Need Help with My Huband Letting Go of His Dying Cat

Updated on September 18, 2009
C.S. asks from Pacific, MO
19 answers

When my husband first moved out on his own, he got 2 cats. The cats are now 14 and 15. We found out about a year ago that the 15 year old (Muff) has cancer. At that time, we decided to take her home because she wasn't showing any signs of being sick (she only had a cyst on her eye). We knew that she wouldn't be around much longer. She is now very sick. She barely eats and has dropped 2 pounds and is now under 7 pounds. She has no energy to do anything and mostly sleeps all day. She doesn't play with the other cat anymore and only wants to be loved on (she is a very independent cat, so her seeking attention is way out of the norm). We knew that we would have to put her down before Christmas. However, her health is seriously declining and I think she is ready to go. I can not get my husband to even talk about it. He doesn't think she's ready. Every night when I get home from work, I look for her to make sure she didn't die while no one was home (I don't want my little one to find her first). My 19 year old stepson is finally in agreement with me (it was his cat too), but I cannot get my husband to even talk about putting her down. Is there anything I can say or do or read to help him through this or help him understand that it's time? We got a cat together before we got married, unfortunatley, he had a birth defect and we had to put him down earlier this year, he was only 5. I think that hit my husband pretty hard, as we were not expecting him to be sick at all. I don't know if that has antyhing to do with this situation or not. I'm at a loss and just don't know how to help my husband understand that it's time to let her go.

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S.B.

answers from Topeka on

Let him deal with this in his own way. This is his grief time. Maybe you should make kitty an appointment with the vet and have your husband take the cat for a "check up". You can even call ahead and ask if they think it would be best to put the cat down, that they tell him. But as far as you trying to get it done by talking to him, I doubt it is going to happen. It's his "baby".

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E.B.

answers from Kansas City on

We got a dog about two years after we got married. She was very close to my husband. We had had her about 7 years when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She banished her self to the basement and would not eat or drink. The only words I could get out before my husband tuned me out was I think it is time. At the end of that he week he took her in himself. It was very hard on him but he wanted to do it alone. I think your husband knows it is time you just need to let him come to terms with it. It has been 2 years since she died and my husband still misses her we have 2 other dogs but he is very distant with them. I think you just need to give it time.
Good Luck.

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K.C.

answers from Kansas City on

Men are the HARDEST to react responsibly when it comes to laying a pet at rest. I still remember my father's reaction when we put down my 18 year old cocker spaniel that I grew up with. Keeping a pet that is suffering like that is VERY selfish. I agree with the person that said to take him to the vet to have him hear it from a 3rd person. Just tell him you want to take the cat to figure out how to make her more comfortable. The person that said that a dog stops wagging their tail unfortunately that is not true. I am a vet tech and have euthanized more than just a few very sick or injured animals that are still wagging their tails. This includes my own 11 year old Labrador that was also dying of cancer. It's a very difficult decision. If your kitty has stopped eating and is lethargic and lost weight it is likely the cancer has spread so bad she is suffering and it is NOT fair to her. Thank you so much for being a voice for the sick kitty. I am so sorry you have to go through this.

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S.W.

answers from St. Louis on

This is so hard and I did this to a dog when I was in my early 20's. We got a dog when I was 5 and she was so sick and I wouldn't let my Grandparents put her down, and she was like your cat sounds. I promised myself that I wouldn't do that to another animal. After she died I realized how much she was suffering. I had to put down another dog a couple of years ago, he had kidney failure, it was so hard and I cried and the vet kept assureing me that I did the right thing. I'm sure that your husband knows that it's time, but still it's hard to it. And the animal does not understand what it going on, they just know that they hurt. But one thing that our vet said that when they stop eating, it's time. And for dogs, when they stop wagging their tail. Just pray for guidence and understanding and together you'll do whats best for your furry child.

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E.S.

answers from Kansas City on

I recommend the book chicken soup for the cat and dog lover's soul. it is a great read and can really let him know he isn't the only one who has had to put down a beloved pet. I know it is a hard thing to do when they have been there even during a person's worst and best times. But ultimately you have to look at the quality of life the animal has now. hope that suggestion helps otherwise it may be best that you take care of it and tell him after it is done. After all he is being a bit selfish to make the poor thing suffer just because he is having a hard time to say goodbye.

J.B.

answers from Kansas City on

Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that. Unfortunately, you just need to let him do it in his own time. We went through something similar. My husband had a Doberman and when we went on our honeymoon, we weren't sure he'd make it til we got back. He did, but his health was steadily declining (tumors that were probably cancerous), and I felt like the poor guy would be better off if we put him down. But every couple of months he would make a minor rebound, and my husband would want to wait. I dreaded getting home first and finding a 100lb dead dog in the living room! Which I (nicely) mentioned to him. I went over the logistics - seriously, what if he had died in the house? How would we get him out? Wouldn't that be so much more unpleasant and shocking for a final memory than taking him to the vet and watching him "fall asleep"? But I didn't push him. Finally, two years later, we had him put down. It was awful. Since you've just been through it with your other cat, you know. Anyway, I know it's hard, but I think everyone has to deal with death in their own way, so it's probably best to let him wait until he's ready. Good luck!

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S.C.

answers from St. Louis on

Dear C.,

Anyone who has ever had a pet knows how painful it is when the time comes to let them go. What your husband needs to understand is that animals have a natural instinct about when they are dying. Most times they will go off and hide and sometimes die alone. He also needs to understand that starving is very painful and if your cat is not eating much, he/she is literally starving. This is a time when we need to put our beloved pets out of misery for their own sake. It is the right thing to do and shouldn't we be glad that it's the very last thing we can do for them out of pure love and they won't have to be alone when it happens.

S. C

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K.B.

answers from Wichita on

G'Morning C., not sure what you can do or say to get him to let his pet go. I ended up having to take our Sammi to the vet. I had asked hubby numerous times to take her, she wouldn't eat, had crystals in her urine, had to help her into her chair,fur was coming out etc. He had to go out of town for business and I just couldn't let her suffer anymore. Called the Vet and asked if I could bring her in. I Bawled like a Baby all the way there and hoped a cop would pull me over so I could ask him to take her for me... Didn't happen Dang it!!
I couldn't make myself go back with her, I hugged her tight, kissed her head and handed her over. Then Cried like a Baby all the way home again. Called my hubby Mr. Excuses and told him Sammi was resting well now. He knew I was upset and apologized over and over again.

I understood how it was going to be hard on him too because he had, had to shoot one of our dogs when she broke her back getting tangeled in her chain before we could get the fence built at our new house.
You may just need to do it yourself C.. OR you might ask him how he is going to handle it if at sometime she dies at the house and your little girl finds your pet. Whacha gonna do then dad?

God Be with you
K. Nana of 5

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R.N.

answers from Kansas City on

Get the vet to tell him. He probably just needs to hear it from a 3rd party. Good luck.

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D.V.

answers from St. Louis on

I would suggest taking a family trip to vet's office and let the Dr. do the convincing. We just had to do this with our 15 year old dog approx. three weeks ago. It was my husbands dog, so I knew I couldn't do anything. He had to make the decision and carry it out. We wound up taking the dog in to see the vet so he could tell my husband it was time. He just needed the reassurance that it was in fact the right thing to be doing. As it turned out, she was in fact in kidney failure and as he explained it would have been a painful death if he just waited for her to pass on her own. Let the vet give him the specifics of the death, that may give him a boost. He sounds like a pretty compassionate guy, he'll make the right choice! Good Luck and let me say I'm sorry for your loss, when the time does come.

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L.B.

answers from St. Louis on

That is sad. Has he ever lost anyone before? From dying, I mean. He is going to have serious trouble.

You'll just have to let the cat die (keep your kids away) and let him take care of it. The next time he will know what he needs to do. Let him experience this.

I dont think some people understand how peaceful the shot is for them. I was with my sisters cat when they did it. It took like 2 seconds.

I will admit that two of my cats were outside cats and they died (from old age) outside at 15 and 17. I felt terrible about that.

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K.S.

answers from Kansas City on

If he's not showing any sign of wanting to have her put to sleep, then I would lay off of him. He obviously doesn't want her put down, so just let her die naturally. If you don't want your little one to find her first, just keep the cat in another room where your kid won't find the cat.

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D.S.

answers from Kansas City on

So sorry to hear that you are losing a family member. It's not an easy choice to make and so hard to know when the "right time" is.

I just went through this two weeks ago with my 13.5 year old kitty. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer in june and lost so much weight since then. In the end, he was under 7 pounds as well and in his prime he was a 16 lb cat.

I, too, didn't know what to do. My husband kept saying he was getting worse, but I was so hopeful and in denial that I didn't see it all. I finally made an appt with our vet for a check-up to see if he was suffering, in pain, dehydrated, etc. Deep down, I knew it would be his last visit. I sent our son to a friend's house (he's only 20 months), took photos of my beloved furry friend and then loaded him up for the vet.

She was nice enough to tell me what he was going through, but also what they could to do help if I wasn't ready to let him go. Well, I realized it's really not my choice to keep him just because I want to spend more time with him. He deserved the chance to go peacefully before it was too much for him and to go after such a nice day. His last one was a very good one that he was still able to enjoy.

My husband arrived at the vet during the visit and let me take the lead on what we should do. After bantering a bit, I understood that the time was right at that moment. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. But I like to think it was one of the kindest, too. I was there, stroking his head and giving him kisses to the very end. Our vet was wonderful through it all, too.

It's so hard to let go and I understand your husband's reluctance. I'm still grieving over my loss but have finally come to peace with the fact I didn't wait until he was truly suffering, but instead set him free with dignity. Perhaps a simple "well kitty" visit with your vet could change his thinking as mine did.

One other thing, I just saw a posting recently from a vet assistant on putting pets to sleep that said she wished everyone would stay with their pet until the end, even if it's hard, because they look for you when you leave the room. They've given us so much that we owe it to them to hold their paw through to their next journey.

I hope your family finds joy in the memories.

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K.C.

answers from Wichita on

I, personally, believe that when it is her time to go, she will go. She does not need to be put down, imho, unless she is in physical pain. Maybe this is a good time for your husband because he is able to really care for her when she needs him the most.

K.

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L.B.

answers from Columbia on

I'm sorry to hear about what you are going through. It can't be easy for anyone...especially the cat.
If Muff appears to be in a lot of pain, explain to your loving husband that putting her down will end her suffering. Not an easy decision, I'm sure.

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K.P.

answers from Wichita on

My husband and I have had so many cats in the more than 35 years we've been together, but losing one or having to euthanize one never gets easier. My husband took our Izzy (she had been declining for years)to the vet for me to have her put to sleep, as I just didn't want to face it. I was resigned to it, I just didn't want to sit there and blubber at the vet's office. This cat had a special relationship with our son, as we got her when he was about 9. He was away at college, and we talked about her on several occasions. He asked me to wait until after Christmas to put her to sleep. The day after he went back to school, my husband took care of it for me. Consider having your husband read all of these responses. I agree with you, but he has to make the decision himself. I would think it would be better to euthanize her than to come home from work or wake up in the morning and find she's died. Or worse yet, have to watch her have some kind of seizure before she dies.

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L.B.

answers from Kansas City on

I know how hard it is to put you r beloved pet to sleep- we had to do this last year with my daughters cat that she has since she was 2 (now 12)- have to tried to talk to your husband about how the cat is suffering and it is not fair for him to be suffering so much and how he will be in a better place? alot of vets will cremate your pet and save the ashes for you if that helps for an extra fee- due to the cost we were unable to save the ashes, however we talked to the vet about what they do with the body- our vet in VA at the time actually had a farmer where the ashes were spread out over the orchard so i told myh daughter that he was no longer hurting and running free and happy around the orchard- maybe it would help knowing what there process is after passing

I hope this helps during this difficult time

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K.V.

answers from Kansas City on

C.,
I know this is hard for everyone. We went the throught the same experience about 4 years ago. But watching our beloved cat suffer was harder than letting him go. He had multiple lumps on him and they just kept growing. He, too, was lerthargic and would refuse food and water. But when we decided to put him down we felt it was better for him. Because he was obviously suffering so bad. He was like starving and getting dehydrated. This is a worse suffering and we could not continue to watch him go through this. Keeping him with us was more for us than anything. So we felt the best thing for him was to let him go. It took us several years before we could get another cat and of course it is not the same.
God bless you and your family as you embark on this very difficult journey. If you need to talk more, you may email at [email protected]____.com.

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J.S.

answers from Kansas City on

I'm so sorry you guys are going through this. It sounds like your husband is having lots of troubles letting go, and that he is the one that is obviously not ready to let her go. Maybe talking with your vet about this will help. They can then explain how it probably is time, especially with how much weight the cat has lost, and how she has no energy. It just sounds so sad. It sounds like she doesn't have much quality of life now with how ill she is, and she is only suffering. I think he has to come to terms with it before anything can be done, and perhaps listening to those outside will help.

Best of luck,
Jody

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