Euthanizing a Cat

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When adopting a new kitten you aren’t thinking about euthanizing a cat. Instead, you think of all the good times you will have in the future with your new kitty-cat. Responsible pet owners need to be ready for all of the possibilities in the future. Veterinarian trips, scratches on your new furniture, accidents on the carpet and eventual death of your pet are all part of adopting a cat. Educating yourself about euthanasia and your options can help your cat in the future if illness or injury causes you to have the need for a friendly and painless end for your cat.

What is Euthanasia?

The easy answer is euthanasia means gentle death. Euthanizing a pet means to have your veterinarian put it to sleep. Pain is not involved; the pet is put out of its misery quickly and doesn’t feel more than possibly the initial needle prick. An injection is given that causes the cat’s heart and lungs to relax to the point of stopping. The cat falls asleep as it would if your veterinarian was going to perform surgery and then the vital organs are slowed to the point of stopping.

Why would I look into euthanasia?

Knowing what options you have in case of an emergency is important for the health of your pet. If you are prepared with information you can make better decisions about what is best for your pet. Euthanasia is not something that you should take lightly. It isn’t an option that you can change your mind about and is therefore saved for emergency situations when it is the most humane option left.

If you are a cat owner at some point you may have to entertain the idea of euthanizing a cat. If your cat is in pain or suffering with loss of function and loss of quality of life that is not going to get better, choosing when to end the suffering is a difficult and highly personal decision. Older cats can have age related illnesses and any cat can get injured in an accident by having a door closed on them or they can get into traffic. Allowing your cat to suffer through multiple cancer treatments when quality of life will never be regained or through the loss of sight, hearing, and bodily functions is something that you will have to weigh and decide what is right for your situation.

Some pets have behavior issues that are so intense that euthanizing them may feel like the only option. When thinking about euthanasia here are points that you should consider before making your final decision.

Questions To Ask When Deciding On Euthanasia:

  • Is your cat suffering?
  • How likely is the cat’s chance of recovery?
  • If this is a behavioral issue have you tried behavior therapy?
  • If this is due a behavioral issue have you thought of re-homing your cat?
  • Is your cat in pain?
  • Has your cat’s quality of life diminished?
  • Would you want to continue living like this if you were the cat?

There are several factors that go into the decision to put your cat down. Once you have identified that the most humane thing to do is to put your cat down you still have a couple decisions to make.

My place or yours?

Some people prefer to let their cat have a special day before being put down. This is especially important for people who have watched their cat go without choices that they love. Whether your cat spends its last day having a party with loved ones or laying in an animal hospital there is still the decision of how to go about the final goodbyes.

Some veterinarians are willing to go to your home to put down your pet in comfortable surroundings; others will require that your cat is put down in their office. Choosing where and when you have your cat put down is the next step when you have decided that it is best to have your cat put to sleep.

Should I stay?

Some people choose to stay with their cat to the end; others choose to have their last good-byes at another time and do not stay for the euthanasia. There is nothing wrong with either choice. If you choose to stay with your cat you need to be educated about how the cat is likely going to react to the injection so you aren’t given any surprises.

How does it end?

When an animal is euthanized the animal dies almost immediately. They feel nothing but their body does react in a way that may not be expected by those who do not know what is going to happen.

Just as chickens will attempt to fly once their heads are removed, an animal that has been euthanized may have involuntary muscle spasms after death. This doesn’t mean that your cat is suffering or that the euthanasia didn’t work properly. The last breath escaping from the lungs of your cat can make funny sounds as well. To someone who is not ready for this these sounds and reactions can be very upsetting.

It is important to discuss everything with your veterinarian if you plan on staying with your cat during euthanasia. Seeing euthanasia performed on your beloved cat can be very traumatic and if you are concerned that you may have an overly emotional reaction, it may be better to say goodbye and allow your cat to be taken back by the veterinarian and staff members instead. The last thing you want is to make the situation worse, by having your last memory of your loved family member being the last breaths and muscle spasms of euthanasia.

In the end it is a personal choice that you have to make for you and your cat. There is no definite right or wrong decision when it comes to euthanizing a cat. There are so many things that you have to consider and each case is different. Educating yourself on your cat’s condition and your options then making an educated decision out of love and compassion is the best thing you can do for your family cat.

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