Our cats are our often among our best friends.They provide us with countless hours of loving amusement. When we have a bad day, they are often the perfect pick me up. But cats, like humans, grow old. They are prone to the same types of bodily wear and tear that lead to slowdowns in metabolism and deterioration of their internal systems. These changes can lead to complex problems such as liver and kidney failure, loss of condition and growth of cancers. As a cat owner, we are in the privileged position of helping our cats make their final transition as easily and painlessly as possible.
As your cat gets older, you will start to notice gradual changes. She may not be as fast as she once was, she may have urinary accidents outside her litter box and she may appear thinner and lack the lustrous coat of her younger days. If your cat has an ongoing health complaint she may start to deteriorate, becoming less inclined to eat or play and requiring more medication. Choosing to put your cat to sleep is a brave and humane decision. You may want to ask yourself how much you'll allow your cat's health to decline before taking this critical step.
What do we really mean when we mention "quality of life?" Bottom line, is she eating, active, free from pain, is she interacting with you and is she able to use her litter box without problems? Veterinary professionals often speak of the cat's mental capacity: when the cat's quality of life is virtually nil and she has a vacant expression, it's time to do the right thing.
Being responsible for a pet's life decisions puts you in a very privileged position. You can help her avoid any unnecessary prolonged pain and suffering. Allowing your cat to be put to sleep is a clear sign you are a caring and loving owner. Choosing to have your cat put to sleep, (euthanized,) cannot be rushed. Your veterinarian will discuss the options with you, allowing you to make the final decision. Although emotionally draining and naturally heart-breaking, the procedure should not prove worrisome. It is a straight forward and peaceful process. The veterinarian may clip a small area of fur and place a cannula in your cat's leg. This is held in place with a bandage or fastening. Once your cat is relaxed and you are ready to say goodbye, the veterinarian will inject a small amount of drug into the cannula which allows the cat to peacefully drift off to sleep as her heart stops beating. The process is almost instant and completely painless. The cat will simply appear to fall asleep.
You may wish to take your cat home for burial or your veterinarian may offer the option of cremation (the ashes may be returned to you in a cask or urn if you wish.) It is a good idea to think about this before the need arises. Naturally, losing your cat will be an emotional, difficult and stressful time. Returning home and finding a space where your cat once slept can be heartbreaking. Give yourself plenty of time to grieve. Make plans and keep yourself busy for a while. In time, the grief should pass and you may even find yourself thinking about another cat, visiting your neighborhood rescue facility to look for a new kitten or cat. Don't hurry the process. When the time is right, you'll know.
*Image courtesy of Dollar Photo Club
© Spalding Laboratories. All Rights Reserved.