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how to tell if a cat is in pain? euthanasia dilema

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

i am house sitting two cats at two different houses. 

 

one is overweight, has beginning stages of kidney failure, needs teeth pulled but cant happen due to lack of funds and thus on kitty morphine on the gums orally. 

 

the other one is underweight, deep into kidney failure and has a bunch of medicines and SubQ saline. 

 

they seem to be doing fine, they eat a little, purr, happy, wash themselves a little bit. the overweight cat's eyes are always dialated and i wonder if that could be linked to pain? they both just hate the medicines and needle. 

 

and i try to figure out is this life worth living. mind you these are not my cats so its not my business to say anything. 

 

but i am in a quandry. i hang out and play with the animals (the underweight one dislikes me coz now i am living here too instead of leaving after his shot is done) and yet i wonder ...

 

how do you decide when to say yes to euthanasia and when not.  

post #2 of 13

It's interesting to me how different families make such different choices. In my opinion, it's a matter of quality of life. Is the animal unable to eat, drink or go potty on it's own?  Is it in pain daily that can't be controlled with medication (or sometimes it could be, but is way too expensive for the owner to do)? Does it seem unhappy most of the time? To me, these are the defining questions to ask oneself. 

 

I find that some people have a perspective that an animal will just let itself die when it's ready, but unfortunately not all animals have that ability.  I think as humans and pet caretakers, we have the responsibility to care for our pets and make the tough decisions for them.

 

I assume that you are just asking a hypothetical, since you mentioned these aren't your pets, but it sounds like if the cats' owners are willing to pay for all the meds that those cats need... well, they seem happy enough for now. If they were my cats, I would consider the medications as a blessing to have some last few pain-free days/months with the cats.

 

ETA: I guess I never answered your original question about how to tell if they are in pain. It's hard to tell if they aren't your cats (some cats enjoy acting like they are constantly unhappy!), but you have to compare their actions with what they would normally do. Purring and licking are good signs, and so are eating/drinking normal amounts of food. The pupil dialation might be from the medication itself, and not a sign of pain, but I'm not certain.

post #3 of 13

If they are eating and purring then I don't think it is bad that the people are keeping them alive. If it is your pet then it becomes a personal decision. I had a dog that had oral cancer. He had surgery and was fine for 2 years. Then many tumors came very quickly and in only a couple of weeks he was in pain. I could have kept him alive for weeks or months but he was going to die. I decided sooner was better and that it was selfish to keep him alive for me.

post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 

http://www.cathospitalofchicago.com/library/pain_in_cats.html

 

i found this article very helpful. 

 

cat 1 about whom i am most concerned. he isnt eating as much or playing that much. otherwise he purrs and plays with his toys. i thought he was not in pain. but he is (i guess therefore the vet gave him a morphine prescription). the thing is i need to talk to my friend. its a v. v. sensitive issue. she survived breast cancer and they suspect it is back again. i think that's why she is struggling with the decision. 

 

for him these are his signs from the link up there.

 

 

  • Lack of grooming
  • Lack of interest in food, water or surroundings
  • Wanting to be left alone
  • Nonstop purring this one surprised me coz both the cats are like motor boats. 
  • Reluctance to jump to favorite spots, such as window sills and beds

 

 

this is sooooo sad. they are such sweet, sweet cats. greensad.gif cant wait to get home and give my sweet cat an extra hug. 

 

bawling.gif http://askville.amazon.com/cats-eyes-dilated-troy-movie/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=42952314 However, if your cat's pupils become fully dilated in broad daylight, appearing as large black pools, he's either in pain or ready to fight or run away.

post #5 of 13

well you're not in a quandry as you have no choice to make. ;)   Purring does not equal happiness. It can but it can also mean nervousness or fear or it can be reassurance such as to a kitten.

 

I think the owner knows best in these situations and clearly have the funds to do what they need. If a cat is on it's way out pulling teeth is the least of their concerns because it also means putting a cat under anesthesia and that's not something you want to be doing. That's heavy duty meds that could kill a healthy cat let alone a sick one. there's always risk during surgeries. They sound well cared for and they care enough to hire someone to give extra hugs. Sounds like really good owners.

 

I think of it like this... would I put my grandma down because her teeth hurt. no. Would I put her down if she would eventually die of kidney disease.. no. even she was in pain? no. Sorry I just don't want to play god and I would love her too much to let her go. Nor do we kill mommas because birth is too painful. We keep moving forward until the end. Fortunately I have never been in this position. I have given cats that are near death Subq's and I have saved lives others would have walked away from.

 

I guess there's all types of humans and we need to respect their decisions as long as they are caring and doing what they feel is honestly best for the animal. Being that it is an income for you I would think you would support them. I would be a little worried to hire a cat nanny who wouldn't go beyond the call of duty to save my cat while in their care though nor one who questions it's care and whether or not it's time for MY cat to die or not. So be sure to keep it to yourself.

post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by babygirlie View Post

well you're not in a quandry as you have no choice to make. ;)   

i do.

 

I think the owner knows best in these situations and clearly have the funds to do what they need.

i wish this was true. its not. if the owner did the cat would have had surgery a long time ago. the cat would be getting the right dose of morphine - not 1/4th. and yet the morphine is hard on his kidneys and he is in early stages of kidney failure. 

 

I think of it like this... would I put my grandma down because her teeth hurt. no. Would I put her down if she would eventually die of kidney disease.. no. even she was in pain? no. Sorry I just don't want to play god and I would love her too much to let her go. Nor do we kill mommas because birth is too painful. We keep moving forward until the end. Fortunately I have never been in this position.

i have. with humans and cats. the human wished he lived in an euthenesia approved state so he could have chosen how to go. unfortunately in one of those states you have to have lived there for 5 years to choose that plan. no instead he spent the exact way he hated to. it was hard on his children - one of whom was a doctor. and yes i have had to put pets down too. 

 

I guess there's all types of humans and we need to respect their decisions as long as they are caring and doing what they feel is honestly best for the animal. 

i am not a prof. cat sitter and neither am i being paid. i guess i am the only one amongst family and friends who is willing to talk to cat1's mama. at least cat2 the kidney failure guy the owner knows because there's a team of us giving the cat subQ shots. some have refused to give the shots because it goes against their principle. some have questioned how long this is going to go on.  the vet calls to make sure the cat is eating on a regular basis. cat2 hates, absolutely hates his subQ shots. i tried alternate days, but noticed he couldnt handle that more than two times a week. 

 

the thing is i cant not voice my concern. however i recognize they are not my cats, not my decision. i feel my concern needs to be voiced. and then its up to the humans to do what they wish with it. 

 

and philosophically i AM pro euthanasia - both in humans and cats. if my gma wanted to be put to sleep i would do all in my power to make it happen. i have watched too many terminally ill patients suffer terribly. some have wanted to die, some have chosen to live as long as they could because their spouse was emotionally dependent on them. gosh too many people around me - young and old - have had cancer and other types of terminal issues.

 

however i dont want to turn this into a debate. the one thing for sure is - its a hard and very painful decision.  with decisions like this its hard to explain all the points online too. who knows what details i have missed stating here. 

post #7 of 13

You can't judge the state of happiness of cats when you are house sitting and the owners are away. Cats bond to their owners and when they are gone they are often not their typical selves. 

 

Regardless I'm not getting a hypothetical over when these cats should be euthanized with the pet sitter. 

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arduinna View Post

You can't judge the state of happiness of cats when you are house sitting and the owners are away. 

True. 

 

But i have been involved in their care for a long time. So this is not what I am noticing now. 

 

Its just painful to now actually live with them and watch them in pain. and the fact that they have been getting worse the last month. 
 

 

post #9 of 13
Morphine-type medications can cause dilated pupils as well, though I have never heard of a morphine-type medication used topically for tooth pain. After working with cats for the last 15 years, I would agree that behavioral changes are the most reliable way to determining quality of life. For these cats, are the things that make them happy cats things they still do - eating, sitting in a favorite spot, playing with certain toys. Hiding, lack of appetite and lack of grooming are also good indicators.
post #10 of 13

So your quandary is whether or not to tell the pet owners you think they should euthenize THEIR cat. So I still say no and if you don't agree tell them to hire a real cat sitter. It's none of your business.

 

And NO again you skipped it but a cat should not be put through ANY surgical process unless 100% needed and a supposed toothache isn't a life or death situation at this point.  1/4 meds is JUST fine on a cat who is having trouble metabolizing meds.

 

Sub q fluid is for dehydration. It's not painful and it's no big deal. It's just an IV drip of sterile water. The water should be warmed to body temperature.. not hot but certainly not cold! So make sure whoever is doing it is doing it right. And it should be done slowly, the water shouldn't free flow quickly in and the skin should be massaged to make room for the water. I do it all the time and the only time it makes them uncomfortable is when *I* mess up. Give him treats and petting.

 

Just like this place you have to realize people believe in different things. Whatever is going on in  your head has already crossed the owners mind and they have made a decision to fight for the pet until they can't anymore. It's like telling your friend they're fat and you're worried about them and think they should lose weight. Do  you honestly think the person doesn't know that they're fat? Do  you honestly think it's never crossed their mind to go on a diet? NO. All the encounter would do is probably invoke a binge. The lecture would just be something they've already heard a hundred times and would not be appreciated.

 

If he's only getting sub q twice a week I don't see why the owner isn't just doing it themselves? Really if you're anti keeping the cat alive just tell them you don't want to be a part of it anymore if you feel that strongly but lecturing them about killing their cat off isn't going to make you very likable especially if this is their only friend.

 

If you lived with me I'm sure you'd put me down too cuz I promise you I'm in a lot more pain than that cat but I keep on living lol.

post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by meemee View Post



True. 

 

But i have been involved in their care for a long time. So this is not what I am noticing now. 

 

Its just painful to now actually live with them and watch them in pain. and the fact that they have been getting worse the last month. 
 

 

 

So what, it's not your cat. I agree with every word babygirlie posted. If you can't handle it, tell them they need to find someone else to cat sit. It's not your call. There is no euthanasia dilemma here because it's not your decision to make. 

 


 

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by babygirlie View Post

So your quandary is whether or not to tell the pet owners you think they should euthenize THEIR cat. So I still say no and if you don't agree tell them to hire a real cat sitter. It's none of your business.

obviously i disagree.

 

And NO again you skipped it but a cat should not be put through ANY surgical process unless 100% needed and a supposed toothache isn't a life or death situation at this point.  1/4 meds is JUST fine on a cat who is having trouble metabolizing meds.

well i got my answer and now we are going into semantics. there is a lot of detail i havent written here. the surgery is beyond a 100% needed - the reason for pain. 

 

Sub q fluid is for dehydration. It's not painful and it's no big deal.

tell it to the cat. he HATES It. he hates the needle being poked. and he's been poked everyday. we tried doing alternate days but i decided he gets worse if we do 3 alternate days. 

 

Just like this place you have to realize people believe in different things.

absolutely.

 

Whatever is going on in  your head has already crossed the owners mind and they have made a decision to fight for the pet until they can't anymore.

i dont think so. i dont think they know what the signs of pain are. 

 

It's like telling your friend they're fat and you're worried about them and think they should lose weight. Do  you honestly think the person doesn't know that they're fat? Do  you honestly think it's never crossed their mind to go on a diet? NO. All the encounter would do is probably invoke a binge. The lecture would just be something they've already heard a hundred times and would not be appreciated.

funny you bring this up now. we just had this conversation last week. it came up naturally and did not invoke a binge. i think when you come from a caring place, your words are looked at differently, not as an attack or lecture but concern. i was surprised how much i could actually put on the table. 

 

If he's only getting sub q twice a week I don't see why the owner isn't just doing it themselves?

obviously there are reasons. if they could they would. but i dont want to go into this because it is going into semantics.  he will have to get it at least 5 times a week. 

 

Really if you're anti keeping the cat alive just tell them you don't want to be a part of it anymore if you feel that strongly but lecturing them about killing their cat off isn't going to make you very likable especially if this is their only friend.

why should i not want to be part of it anymore?  i am not saying that? i perhaps disagree with their decision but i have to respect their wishes. however i need to make sure they are properly educated to make those decisions. 

 

If you lived with me I'm sure you'd put me down too cuz I promise you I'm in a lot more pain than that cat but I keep on living lol.

the difference is you are willing to live with the pain. but if you were terminal and begging to be put down because you are still in pain and are not allowed to push the morphine pump anymore, then yes if i lived in a euthanasia legal state, i'd absolutely make sure you were put down. 

 

the cat with absess in his gums and kidney failure has been given maybe 2 years to live (which could get shortened if his morphine continues) and the other cat has been given one year (his blood report has been getting worse). of course miracles could happen through loving care... so the time factor is not key but it tells you how badly off the animal is. 

 

its one thing to be in pain but yet another thing to be in so much pain that it completely changes their life. 
 

the vet too has to respect their wishes too but cant help being concerned and thus they keep calling to check up on the cat. 

post #13 of 13
Quality of life for anyone is very important especially a helpless animal when it's time a pet will let you know it's time the talent when you are a pet owner is knowing when to uthinize not cutting its life sort or hang on for selfish resons and the animals suffers .sounds like the owner is prolonging suffering instead of living.the desition must be baced on selfless reasoning giving the animal the best quaulity life possible.Talk to the owner and try to explain what is in best interest of the animal.Be as understanding as possible so the cat may get a quality out come .thank you for your interest !
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