I am sitting here now with a broken heart. Percy was a noble and wonderful cat/friend. When my husband passed away a year ago, he asked me to be good to his cat. Percy had been his companion and friend during his own illness. This last year has been difficult for me and Percy, I moved back home and he had to acclimate to a house of other creatures. 2 other cats and 3 dogs. When he started to lose weight, I thought it was because of all the changes he had suffered through. I found out too late that he was going into kidney failure. I left Percy in the care of our wonderful vet and his employees. Knowing that he is gone now and that I essentially signed his death warrant has me physically sick. Percy, I love you and miss you. I pray that you really are in kitty heaven and maybe even with my husband
Photograph by Maya Silver
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.
I always had been an unconditional cat lover. In April of 1996 while living in the Quebec City area, Nutmeg came into my life one Sunday morning … a calico cat of approx one year.
Even though we already had Huggies, a friendly loving cat, I invited her in by the back door. But my husband disagreed with me about adopting another cat so, following his wishes, I put her back outside under the front porch….After commenting about the poor thing to my teenage daughter Gabrielle, she told me that it was a stray cat who had spent the winter roaming around the youth centre, fending for itself, trying on occasions to get into the centre on opening nights.
I felt terrible during the following week. Wasn’t charity a Christian value? And if it had been a homeless person that came to my door begging for food and shelter? Would I give it or would I be afraid to? How could I pretend to be a true Christian if I had doubts? I haven’t been able to live up to the call by giving shelter to a mere cat in need. I was truly upset and let my husband know that if God lead her again to my door I was going to keep her.
A week later I received a call from one of my son’s friends who lives at the other end of my neighborhood; he had found a “small cat” but could not keep it because he already had a dog, and went on with all the usual arguments. I didn’t want to be bothered, with a kitten and started to answer him accordingly when I remembered the Sunday cat…. I asked him to come show it to me and a few minutes later Steve was at the door with my Sunday cat. Her fate was sealed…and my faith was strengthened.
Nutmeg turned out to be a quiet well mannered cat. Even my husband fell in love with her. She shared the house and grounds with Huggies and never took more than her share; complicity developed between them over the years, and became protective of him. She followed me whenever I went in the woods, for a walk or to pick berries. She would always come to you when called. She was afraid of thunderstorms, hiding under a low piece of furniture whenever she could hear a storm coming….Nutmeg adopted a sweater my sister had knitted for my husband that I used to wear, and would lie on it whenever she could. Over the years I shared it with her.
We lived in a small community in the country, surrounded by woods and wildlife. Even though my cats were outdoor cats, I always managed to have them in the house by 07:00 at night because of the wildlife. One night when I called her, and she didn’t show up, I was truly worried. As the hours passed I called her again and again without her showing up. I went to bed heavy hearted wondering what had kept her from answering my call. We were up early the next morning, I, hoping to see Nutmeg at the door. She was still missing and I was dismayed. Gilles, my husband instead of getting ready for work, put his jeans and t-shirt on to tour the edges of the woods; he was back half an hour later with Nutmeg in his arms… some kids had caught and fastened her to a tree on a short rope… Gilles told me that she answered his calls and thus guided him to her. I was grateful to have her back home safely with us.
Four years later we moved to the Toronto area, with our cats and a 10 year old budgie. We settled happily in our new home, but Nutmeg was nervous and still unsure outside; in the first months, I went on a few search and rescue at night, looking for her …. And always she answered my calls and gladly came to me and followed me home. She eventually got used to her new surroundings, months became years and all was OK until my daughter came for a visit with her cats…
That day, we left on a beautiful morning for a trip to Niagara Falls leaving the cats in and allowing Nutmeg to stay outside, knowing that she would not relish being cooped up inside in company of strange cats. We expected to be back in time for the cat’s daily curfew but didn’t manage to get home before 09:30 that night. There was no sign of Nutmeg outside and she would not answer my calls. The next day she didn’t show up… Gabrielle suggested that we post a missing pet ad on the mail boxes in our area which we did… I made a few calls to the humane society, and other animal welfare groups in our area. My daughter eventually left with her cats People who worked at the local newspaper were generous and put an ad in the paper. I got a few calls but nothing relevant. As days went by I kept dreaming of her at night, I was distraught. Until one day a lady called and was adamant she’s seen Nutmeg in the woods by the school near her place. Nutmeg, had a calico coat, her markings could easily be recognized.
Meanwhile, I spoke to my mother over the phone who gave me her word of wisdom: Nutmeg left because she was vexed, and not worry myself, she would eventually be coming back.
It took 18 days for Nutmeg to come back home; Early on a Sunday morning after a night of thunderstorm there she was, at the door, asking to be let in. My Sunday cat was back and just like the very first day I met her… Nutmeg that I thought was lost to me was given back.
Some years later my husband work asked that we moved abroad. Laws and regulations prevented us from moving the cats with us; Huggies was getting on with age and was frail… this is when my sister, generously offered to take them under her roof until we came back home. It was the perfect solution, since the cats knew her garden well; whenever we went to visit her over the years, we always brought the cats with us. So we left them at my sister’s, knowing the cats would be well loved and cared for. I didn’t forget to leave Nutmeg’s sweater with strict instruction that it was only to come out of the drawer when I was present on a visit. A couple of years went by and while we were on a short visit, Huggies 18yo had to be put to sleep, it was a heart wrenching decision, he was such a lovable cat. Although I loved that cat very much I cowardly left the others deal with the matter. Nutmeg went on bravely for two more years before we came back home.
My sister thought that
another move would be asking too much of Nutmeg who was turning 13yo. How would she react to a new house and garden?
I agreed thinking it was the best solution and adopted instead, a couple of
kittens from a nearby farm. Now, 16 months later my sister was seriously ill in
hospital, Nutmeg seemed depressed and neglected. I felt it was time for me to
take her back, I gathered enough courage and settled the matter with my beloved
sister who readily relinquish her care to me and so, I took Nutmeg back home
with me. She lived on for another 3 years and even though she was getting on in
years, I believe she was perkier for a while teaching the younger ones how to
climb on trees and other feline tricks.
She passed away on a Sunday, last December, a week or so before Christmas, she was 18 years old. God forgive me, I wish I could have been able to ease her pain. I pray, she will forgive my ignorance. Gone is my Sunday cat although I sometimes see her shadow from the corner of my eye.
I am going through the same situation with our dog, and my story is exactly like yours! "How hard could it be", "it's just a pet", etc. Today we found out our 12 yo dog has inoperable tumors, and we have to put her down. I've been heartbroken, crying in the bathroom for the past two hours. I cannot fathom the thought of seeing her smiling at us and then .. I just can't. So I decided to go on google and do research on the subject. Yours is the first link I clicked on.. It didn't make me feel better, but it totally described my situation to a tee, so.. comforting at least. But one thing I haven't thought of is having a doctor come to the house.. I think it would be a lot more peaceful for Peanut since she hated going to the vet..
I can't read any more of these. Our beloved cat Trixie has a few more days I think. My heart is breaking.
I have to make the decision shortly, my cat autumn is slowly dying,, she is 22 and has had a great life. I have had to lock her in the kitchen because she has decided to not use the litter box anymore and is not using the puppy pads either. She is still eating and drinking water so at the moment I shall just give her as much love and company as possible and wait until she doesn't seem to want to eat anymore to call the vet. Even though it pains me to not allow her free roam of the house, since she is sleeping a lot and purring I shall believe for my own peace of mind that she is still happy and will wait a bit before calling vet, waiting for a sign. Thanks to all those that have shared their experiences. very hard decision to make.
Just recently I had to say goodbye to my best friend Smokey. He was 16 and I had him for 14 yrs. I had hoped he would recover enough overnight to go to the vet. in the morning he was worse and he had to be put to sleep.. it was the hardest thing I have ever done. Now he is a box of ashes. not a flesh and blood cat. I still look for him and call for him when I am tired. I just hope he is in heaven and I will see him again. I still love him and miss him. And still cry for him every day. I just hope he forgives me for stopping his pain.
Much the same, I was looking for some sort of reason or logic for the pain I am feeling, I did not expect it.
I held Peaberry through her last breath yesterday afternoon, she was a Maine Coon with amazing coloring and the most incredible personality. I got her as a rescue 4 1/2 years ago and she has been my best and truest friend ever since. She had gone into renal failure, and her condition deteriorated so badly over the course of 3 days that she had lost nearly a third of her body weight. But even in as much stress she was in, she was still purring right up until the sedative took hold, she was just happy to be with me. I had not had a pet since I left home at 18, now 25 years ago, and had not realized how much of a hole there was in my life until Peaberry filled it. I have another one, just over a year old, that I got at 4 weeks old (another rescue) who is so upset now, Jasper will sit by her favorite pillow, pawing at it and crying. She was his constant companion for almost his entire life, his obvious pain just breaks my heart even further.
As I sit typing I keep noticing how cold my neck is, it feels like I am out in a storm and everything is covered up but that one spot. Nearly all of the time I sit at my desk she would be on the back of my chair curled up around my neck, flicking my face with her tail and licking the back of my ear. The coldness feels wrong, but I can still feel her purring. All the light and color in the world seems dimmer and dull today.
I know that in time the pain will ease and fade into happy memories, but right now I just want her to flop down on my keyboard and make things right.
To all here who have faced this loss, know that we are all here to share our pain; and in that sharing, do honor to those we have lost. Thank you for allowing me this forum for putting words to my grief.
I came across this article searching for answers, or rather proof that I wasn't some crazy pet person.
My wife and I said goodbye to Kitty yesterday afternoon. For 14 years she was apart of my family and my wife was lucky to also share her for 7 of those 14 years. Much like I've read in this article as well as the comments below, Kitty was around us almost every moment of the day as well as with us at night.
I am fortunate enough to work from home often, and Kitty was in my lap as I would bang away at the computer, make a sandwich for lunch, or pretty much any other time. The best I could describe her is, she was a member of the family and one of my best friends.
Before my wife, Kitty was there when no one else was. So, it was extremely hard to see her quick decline. Her body had broken down but her will to love us never did. We knew it was time, and honestly, we could've just let "nature take it's course", but since she had stopped eating, that course would involve starvation. An extremely painful end to such a beautiful creature.
The choice we made, was the right choice. None-the-less, as I went to sleep last night I found myself expecting her to show up at any moment. And this morning as I made breakfast, there was no greeting from her to let me know that she'd also like some eggs and bacon (not that she'd ever had eggs and bacon). I feel like a piece of me is missing as while sitting on the couch or that any moment she'll come walking down the hallway. Devastation seems so minor compared to how I feel with her gone.
I take solace in reading that many of you feel or have felt like I do now, which means either we're all crazy or that our pets weren't pets at all, but family. Thank you for your stories and a forum to leave mine. Condolences to all for your loss.
Your article means a lot to me, one of my 16 year old cats is at that point and I am heart broken. I adopted Maggie just three days after my beloved Marley died of heart problems. Marley was quite ill and was in kitty ICU, where I visited the day she died. The vet called me to ask if I could come in in a couple hours to discuss options. I knew. She wasn't responding to the heart medications. My son and I had visited her just before he left for Kindergarten that day. Marley was my constant friend; my soul mate. Even as weak as she was, she lifted her head and me owed to me. With an appt. to see the vet at 3, I knew what was c Ming. Instead, the doctor called early and told me Marley had passed away after she had started coughing up blood. I was heartbroken and I remember I was glad I didn't have to make the decision but I NEVER got over the fact that she died without me there with her. I am a heart patient myself, Marley had even passed away because of her own heart.i had her cremated and am very glad I did so.
Now, 16 years later, my dear Maggie is failing. She was diagnosed with diabetes in 2005 and has received insulin ever since. She is so sweet, she even purrs while she gets her injection as she loves her back rubbed. She has not been the constant companion that Marley was, she is not a lap cat, but I have never seen a kinder animal in my life. I got a second cat to be my needed lap cat and Maggie will lie close by or just hang around, loving in her own quiet way. She was a rescued feral kitten. She used to sit beside my son while he played video games and seemed to be closest to him. She has been doing more poorly lately and I have had a knee problem that keeps me on the couch resting it a lot. Maggie got up on the couch with me the other day, as she has done many times, but this time she nestled in between my arm and body. It meant the world to me. I had prayed the night before for guidance about euthanasia for her as she is getting weaker and weaker and her weight loss has been huge. I came home the other night to find that she had become incontinent, there was a little blood and I saw her hunching over with diarrhea. After a lot of tears, I finally called the vet to take her in tomorrow. I don't know if Maggie will be coming home with me. I am hoping for guidance- perhaps she has a blockage, it had happened to Marley once, or she is sick in some other way. We have been living with puppy pads for quite a while now, as she is diabetic and drinks constantly. The other cat, who resembles Rosie! will find places on the carpet to avoid the litter boxes as Maggie keeps them busy. All day today, she has had her head in a bowl of water drinking. I was able to get her to eat a treat. Maggie has no teeth anymore and she walks stiffly. I have been spending as much time as Ai can with her, and she still purrs. I wonder if she is in pain?
I came to this through google for some help. It has been just what I needed to see given Maggie's present condition. My son is 21 now, and tomorrow we may have to make that difficult decision. My heart is broken but I want to end her suffering if that is what is best. If she does go tomorrow, I know I will be able to be there and stroke her as she passes away. I hope she and Marley will become buddies at the Rainbow bridge if that happens. Thanks for listening. This is indeed harder than the death coming without warning, I know I will always wonder if I could have waited longer - but then, perhaps I will get good news tomorrow.
I may have to put my baby girl down tomorrow. A wonder cat named LG. We're hoping for the best, but the best thing right now may be that she's no longer suffering. I've put down to family dogs over my years, no matter how many times you go through it, still hurts. I love you more than you know baby girl!!!!
I had to put to sleep my beautiful Darkness, it was my cat, she was suffering from Lymphoma and it was impossible to save her life. She passed away yesterday at 11:20 a.m. for me was very painful seen her falling to sleep and in a two minutes she was dead. My family and I missed her a lot, I am mad, I feel guilty but my vet said, we did everything that was in our power to save her but she was very sick. We always love her.
My two year old cat was put down yesterday. He had heart disease, unbeknownst to us, and deteriorated suddenly. The house is definitely much too quiet now. Our other cat has lost her brother and best friend, and keeps looking for him whenever she hears a noise in another room. I confess I sometimes look for him too, expecting him to be sprawled out in the hallway in his usual way, greeting me at the front door, or circling my legs in the kitchen. He had insatiable appetite-- for everything. Food, affection, play, people, fun. He woke me up each morning by purring loudly in my face until I got up. He just wanted to get going. He didn't want to waste time. He was big in size and presence. He was smart, intuitive, and sweet. He needed people more than the average cat. And that made even the dog people love him. I really miss him, more than I could have known. He wasn't here long enough. Not nearly.
Kiddy was a loving all black beautiful cat that loved to be indoors and outdoors. His life ended 10-4-2013 kiddy was ran over by a black BMW car and the driver kept going, leaving kiddy laying in the street to die alone. A neighbor came to alert me of the accident. When I made it to kiddy he had passed away. I have so many questions was he pain, did he know what was going on, was he scared, was it quick. I just don't know what Im gone do.
Hi, I was actually Googling a book when I came across this. Odd timing, maybe perfect timing as my little boy Nash lies in my chair. He got out of breathe last weekend so Monday we took him to the vet. Xrays showed his trachea pushed sideways and bent like an exhaust pipe. The DR thinks it's a tumor. There is also a large shadow next to his heart. He has been drinking and peeing a lot more lately. Bloodwork indicated kidney and liver distress. He had a pretty rough couple days this past Friday and Saturday so they put him on steroids which have eased his breathing difficulty much to my relief.
This isn't my first time. He is the 5th baby of "the pack". He will be 13 Nov 17th if he makes it. We had his b-day party yesterday just in case. I have learned from the past not to wait if there's something you want to do while they can still enjoy it. Nash was not his usual excited self but he did sit up, and his eyes brightened when we sang Happy Birthday and got out the cake. All my dogs loved/love cake! Vanilla of course, with roses. Austin used to sing along and I had to hide the cake box until party time or he'd carry on all day.
I always think that I'll be ready to say goodbye because raising six dogs together was exhausting but the memories are priceless and I'd do it all over again if I thought I physically could. Austin lived only to 9Y 9M old, he had a lifelong history of severe health issues and we almost lost him several times before he finally could not take any more July 31st 2011.
Tee-Bone lived into his 13th year and was very senile from a lifelong history of seizures, meanest dog I ever met, 9 pounds of vicious apricot fur and bit everyone at least once, but during his "sane" moments, he made us laugh like crazy. He died in June of 2004.
Austin went through several major surgeries and battled oral cancer, I thought for sure my "miracle boy" had beat the odds and would live to a ripe old age. After all, he'd survived a bladder rupture, several attacks of Pancreatitis, knee surgery, ruptured disks in his back which required emergency surgery and then another bladder surgery, then after that the oral cancer. I was convinced that he'd live a long life after that. Not so. 7 months after beating oral cancer, his pain came back and it was so bad he couldn't function. I'll never forget the drive down to his favorite hospital. Austin, who was usually extremely vocal was very quiet. He'd met so many doctors, nurses and techs in his life that he touched many lives with his animate exuberant personality. When Austin was in the house...everyone knew it. He made everything, and I mean everything brighter. He helped me through the loss of Winky and Austin kept the other dogs on their toes. He took it upon himself to become my therapy dog, and helped with my hearing loss. He was truly amazing. He was on Animal Planet, too. After he was gone, I was crippled with grief. I laid my head on his bed at night and cried the hardest tears ever. I am still not over the loss.
Fate was unkind. Crocket, who was my lap dog for 11 solid years, non fail, was diagnosed with oral cancer 5 months after Austin left. Crocket would lay on my chair with me 24/7. He was just that content and devoted. Everyone had their place as the years went on. In the early years, I'd have five dogs on my chair with me for TV time. It was awesome.
Nash is Crocket's littermate, they were together since birth. They got neutered together, everything, because they were so bonded. Nash cried the night Crocket didn't come home and it broke my heart. How many times can one survive a broken heart? I wonder. Nash adopted "surrogate Crocket" and began sleeping on my chair with the stuffed dog. I'd be here at my desk and catch Nash staring at me just like Crocket used to do. Now our pack of six has shrunk to two and each time one leaves, the house become bigger...quieter...sadder.
I don't know when Nash will leave us. He's very tired and weak. His appetite is waning whereas before he was always hungry. He was never overweight, never had any health problems so he had a very good almost 13 years. Crocket was healthy, too, but was always very frail and required a special diet. He only lived to be 11Y 4M...way to short!
So as I sit here writing this, I wonder how long will Nash be with me. And while I always think I'll be ready, I never am. I always think I'll be strong. But I never am, not with them. My dogs are my family. They've treated me better than 99% of the people I know. I love them as much as I have ever loved anyone. They were not just dogs. They are friends, family, companions, confidants...everything. They made me laugh, smile, kept me moving, got me out of bed, kept me busy, made me feel alive and gave me reason to fight the physical symptoms that plague me daily. We have one little girl, the same age as Nash almost, she will be 13 in January of 2014. There are no words to describe the grief of losing them
When the time comes, I always ask the DR to put them "asleep" before stopping their heart. I cannot bear it any other way, so they administer sedation, then general anesthesia then when I am ready, the injection that stops the heart and my boys pass peacefully in my arms while I sob my heart out. They are cremated in a private cremation and I have the ashes.
I've already mapped out in my mind what I will tell Nash. He has NO fear of the vet, never had, he has always been our "adventurer", see everything in life as an adventure, he's not the fearful nervous type, so calm and brave he is. He is such a sweetheart and so easy going that everyone who met him wanted to take him home. If he was a person, he'd be very popular.
Every time I leave the house, I'd put everyone in their crates, which are stuffed with baby blankets and pillow pals so we call them their beds, and as I walk out the door, I say, "I'll be back, Mommy loves you." And I always said this anytime I had to leave them at a hospital or on occasion a groomer. I did most of the grooming but once in a while I'd take them to one if I was too tired. But always, "I'll be back, Mommy loves you." And they understand those words. Austin almost died from his bladder rupture, he got very depressed so the vet had me come in and visit. I held him in my arms while he was hooked to IV and we talked. I hugged and cuddled him, then when I left, I said those words. The next day, the vet called and said he'd made a major turn and to come get him, he was driving everyone crazy with his loud howling! Ohhh what happy reunions Austin and I had!
When Nash's time comes, I'm going to tell him, "Nash, this nice doctor is going to give you some medicine that will make you fall asleep and when you wake up, you'll be with your brother Crocket at the Rainbow Bridge, and you'll see Tee Bone, Winky (he and Wink were great friends) and Austin again. Please tell them all I miss them, give them my love and wait for me. Until we meet again my friend...you'll always be in my heart. Mommy loves you."
Susan Zoe Bella
Author of Rainbows Hearts and Puppy Tales
We had to put our 14 year old cat Victor down today, I'm utterly heartbroken .. I thought I would have been ok with it because he was older and suffering, not the case..it was the most difficult decision I have had to make in quite some time. All I know is that We will miss him and I tried everything I could. :'(
I am sitting here now, crying as I read your post. My beloved Nib, almost 15, is likely passing. I say "likely" as denial is helping me get through this. He is anemic, his spleen is enlarged, and he doesn't want food, only water. Yet, when speak to him, he replies. When I stroke him, he purrs. He has no trouble moving back and forth between sofa and fireplace. Yet, it seems too soon. It is always too soon.
just said goodbye to my amazing dog, Daisy.. hemangiosarcoma.. the call was made, but of course she had to decide to go earlier and started a bleed, she didn't make that darned 1:30 appt.. on the 11th.. I am bereft and feel so sad.. she became my focus when my sons went off to college.. the best little danged cocker spaniel ever.. I too thought I would be happy without meds, yeast and ear infections, but I miss her terribly.. funny that.. Hope she is chasing squirrels somewhere.. miss her.
its 2pm where i live. at 4, im taking her across the street to the vet for her final journey.
this cat was (ahem... is) still much more than just a cat to me. she really is my best friend. she is a family member who i hold closer to heart than 80% of my actual family.
since day one, she never did any wrong. she only gave love. she never hissed at anyone. she never ate someones food. she never wanted treats or catnip. the only thing she ever wanted was affection and ive given her more than most people could ever give an animal.
shes 15 now and about a week or so ago she stopped eating and drinking. her hips were already going which made it hard for her to walk. up until today i could nurse her a little bit of water here and there, but today, she wont have any of it.
within the past month or 2 ive felt a sense of her dwindling, so i would be with her as much as possible. i would sleep with her whenever i could. recently she started hiding in the bathroom when she went to sleep. maybe embarrassed to die in front of me? This didnt change my mind at all. i set up a blanket on the bathroom floor and i would join her despite bathroom tile being an incredibly unpleasant surface to sleep on, i was there with her.
ive pretty much been crying for a week straight. i cant help it. before this happened i honestly couldnt tell you when the last time i cried was. years for sure and for what reason? i dont know.
1 hour and 45 minutes remains in her life now and im sitting beside her; watching her gasp for air, too weak to hold her head up. urinating on herself without the strength to move. this is hard. i want her to be out of pain, but i have no idea what im going to do when shes gone. shes always been here... somewhere. my house, my heart, my mind. i will always have a sense of emptyness without her.
last night i slept with her. both our heads sharing the same pillow while looking into each others eyes. several times i woke up throughout the night to see if she was still breathing because she already looked so dead. there was still a little life left.
1 hour and 40 minutes remains.
i came across this article because i simply googled "saying goodbye to a cat" looking for some kind of help, because at this moment, ive never felt more helpless in my life. i know im helping her, but the pain in my heart is incredible.
i guess telling you all (whoever might read this) my story is the help i was looking for. i needed to vent, but cant do this in person as id probably lose my voice in the first sentence. im a 33 year old man about to lose his best friend and i dont know what else to say other than cherish every moment you have with your pets. there is something to be said about an inter-species relationship. in many ways the bond formed is much stronger than it could be with another human... different, but still strong nonetheless.
if youve read my story probably filled with type-o's and punctuation errors, i thank you for hearing my voice and my story.
im going to lie down with buckshot one last time.
My 11 year old baby is suffering and we have an appointment scheduled for tomorrow. I've never faced anything so painful and difficult in my whole life. I love you so much, Autumn.
(Part 4-Final) My cat will decide for himself if he wants to fight or to die and if he were to die, he will choose to die at his own time, not mine. But if he were to fight, I will stand by him like a father to his son to the best of my abilities defending against all transgression that may come from anywhere including pet solidarities or self-righteous pet owners.
Euthanasia? Not in a million years. My cat deserves the respect to conform himself to nature.
(Part 3)Then, I started watching online documentaries on cats from various establishments on one hand to learn more about our feline friends and on the other hand subtlely finding the answer to this troubling question of how to end my cat’s life should the time come for it. ‘The Secret life of Cats’ by BBC was the revelation.
Cats are wild by nature. They live their lives like the rest of the felines like lions and cheetahs. They hunt for a living and defend their territory by intimidation and fights often resulting in maggots festering wounds if not tended to. They fall ill and they die like any other animals. Cats are also living things who yearn to survive despite the adversity they have to live with throughout their lifetime. And so, who are we to decide when the cat lives or dies? Do we go around euthanizing lions and tigers we see struggling with old age? Who are we to decide if our cat should be euthanized in order to avoid according to our benchmark, a ‘painful death’? If it is indeed a painful death, many cats would’ve been subjucated to this ‘excruciating naturality’ designed by the rules of the animal kingdom. And therefore the golden question: Who are we to play God?...
His persistence in getting me to wake every morning, staring into my eyes before looking away with his utterly adorable face, singing his usual cat song and helping me deal with the detestable cockroaches that come by occasionally. All these while, he fills me with unrivalled entertainment, a reason why I should come home as much as possible. I miss him everytime I go overseas for work and always pesters my girlfriend for my son’s picture. When he’s lethargic from a day’s activity, he lies down on the sofa sometimes next to me beguiling me with his natural feline demeanour even when he’s sleepy. I feel like a real father holding him in my embrace kissing his hairy cheeks sometimes to his irritation. But it didn’t bother me for through him, I find my life on earth complete. He is very often regarded as a God send, my prayers answered.
Then the thought of him departing due to old age dawns upon me. I shudder to think of being confronted with the choice of euthanizing my son, the little cat I brought home, who filled my life with purpose, gave me a reason why I am complete. I started to search for answers to this dilemma online, through the bible and moralities amongst fellow pet owners..
(Part 1)I have a cat who is coming to 2 years old in the next 3 months. Rescued from another cat owner who was running out of options rehousing her own cat’s latest litter, I brought him home. Barely 8 weeks out of his mother’s womb, he was mewing endlessly probably frightened by the journey he has never experienced while my girlfriend held the box holding him hushing him like how she would to a newborn baby. The 40km journey from the East where he was born to the West of the island seemingly short for us humans but a world different from the universe he has got himself accustomed to.
For the next few weeks, we litter box trained our new baby and he started showing his affections for us as we fed him his favourite food. He has this marvelous appetite for tuna and we spoilt him with the best type of cat food the pet stores could sell. I even travelled 350km North into the next country searching for better cat food in a much larger pet store. Coming home with great anticipation for my baby’s response on the latest cat food I got him. The joy of seeing him accepting the cat food fills me with pride. Bordering on arrogance, I couldn’t stop telling my girlfriend that I know our baby well.
I learnt to cook omelettes with water, oven bake fish fillet, prawns and chicken without the spices. My son simply adores the feline gourmet I showered upon him...
My beautiful cream blue point Himalayan, Bonnie Blue, passed away Tuesday, May 28. I am heartbroken. She was "love in a fur coat", the most precious little cat. I love her so much. And she loved me. I feel guilty that I didn't realize she was sick earlier and taken her to the vet. When I did realize, the vet did everything she could for her. I fed her with a little syringe and gave her medicine. I took her back to the vet to receive more fluids a few days later, but she died on the table right after we got there. I feel so bad...she didn't want to go to the vet and she fought me. If I hadn't taken her, she would have died peacefully at home, instead of there, where she didn't want to be. I have to believe I will see her in Heaven, or I just can't bear it.
My lovely cat Sophie was put to sleep 2 weeks ago, I am absolutely devastated and miss her so much. She was 13 years of age, and up to a few weeks ago was a fit and playful Tabby. My regular vet firstly mis-diagnosed a stomach infection and later a food intolerance. She was put on medication and a different diet but got poorly very quickly. I was forced to take her to an out of hours emergency vet, this vet felt a large mass in her stomach and thought it kinder that she was put to sleep right away, rather than put her through lots of procedures. I now feel guilty that I should have given her more of a chance, though at the time it seemed the kindest thing to do.
My grief is unbearable, she was my shadow, she was always waiting for me behind the front door when I came home, she sat next to me wherever I sat, she even sat next to me on my computer chair. She made playful talking noises to me every time I looked at her, she was with me last thing at night and first thing in the morning.
I have just had her ashes returned to me, they are in a casket in front of me now, they are filling me with all sorts of emotions, I'm not sure if I can bear to keep them here, but I really felt that I had to have her back home with me again and I hadn't abandoned her!
I've lost pets before and felt grief, but never the same as this; it's probably because Sophie was a rescue cat who was very small, timid and vulnerable. When I first saw her she looked at me so lovingly I couldn't resist her.
I'm thinking of her constantly, and still keep expecting her to appear and ''talk' to me. We do have another cat, who I also so love, but she is more independent and aloof.
My cat Annie died on Jan 31 this year. She was also born in 1992 in the month of May is my best guess. In human years she was nearing 100. Found her running along side the highway after someone a few cars ahead of me moved her out of the road and into the grassy border. She would have been killed. She had no fear - never did. We did hospice at my house for 1o days for her. On the morning of the 11th day I took her in to the vet's office. It went so fast. They didn't tell me what was happening. Annie was so weak but would not eat or drink that last morning. Her back legs had given out 10 days before due to her kidney failure. I still sometimes see her wide eyes staring ahead - the way she died. And it haunts me. I know from all I read and was told that she would have started having seizures and I did not want that. I tried to give her a peaceful death. Still not sure I succeeded, but I tried.
This is such a touching account of your experience in saying farewell to Rosie. Many people don't "get it" about how painful that experience is until they are faced with it. That's when the reality of one's connection with the animal is felt most acutely. I see that you loved Rosie more than you knew. She had her own facebook page, after all ~ most kitties don't even get computer time! :-)
I am grateful to know that Rosie found her way to your family. She knew what she was doing when she decided to move in and make the place her own. She knew how much she meant to you before you did. She knew that the only way you would learn about this new level of love in the most sorrowful way possible: in your final moments together.
Bless you for loving her so well, and for opening your hearts and home to her. You have done well.
We lost a member of our family... Merlin.
He was a friend, a confidant, a piece of our family that we will never be able to replace.
He was diagnosed with Pancreatitis not quite a year ago. Every time we thought we would loose him he would amazingly bounce back. At first he would recover for a few months then then next time it was for a few weeks til this last time where he has a small reprieve but could not recover.
He never gave us any trouble with having to test his blood or give him insulin. Even with how sick he was he would occasionally play like a kitten. Having Wicca was a comfort and adding Gossamer to the family I think gave him a small second wind.
He loved being loved. I can't remember a time when petting him didn't get a "Insta-purr" reaction. He loved playing and relished any box or material he could dive into. The icing on the cake for him was when we'd toss catnip, we all it Wacky Weed, on the floor or in a box. You could hear the purring standing up.
He had a unique and more than animal personality. We are pretty sure he thought he as part Cat, part Dog and part Human. His favorite thing to do when he was a kitten was fetch, just like a dog. As soon as he could get on the dining room chairs, he would sit at the table in a chair while we ate. His cat vocal range was expansive including many different 'huffs' where you could sense his disapproval or displeasure.
He has been in our lives for 13 1/2 years. He has been a part of my life almost just as long as Chris has. Josh was 8 and Bryan was 5 when we found him abandoned under the back porch barely a few hours old.
We have had a terrible time trying to even inform our family and friends about the loss. He was such a large member of the family that there is a empty place in our home. We had to face this with the holidays upon us, it would have been easy to resent the festivities. We choose to instead be grateful and thankful of the blessing that for whatever reason divine luck granted us to have such a wonderful member of our family. While gone Merlin will never be forgotten.
I had this feline creature named Boyoyang, a mix siamese native cat. She had two cousins and an uncle which are all siamese cats but their other siblings were not and they had one character i observed: they are all affectionate. These three were all gone a couple of years ago and this Boyoyang was the only one left.I noticed her being weak in health and her reflexes are not like the other cats' specially when falling. She expresses innocence and peace when she sleeps. She had a good life. She was an example of courage and beauty.
Until one time, she accidentally fell from our stairs when she was 5 months old. Since then, she experienced seizures and even bit her sides whenever the attack occurs. I observed she does not want anyone to touch her back on the spine area or else she will get seizures. She easily gets sick when it gets cold. I have to give her oral medication after meals and after two to five days she gets well. She easily gets skin infection so i have to give her medicated powder on her fur. For the past 6 years her situation had been like this but I could always see in her the will and the spirit to survive.
She had a fall again and this time it was fatal. After the day she fell, i noticed that when she drinks water, she vomits afterwards. Immediately, she felt ill and did not want to eat or drink. I held her and brought her to the garden where she used to sun herself. I tried giving her water to drink but she refused. I knew it she was waiting for her time and that she was ready to give it up. I called her name one last time until she breathed her last. I wrapped her with a pink towel and placed her on a box. On her grave, under the acacia tree on our garden, was a cheese sandwich, a pack of dog food her favorite, some crackers and flowers.
On that very day I really wanted her to feel that I have been with her and will always be. And at this very moment i still feel heavy, teary-eyed remembering her how she makes my day.
I terribly miss her. She is gone but she is in Heaven.
At least u guys have a vet where u all live the vet is only in my hometown once every now and then. The only way to but down injured animals is to shoot them. I know that sounds cruel but when my dog was bleeding to death from internal injuries from eating a chicken carcass (she had figured out how to open doors that where cracked open partly) the only thing we could do that was humane was to shoot and kill her or let her bleed out for hours.
My life has been filled with many animals coming in and out of my life. I grew up on a farm and had dogs and cats for as long as I can remember. So I have a lot of good byes.
My most surprising upset was when I took over the care of a friend's elderly cat. He just couldn't handle him anymore and it turned out the cat was Much older than thought and was showing signs of dementia. He lasted a year with me and I took him to the vet for euthanasia Many times. He perked right up each time. The day that was THE day was HORRIBLE! That was the hardest day of my life. Until Maizy.
Maizy was my Catahoula Leopard Dog. She was my High School Graduation present and my best friend in all the world. My folks cared for her while I was in college, but when I was able, I took her to live with me. Had to fight them for her! But from that point on she was there for me for all my highs and lows. And she was the Best foster mom to countless litters of kittens and even adult cats. I have so many precious stories of her being so good to orphaned cats.
She lived to 15 1/2. She had Chronic Renal Failure and hip displaysia. Once the CRF cropped up, I supplimented her vet care holistically and she was granted another year of life with me. In the end, it was her arthritis, not her CRF that got her. She fell often, but always got back up. Sometimes she needed help getting up, but once she was up, she was fine. One day she wasn't. I saw all the fight leave her eyes. I saw fear in her courageous face for the first time ever. This dog, who would walk through fire and brave kicking horses to protect me was afraid. That's when I knew it was time.
She was able to walk to the exam room from the car, but once we go in that room, she put her head in my lap and looked up at me. I told her I was so sorry. I had hoped she would just go to sleep one day and not wake up, but I didn't want her to suffer anymore. She didn't need to fight so hard and be in pain. I'd be ok. I kissed her on the nose. She sighed. Then she went to the bed on the exam room floor and laid down and never got back up. She was instantly weak and much smaller looking. The vet came in and checked her over and agreed that it was indeed time. And with the prick of a couple of needles she was gone.
Two years later I still miss her terribly. I have another dog. He's my buddy in a different way than she was. She will always be my Precious. And she has a special place in my home where her ashes rest with her food bowl and leash and photographs of her as a puppy.
Writing from me husband's account:
My husband presented your article to me 1 day after I put my cat down and I immediately related to the pain you felt with Rosie. Eldridge, a 20- year old Bombay cat, was literally a part of my entire day. A friend found Eldridge, a very small kitten, living in New York City apparently left alone. Knowing that we were cat lovers she brought him to our house where he lived under our couch for a few weeks before slowly entering our lives and becoming my constant companion.
Eldridge lived a wonderful 20 years. We all loved him very much but he was my cat. At the end of the day if he hadn’t seen me he was quite chatty. I generally sat, listened and talked to him about my day. On the day we had Eldridge put down I told my husband that I no longer had a friend to discuss those moments when I thought he(my husband) was being an a pain in the ass.
He had feline aids from fighting a feral cat years earlier, but did not show any signs of illness until 2 months ago. After a visit to the vet in December I was told many of his organs were shutting down. His stomach was distended and it was just a matter of time. I was given medication for some of his ailments. I’m not sure who was in more distress trying to give him the pills, him or me. He was not the same exuberant cat but he still chatted with me, was hungry twice a day and was able to move about. Within a few weeks I had water bowls upstairs in my room as well as cat treats. I went through a similar kitty liter ordeal working each day to find a method that would allow him to keep his dignity. It was difficult and I was washing him and the floors frequently. A friend of mine who is a Vet said he couldn’t tell me when I should put Eldridge down but I would know when it was time.
Many days I wondered if I kept him alive for my own selfish reasons, I wasn’t ready to be without him. Last Wednesday I noticed that his breathing had changed, it was becoming labored. I struggled all day to make an appointment with the vet being fully aware that it had to be done.
My last day with Eldridge was a perfectly quiet day. I spent much time with him, as he sat on my chest, stroking his back. When it was time to go I wrapped him in a blanket and he quietly sat on my lap for the 5-minute ride to the vet. My husband and my oldest daughter Alden, who was born 5 months before Eldridge joined our family, came with me. By this time I was sobbing and having a hard time feeling steady on my feet. I was about to lose an endearing companion who had helped me get through severely difficult times in my life and always a part of the wonderful times. We went through the same procedure that you discussed in your article. Eldridge burying his head in my chest moments before the first injection was simply saying goodbye to me and that everything was ok. . He lay on my arm and I believe moments after the first injection he had died. They gave him the second injection a few minutes later and shortly after that the Vet said he was gone.
I knew the difficulties of letting him go would be tremendous. Physically he is gone but my memories of him keep him alive in my heart. My kids and my husband framed a picture of Eldridge and put it on my bedside table. Terence, my husband wrote me a card as if Eldridge wrote it, thanking me for loving him and that he completely loved being in my life. My daughter Selby got a black mug, drew a cat on, baked it and I now have a beautiful coffee mug with a cat on it.
I must tell you that writing this has been the most cathartic experience. I am truly grateful for your article, it came at a perfect moment in my life. I know the importance of sharing difficult situations with others and by doing so lessening the pain. Thank you for that.
I read this article yesterday and this morning my sister's terrapin passed away. Although it was her pet she spent so much time and effort on it that all of us were involved in her emotional ups and downs as the pet fell ill, got hospitalized and subsequently passed on. It may have been a terrapin (means no furry cuteness and no running all over the house) but in many ways he brought my sister up - she had him since she was 6 and shes now 16. He taught her valuable lessons about responsibility and love, and for that, I will always be grateful to him. Goodbye Rex. RIP! <3
I have been looking through the comments and see that most of them are about putting an animal to sleep. Mine is kinda different.
This is a touching story and it reminded me about the time I lost my bunny rider.S/he (never became old enough to find out wether it was a boy or girl.) had been taken to my school one day along with other bunnies and the kids were being really rough with them. A few days later we notice rider was getting really skinny we just thought that we hadn't been giving her enough food. Then we noticed she wasn't eating and then we thought that her fato sister was eating all the food. Then on one friday last year after school me and my sister went outside to take care of the rabbits and found rider shivering in a corner. We brought her inside and tried to feed her condensed milk. we then saw that her top teeth had been dug into her bottom jaw. All I did was sit on the couch and cry all day. Then out of no where at about 6:00 rider started flipping out. When s/he stopped I looked at rider. S/he was completely limp and looked like a doll. I knew she was dead. Starved to death, my little baby bunny. We found a place to bury it under a willow tree in the front yard. A few months later I went to it's grave and noticed a little tree growing right were I buried Him/her. Now, once every week I go to it's grave and tend to the tree plus pray and hope that everything will be alright.
What a beautiful cat your Rosie was!
I read this while my 5-month-old kitten dozed in his bed next to the monitor. I know that however long time is, someday it will end.
I grew up with a large and intelligent cat named Olympia, an indoor-outdoor type with a Siamese yowl, who understood about a dozen words, and who was fiercely devoted to my mom. But when he was 14, his sight began to fail. At 16, he was senile and incontinent, too. Mom and Dad confined him to their uninsulated breezeway, and on nice days would put a harness on him, leashed to a stake, so he could doze happily in the sunlit yard without fear that he would wander off. When winter came, they knew it would be cruel to force him to deal with the cold. Mom held him and comforted him as the vet put the needle in.
It was the right thing, but that doesn't mean it wasn't hard, and all of us were sobbing that day.
They're only animals: to treat them as humans is an insult to their nature. But that doesn't mean they don't comfort us. That doesn't mean they're not important, or unworthy of our love. Olympia was a remarkable cat. I'll never forget him. I hope my new little guy, Jules will enjoy the life I give him, as I enjoy his time with me.
Putting my little dog down yesterday was the hardest thing I've ever done. The vet, who came to my house, assured me that it was a gift to her failing, seventeen-and-a-half-year-old body. I knew that, of course, but all I could think of was that I had failed her, that even with all my ministrations to her over the past few years, I had screwed up. Done the wrong thing here and there. Things that weren't apparent before suddenly became clear. Oh my God, why didn't I think to do this, why didn't I think to do that. That is my grief. That she may have suffered from something left out, or done differently. I wonder how many pet owners go through this, beating themselves up because they loved their animal so much and can't bear the thought that even with all that love, they didn't think or know to do one or two things that might have made a difference to their pet's comfort.
I steeled myself for the moment and did not cry. A few hours afterward, I drove Rachel to the crematory site, at the home of an animal-loving woman who started her business after she was unhappy with how her own beloved dog's remains were handled. I did not cry and was glad to see another dog there, wrapped in a blanket, still warm. His name was Emmett. Rachel would not be alone. I asked him to watch over her. On the long drive back home, in a silent car, numb, my thoughts raced over the last few days, the last months, the last years. What signs should I have looked for, what signs did I stupidly ignore. Was my focus so much on one thing that I missed other obvious ones? Still no tears, just self-flagellation.
A friend of Rachel's and mine called and repeated what he had said earlier. You will wail, he said, it's a good thing, a necessary release. What he had done immediately after his own dog had been euthanized. No, no, no, I said. Not now. I'm busy concentrating on everything I did wrong. Was up most of the night trying to find a song on YouTube that well reflected what Rachel was and what she meant to me. A few stray tears. Got involved in the songs. At four in the morning I went to bed; no Rachel to take care of or sleep next to me. As I was lying there, it started. Grief. Loud, primitive, roaring. I had the luxury of being alone, no one by, in a pine woods in Maine. Totally alone, without Rachel, and I let loose.
This certainly has brought back my experience with euthanizing my gray tabby, Sebastian, many years ago. You couldn't have described it any better. Thank you.
This story really touched me. Thank you Mr. Silver. Thank you also for inviting us to share, because doing so is healing.
My husband and I euthanized our beloved German Shepherd Eve just a few weeks ago. She was a rescue who had spent her first five years being used for breeding. When she developed a tumor on one of her teats, they dropped her off at the pound instead of going through the expense of treating her. I love GS dogs and had lost one a year previously, so my husband went and brought her home for me as a surprise. The first tumor had been benign; how glad we were that her original owners didn't bother to find out, because we had her for five lovely years during which she never had another puppy (since they spay every animal at the shelter). She was my friend, my shadow, my unstinting guardian all that time.
She had a second benign tumor some years later.
Unfortunately the third one, in her mouth and sinuses, wasn't benign.
She deteriorated very quickly from this aggressive cancer, which we at
first treated as a sinus infection, and within just three weeks it
became clear we could not let her go on. The suddenness was stunning;
there was no choice as to what to do. She could not breathe except in
certain positions, and she began bleeding from her mouth and nose. So
as you say, the decision itself was not difficult; it was a definite
mercy. The vet who did the procedure was as kind, gentle and efficient
as anyone could be, and let us sit with her for as long as necessary
If you've had pets since childhood, as we
have, you think you have learned how to let them go. But when she was
gone in my arms I felt as if my heart was ripped from my chest. For the
first time in a lifetime of having pets I thought "I cannot do this
ever again;" "this" being invite an animal into my heart and then have
to let them go.
"Terms of Endearment" I would tell myself at
previous times. Or, I would recall the vet who came to our house to put
my first GS dog down, who said "This is the last best thing you can do
for him." Or I would read the Rainbow Bridge. Or I would picture the
animal in my mind and send them love or sometimes just feel their
spirit still with me. We would always go out very soon after to adopt
another pet, telling ourselves that the lost one was making room for the
next one to be saved, congratulating ourselves on having given one a
good life for as long as we could and now doing the same for another.
But losing Eve has been so difficult that these thoughts have only slowly begun to help, and I know it will be some years before I look for another German Shepherd to take her place. Replacing her is not an option; I must grieve and remember.
I agree with Amy Lynn Hunt that
part of the problem is not having a ritual around such losses. I am
lucky to have friends who understand, sent cards, and talked with us,
and a veterinarian who helped not only with her skill but with her
compassion before, during and after. I am so glad to read that there
are vets and others who are working on pet hospice! (Amy, may I say
that being there, while difficult, is doing "the last best thing" and I
believe that animals who are ready to go take comfort from your
presence. As many have said, often you know it is time and as Marc said, in some way they give you permission, or even ask. There is a closure to it that I would not want to miss.)
Still, when our doctor called to say that Eve's remains were ready to be picked up, that she could go home where she belonged, I lost it again...It takes time to heal. But I do feel Eve's spirit with me and there is hope in that.
My cat Sprite died in my arms this past Friday morning at 5:00 a.m. We had taken her to the vet the afternoon before, but she didn't think she was "ready" yet, though she had stopped eating and was extremely anemic. She started having trouble breathing at 2:00 a.m. and the next three hours were the hardest I've ever been through with any living creature, including the death of my parents, since they were unaware of their surroundings at their deaths. Sprite was scared, but she finally decided to trust me, let me ease her out of this life by holding her close until her poor tired heart just couldn't make another beat. Our house is so empty now. We had her as part of our lives for 15 years and it won't be the same without her here. I wish we had gone ahead with the vet the day before; my gut told me it was the right thing to do. It's so hard to let go and I wanted to believe she had a few more good days left. She wasn't "just a cat". She was family.
I have always felt like part of why it so hard is that there is no "ceremony", none of the things we do while still in a haze of disbelief that the beloved is actually gone. We have no funeral. No one sends condolence cards. No one... makes you dinner and comes to hug you and talk about the memories of your loved one. Because "it's just a cat". But they aren't - they aren't "just" anything! They're special and they are family - we give them our last names, like the author of the article above did!
I think things are changing though. People are becoming so much more open about how our "fur babies", as one of my former teachers says, really are part of our families. We see them every day, sometimes more than the humans in our lives. They ask for so little, but give so much.
All of that said - i have never been strong enough to be there at the very end. My Mom always has. I have been asked by them to make the decision twice, but i have never with them, I kissed them & thanked them for loving me, us. I know eventually i will have to do it. I dread it so much. But for now, i am so happy with my kitty girls and whisper, "live as long as you can" into my Mom's 20-year old's big ears, for she really is part of Mom's heart. I have no idea how to finish this, but yes, grieve them. And don't ever ever feel "weird" about missing them or being sad . It woudl feel weirder to just stop loving - we're not built to do that.
The most difficult thing I ever recall having to do. I buried two parents and putting my pup to sleep due to cancer was like saying goodbye to your child. I did it at the vets and alone. I held him in my arms as the restraint was released, allowing the drug to flow from his foreleg into the body, and he slumped into my arms. In less than a minute his heart stopped beating and I thought mine might as well. It was late evening and the doc gave me a few minutes to blubber like a baby. I remember him coming back into the room and then leaving again say, well maybe a bit more.
On December 30th last year we scheduled the vet to come to our home to euthanize our little cat Selkie. We didn't know exactly how old she was (best guess was 20-22 years), but we knew it was time, as she had stopped eating and was obviously at her end. Selkie was a rescue that had survived a BB shot (still in her leg) and a litter of kittens many years before. She was the sweetest, gentlest cat that my wife and I had ever known. Knowing it was in her best interest didn't make it any easier to say goodbye when the time came. In ten minutes it was over, and the vet took her away for us to be cremated as we sat and cried.
Two hours later I received word that my mother had a massive heart attack, and just like that, was gone. After surviving three horrific surgeries for tongue cancer removal and reconstruction two months earlier, she was in the final two weeks of her radiation treatment. We imagined many ways that her disease might take her from us, but none of us saw this one coming.
Fast forward two weeks. We were just beginning to overcome the shock and depression from losing two dear loved ones. The alarm went off on the morning of January 17th, and it seemed like any other work day. As usual, another one of our cats Guinness was curled up underneath my neck sleeping when the alarm sounded, and Guinness bounded out of bed like usual, ready for breakfast. Guinness was 13, and though anyone who saw him would think him to be the epitome of health, he had a heart condition (essentially, cat atrial fibrillation) that we were aware of, and treating with medications.
Before I could get out of bed, I could hear one of our cats making flopping noises on the floor that instinctively told me something was wrong. There was Guinness, and he had lost the use of his back legs.
In 10 minutes I had dressed and had him out the door on the way to the emergency vet. The diagnosis was quickly forthcoming: Guinness had developed a blood clot (an all too common event with humans and animals with Afib) that had blocked the blood flow to his legs. It was inoperable and untreatable with medication, and I had no choice but to have him euthanized as he lay in my lap looking up at me. An hour earlier the world was feeling as though it was starting to return to normal, and now Guinness was gone too.
Go home tonight and let your spouse, your kids, your pets, and anyone else you love know about that love you harbor. Make it a goal to never go to bed leaving any loving thought unsaid, and give those pets who give you there unconditional love a hug that is just a little bit longer, and a little bit tighter. They will understand.
I know what you are going through, I lost my beautiful Sophie a few weeks ago (see below) , and I still feel totally heartbroken! I sometimes think that some of the pain has subsided until something triggers a memory of her, I just burst into tears and feel utterly miserable.
I now have Sophie's ashes back home with me which gives me some comfort, I have to believe I will see her again too.
@whit jer Bless you for having the strength to help her be rid of her pain. I know it had to be horrific for you.
Hi Mimi and all the others who have commented. I too felt a lot of guilt when I had my kitty Ed put to sleep on Dec 31 last year. I felt like I should have done more, that somehow I could have found a way to make him better, in spite of how ill the vet said he was. I found an article on the Rainbow Bridge website that really helped me and maybe you will find some comfort in it too. It is called "Defining Quality of Life" by Moira Anderson Allen, M.Ed. I miss my Ed so much.
@Don Hills I understand your loss and you are correct about letting those you love, even your pets, know you love them. The words, "I'm sorry for your loss" seem so inadequate, but they do come from the heart.
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