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Euthanasia in cats and dogs

September 28th, 2004, 02:34 PM
I have always wondered about putting an animal down. I am conflicted in my feelings as whether it is a procedure that is right or wrong. I know it is painless and it is to end an animal's life who is suffering but I get upset with the thought. I have a 12 year old cat, who I adopted 2 years ago, and recently I have really been questioning myself on this. I know that cats can live long lives into their 20's, but I hear of this so infrequently. I guess the topic has really been hitting home lately. He is really healthy and the vet cannot believe he is 12. I just cannot help but think about how many years he has left. I cherish every moment we have together and to think of life without him makes me depressed. It will always feel like we had such little time together, but great time together because every moment counts. It may be negative that I am thinking about the future but it is realistic, right? I do not dwell in it but it just strikes a chord in my heart from time to time. I was thinking of it today as I was reading a post - that is what has lead me to post this.

I was just wondering what other pet lovers views were on this topic? Is it okay to make that decision on their behalf? If so how do you know? Should they not have the right to live their life to their last breath as we do? Or is it okay to make such an executive decision because you do not want them to suffer any longer and you know they would want you to end it peacefully if they could ask you?

I am just so conflicted and I suppose a little depressed thinking about the future of one of my babies, knowing he is 12 and all. It has always been something I have wanted to know of how others felt about it :confused: I thought this is the best place to find out as everyone here has such a big heart and seems to care at the same level as myself - which is so wonderful to have a place like this.

Lucky Rescue
September 28th, 2004, 02:45 PM
Is it okay to make that decision on their behalf? If so how do you know? Should they not have the right to live their life to their last breath as we do? Or is it okay to make such an executive decision because you do not want them to suffer any longer and you know they would want you to end it peacefully if they could ask you?

The decision is always hard, and there really is no right or wrong about it. I have had to euthanize many animals of mine - from rats to dogs - and each one broke my heart.

BUT since it's in my power to ensure that none of my pets die a lingering death with great suffering, I will continue to do this when necessary. I think it's very sad that humans are forced to suffer great agony with terminal illness, and I don't wish this on my pets.

We have to do what is best for our pets and to me that includes the final kindness of ending suffering when there is no cure and their lives have become a burden to them.

September 28th, 2004, 02:57 PM
I think when the time comes I would rather for them to be put to sleep than to suffer. I would not continue to do herioc measures on an aged pet. Their time has come to be at a peaceful rest.

September 28th, 2004, 03:11 PM
I agree and I disagree with it - this is the tragedy of it all. If I am so torn now with just the thought what am I going to do when the time comes? I do not want him to ever suffer but then I do not know if I could take his life away.... What if he could have had a turn around and I messed up that opportunity for him?

I am 100% with you LR when you say that it is so sad that humans have to suffer with terminal illness and you do not want your pets to suffer the same.

I feel so bad for thinking about this when I am sure he has many years left, but I have to prepare myself, no? I guess I need to feel comfort by how others feel on the topic...I know that is weird. I need to find a place where I can stand on the issue. I guess I am in a time and on a topic where I need guidance. My husband is completely against the idea and I am so very torn.

September 28th, 2004, 04:02 PM
Tyr,believe me,it is a comfort knowing you can end a life full of pain,but it is the last resort,when painful procedures might only prolonge suffering.
I've had to do it to several cats and it does not ever get any easier,but you can feel comforted the animal you love is in no more pain.
Your cat is only 12,that is not old,he probably has many more years to go and you can do your bit,by making sure he gets good food and care and lots of loving,of course.

September 28th, 2004, 04:19 PM
Thank you Chico...that was really nice to hear. I have never had a cat past the age of 7. They have always ended up having such short lives. So I keep hearing people say "wow, he is really old." Or, "You are such a good heart to adopt such an old cat considering you may not experience so many years with him." It just makes me so sad. It is nice to hear someone say he is not that old - it is very comforting. I read cat books all the time to fill my head up with as much knowledge on them as possible. I know he can live into his 20's but it just hurts to think about him not making it that long. Maybe I am affected by all of the deaths I have seen with past cats at younger ages.

I do my best with what I have to give them all the care and love that I have in me and can provide for them.

I am starting to feel more at ease with the idea. I guess it just always seemed to me that it was forwned upon and that you were a bad person for doing this. I started to adapt to that view myself and recently became conflicted as I thought about if he were to ever be in any pain. Now I see that maybe I have made it more about how I would feel with him not being there and not thinking enough about putting him out of pain - if this were ever the case.

Just like people I hope that he lives to be a ripe old age and live so healthy that he just goes in his sleep so peacefully.

I must sound pretty negative thinking about such a thing so early when he is healthy......

I do not mean for that. I guess this is what happens when you have so much love....

September 28th, 2004, 08:08 PM
well said to all the posters here.

For any pet lover, or any decent human in my opinion, the decision you mention is one of the worst we will ever have to make.

I have had and loved so many pets in my life, and until May of this year, I never had to face it. All the others from the past died in many different ways up until then.

In May, my Sassaphras, Sassy, got beyond our "fixing her up". She was only 12, and feline. She has some problems that we could not remedy. The afternoon, I signed those papers, with tears in my eyes, still haunts me.

I still have 5 other cats, and two dogs, and if I take care of them as I try to, I know I will face that again one day.

I posted this poem, it's not mine, after Sassy left us, and I post it again. Perhaps it will help you or another as it did me that day.


If It Should Be

If it should be that I grow frail and weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep
Then you must do what must be done
For this last battle can't be won.

You will be sad, I understand
Don't let your grief stay your hand
For this day, more than all the rest
Your love and friendship stands the test.

We've had so many happy years
What is to come can hold no fears
Would you want me to suffer so?
When that time comes please let me go.

Take me where my needs they'll tend
But stay beside me to the end
And hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see.

I know in time that you will see
The kindnmess that you do for me
Although my tail it's last has waved
From pain and suffering I've been saved.

Do not grieve, it must be you
Who decides this thing to do
We've been so close, we two, these years
Remember joy amoung your tears.

~Author Unknown~

September 28th, 2004, 09:46 PM
having an older dog whom i adore and would die for (my constant in a world of variables) i can totally understand where you are coming from, i try not to think about our time left, although hard it does enter my mind occassionally, but the thought of it makes me physically sick and near crazy with fear and sadness. but like humans and all creatures nothing lives forever, and quality of life and happiness are all that we can be sure of.

i personally think it all comes down to quality of life, when an animal has reached a point where days are not happy and the quality of life is low then that is the time. and factors that would affect quality of life include pain and mobility.

i often think if i were old and my quality of life was terrible and life was not happy, well i sort of hope someone would put me down too :D

September 28th, 2004, 10:33 PM
When my dog had cancer in the nose we did fight hard, but with time he could not breath through his nose and as he was a St. Bernard his cheeks made it difficult to breath through his throat while sleeping. But he still seemed not suffering (aside loud snoring and difficulties with breathing while sleeping)
but one day his face bacame all swollen and he stopped eating, just laid in front of us, and we all realized it was the day, I think he knew it too and asked us to let him go. He really did his best to fight cancer, but when it became too painfull... You just have to let them go when it's their time...
It's hard, I still grieve about him, but at that day we did not have doubts any more - it's no life like that and you don't want to prolong their suffering.

September 29th, 2004, 12:10 AM
Ok...this one may be graphic so be fore-warned...

When I was 15 I had to have my pet rabbit, Thumper, of about 10 years PTS.
( He was a big fella, about 8-10lbs, albino with touches of grey on his nose and ears, and those big red/pink grandfather brought him, and my borther's-who he named Peter until she had babies- from a place that bred them for meat.)
How that came about is thus,
My mom, a friend of mine, and myself had gone shopping for the day at Limeridge Mall in Hamilton, leaving my bunny out as we often did to roam around the backyard (it was animal proofed so no one could get in or out, and Thumper had never even bothered to attempt it, he was very tame, his food was out for him under his "bunny condo" and as he was older he had a skin infection on his hind leg and over one eye that we treated with cream).
We got home in the late afternoon and I, as usual went straight for the back yard to look for Thumper, a few minutes later all my mother heard were my hysterical screams.
This is what I found...
My beloved rabbit was laying on the grass as usual, but when I called his name (he would normally answer to my calling him and come hopping along for treats) he didn't come. I approached him where he was lying and saw that he was trying to get up, but it appeared that there was something wrong with his leg. Upon closer inspection I found (to my absolute, still haven't got over it to this day, horror) that maggots had begun to eat him alive beginning at the wound in his leg. Now understand that I am sobbing while writing this....
My mother rushed out at my screams and was also mortified... I was unconsolable. We were home alone that week as my dad and brother would not be home until the following day. Now I can understand why my mother was so ill equipped to deal with this situation as she was also a city girl, who had never had a pet growing up. She tried to console me and said that we could take care of him tomorrow when my dad got home....TOMORROW!!! That made me hysterical AND angry! I was actually the one to insist that we take him somewhere for help/ or to be PTS.

Seeing them take him in that box at the emergency vets to be PTS broke my heart, but neither could I see him suffer so horribly. :(

At 15 I knew that it was not fair of us to let him suffer like that, and I do believe that in such situations it is up to us to ease the animals pain and suffering.

On the flip side I have heard of pet owners insisting that their perfectly healthy pets be PTS for some un-Godly reason or another...and that is completely wrong. And I think the vets that agree to such absurdity should not be allowed to practice. :mad:

Oh and for those of you I may have is a more upbeat memory of my Thumper... His favorite time was winter, as he got to spend more time with us indoors and if I was to cradle him and sing him Silent Night he would fall asleep in my arms with his ears resting over my arm.
And one winter I made a 'snow' bunny about the same size as him on our back step...and used pine needles for whiskers, we actually got a picture of him licking the snow bunny trying to eat the whiskers and it looks like he is kissing it...very cute, I'll see if I can find it and scan it so I can share that. :)

September 29th, 2004, 02:45 PM
That is such a sad story!!! I am glad that you hold such great memories outside of the one attached to her demise. The snow bunny is really cute - I would love to see this picture :)

My cat, Jesse, the one in conversation for this topic, LOVES being sung to as well. Whenever I sing he comes to wherever I am and gets right up close to me and puts his head on my shoulder - he purrs like crazy :D Fidel likes it as well, but he is very aloof and only sits between my ankles :rolleyes: I am hoping the little one will be like this as well.

Melanie -

Thank you so much for writing and saying that you identify with me. It makes me feel like I am less of a negative person knowing that you feel the same way, and go through the same torment from time to time....not that I think the torment is a good thing :( I have always thought of myself as a happy person, but I know I go through depression every now and again. This topic has been plaguing me lately.

Thank you to everyone who has written in reply. I really do feel so much better knowing that if the time ever comes I will not be a horrible person. Although, I still do not know if I could do it. I have never been faced with the decision.... I know it is inevitable considering I will be a mulitple pet owner my entire life.

September 29th, 2004, 04:20 PM
If it came down to one of my cats being terminally ill (in pain, no doubt), I would have him/her PTS. I wouldn't let them suffer just so I can be with them longer. It's just not fair. I've heard on this board that you'll know when it's time, although I've never had to make that decision myself.
Being in pain is the ONLY reason I would do such a thing. I am glad that we have that choice for our pets, but on the other hand I know some people do it for the wrong reasons and it totally disgusts me!
My MIL's friends daughter had a pit bull for about a year or so and then she had a baby. One day she said 'he looked at me funny'. So fear of him attacking her or the baby, she had him PTS. I can't believe that's even legal!
That poor dog, I still to this day can't believe it. The dog has never showed any type of aggression towards anyone before, I always thought the dog had to bite someone to be able to put it down... then again she could've lied about it.
I can't stand some ppl!!!

September 29th, 2004, 04:29 PM
I cannot believe someone would just put an animal down if it were not in pain! No reason to ending a life? How can that be justified? It should be illegal for a vet to do such a thing!!! That makes me really angry. I have a hard time even imagining having to make the decision if I were to be faced with it. I never knew that this could even happen - that this is even allowed.

September 29th, 2004, 04:33 PM
That's what I'm not sure of... she could've told whoever did it that he was vicious and tried attacking people, or that he did attack someone.

September 29th, 2004, 04:36 PM
As a paramedic, I see a lot of human suffering, and wish sometimes that there was something in place to allow people to make their own decision regarding their passing. However, I also see that for loved ones it would be a terrible choice for them to make. Same with pets. I get choked up thinking about having to put my "Puby" (looks like a puppy gets treated like a baby!!) down. I don't know what I'd do. I know sometimes it probably is the most humane, but then I hear things... like the "Heaven's Gate Animal Sanctuary" where they have a no-kill policy. From what I've heard (on animal miracles) they have vey innovative, medical and alternative therapy's that allow animals to live out their last days with out having to be euthanized. I don't know, and i hope I don't have to make that kind of decision for a very very long time! But, when it comes time to consider these options, I will be doing a ton of research regarding alternative therapies, and drug therapies (pain control). If it still is obvious that my Sheriff is in pain and suffering I would strongly consider euthanization. I think everyone who truly loves his/her pet will do whats best for them, no matter what. Whether it is euthanizing or alternatives I think only you (knowing your pet well) can make!

September 29th, 2004, 04:52 PM
I am right there with you SheriffMom! This is exactly how I feel. I get so torn and the idea just brings me to tears. I too hope I have many many years left with my Jesse. All of my fur babies actually. It is only Jesse that I bring up because of his age. I got my new little guy because last week my husband came home to me crying in our bed next to Jesse, peacefully sleeping in my arms. He asked me what was wrong and I told him that I just started thinking about the "what if's". He felt so horrible and laughed at me at the same time. He said, " you are all upset for no reason. He is strong and healthy and we have many more years with him". I know this is true but you cannot help feeling so vulnerable and open sometimes when you love something so much. I had said from the time Fidel got bigger and came into his own personality through the process of his evolution that I wanted another kitten raised by Jesse - so that there would be two raised by such a unique being. Fidel is so wonderful and has so many attributes of Jesse's in accordance with his own - he is truly amazing. I wanted another baby to be raised by him so I would always have that extra feeling of him being there long after he was gone...outside of my own heart. Something living that I can touch and put my love into. So, my husband suggested that it was time to get the second baby for Jesse to love and raise - "even though there are many years left with him". I know I am just a big sap and a little over sensitive. I am sure he will be with me for a long time - I just would not want to feel like an awful, inhumane being for putting him down if it ever came around.

I knwo just how you feel.....