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Putting Pets "to Sleep"


October's Autumn
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My eldest cat turned 17 back in October. She was on a steady decline with occasional plateaus. In February she weighed about 5 lbs. of skin, bone, fur, and purr. A few weeks back my husband (who has an uncanny sense of being able to tell when animals are dying) told me she had less than a month. On Wednesday or Thursday of this past week it was quite obvious she had hours to days left. She begin to have problems walking and moving around and she stopped purring or responding to touch or voice. Friday morning I left for work with the mind set that if she made it through my work day we would take her to the vet. I talked to my husband, who was on death watch for the day, around lunch time and he said she was crying. I asked him to see if he could wait it out until I came home. I wanted to be with her when she died. When I got home I was torn. She was still alive and would occasionally cry out, obviously distressed. She struggled to get comfortable. She was having problems breathing. I sat and sat with her not knowing what to do. Should I let nature take its course or put her out of her suffering? I wasn't sure if it was her suffering I would be putting out of her suffering or myself -- waiting for the end was torturous. I took a nap. When I woke up I still didn't know what to do. My experience has told me that when I'm not sure what to do it is better to do nothing. So I waited. Just before 9 p.m. my husband told me that she was at her end and to come spend her last minutes with her. I sat on the floor as she lay dying. I watched her gasp for her last breaths, eye glaze over, body quiver. I was horrified at what had become of her. ( I've held a dying cat before and had it die in my arms but it was dark and he was wrapped in a towel. He was also much younger.) Then she was gone. I sobbed and wailed. I'm not much of a crier but I felt pain deep inside my being. I think the crying was a release of energy -- my inability to make a decision about what to do, fresh thoughts and images of her dying, not knowing how to give her comfort. Initially I couldn't touch her but with some encouragement I helped my husband wrap her up in a towel and held her on the ride to the vets office so she could be cremated. I cried again when after I turned her over to the vet tech. And I'll cry one last time when I pick up her cremated remains.

 

I'm sad or perhaps nostalgic is a better word. I've had her since shortly after I turned 22 and I'm now 39. I've only lived with my parents longer (18.5 years). I have more memories with her since I don't remember those first 5 years with my parents. I've been through a lot since I got her and she has been a constant through all of life's changes.

 

Thanks for reading.

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Sorry to hear this. We have a male cat named "poopers" who is about 12 now. He has been family from day one. We love him, and also know he loves us. He is next to me now and seems to have sensed my reaction to your story. He does this quite often. That is why we love them.

 

These were the best words I could find. Hope it helps.

 

Myron

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Thank you, OA, for sharing! I have a 19 year old cat, and I know it won't be TOO long until we face the inevitable. I am currently reading a book called "Animals in Spirit" that a friend recommended. It suggests that we try to talk to our pets to see what they want. My cat was supposed to live less than a year, and that was 3 years ago. She has bad days and good days, and right now her missing the litter box is driving us nuts, but I gave her a bath today, and we had a good time together in a sunbeam afterward. I appreciate you giving the details of your struggle, and I know mine may come in a different way, but I know I will draw strength from you when the time comes.

 

The book I'm reading says the animal spirit has just shed its clothing, and your cat is more comfortable now. That does not stop our needs for cuddles and purring, though, so I'm so sorry!!

 

I thought it was the end about a month ago, and I couldn't believe how much I cried then! Logically, I knew she'd had a great life, but I'm not ready for her to be gone. May you feel God's presence during this struggle.

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It was hard because it makes it all very real. I responded differently though than when my cat died 6 years ago. Then, I fell apart when we picked up his ashes. This time I was sad but collected. I was prepared for any kind of reaction. With the first cat I didn't look inside for over a year. This time I did right away. (The ashes are in a plastic bag inside a cedar box).

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I may have grieved as much for the loss of a pet as for the loss of a person. In the last few years they have been well along in years, and I felt that euthanasia was the right thing to do, but it is still hard. I don't want to sound strange, but I am 73 and a cancer survivor, so death has a somewhat greater reality to me. If I were to get really sick, I would think about moving to Oregon so that I could have some control over the end of my life, and I think that somehow parallels my feelings about my pets.

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Thanks to both of you for sharing. My cat is now 19, and my hubby says it may be time to put her to sleep, because she's started using our dining room sometimes as a litter box. I want to get her a second litter box downstairs. The arthritis may be making her second guess the long flight up to the second story. I'm reading a book right now that says we should spend some time trying to determine the wishes of our pets. Sometimes they try to outlive their natural span because we can't let them go. I'm kind of a skeptic, but I think I know what the cat's trying to say in other situations, so I figure I'll be intentional in asking what she wants and see if I feel any kind of response. Maybe I'm crazy!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Your thoughts and prayers -

Wanted to ask for them today. Mewsic, our 19 year old cat, has an end-of-life appointment today at 2:45. She has been peeing throughout the house for awhile now, and last night it was in our bed. We are out of options that we think will preserve her quality of life. She has been the most wonderful cat ever (to us), and it's going to be hard, but after much consideration, we think it's the best decision.

 

We love you, Mewsic!

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Your thoughts and prayers -

Wanted to ask for them today. Mewsic, our 19 year old cat, has an end-of-life appointment today at 2:45. She has been peeing throughout the house for awhile now, and last night it was in our bed. We are out of options that we think will preserve her quality of life. She has been the most wonderful cat ever (to us), and it's going to be hard, but after much consideration, we think it's the best decision.

 

We love you, Mewsic!

 

Just reading this made me cry. I have been going through trying times lateley. My cat, "poopers" has been there for us so many times. Some years ago, my partner had extensive surgery to save the functioning of his right arm. We were gone for a day and poopers was so glad to see us come back home. Then he saw the sling my partner's arm was in. When my partner sat down on the sofa, he jumped up on the back of the sofa and walked over to him. He very gently placed a paw on his cheek as to say "I'm here". He remained very quiet and gentle until my partner recovered, and then it was back to "let's romp and play." They are special.

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Thanks! We'll bury her tonight, and it will be difficult. Mewsic was always there for me, no matter what!

 

I'm really sorry to hear about her going...I know it can be really hard to lose a pet :( I hope the burial went well, and at least she died peacefully and, I assume, with you nearby.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Thanks! The whole family was with her. I had expected to feel okay by now, but I'm still pretty sad, especially during the times we would have been cuddling.

 

I wish I could offer some comfort.

 

Certain times of the day are harder than others for me. Do you have any other cats or pets? I've found that having other animals around does help. I think I'd still be crying if I didn't have them. I remember the month or two I went without a cat when I was 11/12 and it was much harder. Now I have 2 cats and they help with dealing with the loss.

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We had a dog when the children were young. He lived to be 15 1/2, and wasn't mourned all that much. Since then (1978) we have had cats. Once we decided to keep them indoors they have lived into their teens, and even though that is pretty old, losing one can be hard. The last one to go was Bachi, and that was a year ago last month. We still have his brother Gato, who clearly misses his bro. So we are thinking about getting another cat. But we will probably get a middle aged kitty and not a kitten as, being 73, I don't particularly want a pet that outlives me. But maybe that isn't a good reason. I dunno.

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I don't have any other pets, and I'm not eager to get another right now. I feel like I would be comparing the new pet to my old one, so I'm going to wait. I think at some point it will seem more normal NOT to have a cat in bed with us or sitting on our laps.

 

It makes sense to me to try not to have a pet outlive you, unless someone can take care of it.

 

Janet

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