond that. Where does it end? Or, you can afford it but you feel that you can’t justify it. That is even worse.

This is where the cat caretaker has to decide between their money and their cat’s life and if, despite being a good cat owner, they decide they can’t or don’t want to afford it, how guilty do they feel afterward? If the person is a genuinely good cat guardian, they are likely to question their decision and feel guilty.

Pet Insurance
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Not cheap. Photo by Mountain/\Ash.

Some people might argue that the reason for the guilt is the high cost of veterinarian care. If their charges were more modest the cash strapped cat owner wouldn’t have to make that impossible decision.

In defense the vet would say the cat owner should take out pet insurance. At a stroke that would eliminate the guilt. The cat owners would just say yes to the vet, go ahead and do what you have to do to cure my cat. The vet would also say that they are highly skilled and deserve a decent income, that they have high overheads and the drugs and equipment is expensive and so on. Fair points.

Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

The trouble with pet insurance is that it can be expensive over the lifetime of a cat and it may be a waste of money. Pet insurance is a gamble and essentially it is about the passing of money from the person who has a very healthy cat to a person who has very sick cat. A substantial part of the money from the person with the healthy cat also goes into the pocket of the employees and directors of the large (and wealthy) insurance companies. Insurance is a bit of a game and a license to print money. I don’t like insurance. And a lot people who are the best cat caretakers can’t justify paying for it.

A vet might say that if you can’t afford pet insurance don’t have a cat and don’t complain about feeling guilty if you have to euthanise your cat rather than spend a lot of money doing tests.

Where does this leave a lot of people who are decent cat owners? It leaves them facing the reality that cat health is ultimately about money. There is no absolute right to cat health care. In fact, there is no absolute right to human healthcare. It all has to be paid for.

If you are a person:

  1. who is likely to pay a lot of money to save your cat and
  2. you can afford pet insurance…

…my advice would be to take out pet insurance to avoid the euthanasia guilt complex. I think we need to ask ourselves in advance, how much we are prepared to pay in vet’s bills. It seems to me that taking out pet insurance is both about us, and our mentality towards paying vet’s bills, and our opinion about our cat’s health.

It is essential to check the terms and conditions of any insurance policy because you can’t trust insurance companies. Also take written notes on any enquiries you make on the phone about what the policy covers. Insurance companies like to wriggle out of their obligations. And that is another good reason why people don’t take out pet insurance and have to face the guilt-making decisions of euthanising their cat.

Associated post by a colleague in America that touches on the same topics.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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4 Responses

  1. Rose says:

    God I couldn’t insure my lot or I’d have nothing left for food lol and thankfully I’ve had no huge vets bills,if I did well then I’d find it somewhere,beg steal or borrow my pets would get what they needed.

  2. Leah says:

    I pay insurance which is quite expensive as I have 3 cats. Its also expensive because it my vets pet health scheme. I couldn’t be without it though because my cats mean the world to me.

  3. Marc says:

    I’m lucky enough to have enough money aside incase something happens. But before I reached that stage I always thought it was a good idea. You are paying for peace of mind. Thats what it is really. You feel like its ok and that if something happens you can run to the overnight emergency and do whatever is needed. This is a big important thing to feel ok about. Otherwise you are up sh*t creek without a paddle basically. I think insurance from a personal point of view is about feeling ok. If you can abuse it then I say go for it since those companies are vultures and horrible so rip them off whenever you can. Get your vet to say everything had to be done as emergency and make them pay for every damn thing you can. But I say its worth it. I actually have a small insurance on 2 cats as part of my house insurance. Its small – a few thousand for accident and more for illness. But here in Switzerland to leave your cat overnight – just that, to be watched, nothing more, costs 700CHF which is about 600GBP. So when I say without a paddle I mean its brutal. I got it as soon as I could – that basic one for Red and Lilly. Now I have 3 cats but they don’t know which cat is which so the first 2 who need it will profit from it and I doubt all 3 will need it.
    They are disgusting vultures who prey on people though I agree with that. Ripping them off gives me great pleasure.

  4. Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

    We have never insured our cats, at first it was because I was working for vets and we had our treatment at cost price or even free if the vet was feeling generous. Then after I retired we just started putting so much aside monthly, but even so a huge bill like the one we had recently for Jozef’s tests and X rays, wiped the cats account out. But we love our cats and would pay any amount of money if they could be cured, rather than have one euthanised because of lack of money.
    If Babz or I needed expensive life saving treatment we couldn’t have on the NHS, we’d have to borrow money, so we’d do the same for our cats, crawl on bended knee to our bank manager if we had to ……
    We always keep a brave face on when paying our bill at the vets, they do charge the earth but we have no other choice than to pay up…then we come out and recover from our shock, in the car before driving home lol
    Seriously though I do think it’s more and more about money nowadays, the cost of the drugs vets use make them a huge profit and take for example being seen as an emergency, even just 5 minutes after the normal closing time, ours add an extra £100!!!
    But that’s life nowadays for many people, making money money money!

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