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Felinexpress.com home > Cat Care > Putting Your Cat to Sleep

Putting Your Cat to Sleep

Although the end of a feline life is a fact of life for any cat owner; “putting the cat to sleep, euthanasia, putting the kitty down, or going over the Rainbow Bridge” however one wishes to phrase the end of life, it’s a conversation cat lovers evade until they have to find themselves facing signing the paper to end their friend’s life. So when should you put your cat to sleep? Should you put your cat to sleep? These are difficult questions for any cat-lover to confront.

The prospect of ending your cat’s life is never easy. Not for you, the already grieving cat lover, not for the cat who is depending on you to make the right decision and not for your vet. Deciding when to put your cat to sleep should be based on the overall health issues; is the cat failing, is quality of life suffering? What does your veterinarian advise? Euthanasia should never be used as a convenient way to “get rid of a cat” who is a problem because you; find yourself suddenly having to move, or you just tire of having a cat, or the cat is to old and you want a kitten instead or you are expecting a baby. The decision to put a kitty to sleep needs to be entered into with respect for the life, compassion for the cat and reverence for the life of the cat. Euthanasia should also never be attempted at home unless with the supervision and assistance of a qualified veterinarian.

Before deciding if your cat should be put to sleep, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is kitty able to function daily; eating, drinking, using the litter pan?
  • Has kitty withdrawn from you and the family? Hiding under the bed or just vanishing for hours and not responding to your calls?
  • Is she not moving about much?
  • Is she is pain?
  • What does your vet say about her overall prognosis?
  • How do her eyes look? Do they still have a spark of life in them?

An old English proverb says: The eyes are the windows to the soul. Marilyn Hatcher, a private cat rescuer who has gone down the path of grief often offers her advice when facing putting kitty to sleep.

I lie down in front of kitty and break the cardinal rule of stray cat care. I stare into her eyes and I talk to her. I tell her how important she is to me, and I ask her what she wants to do. Is there still fight inside, or is she weary of the battle, the stress or the pain. It’s not a rehearsed speech; it comes from years of dealing with stray cats who have been badly neglected. I stare into her eyes and there lies the answers. Her eyes tell me what to do next whether she is one year old or eighteen years old. I dismiss me out of the equation. Her pain is what is important. Mine will come later and I will deal with it the best I can. How I deal with having my cat put to sleep and how I cope with the loss is I take it a day at a time."

Some diseases are treatable (even some cancers) if finances are causing you to make this decision there are organizations available to lift the financial burden off your shoulders. Please see link: http://www.felinexpress.com/cat-care/vet-care.asp  Other alternatives would be a local or online fund-raiser such as chipIn.com. Online websites such as Cat Lovers Blog http://www.blog.catblogosphere.com/ will often champion a cause and hold an online auction to help a cat lover handle incoming vet debt. If there is a chance for recovery and hope, there is help obtainable.

But if the prognosis is such that she will be facing pain, stress, and she will not be living but simply existing then the decision has already been made. It is up to you to take that final last step in her honor and respect all that she has given to you in your life; companionship, comfort, joy, and emotional well-being.

Besides you and your cat there is another person to consider in this equation and that is your vet. Although the clinical definition of euthanasia was defined in 1986 by the American Veterinary Association as “the act of inducing painless death” this is only one small aspect of a larger issue your vet faces. Your vet will have an easier time following these final wishes if it is a matter of life or death and not just a way of ridding yourself of a problem cat. The same issues that will face you once your cat takes her last breath, will also confront your veterinarian; doubts, confusion, second-guessing the decision and moral questions about playing God.

For the vet, he cannot tell you what to do. He can only follow your wishes and prepare you for the end of this feline life. You have the option during the process to stay with your cat or you can leave and pick your cat up later.

Here’s what happens if you chose to stay. The vet will usually prepare a sedative prior to administering the final injection. The vet tech will assist and will shave your cat’s front or rear paw (so they can find a blood vessel easily). If you want to assist in holding your cat, most vets will allow this. The sedative will be injected, kitty will relax and then the final injection will follow. Your cat will slip away quietly and the veterinarian will listen to be sure the heart beat has been silenced. You will be able to stay in the room and say your final goodbye for as long as you need. When you leave with your cat, the vet tech will generally let you slip out of a back or side door so you don’t have to encounter any stares or questioning looks.

The cost of euthanasia varies depending on your clinic. The weight of your cat is a factor. The higher the weight the more solution needs to be injected. If you want your cat cremated that will be extra. Some vets will make house-calls and put your cat to sleep quietly at home, but the clinic charge is less expensive than a house-call.

The final decision rests in your hands. Do you decide to end your cat’s life peacefully or let her linger as she dies naturally at home? If your kitty is terminal, you have one final option. As cat ownership becomes increasingly popular, there is a new trend starting in the United States and that is hospice care for cats. Just like the human counterpart- hospice cares tends to the pain and maintains the comfort of the kitty. Unlike the Hospice Care for humans- it would fall on your shoulders to maintain your cat until the end times by taking into consideration all the special needs required. You would be the deciding factor in the end; knowing full-well that once her pain ends, yours will begin.

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