I went with a dear friend of mine today to be with her while she had her beloved dog put to sleep. I don't want to be repeating that process again any time soon I can assure you....
Getting an animal put to sleep is particularly distressing for most of us, not only because it is a pet we love but also because it is our decision. When you don't have the psychological training for making decisions about life and death, you are never 100% certain that you did the right thing. You of course tell yourself you did, but what did the last look of your pet's loving soulful eyes really mean?
I've had to make the decision 3 times. Each time was very different from the others. I like to think I made the right decision and felt very much at peace with it at the time. I did have a friend who was very opposed to it in one case, she didn't tell me until afterwards. This same person had a dog that she kept alive despite what I could see as having no quality of life, incontinent and borderline suffering. I took care of this dog here at my house while she went to Ireland. I got to experience first hand what I personally thought was an animal who would have been more at peace put to sleep and out of her misery. It was awful.
Often it's very hard to know if, when, an animal should be euthanized. I have experienced one very clear situation. I'm hoping, as my cat's health declines, it will again either become very clear, or that she will just die peacefully on her own. I hate to see any living thing suffer needlessly, and wish to avoid that situation for sure.
She's younger than Renzo. Just a little over 15. The vet was here to examine her a couple of weeks ago and thinks she's in pretty good shape despite the diabetes and arthritis. We upped her herbal supplements and that seems to have helped the arthritis a bit. She's very clingy and demanding of me and will howl from another room if I'm out of her sight. She also hates everyone else in the family (and the feeling is pretty mutual). She was rescued from a dumpster as a kitten and has never really been a very trusting cat (except of me). I've got a feeling that when um gone she wanders around the house screaming for me from time to time.
It always makes me very sad to read when this decision has to be made. Casi you were a pretty incredible special friend to be there during this.
Our Jebidiah is only 7 1/2 but has had some health difficulties since the summer and has lost about 15 pounds. I cringe when letting my imagination assess what could be wrong with him, he is now eating somewhat better since we changed his food and his stomach is no longer making those awful sounds that would make him jump trying to get away from the feel and sound of them.
Here is a very compelling comment piece from the New York Times about end-of-life issues with BOTH elderly humans and other elderly mammals (in this case, a wee Yorkie). It was written by a (human) gerontologist, n conversation with her veterinarian:
Yes, same with my mum, who finally died at 98 (she had me in her 40s) and who should have died about three years earlier. And of course, I have a 17-year-old cat.
Not all my family is so long-lived - my dad died at 60 - not very much older than I am now. But he was a chain smoker and died of lung cancer after two heart attacks, phlebitis and the beginnings of emphysema.
My almost 17 year old kitty has lost a canine tooth and appears to have a major infection in her gums. Her gums were fine when the vet checked them in June, but this morning I noticed a large swelling on the underside of her jaw and further inspection revealed a hole where the bottom canine used to be. Other than being a little tender on the right side of her mouth, and sleeping a little more than normal, she seems okay. I had noticed her picking at her dry food, but when I gave her some canned this afternoon she gobbled it right up. I am sure she needs an antibiotic, but the vet won't be able to get here until tomorrow afternoon.
I think vets have an excellent role with young animals, but when it is time to tell people that a pet should be put to sleep, it must be quite tough. And at the same time, they have it easy, because pets can be put to sleep when their lives become too painful or meaningless. Doctors for humans have the much harder task of pretending that there is always hope and that treatments must be continued indefinitely, no matter what.
Very true. I've already had a dog die in my arms while the vet gave him an injection to help speed up the process since he was suffering and his body was shutting down. I certainly won't hesitate to do that with this cat if necessary at some point, but if an antibiotic will clear up her gum infection she should be just fine for awhile. She doesn't seem to be sick, just more of a localized issue.
Oh, this thread makes me so sad, but also reinforces for me how caring people can be about animals, and even people they don't know. I appreciate everyone's kindness on this board.
As for pets' passing, I had a lovely cat named Emma a few years ago. (I named her after Emma Peel but she turned out to be more of an Emma Bovary. I loved her immensely). She came down with a respiratory infection and the vet gave me some antibiotic which I faithfully administered. I killed her almost immediately because she was allergic to penicillin and went into anaphylactic shock; she took her last breath just as I got her to the all-night cat clinic. They offered heroic efforts to bring her back, but I said no and said my goodbyes. I have guilt to this day.
That's very sad, Lizzy, and i am sure it was a very difficult situation for you to handle. Unfortunately, accidents happen no matter how hard we try to take good care of our pets (and our humans, too).
My kitty has rubbed at her mouth a few times, and the swollen area seems to be extremely tender, as would be expected. Otherwise she's her normal, spunky, old self. I have given her some extra petting, and am hoping the infection will not get worse as we wait to see the vet. I wish I could give her something to help decrease the inflammation, but other than the herbal concoction she gets daily to help arthritis I don't have a clue what would be safe for a cat. We need some "kitty ibuprofen."
htmb - Please I implore you, to take your kitty to the vet for a strong anti-biotic to clear up the very painful infection. When that's all better you need to ask the vet to remove all his back teeth EXCEPT the good canine teeth in front, and also keep the tiny little teeth between the canines (directly in front). My Sebastian is going on 17/18 now and would have died 10 years ago if the vet had not removed his teeth. This procedure is very common in cats. Now he eats soft cat food and the cat pellets softened with a splash of water. I have heard that cats get used to hard food as the gums toughen up.
Thank you for your concern, Tod, but I don't think we are at that point yet. We will see about the rest of her teeth once the infection clears. Fortunately she is still her spunky cat self today and the swelling, if anything, appears slightly better. She doesn't normally have a pad of skin under her mouth. What you see in this picture, along with the fat right cheek, is swelling from the infection. The vet should arrive within the next couple of hours.
All her teeth appear to be in place after all, it was just hard to tell due to the swelling. There is either an infection, or she's got a tumor. The course of antibiotics, started this afternoon, should do the trick if its an infection. Time will tell.
Yes, I think Renzo is a year older than "la vieille chatte". Next month, Inch'Allah, he will be 17 1/2. He is back in my home office complaining about something - he has been fed, soft food as well as hard, and this morning he got some plain roast chicken - and his litter box is freshly changed.
I have lived longer with Renzo than with any other sentient living being (I have a plant that is older). I left parental home at 17, and have never lived with a guy in a conjugal relationship for quite so long as with Renzo. He is really reaching the end of his lifespan, but he will be sorely missed. No medical heroics though; I wouldn't inflict that on an eldery human either.
My old cat Buzz ( born the same year as Toy Story 1 was released ;D) also had a problem with a tooth a few months ago . It took a while for the swelling to go down and the infection to clear but he has had no problems since. However he is generally starting to slow down, especially in the hot weather we had a while ago.
Glad to hear your cat had a good outcome, Lugg. That's encouraging. I do believe we are making progress with the antibiotics. She seems to be a little less sensitive to touch, and while the swelling probably has not decreased much, it certainly has not increased. Right now she's all over me wanting to be scratched and happy as a little clam.