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How do you know when it is time to put your pet down? (warning - kind of long)

July 30th, 2005, 10:17 PM
I hope that this is in the right forum, I was not sure to post it here, if not I am very sorry.
16 years and 4 months ago I got my cat Tigger, and we have almost been inseperable since (except those two years I went away to college :) ). He greets me at the door when I come home from work, and comes to my room in the morning to sleep a little longer with me.
Over the past few weeks his breathing has become short and wheezy, he is not as active as he was, he is eating and drinking less, sleeping more, and not doing his usual things. Over the weekend he had become worse and has urinated on the bed (which was upstairs and the litter was downstaris, so I think he just knew he could not make it on time). He has a lot of difficulty walking, and needs to rest when going from room to room, and pretty much does nothing but lie around, not even sleeping as far as I can tell. Whenever my father walks in the room he normally sits up and meows at him, now he does not even lift his head. His heart rate sounds normal, but his breathing does not (I am a nurse, that's why those were checked :) )
He still purrs and wags his tail slightly, which is normal for him, but his purring is a lot louder because I think he has to breath through his mouth slightly to get enough air in.
I know that he is only going to get worse, and although he appears to be comfortable he is not himself.
I know that everyone has a different idea when it comes to there pet, but what would you do if you were in my situation?
All I am looking for is advice, not basing my final decision on what I read here.
Thanks so much
A miserable and worried Kristen

July 30th, 2005, 10:27 PM
So sorry that this is your "welcome" to this forum. :sorry:

No one can tell you when the time to put him down is. He will tell you.
They get a certain look in their eyes that says "I've had enough" and you will know.

What we can do for you here is give lots of support, and comfort for this difficult time. In putting a sick pet to sleep, you are showing the most love and respect that one can show for a pet. It is a very tough and selfless decision, but your little guy will be at peace.

((((hugs)))))) :grouphug:

July 31st, 2005, 12:53 AM
I had to make a decision this year with our 17 yr old cat. He wasn't himself. He too urinated wherever. His coat and skin became thin and not glossy. He would not eat his wet food, so I knew that it was time. It was not an easy decision. But I know it was the right one. My thoughts are with you. :grouphug:

July 31st, 2005, 07:48 AM
Kristen,first,I am assuming he's seen a vet on a regular basis and is not suffering from UTI or anything that can be cured.
His loud purring can also mean he is in pain and uncomfortable.
I made the selfish mistake 3 times of keeping my elderly cats(17,18,18 yrs old) with me too long,just could not bare the thought of loosing them..
When the cat no longer has any interest in life,food or water and is older,like your Tigger it might be time to let him go :sad:
As heartbreaking as it is,it's not a awful process,no pain or panic.
I held each of my cats in my arms on my lap as they passed,to me it was very important not to leave them alone with strangers at that time.
Afterwards,although mourning each one for months,there is also a sense of peace,knowing your much loved cat is in pain no more.
I am sure you'll know when the time comes to say good-bye,as difficult as it is,you'll do it out of love for Tigger :love:

July 31st, 2005, 09:03 AM
Kristen, if I were you, I would take him to the vet as these symptoms are rather new. The vet will let you know what the prognosis is and advise you on what your options are.

July 31st, 2005, 11:04 AM
It's time if your cat or dog isn't eating or drinking, if he is lethargic, and if he has a strange look in his eyes. I've seen it.. It's like they are saying "I've been your friend and companion for a long time, but now it's time for me to go." (I'm almost crying here...I had to put my beautiful orange DLH down a year ago for cancer..she was 19...)

But first take him to the vet, he might just have a UTI that's making him uncomfortable..

Lucky Rescue
July 31st, 2005, 12:00 PM
but what would you do if you were in my situation?

I would take him to the vet. Have you? He might have something that is not serious at all, but could get serious if neglected.

Just because he's 16 doesn't mean it's time for him to go.

July 31st, 2005, 01:49 PM
Oh yes,I hope nobody missunderstood me,I did not say have him put down!!
There could be medical reasons why he is like he is,you did not mention seeing a vet,it could be something simple to cure and he could have another 4-5 yrs with you.But whatever it is,don't let him suffer,please see a vet,if you have not already done so.Like Lucky says,16 is senior,but there might be other problems not old age.

July 31st, 2005, 04:48 PM
Thanks so much for everyone who responded. I could not stand to see him in the condition that he was in so I took him to the emergency vet and she checked him out and said that it sounded like there was something in or pressing into his lung, and as I suspected, she said that he was uncomfortable, so I rather then do tests and x-rays I choose to put him down (if he were younger I would not have, but 16.5 is pretty old). It was not peaceful at all. The vet injected the anesthetic into him and not much happened and then he looked up at me and started to meow loudly as if to say no, no, and started to lick my hand (which is normal for him). The vet tried again to inject him but could not find a good vein (he is over 20 lbs, and the normal dose was not enough), so she told me that it would be best if they took him to the back and used gas. I agreed because I did not want to hold him anymore, I guess it was not the best experience. I miss him a lot!!
Thanks a lot again to everyone who responded.

August 5th, 2005, 09:29 AM
Oh, I am so sorry for your loss. My kitty was 19 when I let him go, never an easy decision. I am also sorry it was not a peaceful passing. I hope you are able to let the "how" go with the passage of time and focus more on the "why". You loved your cat very much, so much you made the hardest decision we ever have to make.

Be kind to yourself.

January 26th, 2007, 12:11 PM
December 28, 2006, I had to put my best buddy down. His name is Kitty Hoss and he is 19 1/2 years old and he became my family when he was six weeks old. I could not make myself stay with him to the very end and I cannot get rid of that guilt! How could I put my baby in my vet's arms and just walk away with a prayer?? Any advice to help? (Thank you Twinmommy, your words did help me thorough the initial act of decision.)

Also, I have been feeding a sweet little girl kitty and have a small house for her outside for the past two or so years. I am wanting to adopt her, but the guilt of "replacing" my baby is killing me! Not to mention being outside for two plus years will be a challenge to make her an inside cat.

Any advice will be appreciated; it has only been a month and it is still really, really tough! I am so glad I found this site.

January 26th, 2007, 12:40 PM
Kristen38, please accept my most sincere condolences. I am so sorry for the loss of your cherised Tigger.

Tonyagh, please do not feel guilty for not being there at the final moment. It would only have upset Kitty Hoss to know you were upset. Because he was your special buddy for so long, you aren't replacing him by adopting this new little kitty ... you are remembering him in the nicest way you can by sharing your love and experience with another wee soul. Instead of feeling bad, try thanking him for teaching you what he did and making you more prepared to help out "little girl kitty" ... who you'll name soon, right?

I don't mean to sound like a total whack job ... now that I have a 1 yr old dog (terrible twos meets adolescence!) I thank my beautiful Clancy :rip: every day for what he taught me and for being my loyal, faithful friend even when I didn't deserve it.

kashtin's kin
January 26th, 2007, 01:34 PM
Kristen38, my most sincere condolences for what you just went through with your beloved Tigger. Regarding the euthanasia, I can understand how traumatic that must have been for you, and how you might feel a little 'betrayed'. Most final injections are fairly calm; I'm really sorry that your experience wasn't. But try to remember that animals don't have all the information we have, and thus any confusion your cat felt would have been fleeting.

It did sound as if you did the right thing at the right time, however difficult it sometimes is to judge 'right' perfectly. It is awful to have to say good-bye to an old and faithful friend, but when they start having real trouble with the basics of life (eating, drinking etc.) and just don't seem to be themselves in a very noticeable way, they have often already started their journey to the 'Rainbow Bridge'. As owners/servants, it is then our responsibility to let them go.

Although your cat did not seem to pass in total serenity, do remember he didn't know what was happening, and was likely in a bit of a fog due to his sickness. Last year I lost 4 older cats in a 6 month span; 3 were taken to the vet clinic, and one went so quickly we didn't make it to the clinic. In the case of the cat that didn't get to the clinic, she probably looked and felt a bit like your cat as she went, and I was shattered by the experience.

However, she was very sick and not totally alert, and her passing really was quite fast, even though it seemed unbearable to me. So please do believe that you 1)gave your cat a great life 2)let him go before he really started to suffer and 3)he would understand, and not want you to be so hard on yourself. Grief is tough to endure, but try not to let the horror you felt at the end block out all the great memories you must have.

It takes time for grief to lose it's knife-edge, but it does-and then you can truly begin to heal. When you're ready, put an album of favourite pictures together, or write a poem, or light a candle :candle: of remembrance, or keep a few special toys, or keep some 'fur/hair' if you have it, or post a tribute in the category on this board...whatever you feel is right for you.

You were an :angel: for your Tigger, and he was so important to you; his pawprint will always be on your heart. Love is stronger than death... :grouphug:

p.s. just realized this thread originated in the summer...hopefully you are feeling quite a bit 'better' now?

January 26th, 2007, 04:02 PM
Kristen the only thing I can add,is that I too am very sorry for your loss of Tigger and the circumstances of his passing,I think Kashtin's kin spoke for all of us:rip: Tigger

Tonyagh,don't feel bad for not beeing with your kitty the final moment,I am sure he passed very quickly and peacefully:love:
I am also certain Kitty Hoss would want you to find comfort in this little girl-kitty,you never replace an old friend,Kitty Hoss will always remain in your heart.
This little girl needs you and Kitty Hoss will be smiling at you from the Bridge:grouphug:

January 26th, 2007, 04:33 PM
Kristen (I like your name :) ),

I'm so sorry for your loss. He sounds like he was a great cat. These posts made me remember all the pets I have lost. Honestly, I feel some guilt about every single one. Do any of us ever feel all that great about the way our pets leave this world? It's just so painful all around even if we did nothing wrong. I will never forget and will always miss all of them. We shouldn't beat ourselves up so much about it, but it is hard not too. Time does help to ease the pain some, though. I'm sure you did the right thing as it sounds like he was suffering. It takes a lot for a cat to show signs of pain. They instintively hide it until they can't anymore.

Tonyagh, I always have to wait a long time, usually years, to get another pet after losing one,or at least, I have to wait to get another of the same species as the one who died. It is hard, but I've found after I bring the new pet home, everything is alright. Sometimes it even helps me heal. You won't forget the cat you lost, ever. Who knows, you may meet again someday. Meanwhile, there are so many who need good homes. There will never be enough homes for them all. But we can try, one cat or dog at a time, to get to that point.


kashtin's kin
January 26th, 2007, 06:35 PM
Tonyagh, I feel for you, too; it does hurt to lose such a critterfriend. As for the issue of not being with your cat at the end, please don't beat yourself up over it. I'm lucky enough to have a husband who radiates a sense of calm 'centredness' that animals (and many humans!) find very reassuring; in a couple of cases of animal loss, he stepped in for me-in order to keep me from completely dehydrating from tears, and needing a straitjacket.

I've talked to friends and a few vets about 'being there', and most tend to feel that if you are going to be very emotional (and possibly emotionally scarred) your furbuddy will probably be better off in a calmer surrounding. Obviously you loved your cat very much, and gave him a wonderful life; try to concentrate on that, instead of any guilt over a very short segment of his life.

Regarding having another cat/pet in your life, sometimes people do need some time before they can make that emotional committment. However, don't make the mistake of thinking you are betraying the animal you lost by 'replacing' it. A furbuddy is never replaced, you just find a spot for them in your heart forever...and if there is another animal literally on your doorstep, do try to help it if you can.

It isn't necessary to get totally emotionally invested if you feed and shelter this other cat who obviously needs help. And, helping it may actually be a bit therapeutic for you; you can think of the great bond you had with your older cat as perhaps inspiration for reaching out to this younger one. I'm sure the cat you grieve for would appreciate that you gave him a dignified exit, and would not want you to deny yourself another loving bond.

Find a way to 'celebrate' your cat's life when you are ready, and hang in there; the sharpest grief dulls with time, and you will be able to reflect on all the good memories you have :grouphug: .

May 9th, 2007, 10:03 AM
Hi, Tonyagh...Just wanted you to know I did adopt my little girl kitty AFC championship weekend. I have named her Cleopatra as she has taken a shine to my ottoman and it is now her special seat. She stretches out as if she is waiting for "her grapes to be peeled". It has been three months and we are getting along great. She is still very skiddish about many things and she does not like visitors! She has come a LONG way in three months; she is always playing with all her toys or wants to be petted. She used to stay in the dining room, but I started putting several toys in the living room and she will play in there with me for a while, but I think she likes to bat her mousers in, out and around the dining chairs. She is so fun to watch! Thanks again for all your support; I still miss my boy very much, but, she is definately a blessing in my heart.