I don’t think all of us can automatically rely in our natural ability to make the right judgement when the time comes to euthanize our cat. There are too many pressures to delay it or to do it too soon.
These pressures come from within us. Our love for our cat and obvious unwillingness to say goodbye might delay euthanasia to a point where our cat’s welfare is no longer paramount.
Perhaps something as simple as a lack of sufficient funding might hasten euthanasia as the veterinary bill is too much. Or you have struggled with your cat’s health for a long time and can no longer cope with the emotion of it. These are head games that we need to remove so that we can make an objective, sound decision.
The key to making the correct decision is that, at this critically difficult time, a cat caretaker must have an experienced and compassionate vet who understands cats.
I believe the best sort of vet will be female and with at least 15 years experience. The years of experience are important and there is no substitute in this instance for it. A cat caretaker needs to be guided by such a vet. The final decision in in the hands of the cat’s owner. It is a joint effort.
The decision to euthanise must be based exclusively on the cat’s welfare. The person’s needs must come a distant second.
Putting aside for a minute the complications presented by the question as to whether the cat owner can afford more treatment (if this is a factor), the decision to euthanise must turn on the vet’s prognosis. How serious is the illness? How long will she live? How does she feel? Does she appear to be in pain and discomfort? What is the quality of her life?
The ultimate question is:
What will be the quality of the cat’s life for the remainder of her life and how long will she live?
Based on the vet’s input on medical issues and their treatment combined with the intimate knowledge of her cat that a concerned caretaker has, the above question can be answered with reasonable certainty as the cat’s welfare is the paramount concern.
The quality of the cat’s life is okay (just) and she has a year to live – don’t euthanize. The quality of her life is very poor and she is dying – euthanise in a day or two to say your goodbyes.
There are no absolutely right and wrong decisions because this is not mathematics (math). The decision when made should be accepted and never rehashed. A person who has gone through the experience will be better able to make a correct decision. Vets go through these experiences routinely which is why their input is so valuable.
P.S. these are my thoughts on a tricky subject. I am not necessarily correct. I accept that. If you disagree please tell me in a comment. If you have a story to tell, please tell it in the input panel below: