Cat euthanasia can be abused,
while assisted dying for people is underused. Discuss.
What is “assisted dying”? For me, it means a person helping another person to voluntarily die because they are terminally ill. It is a form of euthanasia. A person requires assistance because he or she, voluntarily of their own free will, takes prescribed medication to end their life. Unless you are a doctor someone else has to prescribe it, prepare it and give you the medication.
The difference between cats and people is that the person elects to die while someone decides for a cat. The cat makes no choice, which is a mute point because sometimes a cat can tell you in various ways that it is time to go.
In human terms, cat euthanasia is murder. Cat euthanasia is not assisted dying. Assisted dying implies that the person who wants to die requests assistance. A cat cannot make that request.
However, there are strong similarities because in both someone assists in the killing. How does that person feel?
It is often the responsibility of a compassionate cat caretaker to assist in the death of their terminally ill cat. This is when euthanasia means what it says. Genuine euthanasia is compassionate. It is the right and loving thing to do but it is hard on the person.
Does a person, who for genuine and caring reasons, feel guilty when they ask their vet to euthanise their beloved cat? This is deliberate killing, make no mistake about it. Tears will flow and the anguish will run deep – if you care, and you should. You will never forget the moments in the surgery. They will be seared into the brain in vivid technicolor.
But guilt? No. I felt anguish then relief and terrible sadness. Was my feelings of relief for me — to be off the hook of worrying about my very sick cat? Or was I relieved that my cat would no longer suffer the pain of a long chronic illness? I don’t know.
What I do know is that when euthanasia is done properly for the right reasons in a caring and controlled way, there is no doubt in my mind that it is good. It is more than good; it is sensible.
That is why I have exactly the same feelings about euthanasia for people. This may shock some people but I see no difference, in essence, in euthanizing cats or people. There is a difference at a practical level because (a) in general people believe that the human is more important than the cat and therefore needs more protection to ensure that deliberate killing for the right reasons is controlled and (b) someone makes the decision for the cat.
There lies the problem: establishing sufficient safeguards for people who are candidates for assisted dying and who want help to die.
Which leads me nicely to the lack of safeguards in the euthanasia of cats and the abuses that result. There should be greater safeguards over the euthanasia of cats and dogs. Only a vet should do it. The vet should be independent of the owner of the cat.
People involved in the process of cat euthanasia can learn from the parallel process of human assisted dying. In some places more care needs to be exercised in cat euthanasia and in all countries a more open, less fearful and more practical attitude needs to be developed in respect of assisted dying for people.
Note: I accept other opinions and respect them.