National Geographic News
The cat Rosie.

Rosie the cat sunning herself.

Photograph by Maya Silver

Marc Silver

National Geographic News

Published March 2, 2013

Introducing our First Person series, where we invite writers to share personal stories.

I will confess that when friends and co-workers have told me that they "put their pet down," I would think, "OK, how hard could that be?" Disease or old age begins to take a toll on your pet, and at some point you decide it's time for Rover or Tabby to go.

Then I faced the dilemma myself.

Our cat, Rosie, born in 1992, had been having what I will delicately call "litter-box issues" for a couple of years. My wife, Marsha, and I had made many accommodations. We had installed an upstairs litter box for moments when she couldn't make it to the basement box. We had experimented with boxes that were easier to enter, including an enclosed one with a ramp leading up to the litter area. We had bought a rubber pad to put under the box for spillage. We had even bought what I refer to as "doggie wee-wee pads"—extremely absorbent pads that are used to house-train dogs but turn out to be excellent at soaking up cat urine as well.

(I have to say that when I bought those pads at PetSmart and the cashier asked, "Oh, how old is your puppy?" and I replied, "It is not a puppy. It is an aging, incontinent cat," I enjoyed the look of stunned disbelief on her face.)

One suggestion we did not follow: Buy preemie diapers and cut a hole for the tail.

Anyway, as I noted, I thought it would be very easy to say, "I am tired of cleaning up cat urine, so let's euthanize Rosie." But somehow I couldn't. Maybe it was because Rosie seemed to be enjoying life as best she could. She would yell at us each morning if her food supply was low, and as soon as I got home and plopped on the couch in front of the TV, she'd come right over, climb onto my chest, and lie contentedly—a 20-pound (9-kilogram) weight smothering me and shedding orange hair upon my wardrobe of black.

I'd make euthanasia jokes: "She sleeps 23 hours a day, so what's one more hour?" But I found myself wondering: What gives me the right to bring her life to a close? Who knew that a house cat could trigger an existential dilemma?

My inability to make the call to the vet was especially surprising given my checkered relationship with Rosie. When our two now grown daughters were kids living at home, they were the alphas. Rosie gave them great affection but treated me like I had some kind of toxic plague. If I would sit next to her on the sofa, she'd bolt like a crazy, scared rabbit. Even if I had just filled her food bowl minutes before.

But now my wife and I were the alphas. Rosie didn't quite shower us with love, but she did clearly crave our company. So we delayed calling the vet. And we kept cleaning up the litter box.

Then, a few days ago, Rosie stopped eating, And my wife and I knew it was time. We were actually grateful—it was as if she had given us permission to put her down.

We found a vet who would come to the home. That made it easier, because like many cats, Rosie was not a fan of being placed in a cardboard "carrying case" and schlepped to the vet by car.

And so I came home for a 4 p.m. appointment. Rosie was sitting on the sofa, where she has spent most of her time for the past months, curled in a ball. The vet told us that many cats "commit suicide" in a way—when they sense that their body is failing, they stop eating or drinking. Which is what Rosie was doing.

The vet injected Rosie with a sedative while I stroked her. She became unresponsive. At which point I became extremely responsive. To my utter amazement, I began sobbing uncontrollably. I couldn't even talk on the phone when my wife called to say she was five minutes away. I apologized to the vet, and he said, "You're doing well—most people are already blubbering when I get there."

Marsha made it home in time to say goodbye. Then the very kind vet administered a dose of sodium pentothal. We sat there gently stroking Rosie's head. Soon after, her heart stopped beating.

Why is it so hard to send a cat to kitty heaven? It's not like Rosie left in the prime of her life. She had 20 years—20 good years. She was the daughter of a feral cat. We intended her to live an indoor life, but her instincts demanded that she bust out into the great outdoors. So she turned herself into an indoor-outdoor cat and took great pleasure in prowling our yard, terrorizing other cats, and sunning herself on the patio.

Over time, she became such a part of our family life that she was just Rosie Silver, our cat, with her own style and her own Facebook page. She was a devoted friend to our two daughters, even when they stretched her out like she was on a rack. She was also part of our family crises, like the time she got into a fight with some animal outside that resulted in a puncture wound just when Marsha was undergoing breast-cancer treatment.

"Your cat might need a port for her medicine," the vet told us then. I wanted to say, "Now wait a sec, there, we already have a port in the house," because that was part of Marsha's treatment—the implanting of a port for chemo infusions.

I guess what I'm saying now is that I'm stunned by how deep the bond with an animal can be—even an animal that treated me like an ogre for over a decade. And how hard it is to say goodbye, even when you know it's time.

So long, Rosie. You were a cool cat, and our house is empty without you. And I know this sounds hokey, but my heart is a bit emptier too.

Have you ever had to say goodbye to a beloved pet? Did the extent of your grief surprise you? Share your story in the comments.

Marc Silver is deputy director of text for National Geographic magazine and co-author of the new book My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks: Real-Life Advice from Real-Life Teens.

168 comments
Alex Shlega
Alex Shlega

All so true.. my wife an I took our cat to the vet to put him to sleep this morning.. He's been with us for 8 years, and, out of nowhere, got his legs paralyzed a few days ago, then stopped eating and was just lying there unable to even move..


Not that we were offered a choice, but it does not make it easier.  



Rodríguez Daniel
Rodríguez Daniel

Mi historia no es muy diferente a la de muchos que han tenido que tomar una de las decisiones más difíciles de sus vidas. Poner a dormir a sus mascotas. Tomar la vida de ese pequeño ser que tanto amamos. Que nos brinda tanto amor con su compañía, haciendo tan poco. En menos de un año tuve que tomar tres veces esa tremenda decisión con mis gatos, por viejos, por enfermos. Y por mas que me digo que ya era la hora de hacerlo, no dejo de hacerme esa pregunta que nos dice si en realidad ya había llegado esa hora. No puedo responder a esa pregunta y esa duda es tan grande como mi culpa, que no sé si el tiempo curará. Mi único alivio, saber que donde les enterré es un lugar que permanecerá incólume por miles de años y que ellos permanecerán uno junto al otro por toda una eternidad. Todavía hoy en día, cuando los recuerdo vivamente, me vuelve esa presión en el pecho que no me deja respirar. Sé tristemente, por la muerte de dos de mis hermanos, que ese inmenso dolor solo el tiempo lo irá suavisando y que el recuerdo de cada uno de mis gatos se ira borrando poco a poco y solo quedará  algo fugaz prendido de las fotos que les tomamos, de los cuadros que mi hijo hizo de algunos de ellos, de verlos en cada gato que encontramos en nuestro camino, algo que tiene como oficio la única gata que quedó con vida. Ella es el recuerdo vívido de cada uno de los otros. Les quedo inmensamente agradecido a cada uno de ellos. A Javita la gata que siendo muy pequeña, mi hijo recogió y ella se lo agradeció amandolo inmesamente y salvandole su vida, La gata mas increíble que hemos tenido. No me canso de decirlo y he tenido incontables gatos. Agradezco a su hijo, mi gato, mi bebé Piñón, cuya existencia se convirtió en su deseo de agradarme y quererme extremadamente como lo hizo. A Cache por querer  tanto a mi hija. Por esos abrazos que le cobijaban. Por ser el guardián de nuestra casa. Por su paciencia y por querernos desinteresadamente. El recuerdo de cada uno de ellos vivirá hasta cuando yo también parta a encontrarme con cada uno de ellos y sé que vivirá en cada uno de mis hijos por siempre.

Chrissy  Smith
Chrissy Smith

 My brother and I put our first cat Chloe to sleep today. A couple months ago, he started having thyroid issues and lost a tremendous amount of weight. He was always a large cat - about 20lbs. He received synthroid, his levels returned to normal, but he never put the weight back on. Gradually he stopped eating and the large cat dwindled down to about 8lbs. 

Over the past week, he just got worse and worse, so we decided to put him down on Saturday after a cancer diagnosis. Today when I saw him, I knew I couldn't wait that long. He was now unable to walk, incontinent for the first time ever and his breathing labored. We took him to the vet and she injected him with a sedative and his breathing eased. She injected the euthanasia and he slipped away. I thought for sure I would be able to keep it together and was stunned when I started to sob uncontrollably. It was so incredibly sad. The article was right on. It really doesn't hit you until they are gone what a loss they leave you with.

Dennis Chobater
Dennis Chobater

Our dog Brighty, age 18, passed away yesterday at home in his sleep.  This article and the many who commented helped me get through the initial part of grieving.


18 years ago we rescued this small,  cute Bichon Frise him from a puppy farm.  He was going to be put asleep the next day.  We could not have imagined the joy he would give us.  He was an independent thinker, demanding and loved.  We watched him grow with us and many times remembered that had we not taken the step to rescue him, he would never had the adventures encountered and we would never have had the love he gave us in return.


Demanding?  In the evening while he chewed a bone and we sat around in the living room he would get up, look at us, bark to signal it was time to go to bed, then trot off to the bedroom.  Sometimes he came back if we weren't coming and let us know it was bed time. He let us know when it was his meal time and all but dragged us into the kitchen if we weren't quick about feeding him.

When he was 1 year old he sat in my lap while I drove the car down a quiet highway. He put his paws on the steering wheel and I let him steer for a short distance. He sometimes escaped our car while parked in a shopping center,  through an open window and looked for me in grocery stores, much to the  surprise of customers and store employees. He was adorable and forgiven.


Last year he was diagnosed with doggies Alzheimer (cognitive disfunction disorder)  We gave him the same medication used with human Parkinson patients and he was like a little puppy again.  This fall he started showing signs of slowing down, weight loss, trmbling and back leg slipping.  Seven days ago he stopped eating and a day later he forgot how to drink water.  He lapped air missing the water. His back legs started slipping and Wednesday this week he couldn't get up.  His back legs were just too weak. I took him for one last car ride in the morning before his scheduled Vet appointment re: the back legs.


We stopped one more time and he showed his determination by standing up on all four legs although he couldn't walk.  

On our way home he fell asleep.  That afternoon the vet shared that he likely would only live a few more hours.  She gave me a choice, to put him down or take him home, so we could say our good byes.  I decided to take him home.  The vet gave him a pain killer and muscle relaxant.  He never regained consciousness. His brain was shutting down. He passed away yesterday morning at 6 am after a night of heavy breathing and body twitching.  


My family appreciated that we had the chance to say our goodbyes at home. His buddy, our second dog, 10 years younger also saw him.   After seeing his body in such distress, and even though he was unconscious and on heavy pain killers I understand why some choose to put their beloved animal asleep with a vet.


He will be missed.    It is a day later and with the many comments read on this site, I am through a great deal of my own grieving. 

.



Nancy R
Nancy R

 An "older" story that is timeless.  Pets don't care if we smell funny or have messed-up-hair.  They accept us for who we are....wrinkles and everything. They could teach us a lot about unconditional love.  After spending hundreds of dollars to "investigate" the fact that my malnourished, dehydrated pet was dying of old-age problems and not a victim of neglect, I euthanised my 15-year old Blue.  I miss his tail-wagging, his begging for table food, and his fierce protection of children.....anybody's children.  You see, "neglect of a dependent vertebrate" is illegal in my state.....so the vet had to spend lots of my money to make sure ol' Blue was really dying.  So I have this long bill of tests for this and for that, only to have the last line read "euthanasia."  It was overcast and rainy outside the day he died, and it matched my mood exactly.   A cute little tot in the waiting room wanted to know if he could pet Blue.  I said "yes," and he petted Blue and told me he loved Blue.  I responded that I loved him, too.  As readers here already know, Blue had become closer than a friend.

Ketty Arreaza-Coyle
Ketty Arreaza-Coyle

I dare say I understand your story,  the pain , the struggle , the void, the profound need, and more. All of them part of the decision and the finality of a life that gave YOU  reasons to live as well. I went  through them,  the uncontrollable sobbing,  and continue the kind of agony  after putting my beloved Elfy to sleep four days ago. He was suffering, enlarged heart and liquid in the lungs, but still held his own, a real little alpha male. I wrote a poem for him when he was in his prime which speaks for itself. Hope you like it. In full empathy, Maria

TO MY BELOVEDELFY(2000)

By me: Maria Arreaza–Coyle

Elfy pased away on October 8th , 2014

Published on line

 HIS  TINY FIGURE IS THERE

HIS WARMTH, HIS GLANCE,

 HIS KNOW HOW,

HIS BOUNCY LITTLE  GAIT AND ALERT STANCE.

YES, HE KNOWS HOW TO FILL ME WITH LOVE.

HE KNOWS HOW TO CALM ME DOWN.

HE KNOWS HOW TO TELL ME HE NEEDS ME,

HIS UNSAID UTTERANCES ALWAYS SOUND.

HE IS THE COMFORT OF MY YEARS,

MY LITTLE YORKY WITH THE  POMERANIAN EARS,

AND I KNOW BUT TOO WELL  HIS LONGING TO BE FREE,

SIMPLY TO RUN AND SNUFF THE GOODIES IN THE YARD,

THOSE INACCESSIBLE TO ME.

Elle Andersen
Elle Andersen

Your story sounds exactly like mine. EXACTLY. I have to bring my Penny to be put to sleep today and I can't imagine how I will get through it. I feel guilty and sad and mostly just heartbroken. I am glad I read this because it's helped me reinforce that I'm making the right call. So thank you.

Lucy L.
Lucy L.

Our beloved dog was seriously sick for only one week before the vet pushed euthanasia on us. Our regular vet didn't take her illness seriously nor did the vet hospital he sent us to. None of the doctors ever said kidney disease was suspected nor did they express concern that she had not eaten in five days. I kept asking why she was trembling, and they kept saying it was probably her brain. I later learned that small dogs are very vulnerable to hypoglycemia and that one of the most common symptoms is trembling.  Finally, after watching her starve all week, a rude doctor put her on an IV, all the while condemning me for not doing it sooner. No one ever explained that her symptoms showed kidney disease nor did they urge fluids.

The same rude doctor said after 12 hours she was no better, but that was false.  We visited her and saw that she looked quite miserable but were going to continue the glucose IV, being told that it usually takes three days to improve. Just as we were leaving, another doctor accosted us and said that although she was not familiar with the case, that our precious baby would never recover or eat again and that she had a brain lesion. I asked how this could happen in only a week and she insisted that it was fast growing. She then asked if we wanted to take her home before we said goodbye but that she might not survive the trip. We were taken to a room and allowed to hold her. That is when I was able to see that all her trembling and jerking head motions had stopped. I feel so guilty that I did not challenge the last doctor and continue with the glucose therapy as it had obviously helped. Her blood pressure, liver, and heart were normal. Although she was sick, she was not in kidney failure. I cannot recover from the heart wrenching guilt that we caved under pressure just when she had finally gotten some relief. I wish I could go back and stand up to that arrogant doctor so we would not have these terrible regrets.

Andrew Dryburgh
Andrew Dryburgh

I had to put my cat down yesterday. I got a vet to come to my place to try and make the process easier for my cay. I had no idea how hard it was and now I am feeling awful about if I should have done more to save her.


A month ago she stopped eating, vomiting and was losing weight. I took her to the vet and while they were doing blood tests the vet felt a couple of masses in her abdomen. Upon telling me this we scheduled a ultrasound, but due to her being 12 yrs old she was confiednt that it was cancer. While performing the ultrasound they noticed several masses. They were going to take a biopsy but realized the many blood vessels were intertwine with the masses so their was a  chance of them hitting one of these. I told them to stop and leave her be as the biopsy was going to just confirm what they thought and didn't want them to hit a vessel and have her needing surgery to stop the bleeding. 


I took her home and gave her some appetite supplements that helped her eat a bit. I bought all of things she loved like tuna and chicken. However the past few days she stopped eating completley and was having a hard time moving around. I weighed the options of chemo or surgery but didn't want to put her through this. 


Now I am questioning my decision and feeling awful that maybe I could have extended her life.


Sammy, you were my best friend and my heart and house is  empty without you




Rochelle Weber
Rochelle Weber

I had to put to sleep my sweet little Syd on Sunday.  I'm absolutely devastated and heart broken.  He just turned 15 and over the past 6 months just started to slow down and not go outside anymore, started to get a little thinner, but ate and drank well, no litter issues.  He just laid on the patio all day and talked to me since I work from home, we were always together along with my dog Molly.  A couple of weeks ago he started to get very lethargic and couldn't jump up on the table to get his food anymore and was throwing up alot with diarrhea, poor thing kept going to his box.  I took him into vet for blood work and they didn't know what was wrong, just had a very high white blood count and high liver enzymes.  They wanted to do an ultrasound, but that didn't sound good, all the issues he thought it could be were bad.  I just couldn't put him through all of that.  I went online to see about getting his liver enzymes down, I got some Milk Thistle which people were raving about and something for the arthritis, a few days later he couldn't walk and just couldn't eat, I called the vet, but he didn't call back and the next day Sunday, he pied on the rug and cried out and couldn't get up, I was absolutely devastated and sick to my stomach.  But I knew this was it. I called a service and they came over and he passed in my arms hearing that I loved him dearly.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life.  I am so sad, I wear his little collar on my arm.  I'm really trying not to beat my self up that I didn't take him in for a check up a while ago.  It was just so sudden.  Syd had a great cat life, ever since I got him him at 6 weeks, he wanted to be out in the world! So I let him, he was never wanting for anything.  He would go out and come back a few hours later and sleep with me.  I miss him sleeping on my head, I never moved him.  My heart is broken, but he lived life and we should all be so lucky and to be loved so much.  Syd was my first cat, I had no idea what I was doing, but I feel I was a good mom and gave him the best life a cat can have!  Rest in Peace my dear Papa Syd, maybe we will see each other again sometime.  I love you...Mom


Vicki Hodges
Vicki Hodges

Rosie looks like my 14 year old cat Setzer Marie, who died on July 18th. I thought she was going to be fine after being treated for a couple of UTIs. Suddenly, she didn't want to eat, but she was still drinking. She went downhill fast, so I took her to the vet. They put her on an IV overnight, hoping she would come back, but she died overnight. Poor baby. I loved her so much. She was the heart of my cat family, sweet to every one of them, even the dog. I had just recently said that I hope she isn't the first to go. My youngest cat seems so lost without her. I want her back so badly and wonder if I could have saved her if I had gone to the vet earlier. Or if it was her kidneys shutting down as happens with so many cats. Oh, it hurts so much to lose a beloved pet. I'm so sorry for your loss. 

Jennifer Glover
Jennifer Glover

 Thank you for all of your wonderful stories.  It is so helpful.  I had to put my precious 14 year old cat Gizmo to sleep on Sunday after her kidneys rapidly started to fail and her blood work came back with a bad prognosis. She had stopped eating, having bowel movements, grooming herself, and had lost about 5 lbs in a few days time. But like a typical cat, never showed her pain. I've never had to make a more difficult decision.  But I knew I loved her too much for her to suffer and she had a long and wonderful life.  It warms my heart when I think about how much we loved each other.  It is just hard to be the one to make that final decision.

Brandon Siar
Brandon Siar

I recently had to put down my cat too. Her name was danger and she was just under a year and a half old. All of the sudden she had congestive heart failure and was crying in pain so I made the decision with the vets advice to have her put down. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do and felt wrong since she was still so young. And to make it worse we couldn't even bury her since on the way to the vets office she bit my girlfriend only because she was in so much pain. They told us its state law they have to test for rabies and then cremate the body. I wanted to grab her and run out but I knew the right thing to do would be to not make her suffer anymore. I still hear the terrible cries from her in the back of my head. RIP danger we love and miss you very much.

Tina Walters
Tina Walters

We put our kitty, Meow, down this morning.  She was almost 19.  I feel bad, but she like many older animals - had arthritis and hyperthyroidism.  She was going into complete kidney failure in the past few days.  A tiny kitty down to just about 4 pounds.  She was a long haired kitty and just had no regard for her long hair anymore and brushing her was painful for her and for us.  She began to lose her bladder in the last 48 hours on a constant basis and had blood in her urine.  Could I have done more?  I really don't know... 


Although Meow was my first pet with my husband, our kids loved her just as much.  I have an amazing 11 year old daughter, who really adored her.  When we went to the vet this morning, she was the one who wanted to have Meow "die in her arms."  What a blessing to have our kitty know and feel so much love.  To have a beautiful young lady look her in the eyes and profess her love to this animal. I received a text this afternoon, "Mom, my heart is broken."  What do I do?  My heart is broken too.  How do we mend our broken hearts? 


I have to believe that she's in a better place.  If you look up the word euthanasia, it means "kind death" - so I need to believe that this is true.   Why do I feel so guilty? 


She gave us 18+ years of joy.  I hope she finds peace in the next world.  I hope she has the best time with all of her favorite toys... rubber bands, q-tips, and balled up paper.


We love you Meow-kitty.

Marney Hardin
Marney Hardin

I think I am coming close to facing a tough decision much sooner in my cat's life than I ever expected. My sweet, loving, neurotic, standoffish, huffy, and completely wonderful girlie Olive is only 8, but she has had some terrible health problems this year. In May, she simply stopped eating and drinking, and she starting yowling one Saturday morning so I rushed her to the vet to get her checked out. The vet couldn't find anything really wrong save some mild constipation, but kept her two days in the hospital. She hasn't ever really come back from that.


Soon after I got her home, I noticed her eating litter out of the litter box. No excrement or clumps, just the litter itself. I didn't see it often, so I tried keeping an eye on her and shooing her from the box when I saw her doing it.


Not long after that, Olive came down with ideopathic vestibular disease. She had to be hospitalized for almost a week. This was fairly recently, and when I brought her home, she seemed to recover. She was able to walk and use the box, she was social and friendly, but she still didn't want to eat or drink very much and she was eating more and more litter. She was also going off by herself to closets in remote parts of the house to be by herself. In any event, I changed the type of litter, and then finally resorted to covering the litter with puppy pads so she'd still use the box but not be able to eat the litter.


Since she still wasn't eating well at all, we started her on an appetite stimulant. She ate for sure, but almost immediately after that, it seemed like the vestibular disease started all over again. I was crushed.


I rushed her back to the vet and we talked about quality of life, possible causes (brain tumor, viral brain infection) and some general prognoses. In the end, I took her home with something to help with nausea and a steroid to reduce any swelling that might be causing the condition. If she doesn't improve substantially, which doesn't seem to be happening, I may have to seriously consider putting her to sleep. She's just... Not the same. She sleeps in the closet all the time, she's not eating or drinking right now, she can't stand or walk very far, and she's just not my baby girl. It's only been a day or so, and I'm going to keep a close eye on her and how she responds to me and the medicine the vet has prescribed.


I am in a difficult position: I don't want to give up on her, but I don't want her to suffer. I don't know how I will know what the right decision is, and my heart is aching with the burden. Emotion is making it hard for me to see the line between what I want and what she needs.

Eric West
Eric West

I had a grandmother who hated cats. She lived with us and was constantly yelling about the cat doing something. One day, my mother came home to tell us our cat was killed and his body was on the side of the road. My brother and I started crying. To my surprise, my grandmother starts crying saying our crying was making her cry. It wasn't long afterwards that she wanted a cat of her own. Cats make great pets it just sucks when they die. 

Marta Paluch
Marta Paluch

My heart is absolutely broken in a million pieces. We had to put down my sweet kitty boy Koto yesterday. It was the most heartbreaking day of my life and I keep seeing images of him in his final moments in my head that will not go away and I feel so guilty each time. He was 15 years old and over the past 3 weeks his health had just completely deteriorated; he stopped eating completely and only drank water, he has terrible arthritis in his hind legs that prevented him from walking around too much without falling down, he stopped meowing and purring and he lost a ton of weight and was essentially just skin and bones at that point. I knew something was not right when we stopped coming to greet me everyday after I came home from work and after he stopped eating too (even his favourite treats) but I couldn't bear to think of the end, I just wanted to hold on a little bit longer to my baby boy but I knew it would be selfish. I feel insurmountable grief as I write this now, I keep trying to tell myself that he was in a lot of pain and was suffering greatly and that it was the right thing to do but my heart still hurts a lot and I cannot stop crying even at work. I just hope he is in a much better place now, no longer suffering in pain and that I will one day see him again. I will never forget him. 

J Lythe
J Lythe

After a weekend on a fluid drip because of kidney failure his creatine levels were still high hardly coming down at all.  I took my cat Purdy to the vets today.  I am not coping well.  I was given the option both on Friday and yesterday.  At around 12-1 I can't remember exact times because of upset, Purdy lay on the bed and his heart was beating very fast and he was twitching in his limbs.  I went to stroke him and unusually there was no response but after about 40 seconds I'm not sure he got up and went to pee.  I was calling the vets and describing this and saying I'm not sure whether to let him go here naturally or euthanasia.  By the time he got to the vets he was alert and I couldn't make the decision easy.  He was my little boy in my mind and I also didn't trust myself to stay with him in case I tried to stop them so I thought in the interest of all I should leave the room, after I signed the consent form.  I was extremely distraught and unexpectedly I heard him cry from the waiting room.  He was suffering greatly although he was alert at the end it just doesn't feel right.  I've never been in this position before and it has shredded me.  The vet told me he had became distressed when they were handling him, and that he was given sedation but I wasn't there and it's haunting me.  The fact is my cat was suffering but I don't know how I am going to forgive myself.  I wish he had went naturally on the bed, I'm almost hundred percent he was in the process of dying but then he was so alert at the vets and I wasn't strong enough to stay with him.  If only he had been able to talk.  I don't think that euthanasia is easy at all and there is never the exact right time and I have no idea if today was right or wrong but I am one broken woman right now and I keep thinking I have done wrong.  Fact he was suffering.  Fact if I never took action he would have suffered more.  But was today the right day?  His instincts were still there that's what makes it harder.  He was atypical while he would stop drinking he would continue eating.  I love him so much and I hope he is happy and free.  He was cooped up after 15 years for the last three months and his quality of life was poor.  I don't know if anyone can relate to this.  I need to work on forgiveness because it feels like I killed him right now. 

Ciko Bello
Ciko Bello

No one should take this personal , but I'm definitely against Euthanasia ( human and animal). Before moving to the city and live the urban lifestyle, I grew in the village were we use to have several cats for many years. When the cat gets older they disappear. They simply leave their human partners and isolate somewhere in the nature ( forest in my case ). Cats feels well when that are close to the end of the life cycle and decide to end it peacefully in isolation. My friend had a semi healthy cat ( Bimbo) for 18 years and started to change his habits ( sleeping in the basement and dome days disappearing for days, etc) we decided instead of putting him down to send him to my relative cousin in the village. Two weeks later we had a call from my cousin saying that the cat suddenly disappeared ! The next day we decided to search in the surround area in the forest and had no luck finding anything in that area. We asked the neighbors and one kid told us that our cat was going during the last 3 days in that direction! Likely it was a small area and that made our search easier. Unexpectedly we found Bimbo quickly, he was peacefully lying on his side between the bushed sand close to a tree trunk!

Can you imagine this Bimbo was discovering the area, he want it to make sure to find a sweet secure and isolated spot to die peacefully and naturally.

Lesson learn: Don't bring animals ( cat, dog, etc) to your apartments cause naturally they don't belong there. Even if you do so I find it very selfish and hypocrite to put down the animals. People tend to comfort them selves by stating facts that allow them to feel not guilty. The main reasons for putting down the pet is due to more investment in time and money for the owner. Isn't it selfish to bring a pet have fun with it and when they are old we put them down with injection?! And after all we cry! Maybe we really feel sad about such events, but maybe instead we have to think twice before deciding buying a cat of a dog especially if you don't have the right environment for them to grow naturally! Oh I forgot to mention that we also remove the cat nails cause they damage the Sofa...how hypocrite is this ?! Any how I think we have twisted enough the natural and ecological system.

christine tyler
christine tyler

I had to put my kitty down yesterday. She was 20 years old. She stopped eating and only drank broths and water. She also was peeing everywhere and frequently. Some times there was blood in her urine that we tried to treat with antibiotics but nothing seemed to work. 


The vet said she was severely dehydrated so he gave me an IV to keep her hydrated and comfortable. I think now she must have been in pain as she purred very little. 


The next day, I saw blood in her mouth. I thought she might have lost a tooth (she had bad teeth) as it didn't appear to be much blood. I left the house and when I came back she had blood in her mouth again and near her bedding. I raced her back to the vet and he said that this was due to a build up of toxins in her body and the humane thing to do is to put her down. It happened so fast, I knew she was dying but I had no idea it was going to be that soon. He didn't give her a sedative and I am not sure why. Maybe because she was in such bad shape that it may have made her sick (?). My husband and I said good bye to her, pet her and had to hold her head down while the vet injected her. She passed immediately. 


I am not sure why I feel so guilty. I am sick with sadness and have been crying for two days. I didn't expect to feel so sad over her death. I mean I really loved her with all my heart but the pain I feel now is overwhelming. I suppose just typing this is therapeutic and it's nice to share the stories, for some reason it helps to read other people's posts. Asja was my cat. She was a sweet, gentle soul who will always be in my heart.

Judy Lueer
Judy Lueer

On May 3, 2014 at approximately 4:00 pm. I had my lab/chow mix Libby euthanized. Since she was almost 13, I knew this day would come and thought I was prepared. Never did I ever imagine the sadness and gulit that would rack me on the days that followed. Libby was mostly an outdoor dog. With work, school, kids, and everything else I just didn't have the time to spend with her. She seemed happy though, I knew there were times she would have welcomed some attention. About 4 years ago, my husband got another dog. This dog lived mostly in the house and now I wonder if Libby ever wondered why the other dog got to spend time in the house with the family but she didn't. Libby was fed well, and got treats and was awarded a littlebit of cat food in her dinner every evening.  She quit eating 2 weeks before I had her put down, and was very matted, she looked horrible and was down to only 38 pounds. The last 1/2 hour I spent with her was heartbreaking. She never took her eyes off of me and rested her head on my leg the whole time. It was like those last 13 years was made up in 1/2 hour with love, pettings and sweet words. At the end, I told her to be a good girl. Now I wish I would have let the doctor run a few tests and get her hydrated. Now I feel I reacted too quickly. Now I want my Libby back to shower her with love and attention. Now I'm heartbroken.

curtis poteet
curtis poteet

i put my brutus to sleep on wednesday 30th of april 2014 he was 14 yr old pitt bull was still mostly healthy aside from a tumor on his rump that begin to aggressively spread  and ultimately abscess near the end from him messing with it he lost use of his back right leg and was getting around but  it was starting to effect him using the restroom as it where so it was time i have had him the full 14 years with maybe 90 days of that entire time away from him the majority of the time he spend by my side or sleeping with me with his head on my pillow or chest  we where inseparable for 14 years so it took its toll i knew it would be difficult but how difficult i would never have imagined i haven't been able to sleep in my own bed for 5 days now  cause ever time i lay down i wake up looking for him before realizing he is not coming back to bed like the last 14 years  little things easily set me off  the second day  his last poop i passed while trying to stay busy and do some mowing   i broke down for 20 min cause it was the last time i would have ever let him out to potty and little stupid things you would never think of all start popping up  kick in the teeth realization that he is really gone i still catch my self stopping to go let him outside or bring him a treat   it is by far the most difficult thing i have ever been thru in my life i know deep down it is what was right for him but still feel guilty i had to make that choice i had to start keeping his collar on hand so i would quite spacing and having to keep realize he is gone when i think of him i am sorry for any ones loss of a friend family  companion they will always be in your heart and probably always miss them i try to focus on the funny and good times we spent together  and hold on to those  good times so that last little while when they was not feeling their best and needed you to make that difficult choice for them  be the only memories you have 



Danielle Makin
Danielle Makin

Requesting Advice:


I have a 18 year old female cat who has lost a lot of weight lately (she was a solid 12 lbs and now she's down to 4 lbs); 


she only uses her kitty litter box 1/2 the time (yesterday she added pooping on the floor in addition to her pissing); 


she doesn't want to get off of her tempurpedic pillow bed except to go in the bedroom to sleep in the dark; 


more recently she started to be really picky about her food and will rarely touch it, which is only making her skinnier;


and I noticed yesterday she doesn't seem to be as full of life (she used to purr like crazy when you just look at her but now i can barely get her to purr petting her). 


I know cats are really good at hiding their pain so i worry that she is in pain but just can't express it.  I don't have the money to go get her checked out, in fact I have been putting off on getting her put down so I could save up to have a vet come do in the apartment (which i now have the money for)


please comment on this and let me know your opinions; Is it time?

mary cooney
mary cooney

I just had our darling 16 yr old boydog put to sleep on fri. I have been struggling with knowing when for nearly a year..he had been getting skinnier and back legs weaker, and starting to fall over but still loving food and waiting for me at the gate when I came home. His back paw became swollen from a fall on fri and I knew it would only get worse. But as the time got closer I was terrified. He was still eating and I don't think he wanted to go.  It was just so sad and I feel bad even though I know it was time. I love him so much and he was such a tough brave treasure. He was in his cozy bed in the back seat of the car and the vet did it there...it was so quick and I just couldn't believe it had happened. I still can't believe he has gone. Its so lonely in the kitchen now without him...

Susan Arbaugh
Susan Arbaugh

I had my sweet, 10 year old Buffett, euthanized last week. It was a difficult decision, as the author of the article described. 


I am broken hearted and have second guessed my decision a few times  Buffett started vomiting up hairballs, which is not unusual:  I thought he was just shedding his coat.  Over an eight week period of time, the vets, though exams and testing, couldn't find anything wrong with Buffett, then thought it was kidney failure, then pancreatitis.  He continued to get worse and after a two day hospitalization to have his kidneys flushed, an ultrasound determined masses in both kidneys and his pancreas. His kidneys were twice the size of a normal cat. 


Since Buffett was in a lot of pain, on many medications and his quality of life was pretty much gone, I chose to end his suffering. Even though he was very sick and not going to get better, I wonder if he would could have lived a few more days, with medication.  I really miss my buddy.


Choosing when to euthanize an animal is not always clear cut.  And even when it is, it's very hard to end the life of a dear furry friend. 

Joseph Vignolo
Joseph Vignolo

I had to put down our family cat this morning. The article is quite correct. It's not an easy thing to do.


Something unfortunate happened afterwards that I wanted to share. It might help other pet owners and also veterinarians.


Afterwards the veterinary assistant asked me if I wanted to take the deceased cat out the side door or out of the front of the building. Because I was parked in the lot out front I elected to go through the waiting room and out the front door. I was carrying the now empty pet carrier and the assistant was carrying a cardboard box containing the body of the cat.


As we entered the waiting room on the way outside I noticed a middle aged woman and her husband sitting there. The woman immediately started looking at me and the assistant. She must have noticed the empty pet carrier and saw the assistant carrying the cardboard box and quickly surmised what had just occurred. I could tell by the look on her face and how she reacted that she was very distressed. I mentioned this to the assistant outside and she told me that the woman's cat had been very sick for a long time. Knowing that it's no wonder that the woman reacted the way she did.

At human hospitals cadavers go out the back, usually through a loading dock. They don't go out the front door or through the waiting rooms. Wheeling a dead patient out the front door is unthinkable. How would patients, especially if they are very sick, feel watching a dead body leaving the hospital that way? Death is a difficult issue to deal with and a sight like that would undoubtedly be disturbing to many people. As I said, it's no wonder that the woman in the vet's waiting room was so upset. And the fact that she got upset made me upset. It was bad enough having to deal with the pain of losing the cat. But then knowing that what happened to my cat upset the other woman made things worse.


Euthanized animals should leave the office by the side or back door. Not through the waiting room. I wished they had asked me to park around the back or on the side of the building. Then I could have taken the cat home privately and without upsetting another pet owner waiting in the waiting room. This should be standard practice at all veterinary offices.

Karie May
Karie May

My Chloe is 17. She was diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism and last year an oral tumor. I opted not to risk invasive treatment at her age, and the vet was concerned of risks as well. She doesn't tolerate pills well and is on prescription food and corticosteroids. Paws at mouth (pain indicator) after eating. Now the tumor has grown and is rubbing on her gums leaving a permanent open sore. The vet was surprised she has lasted this long (since Oct). Now she's on daily oral antibiotics.

Yesterday she pawed a baby tooth out by root. I freaked. The vet says it's ok. I feel she is falling apart. Vets always say "only you can tell if it's time. When she stops being happy, withdraws, stops eating..." What if it's the Hyperthyroidism causing her to still feel hungry all the time. She stil greets me at the door. Still eats, purrs. Sleeps mostly. But she's old! How do I know?

A vet is coming to home euthanize tomorrow. I don't know if I'm doing the right thing. I read when an animal stops eating, they may have suffered much. I try to think of how she may feel. If I had necrotizing flesh in my mouth, wouldn't it hurt? I fear I am ending this too soon, but more that her suffering will be worse and I allowed it. I'm so torn up....

Katie Louise
Katie Louise

This morning I had to put my darling kitty to sleep. He was fourteen and was in fantastic health until a week ago when he unfortunately had a stroke. Since then he has become weaker and weaker and last Friday he lost all movement in his back leg and could no longer walk, jump or squat. The vet advised we left him over the weekend but as he became poorlier she advised yesterday morning we should think about putting him down. I cried all week but last night, knowing it was the last with my baby was insufferable. I have had my darling Rolo since I was six and this is the hardest thing I have ever done. 

Reading your comments last night reassured me that I am not the only one going through this and made me feel better, so I wanted to share my story with you today. I am writing this with tears rolling down my cheeks and I already miss him so much. I don't know why but I am filled with so much fear for my baby and I was terrified he would be scared. I just feel so heartbroken. I feel for you all so much and I hope you are all coping better than myself. I know he is looking down on me but he is not here, and that breaks my heart

Lesley Herren
Lesley Herren

I grieve for you Marc and for all who have written here in the comments.  My own beloved Tabitha kitty passed just one week ago and although I knew it would come someday losing one's furbaby - whether 14 days, weeks, months or years - is always a shock.  As soon as my vet called and told me she had a tumor the size of a human fist in her tummy I knew right away what was the right thing for her.  We took care of her that day and released her to the cosmos to find like spirits to play with.  My husband and I look forward to the day we can see all our furbabies again, but especially we'll be on the lookout for this one.  Namaste little spirits.

Stephen Guest
Stephen Guest

I am typing this, totally inconsolable.  I took my "baby" to the vet this morning to get the diagnosis she has cancer and won't be with me for much longer.  I was told she could have surgery, but that she probably wouldn't survive the anaesthetic.  At 15 she's had a really good life and it's going to kill me to take her to the vet for the last time.  The vet has told me just to have quality time with the time she has left.  I don't know what to do.  She's hasn't even died yet, but my heart is breaking knowing that it's inevitable!  I am such a baby! 

Marsha Dean
Marsha Dean

My heart goes out to you and the others.  We all share your grief.  It has been since Friday that we put our baby Zorro down and I am missing him sooo much!! I love him so much and want to see him again around our house, I want to see  him doing all the crazy antics that he was full of.  Now i just see how we must of missed that he was getting so sick and that he deteriated so quickly and we didn't catch it.   We love you Zorro!!!

Lela luster
Lela luster

I, my brother, and my sister's boyfriend just got home from putting our Leah to sleep. I am typing this through tears. We had her since I was about 14... I just turned 28. So long, so many years. Like a lot of your stories, our baby had liver issues it looked like, started twitching this morning and was unresponsive. We didn't want her to suffer and though we PRAYED for her healing, it wasn't fair to see her that way and pray to keep her here longer. I have ALL the 'should I have?' questions in my head as well. Worse, my sister was at work, and didn't get to say bye. Her and I cried on the phone as we made the decision to give her back to God. God bless all of you that are going through this too. Painful isn't even the word, quite the understatement. Love you Leah Bear, mommy will see you again one day...

Kenneth Santiago
Kenneth Santiago

When these beloved creatures look at us with their soulful eyes we can't help to feel the unconditional love they feel for us humans. When it's time for us to end their suffering it's beyond sad, even though we know it's time to say our final goodbyes...I can't even describe these feelings they are so intense. I have been through this many times and it never gets easier. However, this time we did it differently and had a vet come to our home to do the euthanasia. I have to say that even though it was still very hard emotionally, for the kitty to not have to go through all the stress of going to the vets and us getting stressed knowing our poor kitties are stressed it is a fantastic service and we will never do it any other way again. This little animal was my companion for 22 years and was always glad to see me no matter what...now I have a huge hole in my heart and feel as though a piece of my being is gone. I know it will get better as time passes but for now it hurts and the emotions come in waves...sometimes I wonder why, why are these emotions so intense when we lose our animals...I suppose it's the love we have for them.

Derik Wilson
Derik Wilson

@Elle Andersen My vet was incredibly kind when I had to put Casper down.  I asked him, "at what point do I...", and he just said, "I think it is the right thing to do."  Those words were so incredibly kind because it took the guilt away from me knowing a professional who loves animals agreed that it was the right thing to do.

Ketty Arreaza-Coyle
Ketty Arreaza-Coyle

@Lucy L. I empathize with you because my little boy Elfy about whom I wrote above was according to the vets suffering from a trachea problem common to little dogs that are old. Well, time passed, and  when he started to cough and choke they took x-rays and said he had an enlarged heart and liquid in the lungs and that his life would be misery. They were right, he was indeed weak, BUT,  why didn't they do the right tests before. About four months had passed. And I am suffering, there is no other way  to express it. They say it  will subside gradually, I only know that the void will never be filled and I am now less afraid of  death. My best wishes to you.

Rochelle Weber
Rochelle Weber

@Andrew Dryburgh I know exactly how you feel, I felt the same way.  (See my post below) But you did the right thing, know that in your heart, no matter how much it hurts, it would have been too much for her.  But she knew you loved her and she passed at home with you, that is the most unselfish thing you can do.  I'm realizing that now finally after a week of sobbing, did I do the right thing.  I didn't realize it was going to hurt as bad as it does.  I'ts been such a horrible week, but I do feel a little better today and I know my papa Syd had a great kitty life and he was happy, we should all be so lucky.  You really tried everything you could, but unfortunately it was her time and she didn't suffer long.  I miss Syd terribly, the house is not the same and now my dog is sick and I have to go back to the vet again today.  But we do anything for them, they are our babies.  My heart goes out to you, try to remember the good things and don't beat yourself up, I did that all week and have decided to let it go, I did the right thing...God Bless..Rochelle

Ketty Arreaza-Coyle
Ketty Arreaza-Coyle

@Rochelle Weber You  have my full empathy as I  am going through that same agony. I posted it all with a poem I had written for my little man ( Yorkshire/Pomeranian male, 19 years old) 

Mike Morg
Mike Morg

"The main reason for putting down the pet is due to more investment in time and money.." I'm putting my dog down in 10 hours because 85% of his bladder is covered by a giant tumor which has moved into his prostate and gall bladder. My parents have spent atleast 400 dollars a month on vet bills and they would spend 1000 more a month if we ever had to. Two days after his12th birthday. And we almost delayed it because were (especially me) not ready to say goodbye. Don't you dare tell me us pet owners put down our pet because we refuse to spend any more money on them or for want to spend our time with them. That's the most uneducated hurtful rude comment I have ever heard. We all love our pets or should I say siblings/children. They're a part of our family. "Nobody should take this personal" what a joke that comment is. Everybody that's had to deal with this loss will take that personal. What a completely unthoughtful person you are.

Ketty Arreaza-Coyle
Ketty Arreaza-Coyle

@curtis poteet Thank you for these lines. Identifying helps ease the pain. We need to know we are not alone, someone said. Someone also said: If dogs don't go to Heaven, I want to go where they go. I agree.

Tina Walters
Tina Walters

@Danielle Makin  sounds like what we just went through; hyperthyroidism.  I wish you the best.  I know it's hard.  Take care.

Josephine Delmonico
Josephine Delmonico

@Danielle Makin

It has been time for a while.  It is so hard to give up. Like somehow they will start to grow younger instead of older and get better again. But it is not going to happen.  Everything your cat has been doing has been to tell you she needs your help.  She has loved and cherished you all this time, be a friend and love and cherish her one more time.  Let her go. You will cry, your heart will break and you'll walk around like the world is in a spin. No one else will be able to understand quite enough, yet you will still cry. 

My best to you.  Time is the great healer and time is what it takes. You'll never forget her because you cared enough to love her through all her life the way she love you all through her life.

Kelly Tennyson
Kelly Tennyson

Thank you for your post. I can totally relate. I'm so torn. I have literally cried all day. My vet said she was very surprised because most cats that are as sick as mine have stopped eating and stopped being social. How do I know when is the right time if she is still eating and drinking and purring? My heart is literally broken in two. I just wanted to thank you for your post and sharing what is the most heart wrenching decision one can make regarding our pets. I'm so sorry you had to make this decision. It is so hard.

Mandy L
Mandy L

@Karie May  hi Karie May, I am going through the exact same thing. I am still not sure what to do even though the vet told me I need to put him down in the next two days. Tripper my 19 year old cat also has hyperthyroidism, but it has always been under control. 2 weeks ago he started hiding and not interested in food. I took him to the vet and they said he was anemic with possibly internal bleeding caused by possible lymphoma in the stomach. They did a bunch of tests and a blood transfusion. He didn't improve that much but started to eat that night. He was also prescribed with prednisolone for the lymphoma (the needle test could not confirm 100%). He started to have diarrhea and stopped eating next day for 3 days. I suspect it was the prednisolone and took him to a local vet but she did nothing. I had him scheduled for Chemo yesterday with my other vet. When I got to the vet, they said he was too weak to have it done. His kidneys were shutting down despite the tests showed his kidneys were fine 5 days ago. The vet said that was probably an indication of his body shutting down. So I agreed it was time to put him to sleep. She told me to take the next day to say goodbye and I asked the vet to give him some meds for the diarrhea and vomiting . I knew he was ready to go so I made a call to one of those vets will euthanize at home. When we got home, Tripper started to eat again. Because the vomiting and diarrhea stopped, he got his appetite back and started eating a lot. He didn't vomit nor had any diarrhea since then. Except that he is still hiding a bit and sleeps a lot which is a little bit more than what he normally does as a 19-year old cat, he seems to have improved - he is eating a lot, walking around when he is not sleeping. So I am really not sure if he is really ready to go. I am so worried that I am not giving him enough time to get better. I feel that the vet assumes his kidneys were shutting down because of the cancer. But it was very likely caused by the lack of nutrients due to the diarrhea caused by the prednisolone. I know they didn't mean to but it feels like they wrote him off because of his age. I wanted to talk to another vet but I am afraid he/she will tell me the same thing and accuses me of torturing him by not putting him down soon. I am so torn because I am so afraid that I am prolonging his life for me not him which is very selfish. But on the other hand, if he is really ready to die, why did he still keep eating?

Marsha Dean
Marsha Dean

@Stephen Guest  thank you for your post.  I believe it helps a lot to know that their are many others who share your grief and that we are  not crazy because of the intense pain of loss of our beloved pets.  We cared for them and nurtured them back to health when they were sick and for that they gave us their unconditional love and sometimes we even took them for granted thinking nothing  bad would happen to them.  You can feel very blessed that your baby lived a long and really good life  because of you.  In my case I went with the vet in telling me I was doing the right thing in putting him down. In hindsight I just have to believe & trust that I did the right thing for our baby but the whole process was surreal at the time and now the reality of the loss is overwhelming as we miss Zorro so much. He is in our memories and hearts forever. I'm not sure if I had to do it over I may have waited a bit longer to really make sure it was the only option because my son influenced me a lot at the time that we should do it right away that day of diagnosis because we were so afraid to see him suffer....so that's the only thing.  I think most of what I have read of others they cared for their pets until they  just knew it was time,  that way you will know you did all you could and you will not have any regrets.  All in all I would say pray and you will know when it is the right time.

Lela luster
Lela luster

My heart goes out to you and every one else here too. I'm there too- I keep thinking I hear her and that I see her, healthy, laying on the floor- I'm still crying off and on, 3 days later...

Marsha Dean
Marsha Dean

@Kenneth Santiago  Yes, I so very much agree, we lost our baby just this past Friday...we had to put him down.  Only 11 years and in good health up till just recently.  I did not imagine my grief would be so intense and I can hardly go a few minutes without thinking of him an crying and missing him so much.  I keep looking for him in all the places where he used to be thinking somehow he might be there, but I know he is gone and not coming back again.  It doesn't help that I have huge guilt feelings....should have/could have/maybe if we noticed he was sick earlier, maybe if we let the vet treat him more agressivley, but now its too late we can't bring  him back.  Although we have 2 other cats, our Zorro was special with lots of personality that you don't find that often in cats.  We love him so much!!!




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