When to euthanize a cat? ANSWER: When it is right for the cat. This, though, is a very difficult question. I thought I would try and answer it having just tortured myself going through the experience.
No one has the right to lecture on the subject. But I hope my experience helps someone make the right decision. I am not saying I made the right decision, incidentally. I am just sharing.
Binnie’s casket containing her ashes – I loved her unconditionally and with all my heart.
We cannot make entirely objective decisions because we are not robots. For the sake of complete clarity “objective” decision making means: “Uninfluenced by emotions or personal prejudices” (Free Dictionary).
The important point about euthanising your cat is that it is an emotional time. It is a difficult time for the cat caretaker who cares. It hurts and the hurt can go on for a long time. This can encourage the person to release themselves from the hurt sooner than later, which in turn can lead to euthanising your cat too early.
There is also the fact that for people who don’t care as much as they might, deciding to euthanise their cat becomes a question of removing work load and frustration because looking after a geriatric cat at the end of their life becomes work. The decision becomes one about what is good
for the person not the cat.
If this emotion is recognised the person might overreact and delay euthanasia beyond the best time leaving the cat in unnecessary discomfort and pain. In short, the cat will be miserable and lead a very poor quality of life just to satisfy the person.
Or the person may delay and put off the difficult decision simply because it is difficult in the hope that their cat might die naturally. This would be the best result but you can’t count on it. This is a case of abdicating responsibility.
In the case of Binnie, she was very ill on multiple levels. I brought forward the visit to the vet because she had more or less stopped eating for several days and completely stopped 24 hours before going to the vet. This clarified the decision making process for me.
Whatever I tried, including specialised food (which she at first took too), she failed to eat. Nothing got her appetite back.
Combining a complete loss of appetite with signs of acute kidney failure and heart problems (breathing difficulties) and other health issues including dementia and a very old age (20) gave me the cue I needed.
The key, I believe, is to always question one’s thoughts and adjust them to ensure that they are as objective as possible and based on what is right for your cat. As Ruth said, you will know when the time is right (provided you are objective and truly care for your cat).
I hope this helps just one person to make this tough decision.
P.S. Binnie was euthanised yesterday at about 12:15 and cremated individually – I watched her being placed in the oven – at about 1:10 pm in the afternoon. I collected her ashes at about 2 pm.
This is Binnie before we went to the vet for the last time: