Veterinarian pleads with cat and dog owners to be be present at end of life euthanasia

A South African vet says that cats and dogs look around for their human caretakers when they are being euthanised at the end of their lives. He believes it causes them unnecessary distress. In a Facebook post he pleads with animal guardians to take courage and be present at end of life euthanasia moments.

Veterinaran thinks cat owners must be there when their cat is euthanised
Please read this as it is the core of the article. My words are very much incidental to it.
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He wants this both for the animals and for himself. In his experience most companion animal owners do not attend these moments because they lack the courage to do so.

He urges people to do their duty and not leave it to him to do his best to step into the shoes of cat and dog owners. It is an interesting post. Do you agree with him? I’d be pleased to hear your views in a comment.

This is my second attempt at this post because no one wants to read the first! It may be a subject that is too difficult to read about or the title I used was off-putting.

I think that it is a good subject and I learned something from his words. I find it excruciating to attend the euthanasia of a cat I have loved and cared for for many years. But I think I will steel myself from now on. I’ll have to. In the past I have left the consulting room and waited in emotional turmoil while my girlfriend attends the veterinarian.

6 thoughts on “Veterinarian pleads with cat and dog owners to be be present at end of life euthanasia”

  1. I cannot think of NOT being with my furbaby as she was to make her final journey. I was fortunate that our vet came to our home to help Kolya go to her peace. She was surrounded by everything she loved and she knew how much I loved her. I sang to her, cuddled her, kissed and hugged her, and cried for her. Then she crossed over the Bridge.

    • You’re stronger than me as I have so far walked out the room and been in anguish in the reception area while my girlfriend attended the death. I’ll attend the next one.

  2. Franny Syufy
    I know it is painful for many cat caregivers to have to witness the passing of their beloved cats. But, PLEASE, consider the feelings of fear and wonder, when your poor cat ends his or her life alone and frightened, surrounded by strangers.

    Yes, it is painful, but consider how painful and frightening it is for your poor cat. Three months ago, I held my beloved Jaspurr, almost 16 years old, in my arms, as our veterinarian gave him freedom from his pain, with a final injection. As I hugged him and kissed the top of his head, Jaspurr was purring as he left this life for the “Rainbow Bridge.” It was fitting that I sobbed then as I’m doing now, while Jaspurr was purring his thanks to me for relieving him of his pain,

    • Yes, Franny, you’re better than me. I have failed so far to attend. I will attend from now on. Franny, I’d like you to write an article for this website on any subject about cats that you wish. I’ll pay $30. Not much but something. I hope you and yours are well.

      • Michael, can you email me privately at I’d love to write an article for your website, but there’s no charge, for now. I’d prefer to do it out of friendship, this time, at least.

        As for being “better than you,” there is absolutely NO such thing, Michael. Anyway, I’d like to discuss this, as well as other topics. (I was going to mention talking on the phone, but then realized that GA to England might be a bit pricey) LOL

  3. I ain’t no one, I read the previous article and this one!

    I agree 100% with the vet.

    You are there for your companion in life, it is your duty to be there for them as they die.

    The only euthanasias I have not attended for my own companions, has been when an exploratory surgery has discovered malignancy for which therapy was not available or would be unendurable for my beloved companion. In those cases I have asked the vet to euthanaise, not to bring them out of anaesthesia, as recovery, at the vets, pain, confusion, anxiety they will experience is too high a price for them to pay, just so I can have time to say goodbye.

    I have been asked (and done it many times) to attend euthanasia of horses, dogs and cats over the years when friends have not been able to deal with it. These were, without exception, animals I had known for quite significant amounts of time.

    I’m not a callous, heroic type, but I know how to be calm and reassuring when it is needed. I was not the animals guardian, but at least they had a friend with them when they died.

    I feel very strongly that vets could do a bit more to encourage people to stay with their friend at death. Some vets have special rooms, with comfy furnishings, nothing like a consult room, lowered lighting, peaceful pictures on the walls. More vets offer euthanasia at home now too, which can be helpful for the companion, much better than the clattery, brightly lit consult room at the vet. Home
    euthanasia makes it easier on the guardian too, as by default they are more relaxed at home, also readying the home can be a welcome distraction to contemplating the very, final end to your friend’s life.

    Would you run away from a human friend who needs you to be there with them when they die?

    I don’t actually know of one person who would refuse to do this for a human friend, why then is it so hard to do it for companions of other species?


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