60 answers

20 Year Old Cat

Please help. My kitty is 20. He just lays around. He can still jump on the sofa and does cuddle sometimes. He does eat but with difficulty. He can only rarely go up and down the stairs consequently he is peeing around the house. We moved a litter box upstairs but he can't always find it (he's going blind too). We try to stay on top of it the best we can and the house does NOT smell. My question is how do you know when it is time to say good bye? PLEASE DON"T REPLY If you are going to say it is time if he is peeing in your house. Because it isn't that easy.

I know he is old and his "ills" are because he is old not being naughty. The vets have told us that it might be time. It is so hard to know, I struggle with putting him to sleep to make my life easier. It is not his fault he lived to be old.

********Here is where we stand. It really helped me to read everyone's replies. I can't respond to them all because so many wonderful people gave advice. I think you have all helped me come to the conclusion that the time is coming. Maybe not now but soon. I don't think he is in pain but how do you know? I do know he is not himself and is uncomfortable. I didn't think that was a good enough reason but you are all right, he chokes when he eats and his fur is falling out. I can't brush him to help him because he is too bony and it hurts. Maybe he is not in pain and I was using that as my judge. Maybe there is more too it. Just the quality of life and his comfort is where I should be judging. THANK YOU ALL.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

My cat was just shy of 18 when I had him put to sleep 2 years ago. I have no clue what to tell you other then you will know. I think that just by you asking, you are thinking of it. I had no intention of letting him go when I did and I was just holding him one evening, like I always did, and he looked at me and I just knew it was time.
And yep, he too had a difficult time making it all the way in his box... we accommodated for that with piddle pads all around and under the box.

If you need an ear or an online shoulder, just give me a holler. I did have him cremated and now my Spike is always with me... and since this is making me cry, I should stop now.
Good luck... and again, you will know when the time has come.

1 mom found this helpful

My mom was having a similar problem with her dog, and she found doggie diapers and they work wonderful...she has also used some of my daughters' diapers by modifying them to accommadate his tail. Good Luck!

I feel for you P.! My kitty was 23 when I finally had to let her rest two years ago. It was the hardest decision of my life. She had kidney disease and was also having bowel and bladder issues. Fortunately, my landlord was forgiving at the time and I just kept cleaning up after her. That wasn't a deal breaker. I just got to the point one afternoon when I looked in her eyes and it seemed that she was too tired to go on. She hadn't been herself for quite a while. She used to run frantically around the house, jump on the counter, play with everything and occasionally steal my dinner if I wasn't watching. However, she'd just been laying around. Her coat became matted because she stopped grooming herself. She was hardly eating anymore and was very skinny. She just looked terrible. She had always been a beautiful long haired calico cat, except for the last couple of years.
I don't know if this story helps, but I really feel that we came to the decision together. I took her in to the vet and they were very supportive of me. I held her while they did it and we just looked into each other's eyes. It was very difficult, but I still know that it was better to let her rest in peace. Good luck!

More Answers

First, I want to say you are very lucky to have had a kitty companion for so long, 20 years is such a long time and he's truly become apart of your family. As much as you love him, it truly sounds like he's suffering. He's body is giving out and it may be better for both your family and him to say goodbye on your own terms and be with him when he goes rather than to come home one day and find him passed with no one there to love him. Good luck with your decision.

1 mom found this helpful

My cat was just shy of 18 when I had him put to sleep 2 years ago. I have no clue what to tell you other then you will know. I think that just by you asking, you are thinking of it. I had no intention of letting him go when I did and I was just holding him one evening, like I always did, and he looked at me and I just knew it was time.
And yep, he too had a difficult time making it all the way in his box... we accommodated for that with piddle pads all around and under the box.

If you need an ear or an online shoulder, just give me a holler. I did have him cremated and now my Spike is always with me... and since this is making me cry, I should stop now.
Good luck... and again, you will know when the time has come.

1 mom found this helpful

Is Kitty suffering? Is he in pain? That is when it is time. You need to think of how he is feeling and if he is having a good life. If he is hurting all the time, maybe it would be a blessing for him. I hope that you can decide quickly and that you can have peace with that choice. Good Luck, and God Bless.

The only reason a animal should be "put down" is if it is in pain and your cat doesnt seem to be in pain. And he seems to have some eyesight still left. But I do hate to say it that when his sight goes all the way he will have to be put down because he wont be able to see anything and to me that will be suffering to him. As far as him not eating much, you didnt say if he is eating hard food or soft food. If you are giving him hard food trying changing him to soft food and maybe that will help some. Good Luck to you and your cat.

My mom was having a similar problem with her dog, and she found doggie diapers and they work wonderful...she has also used some of my daughters' diapers by modifying them to accommadate his tail. Good Luck!

I am in the same situation with our 14 1/2 year old cocker spaniel. She is my baby. I am not going to put her to sleep because she has accidents in the house. You wouldn't do that to a human just because they are old. I feel that God will give me a sign to know when the right time is.

If your cat still seems content with his life and you don't mind cleaning up messes, then it is not time yet. I think you can tell when your pet is ready to say goodbye. If he is uncomfortable and unhappy, then maybe you should conside letting him go. Your cat will let you know...

I feel for you P.! My kitty was 23 when I finally had to let her rest two years ago. It was the hardest decision of my life. She had kidney disease and was also having bowel and bladder issues. Fortunately, my landlord was forgiving at the time and I just kept cleaning up after her. That wasn't a deal breaker. I just got to the point one afternoon when I looked in her eyes and it seemed that she was too tired to go on. She hadn't been herself for quite a while. She used to run frantically around the house, jump on the counter, play with everything and occasionally steal my dinner if I wasn't watching. However, she'd just been laying around. Her coat became matted because she stopped grooming herself. She was hardly eating anymore and was very skinny. She just looked terrible. She had always been a beautiful long haired calico cat, except for the last couple of years.
I don't know if this story helps, but I really feel that we came to the decision together. I took her in to the vet and they were very supportive of me. I held her while they did it and we just looked into each other's eyes. It was very difficult, but I still know that it was better to let her rest in peace. Good luck!

Amen Sister!! PLEASE DON"T REPLY If you are going to say it is time if he is peeing in your house. Because it isn't that easy.

Try putting him in a large enough crate for him, food & Water, and a litter box. Is he in any pain of any kind? If so I'd say it's time. But don't do it if he's not suffering. Try the crate thing for a little while and see what happens, Let me know!

Hi P.,

I really feel for you and know exactly what you're going through. We recently had to put our loveable Great Dane down because of bone cancer. I was willing to do anything for him, clean up his accidents, do my best to carry his hindquarters to help him outside... For me, I knew it was time when he couldn't even move to let me clean him after an accident. Great Danes are so stoic and to see his look of humiliation. It was as if he was confused - he knew peeing in the house was wrong but he couldn't help it. It broke my heart. I think when I saw that he couldn't live the quality life that he loved, that's when it was time. He couldn't play with his brother, couldn't go to the dog park... he was just laying there. I knew that I was keeping him alive for me. It was the hardest decision of my life and I cried like a baby, but deep down, I know we did the right thing. Only you can know when it's time. The fact that you're having doubts is probably a sign that it's getting close... Best of luck in your decision. It isn't easy :(

I have worked at an animal hospital for over 6 years now and i know this is the hardest decision anyone has to make. I myself had to make the decision in Jan for my 8 year old dog and it was very, very hard. This decision does not come lightly, and only you can make it. You have to look deep down and wonder if he is suffering or uncomfortable. Don't let anyone talk you into something you don't want to do. Only you will know when the time is right, and you will know, you just do. Again I know this is not easy, to make things easier for him, move everything to one level of the house, food with litter box, and if he is urinating in one or two specific spots, clean with a neutralizer like natures miracle, and put food or litterbox in its place. Hope this helps, your decision will be the right one.

P., you and your family will be in our prayers and we will grieve with you in our tears when the time does come. These wonderful mommies have some fantastic advice - YOU will know when your kitty is hurting and it is time. When that time does come, this site helped me tremendously - along with writing my babygirl a 5 page letter. I lost her over 2 years ago and still cry to this day because I miss her so.....God bless you, honey....

This is a really hard decision for you to make. We had to put down 2 of our dogs because of old age etc. My mom let the Cocker Spaniel go to long in my opinion (she had cists, became blind and just yucky, arthritis and could barely move) But when she lost her appetite she knew it was time (my mom worked in nursing homes and saw death often and usually not eating is a definite sign its time) The other dog ended up not being able to breath because of a cancerous lump putting pressure on her lungs and she was going blind and deaf. So, I think you will just know when it is time. Good luck to you and your family.

I just put our 17 year old cat down last April. It was hard but she too had so many ailments at that point, I knew I was being selfish keeping her alive for me. Also we had to deal with the peeing outside the litter box the last year and a half and it was starting to effect the cleaniness of my house. I'll have to get the carpet replaced in my hallway whenever we have some "extra" money.

My cat is 15 and has been slowly declining for years. She has renal kidney failure, which isn't really progressing, but she is pooping and peeing around the house. Her legs are stiffer. She sleeps all the time. We've spent thousands on radiation for her thyroid and on surgery for a broken tail (severed in the door when she was trying to sneak out). Because of that experience at an emergency vet, she has to be sedated at every vet visit. She refuses to take medicine and shots are not an option.

I struggle with when is the right time to do it. I don't think it's that time yet, but it is coming. The vet and I have talked about when is the right time. She gave me some of the best advice, that not only do you have to think about the cat's quality of life, but your own as well. Can you handle the poop and pee all over the house? We're at a breaking point with it because it seems to be behavioral. Changes come on rapidly in cats and so we know it will happen quickly.

My 4-year-old daughter is old enough to know what's going on. I fear that she will wake up one day to a dead cat -- we've had a lot of deaths in our family so I'm concerned about that. So do we put Sammy to sleep before that happens? Do I sedate her to bring her to the vet? Will her last hours be drugged up and full of fear? Or am I just thinking of myself?

No easy answer. Watch your cat and when you see sudden changes, it's time. But waiting for that time can be agonizing, believe me.

How is his quality of life? Does he eat enough to sustain himself? Does he seem happy? You will be able to tell when any of this changes. My cousin is a vet and he told me that if the animal seems unhappy, not eating, lethargic (sp?) or just out of it, then it may be time. As long as he is still enjoying life, I think you can put off putting him down. I know this is a hard time and my advice helps you out.
Good luck

Hi P.,

We lost our cat of 17 years last summer. She slowed down and started losing weight and having other issues you describe but did not seem to be in pain at all. We just stayed with her till it was her time to die. She died in my arms at home and we buried her in the backyard. I know people think we should have taken her in to be put down but I honestly thought it just would have meant her last hours would have been scary for her. If she had been in obvious pain I would have taken her in. I was glad she was in her home until the end.

Good luck to you.

Hard question. If your vet is saying "may be time"....I'm so sorry. My cocker spaniel was 17 years old. She had accidents, she was moving slower and had some doggie dementia. I just waited and waited. Then one night, when I let her out to go to the bathroom, she wandered off at midnight (my son was 3 weeks old and I just let my pup out after I got my son back to sleep) She had never done that before and I searched for her until 3 am. I went to sleep and, the next morning a neighbor found the dog wandering down the middle of a busy street. I would have been devastated if she would have been hit by a car. That was a Saturday - at the Vet's office, the following Monday, I said good-bye to her in my arms.

I'm so sorry. It's such a hard decision. You will make the right one at the right time. And I will pray that you will be peaceful with your decision too. Best of luck to you!

Hi P.,
I am sorry for your difficult position. My advice is to look at the quality of life your cat has. I know this is another difficult question to ask yourself, but if you feel that the cat is currently happy and not sufferring, then wait. But if you feel that your cat is sufferring, then it might be time.

Best of luck and my thoughts will be with you.


I would say whenever you feel the most comfortable with making a decision to have him put to sleep. We had a dalmation a few years ago that I was gonna have to make the decision and fortunate for me,she went to sleep herself and didn't wake up. I didn't want to have to make the decision myself,but my husband was at work and the kids were home with me. I think it is not fair to the kids to have to watch the whole process,however it's only fair to the pet to not have to suffer. ( blind,not being able to get up and down,etc). Know deep in your heart that you are making the right decision before proceeding. AND if you can live with the "accidents" then I wouldn't worry. At this rate,he is probably going to go sooner than you think on his own. Good luck with your plan.....it is hard to do,but also relief knowing he's going to a better place as well. J.

I am sorry you have to make this tough decision. I think that you'll know it's time when they stop eating and no longer act anything like themselves. Cats usually hide when it's their time. It sounds like he is still comfortable. Does he mostly lie in the same spot? Maybe you can buy some of those puppy piddle pads and lay that underneath him if he has an accident. Poor guy. It sounds like he has a very loving family to take care of him. Bless you.

I just had to say goodbye to my 13 year old cat 2 weeks ago. He bit my 7 month old son really bad on his back. He normally was a good cat, but since he's gotten older, he's been having drastic mood swings. One minute he's happy and you're petting him and the next he's attacking you. We know that it was because he was old and he had arthritis in his back legs. He was also pooping on the carpets and when he did try to use the litter box, he usually missed. He also had urinary tract disease which meant that he's been on prescription food for over half his life. I finally decided when he bit my son that it was time. I cried and cried, but I knew he would be better off. He was in so much pain that it was affecting his moods. It was hard, but it does get easier. You'll know when it's time. You aren't a bad person for putting him to sleep. You're doing him a favor. He won't be suffering anymore. Good luck.

Hi P.-

I sympathize with you. I lost one cat last year at 16 and I knew death was imminent. He just stopped eating, he would crawl under things to be alone, wouldn't interact etc. What I decided was to make his last time as comfortable as possible. I started taking him outdoors in the yard hoping the fresh air and change would revive him a little. It was awful watching him deteriorate. I decided that I wanted him home and I wanted to be with him when he made his transition because that's what I would want if I were dying. On his last day he lost all control of his bladder and I finally decided to end his suffering and he died in the yard before I could get him to the Dr. In the end I think I felt better about letting him go at home but it's a heartbreaking thing to watch. Follow your heart- you'll know what is best and when. It sounds like he still has some time left but you'll know when you're near the end.

Hi. You will know when it is tne right time. If he's still eating and carrying on like he does, just leave him be. You'll just know. I had to put my first one down beginning of Jan. It was tough. He wasn't eating anything and hiding out. Just before he would snuggle with me on the couch. I probably put him through a bit with IV fluids and then tests to make sure that he couldn't be helped. As it turns out it was blood cancer and $800 later. I made the right decision. You provide a good home and that's the most important thing. Wow 20 what a blessing!!! Take care. Plus I have 3 others and this is one of the reasons why.


I understand your situation, as I am in one similar. The view that I have taken is that it will be time when my cat can no longer enjoy life and is suffering needlessly. My cat is still able to enjoy cuddling and doesn't seem to be in any pain, so I'm not ready to say goodbye yet. I would have to determine whether or not his level of discomfort were enough that he deserved to be "set free".

Good luck and your cat is surely lucky to have person who obviously loves him so much.

About me: 34 y.o. mom to a beautiful 14 mo. old girl and three cats, full-time therapist, and wife to a generous, loving man.

I agree with the others that when you look at life from your cat's perspective, you'll know when it is time. I know of a children's book that may help called Cat Heaven. It's a lovely book with illustrations that will make you smile. You can order it here http://astore.amazon.com/grangrac-20/detail/0590100548 Another thing that is helpful is to make a collage of your cat. Memories are good things and can help the hurt.

My friend is having a similar problem with her cat and they mostly keep him confined to one room, (which can be very difficult). It's hard to know if a pet is suffering, you are so lucky to have had him so long, what a wonderful pet owner you must be to have given him so many wonderful years (for us dog owners we will never have that many years). I would try to talk to your vet and see if they have any ideas for helping a sight losing kitty to find their way to the litter box. Best of luck & cheers to your kitty for giving you so many years with him.

P. No matter what anyone tells you, only you will know if it's time. If your cat is not hurting or in pain maybe you have time to let your sadness help you to decide. Get a couple more kitty boxes, to help in that area. Any other area is up to you. Good luck with whatever you choose. Sometimes asking for advice, is just asking for the answer we don't want to hear. By the way reading other responses has me in tears. Stay strong...

Hi P.,
I am an animal lover too, and I know how hard it is to say good-bye to a pet. I believe it's time when you know that your pet is suffering. It's such a tough decision, but you can't feel guilty about it if you know that you provided the animal a loving home for its whole life. All the best to you.

It is never easy to make that decision. If your pet is not enjoying life, and is in pain and can not keep it self clean, then it is probably time. I had a rabbit that was ill for a long time, he went blind and couldn't use his back legs properly. For a long time he was relativily comfortable and cared for his needs but toward the end he could no longer clean himself or move well. I had to make the decision and it was hard but I knew as a responsible pet owner it was time. Keep in mind that animals don't fear death or the unknown the way that people do. It is only instinct that drives their will to live. The vet knows the best and most pain free method to let them move on. I highly recomend staying with your pet. I know it may seem scary or morbid but it is actually very gental and healing. You know that you have comforted the animal in it's last moments and it was not alone but with the people or person it cared about the most. Sometimes the hardest part of letting go is caring enough to say goodbye.
Hope this helps

I just lost my cat on October 4th. She was 16 years old and saw that she was declining. She was not peeing in the house, but at one point stopped eating. We got her to eat soft-watered down food. She started eating again, but still was declining. We noticed she was having trouble walking. We planned on taking her in to have her put down, but that morning we were supposed to call, she just passed away in the arms of my 11 year old daughter.

Either way, it's hard to lost a pet. You need to ask yourself, Is he suffering? You don't know, cat's can't talk. If I could do it over again, I would have taken her in sooner--She was suffering, we just didn't know it. Another question to ask--are you keeping him alive while he may be in pain because of your own reasons? Is if fair to him? I don't think so. My vet said that my cat at 16 is VERY old.

Yours at 20 is beyond life expectancy. You might want to start thinking about letting him go to be free with the other pets that have gone before him. There he will be healthy again.

Our oldest cat was 21-1/2 years old, when I cried for a month before that final trip to the vet. When she was 19 years I took her to the vet, she was dehydrated, due to lack of eating & drinking, Renal Slowness. It made her appear to be staring into space, having trouble walking etc. The vet put her on IV fluids, which I was taught to do weekly, then everyother day, to daily at the end. Another thing which might seem crazy to do was get a Kitten, this kept her more mobile, actually giving her a reason to get up & chase the kitten. I've been told cats can live for 24 years with lots of care & love. Good Luck.

Take a look at the quality of life he is leading. Put yourself in this situation. Of course for a human it is different. We can learn to live with blindness and there are Depends for incontinence issues.But for an animal, his quality of life seems to not be very good right now. I would very much so take the quality of life into consideration when making your decision. 20 years old is a very long life for a cat. Good luck in making your decision.

C. T.

A couple of years ago we had to put down our cat who was 18 so I understand how hard it can be. He was still able to do many of the things he could do when he was younger (he also had pee problems) but had arthritis and a thyroid problem that would have required weekly shots and he would still be in some pain. We decided he lived a long full life and chose to let him go. The question might not be about making your life easier but rather about the quality of the cats life. If the cat is suffering and/or unable to live its life without assistance from others it might be time but the unfortunate reality of the situation is only you can really decide when the time is right. Good luck I know it is hard.

My 100 yr old grandma just suffered the loss of her 21 yr old cat last week! She had been getting weaker and had 'accidents' for at least a couple of years. Grandma's bedroom DID smell from the cat urine. The cat wasn't suffering and my grandma loved her so everyone understood.
Grandma took such good care of her cat as you must be caring for your lucky kitty.

Hi. Just after my son was born, we had to say goodbye to one of my dogs. I just didn't know if and when I would be able to do it if one of my dogs was suffering, but I learned something. When it's time you and your cat will know. I couldn't bear watching my dog suffer any longer (she had a malignant tumor that had been removed a couple of times but kept coming back). My wonderful vet said I was doing a great job of keeping her comfortable and happy as possible. One day I realized that keeping her comfortable and happy AS POSSIBLE wasn't good enough. My sweet dog was suffering and in pain.

On the one hand, saying goodbye might seem like a selfish thing to do. On the other hand, it's one of the greatest gifts we can give our four-legged friends. I cried for days after and intermittently after that (still shed a tear every so often and it happened two and a half years ago). I know in my heart that I did what I could for her, I loved her, and it was time to stop her suffering.

You will know.

I've had 2 cats who lived to be nearly that old. One lived to 18 1/2, the other to 19 1/2. I knew it was time with the first one (who was 18 1/2), by the way she looked at me one day. She was on several different medications, but they weren't working very well. She could only eat baby food, which didn't provide the full nutrition a cat needs. For Max, he was 19 1/2, and had lost a lot of weight - he also was on several medications: for his thyroid, arthitis, fiber, etc. I gave him fluids via iv twice daily, but it got to the point that I basically had him on life support. His kidneys were starting to fail, on top of his other ills. He didn't give me that "look", so I kept up the meds and fliuds. He was such a sweet kitty, too. I had him since he was 8 weeks old. It was so hard when I finally made the decision that it was time.

I would suggest confining your kitty to one part of the house (where the peeing won't matter as much), and to be sure to clean the litter often - daily or even more than that. Provide special comforts - soft bed, etc. See if he finds his litter okay then. Only you can decide when the time is right. Good luck.


My heart goes out to you, I have 2 cats one is 14 1/2 and the other is 5.
You will know in your heart when its time. I can only suggest keeping him in a smaller area so he doesn't soil the whole house and if hes going blind will help avoid injury. If the cat is not in pain,it may not be the time.
Cherish every moment and make him as comfortable as possible for as long as you can.
As for the peeing, my younger cat has that problem and we've turned our house upside down and sideways to fix the problem and I am keeping him no matter what. Please don't listen to anyone who makes that an issue.
My thoughts are with you and how wonderful to have enjoyed a beautiful creature for that long. What a blessing...

I'm not going to give you any advice either way. I just wanted to tell you that you will be in my thoughts and prayers as you make these decisions. I have two kitties, 14 and 15 years old, and absolutely dread them getting any older than they are now. They're totally my babies.

P., I'm so sorry. My cat died suddenly two months ago and he was only ten years old. I was devestated and miss him alot. He was born in my house and so I had him his entire life. I know losing a pet is like losing a member of your family. It sounds like your kitty has had a nice long life. Longer than most cats get. My in-laws' cat lived until he was 21. They finally put him down when he just couldn't function anymore.

If he's going blind now, it might be time to let him go. He can't have a good quality life if he can't see. If he's eating, drinking, going to the bathroom, and getting around ok, I'd hold off for a while. But if he's blind, you don't want to watch him go through that.

No one can tell you what to do, you have to be ready. I was feeding a stray cat and one day I found him very sick and barely able to walk. I took him to my vet who said he had feline leukemia or aids and that he could treat him but I couldn't have him in the house with my other healthy cats. So I had to have him put to sleep. It killed me and he wasn't even really my pet. Four years later, I still feel guilty when I think about it. But I'm very sensitive. My point is, don't do it until you're ready and you think your cat is ready. I know it's so hard to know when that is.

As far as the peeing goes, maybe put a few more smaller litter boxes around the house where he spends his time. Or you can put down some of those puppy pads and see if he'll go on those. You can just pick them up and throw them away and try to save your carpet/floors.

First off, let me say how sorry I am that you're going through this. Having a cat for 20 years is a long time and it sounds as if you love him dearly. Sounds like you have had the vet check, so have ruled out medical that could be treated with any medication. As far as knowing when - that is SOOOO difficult. I've had to help a couple of animals (cat & dog) over the rainbow bridge and what I can tell you is that if it appears your beloved cat is no longer enjoying life, doesn't know you or your family and wants nothing to do with you, it's probably time. However, only you will know that - no one can tell you that he's no longer enjoying life. You know how he has been throughout his life and what's not normal for him. Cats are very fastidious, so if he's unable to make it to the litter box, it's probably very hard on him too. Good luck and let me know what you decide. This poem may help you - it's always helped me. http://www.petloss.com/poems/maingrp/rainbowb.htm

I'm SO SORRY you are going through this. Pets are a member of your family. I would say that you should talk with the Vet....if your kitty is in pain or just not enjoying life anymore that it may be time. Otherwise, you can just accomodate and just make things as easy/accessible/available to your kitty as you can. What a heartbreaking time you are going though...my prayers are with you :(

I won't tell you it's time. I had to put down my 19 year old cocker spaniel a year ago yesterday. I know it's not easy. I wouldn't do it unless the kitty is in pain. Good luck!

you will know in your heart when he is not himself anymore and it isn't the same cat you once knew.

I'm sorry to hear that P.. We had to put our cat to sleep after 9 years old. Her liver ws giving out and she had a tumor and was in pain. 20 years is a very long life of love and it will never be easy to say good bye. I just had a baby and came home from the hospital when my cat got very sick. 6 days after I came home, but once I saw she was just "there" I knew it had to be done. I ahd to feed her with a syringe and she couldn't go up the stairs anymore. She could barely make it to me to pet her. I didn't want her to suffer and it was the hardest thing I had to do. I thought she would be with us for another 10 years. My kids had her their whole life. Whether your cat is old or young, if they are in pain or the quality of their life isn't there then you need to think about their happiness. Don't wait too long where his last days will be agonizing. There isn't a real answer to your question. You need to feel when its time to make the decision. I'm so sorry and hope you can find the right time. Take care!

It's not what's hard for you, it's about the cat. Is it fair that it can no longer run and jump and play? Where's the quality of life for him. Your vet knows what's best. I've had to put down 2 dogs now and both were like my children. It gets NO easier! But, I realize that they were suffering also. What's best for the animal is not always what's best for us but we have to do it if we love them like we say.

hi there. this is never an easy decision no matter how old the pet is. we put my dog down of 16.5 years about a month ago. it was one of the toughest decisions of my life. but my awesome vet...maxine franck, said i would know. It would be when he showed signs of distress...not eating, or difficulty eating, loss of bladder or rectal control. again...same kind of boat. i didnt want to let him go, but ended up letting him go and watched him peacefully sleep. it was one of the hardest things i did. but the only thing that m ade it bearable...he had lived a full life and was the best dog int he whole wide world, and i knew he was suffering. i knew that he felt bad every time he pottied in the house, and i couldnt stand to have him feel guilty for something that wasnt his fault. the eating is a huge thing. i spent his last day giving him chicken, and holding him and then i took him. he just was so peaceful. it was like he knew what was happening, and he was grateful to me for ending his suffering. i dont know if this has helped...but you need to look back on how awesome of a pet it was and if it was you...would you want to live this way. good luck with your decision, and i feel your pain. literally!
one thing i would say...when you do have him put down, make sure, no matter how hard it is for you, hold him and let him know youa re there. it totally helps. dont let him pass alone...without his best companion.

I just put my dog down about a month ago. I think you know when your pet doesn't have the quality of life that he used to enjoy. Our dog loved to run and he became paralyzed. So we had the option of surgery which was $5000.00 or steriods or put him down. We tried steriods, they didn't work. And then to pay that amount of money on surgery on an older dog and it wasn't guaranteed that it would work, we had no other choice. As an owner it is the hardest thing, but the best thing for the pet if you can tell they are done. I could tell by the look on my dogs face and in his eyes that he had no more strength. Be blessed.

Go buy FRESH WAVE!!! After turning off my AC the smell was awful from my children. I have two cats that are young. My male was called Spot when I adopted him. His owners got ride of him because he pees when he is upset. If I change anything he will go some place in the house. His favorite to show displeasure is our beds. I love doing bedding at 9 or 10. I am using lavendar to help him plus his own huge cat box.

In your case it is the cat's age. I would consider geting the pee pads they have for animals and putting them where he goes. I have used urine gone product. It worked well except I am very sensitive to the product. I have to ware a mask and gloves. It is just me right now. I know it is disturbing to have the mess right now but it does not sound like your cat will be with you much longer. If you can cope until the end comes I think you will feel better.

I would get a floor steam cleaner as well. I have one and that helps also.

After reading all the other responses and wiping the tears off my face I know that you have received exactly the advice I would give. You really will know when it's time. With luck God will take the choice out of your hands, but if not he will whisper in your ear. Treasure the time you still have. My heart goes out to you as does my gratitude. It takes a special person to love and care for an animal as much as you do. You have a very lucky cat.

Hi P.! I soooo feel your pain! I have had 2 cats that have lived to be that age or close to it. So I know hard it is to say goodbye and know when to let go. We never went back to the vet that wanted to put our cat down when he was about year old because he couldn't see well. He died when he was 20! Anyway, my suggestion to you is to start seriously considering putting him to sleep when he can't eat anything anymore or can't move around anymore. Still eating and still able to jump onto the couch means he still has some quality of life in my book. Someone else's suggestions of puppy pads, neutralizer spray, and consolidating food and litter to one floor are good ideas in the interim. And I agree, just the peeing is not a good enough reason to put him to sleep! Again, I sooooo feel your pain!
~ E. R

Could you set up a special room for kitty with a litter box and nice comfy cushions to lay where it doesn't matter if he doesn't make it to the box? I would want to make him as comfortable as possible and cuddle him as much as I could. :-)

Hi P.,
I was in your situation but with my beloved dog. I'm sorry you have to make this tough decision. My suggestion to you is, put yourself in the cat's shoes. Would you want this kind of life for yourself or would you want it over. Would you want to be in pain all day, not be able to see your way around, or pee on yourself all the time because you can't hold it long enough to find your bathroom. It sounds to me that you are being selfish by considering only your feelings and not the cats. What would be more humane ending his misery by a peaceful painless injection to put him to sleep or a torturous daily painful existence. You decide.
Sorry so graphic but I wanted to make a point.
Good luck and god bless.

I have had experience making such decisions and they are very hard. I would say I always based mine on the quality of life my pet was leading. Does your cat seem to be in pain? Is your cat not getting enough of the nutrients it needs? Does it have trouble drinking or moving to its food and water? If you feel like your cat still has a somewhat decent quality of life then it may not be time to say goodbye, but it may be close. Is there anyway you can keep the cat in one room on the lower level that way he can adjust to his surroundings and make it to the litter box. I would also suggest having his food and water near the litter box. This is what a good friend of mine did with her aged cat and it seemed to work well for a full year.

I know these decisions are hard and I hope that this maybe helps you come to one that you can be at peace with. Good luck.

D. C

I am so sorry to her about your cat. I really don't know much about putting animals down, but maybe you could just try to make his life a little easier in his ending days. My friend's husband became very ill, I know this is very different than a cat, but greif is greif! In his last days they just tried to make him as comfortable as possible. It really helped my friend and her family to let go of him a little better than not being able to participate in making his life better in his last days. So, maybe, you could just try to make it easier for your cat. Maybe, give him a new, comfortable space, since he can't see well. That way, maybe he won't have to go too far for things. Just bring it all to him and when it is time for him to go, he will...and maybe you can feel better about it knowing you were there for him. I wish you and your family the best.

Dear P., I KNOW what you are going through. I can guarantee that no one here will agree with me, but I don't believe it is his time yet.

Three weeks ago, I just put my beloved 17 1/2 year old cat to sleep. For several months, I struggled with the "when do I do it". He has been sick for over a year now. He was losing weight, he was throwing up a little here and there, and he had some bowel issues (but he always made it to the litter box). He was still interactive, came to me when he wanted to be held, yelled at me when he was hungry and wanted more food in his bowl, and every now and then he chased the other cat (not fast, but he did it). They continued to interact until about two weeks before I put him to sleep.

I noticed a very sudden change in his behavior, and you will KNOW when it is time. About two weeks before, my cat suddenly stopped sleeping in our bedroom. He stopped coming out when I put food in his bowl, or when I would get cheese out of the frisge (he used to come running when the wrapper would be opened). He wasn't playing with the other cat.

Five days before I took him in, he started sleeping in strange places - he would sleep under my desk in my office - a place that he NEVER went to. He would only come out to eat or drink. He looked sad, he stopped meowing, he stopped coming out for "couch time" every night (where we snuggled together on a blanket), and he stopped interacting with the other cat. He didn't even come out to see my 2 year old daughter, and he loved her to pieces.

I knew at that moment that it was time. It was VERY hard to make the decision, but I know I made the right one. Two days before I took him in, he stopped eating, he stopped drinking water, and he stopped getting up to use the litter box. He didn't pee everywhere, he just didn't have anything in him. The day that I took him, he was very lethargic and was looking thin. I knew I could not wait another day, or it would just be my own selfish reasons for him to stay alive.

I will tell you now, it was the HARDEST thing I have ever done. It was like losing my best friend. He was my cat for more than half of my life! Please feel free to write if you want to talk or have any questions. I will say prayers for you, it's going to be a tough journey. Take care.

My cat was having some difficulty...he was (only) 13 and seemed to have labored breathing and purring. I had blood work and chest x-rays done but they were inconclusive. I didn't want to have more costly and invasive tests done as he seemed not to have discomfort. Several months later, when I realized that he had become lethargic and his condition had worsened, he was too sick to do more tests. I wish I had when he could have tolerated them. To make a long, sad story short, his condition became so bad that when I tried to give him his medicine, he became so upset that I think it affected his heart...he died minutes later in the car on the way to the vet. His suffering was the worse thing I ever saw. He did not deserve to suffer the way he did and, if I could have prevented one minute of the suffering and put him to sleep, I wish I could have and now I wish I did. It is our job to advocate for and take care of our pets and prevent their discomfort. If your pet's quality of life has significantly decreased, I wouldn't let it get any worse.

Not to sound like a broken record, but I was in your shoes one year ago. I had a 20 year old female cat that still was full of energy and happy and purring. She gradually began to not pur, seemed like she couldn't hear or see me and eventually could not lift her head up to eat or drink. It happened in a matter of 5 days that she took a drastic change for the worse. That is the same day I took her to the vet for euthanasia and cremation. I cried for days on end, as I had her for all 20 years of her life. It's very hard, but when it's time, you WILL know. She will appreciate you for ending her suffering (when it begins). God bless!

I had a cat that was 14 when I put her down. She started puking all over about eight years before I finally put her down. I kept her in a confined area when i wasn't home so I could clean up after her easily. She would run in the basement if I was home when she started to puke...but then one day she just started puking wherever she stood. Her fur got dingy looking and dull. She got dandruff real bad and she started smelling a little. She would just throw up every where. I cleaned it for the longest time and just couldn't stand the thought of putting her down since she seemed healthy otherwise. I felt I was being selfish and self=centered considering putting her down because she vomited.

Finally she just looked so pitaful. I took her to the vet and he explained that she was old. And though she seemed healthy enough, she wasn't. She was losing tons of fur all the time, she threw up everyday several times a day, she had dandruff, and her fur was so dull. She still loved on us. She still went up and down the stairs...but it was getting to be too much.

I put her down last fall. The kids went and my hubby. I was pregnant so my hormones were raging. I cried like a baby. We buried her in the back yard. I still get a bit choked up thinking about her. Her fur is still all over the basement. I have puke stains I can get out of the concrete. My 3 year old frequently tries to get me to get the shovel out of the garage so we can go get her cat. She doesn't understand that the cat died. She and her sister would like a new cat, but it is just too much work on me and my husband would have a fit...he's not an animal person.

So I get a bit choked at times, but it was for the best. For the family, for me, and for Lil Bit. Her life was in the basement and not a great one I would think.

We've experienced this in our family a few years ago. It's never an easy decision to say good bye to a member of the family. We've always believed that as long as they're not in pain and their quality of life is good, then take care of them as best as possible (at one point my mom gave her cat IV's daily). However, if your kitty is in pain, is having trouble eating, moving or you can just feel that their quality of life isn't where it was a year ago, then maybe it would be time to consider saying good bye. It sounds like your kitty has had quite a wonderful life filled with love for the past 20 years. When the time comes, you'll need to remember that he wouldn't have had such a long, loving life without you. Good luck with such a difficult decision.

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.