Loss of an Animal/Putting to Sleep

Updated on July 29, 2012
K.K. asks from Fredericksburg, VA
16 answers

Hi Moms,

I had a very interesting phone call with my brother. I think my cat of 19 years+ is going to be put asleep. I'm very upset. I had to put another cat to sleep a few years ago (I wasn't that close with the cat) and it was horrifying to see her put to sleep. I don't want him (the 19yr old cat) to be in pain. Has anyone ever heard of a cat having a stroke? The old guy is walking funny; confused, and meowing/making strange noises, won't come out from the bed, super thin, and not him self. I guess he "fell over" a few weeks ago and started shaking. I think that did it. This is why I think he may have had a slight stroke or seizure. He is/was my pride and joy. He would do anything to make me happy and I did teach him tricks. He's been with us since I was in 3rd grade! A very long, long long time.

I feel upset and just wondering if anyone had some positive words? The cat is at my parents house (yep) and I had to leave him behind because he was too old to bring to the apartment (I also didn't want himm to live without any other cats around and never wanted him to escape either). I want him to be in peace but I don't want him to be pain when he's put asleep. It didn't look like the other cat was in pain when she was put down though a few years ago.

Any thoughts?
Thank you!

Update: I'm very drained from everything that has happened recently. This just adds to the mix. I love my kitty boy. I hope I can keep his ashes. :)

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answers from Kansas City on


I'm sorry you are going through this... I think it is a wonderful idea to keep his ashes!

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answers from Baton Rouge on

Yes, animals can have strokes and/or seizures.

Euthanasia by injection isn't painful beyond the initial needle stick. It's just a massive overdose of the same drugs they use to knock them out for surgery. They feel the stick, they get sleepy, and then they're gone.

It's a hard decision to make, even when you know it's the right one, and from what you're describing, it sounds like it's time.

Don't drop him off and leave. Stay with him, even though it breaks your heart to do so. Make his last memory one of you holding him in your arms.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

These situations are very upsetting. Believe me, I know.
I also know that caring vets do things very lovingly, even allowing the family to be present. They don't feel any pain.

My sister just had to have her wonderful dog put down and the family is still trying to get over it. But, she was suffering. The vet said that first, he would give her some medicine to relieve her pain and the family could pet her and love on her before he gave her the medicine that would put her to sleep.

The sweet little dog passed away just a few minutes after being given the pain medication. She just relaxed and went. It was very peaceful. She didn't even need the other dose.

If your cat is suffering, it really is the best thing and most vets are quite compassionate. Especially of an animal that had such a long life.

I wish you the best. Sorry for going through this, but it will be okay.

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answers from Atlanta on

I don't know about cats, but my dog had a stroke recently. It is very scary, especially because they cannot tell you what they are feeling or thinking. I am so sorry you are going through this.

Ask yourself this. Is your cat in pain? Animals don't understand pain. They don't know why it happens, they can't make sense of it. They only know it hurts.

Is your cat struggling to do basic things? Animals don't understand that they are aging and their systems are failing. Instead, their survival instinct sends panic signals to the brain when their body isn't working right, and it can be very scary for them.

Is your cat still able to enjoy the parts of life that he has enjoyed in the past? If he loved to eat, does he still? If he loved to be petted, does he still? Does he still have pleasures in his life, or is his life mostly suffering?

Please consider this when it comes to putting your cat to sleep. Animals are granted something that humans (legally) are not - the ability to have a dignified, painless death when they become so old and infirm that life becomes an effort instead of a pleasure. If this is the case, then you need to think about whether you are keeping your beloved pet alive, or just prolonging his death.

This is a very, very difficult decision. I am going through this with my dog right now, and finding the right answer is so emotionally exhausting. I cannot tell you if it is time for your cat to go. All I can say is that animals are granted an opportunity to have something humans cannot (legally) have, and this is to have a dignified and pain-free death when life becomes painful and difficult. But they cannot tell you, and so you have to decide if your cat is still enjoying his life. And that is such a difficult thing for a loving pet parent to do.

No matter what you decide, I think it is time for a conversation with your vet.

ETA: Ignore Mrs. S. There are absolutely people with horrible illnesses such as Huntington's Disease, ALS, and almost anything terminal and painful who have begged to be put out of their misery so that they do not have to die in agony and without dignity. My husband's grandmother actually put it in her living will that she did not want to continue to live once the Alzheimer's had taken away all that she was. We weren't able to honor her request, however, and she lived the last six months of her life in pain, anger, and devastating confusion. In this way, we are kinder to our animals.

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answers from Dallas on

My last two cat's that I had to put to sleep had strokes. One was 20 years old and the other 21, so I did get to have them around for a long time. Of course, I miss them terribly because they were part of the family and I had them since birth. I went in to the room when both of them were put to sleep, and they were not in any pain at all. The vet gave them a sedative before the last injection which pretty much put them into la la land beforehand, which was nice. Just know that you have had 19 long years with your cat. You and I are very fortunate in that sense, because not too many cats live that long. The only thing that has helped me is that I had to think what was best for my cats and not what was best for me. It was one of the hardest things that I have ever done, but I know that they aren't in any pain anymore, and that's what matters most.

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answers from San Francisco on

Some thoughts....I had a vet tell me once that Cats and Dogs are often hiding their ailments as much as they can because that is survival instinct.

Second, I've been in the room when two of my dogs were put down (not at the same time) both because of age and suffering. The vet explained they give anesthesia first incase there is pain.

I am SO sorry you are facing this. This is truly the worst responsibility and most agonizing part of having a pet. If you are still unsure, ask to talk to the Vet before the procedure is done. Thank you for taking such good care of your cat! I wish all pets could have as thoughtful and caring an owner as you.

@#$%^^&* I'm the imbecile that gave the questioned post a flower. I was going to click on the name to explain my experience with my Golden to her. This person probably has never had to deal with the pain illness, Cancer, Strokes etc can someone in. When there is nothing left to offer from medicine it seems cruel to keep an animal alive to suffer.

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answers from San Antonio on

I put my dog down almost a year ago. The doctor gives two shots. One that makes the animal sleepy, then the next that stops their heart. The animal is basically asleep after the first shot. So the 'bad' shot doesn't hurt them at all. It's the most humane way to put an animal down. I am sorry for your loss. It is best to let the vet do it the right way. The cat is likely in MORE pain dealing with this poor state of life. Again - so sorry.

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answers from Tyler on

Bless your heart, this is one of the hardest and most emotional decisions a caring and loving pet owner will make for their animal family members. Yes, animals have strokes along with internal organ failure and all sorts of other "elderly" ailments that prevent them from any quality of life. These furry family members devote themselves selflessly to their humans their whole lives, it is humane and caring to make sure they do not languish in misery. Prayers for you!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Muncie on

Animals can suffer from the same ailments as humans. Yes, your kitty could have ha a stroke. Generally speaking the injection is an actual sleep , they basically overdose the pet. They put it to sleep then it slips deeper and deeper and finally slips away. If the pet has an painful ailment, they add a pain med to the injection. No pain.

I am sorry for you loss.

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answers from Boca Raton on

Oh Dancer . . . I'm so sorry.

I had to put a dog to sleep once, and while it wasn't easy it didn't seem like she was in any pain from it either. I just wish you could be there with your kitty - it might help you.

19 years is a long time for a cat. You must have done a great job with her.


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answers from Dallas on

When a pet is in pain that cannot be eased or cured and is terminally ill, this is the humane thing to do. It is an incredibly hard decision, but it is part of being a responsbile pet owner. The sedatives used in euthanasia will take effect extremely quickly and peacefully. I'm so sorry for your loss.

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answers from Dallas on

I am so sorry you have to do that. We just put our precious little dog down two weeks ago.
As the other mom said, it should be quick and painless. Talk to the vet beforehand.

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answers from Washington DC on

i am appalled that anyone who 'doesn't understand the concept' of pet euthanasia would question it here, to a grieving pet owner, rather than asking it impersonally and soliciting opinions in a less emotionally charged atmosphere.
the answer is 'because it's kinder to creatures who haven't yet evolved the reasoning and communications capacity to understand why we're prolonging their suffering.'
there aren't a lot of 19 year old cats in the wild.
it's never easy, dancer. it's one of the hardest things you ever have to do. but it's a commitment we make when we decide to share our lives with an animal. we care for them devotedly in life, and we judge when it's the right time to end their suffering..
he won't be in pain when he goes.

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answers from Phoenix on

I think it comes down to quality of life. If an animal is old, and hurting more than enjoying life, then it's pretty selfish to keep them alive. I know it's hard, and I've been there, so I understand your feelings. Hang in there.

Obviously those not understanding this reasoning haven't been through it or don't understand sacrifice or empathy.

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answers from St. Louis on

just went thru this on Thursday & still boohoo'n over it.....& will for quite some time. In our case, our beloved dog was in an accident & even with surgery....was not able to pull thru recovery. A complete & total heartbreaker for all of us....

I've been thru this before...& it doesn't get any easier. In your case, with the cat living with your parents, at least you won't have the daily visual reminders. If your cat is showing symptoms of illness/disease, then please please.....seek help. Don't delay, don't wait for improvement. It's simply kinder to ease their pain. You are the caretaker, the human involved & it's up to you to make the best decision for the animal....not for yourself.

In our case, we ended our dog's suffering...rather than hope/pray for better days. He simply could not walk...& it wasn't fair to make him hurt any longer. & yes, animals can have strokes.

I am praying for Peace....losing a pet creates a huge void in our lives.

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answers from Lakeland on

Your cat has lived a long life, 19 years is maxing out for felines. If he does not have good quality of life then it is time to put him down. You can ask the vet to not be in the room when they do it. When I had to put down my cat I did not stay in the room (which was not allowed there) and they brought her out to me and I took her body home and buried it, which gave me my chance to say goodbye.

Sorry you are going through this it is not easy.

2 moms found this helpful
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