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Our cat is dying...

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
It's been a while in coming, so is no surprise, but still...

If anyone is comfortable talking about this, I'd like to know how you knew it was "time" to put an animal down? I had a cat die of kidney failure years ago and, in hindsight, I did far too much to keep her alive. I don't want to do that again, but I also don't want to request euthanasia prematurely, yk?

Currently, kitty does not appear to be in pain. She's in the beginning stages of heart and kidney failure. She does get up and about, uses the litter box, trys to escape outside, but she sleeps a lot, and drinks a lot and eats very little--some days not at all. I don't feel like now is the time, but how will I know? Any advice? Ideally, I'd like her to go gently and naturally at home, rather than having her put down, but I'm not sure if that's realistic or not.
post #2 of 25
My parents just put their (our) dog down last night. He was the first dog our family ever had, and he was only 7 years old. He had terrible crippling osteoarthritis, and he had made a drastic decline over the past month. He was such an awesome, special dog.

Indiana

Indy was a border collie mix, they are just full of energy and want to go, go, go all the time. He would not have been happy watching TV and reading books, you know? He wanted to play. Indiana was on morphine until my folks could get right with the idea of letting him go. It's not right to let them suffer in silence.

I am not going to go into all of my lost pet stories, but you will know it's the right time when you have done all you can do to cure your pet. Kidney failure, like arthrhitis, is not cureable, not even really treatable. You will know it's time when they have that look in their eyes that they have given up the fight. You will know it's time when you look in your soul and you know that you are keeping kitty alive not for her, but for you.

Some vets will make housecalls or let the pet's person euthanize the pet at home.

I know just what you are going thru. It is such an awful decision to have to make. But your kitty will know that you are acting out of kindness.
post #3 of 25
I'm so sorry for you and your family, as well as your kitty. I've gone through two cat deaths in the past three years, with one who was kept alive longer than was probably wise, so I understand.

I guess the most important thing to remember is this: You know your cat better than any of us. If she's still behaving like herself, your heart will know. Just as your heart will tell you that she's ready to move on when her behaviors change.

Best of thoughts to you all during a very sad time.
post #4 of 25
im sorry
post #5 of 25
I'm so sorry about your cat. Honestly, if you've been through a longer, drawn out death before then I can understand why you want them to go before they are in too much discomfort or pain. They just get so weak when they're in the later stages of kidney failure...anyhow...

All I can say is, personally, if I get to the point where I have a cat that needs fluids/etc. I don't know if at that point I would put an animal through that supportive care. The cats don't "get it" they are scared by it (my deaf cat did NOT tolerate it)...they live in the moment, only know the comfort of what they have at that moment. I would honestly rather have all their moments here with me be good and painfree, rather than longer, involving pokes, prods and lots of scary medical procedures and tests.

I don't know if you feel the same way, just my beliefs.

I personally think, if I am in a situation again where I have a cat whose kidneys are clearly failing, where the cat has become anorexic and serious supportive care is needed then that would be the time for me to euthanize. I'd rather have them stay away from the pokes/prods/scarry stuff involving treatment for an illness for which death is inevitable. Then, they can be at peace, and be rejuvenated back in the spirit world.

What you could do, is get your vet to prescribe a strong tranquilizer that will help relax your pet. Then, your vet (or another vet who does housecalls they can refer you to) could come to your home and administer the anesthesia which euthanizes them.
post #6 of 25
The thing about cats that I learned after euthanizing our siamese Loki this past winter is that they really don't behave as I expected when in pain. She had been quite a vocal cat throughout her lifetime, but she was rather quite on her last few weeks. Even the day we last shared together she was walking around outside on the vet's lawn just before the end . . . .but she had stopeed grooming herself for the most part, and her movements were mostly pretty slow in comarison to a few months before. She was hardly eating or drinking. She slept a lot. She seemed to want to be with us for warmth - it was clear that she wasn't able to keep her own body warm enough (she'd lost a great deal of weight). When she drank she would just let her head hang near the water and barely drink - the vet said that that was a sign of a kitty near her end. It was an agonizing decision, one I had hoped not to need to make.

It was the right decision, though. After talking at length with our vet, who had seen Loki 4 times over the previous month and a half, she was able to let us know that Loki was beyond any help from a medical standpoint, and would only get worse. We felt comfortable with that, and I knew that was going to be the way things went that day. I did spend the last hour we had together looking for signs that I was wrong, that she would be okay, or that she wasn;t quite "there" yet. If she were a feral cat, she would have wandered off alone weeks before, to die peacefully. We didn;t allow her that option, and I felt a responsibility to her to not allow her to suffer - and when it was clear that she wasn;t enjoying life anylonger, we intervened on her behalf.

I hope whatever you decide, your last days together are wonderful and that her leaving is peaceful.
post #7 of 25
Our 19 year old Russian Blue cat died naturally at home.

In the months prior she displayed signs of blindness--not total but nearly. She seemed a little senile, got lost in the house easily, and seemed generally thinner and not as well groomed.

In the last weeks she was getting very thin, not eating much, cried as if she was lost because she couldn't see where she was going anymore, and generally stayed in the same couple of rooms. Probably, she had kidney failure, but it was more a general all-around systems failure as she was extremely old.

At the end, maybe 3 days prior to her dying, the vet came for a house visit. She was no longer getting up, eating, drinking, or using the bathroom during those final days. However, he said she wasn't in pain, and that if we chose to wait, she would slip into a coma and die quietly within a few days.

That's just what happened. She was really just asleep the last two days, she responded if we pet her, but she didn't move or try to talk, and mostly stayed asleep. She died in the night.

I really felt strongly that she should be allowed to die naturally if she wasn't in pain (no crying or yelping or signs of acute discomfort). She had lived a LONG life and while it was difficult to watch her wasting away at the end, several weeks of rapid decline was a very short amount of time compared to all the years she had been healthy.

I think there are cycles of life and there is a cycle of death. While euthanasia has a definite place for suffering animals in pain, I do think there is value in letting animals go through the natural cycle of old age decline and death. It's not easy to watch as a caregiver, but I think we have to give animals some credit for being able to endure dying naturally.
post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for replying and sharing your stories and advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by phatchristy View Post

All I can say is, personally, if I get to the point where I have a cat that needs fluids/etc. I don't know if at that point I would put an animal through that supportive care.
No, we've decided not to do that either. My other cat, we brought in frequently for fluids--I didn't know what I was doing, what the options were, and when the vet told me "This is what we do" I just followed along. Of course, it just prolonged the inevitable. She was also a calm, easy going cat who didn't protest any of it.

This cat, otoh, has some very strong opinions and freaks out about the cat carrier, yells in the car, growls and hisses at the vet, etc. What we had to go through to try and "pill her" when I was no longer able to put her meds in her food just made it really clear that treatment wasn't going to be worth it to her.

Quote:
I would honestly rather have all their moments here with me be good and painfree, rather than longer, involving pokes, prods and lots of scary medical procedures and tests.
Yes. Our current vet offered a bunch of tests to see how far along some of her issues were, but since it won't change anything, we declined. He was very understanding and agreeable and I'm so thankful there wasn't pressure or judgement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by heartmama View Post
I think there are cycles of life and there is a cycle of death. While euthanasia has a definite place for suffering animals in pain, I do think there is value in letting animals go through the natural cycle of old age decline and death. It's not easy to watch as a caregiver, but I think we have to give animals some credit for being able to endure dying naturally.
Thank you. I've been trying to formulate my feelings on this and balance the desire to trust nature without allowing undue harm. Reading your words helps. It doesn't feel right to me to interfere with the course of nature, but I also don't want her to be suffering...I guess, as others have said, I'll just have to trust that I'll know when, if, I need to do anything.

She ate a can of food yesterday, after having not eaten for days. Then she found a dark quiet spot behind the laundry and has been sleeping there ever since.
post #9 of 25

Sebastian

My Sebastian , I lost him 6/30/03. I'd had him since he was a baby and he was with me 13 long years. Towards the end I knew it was time to let him go. I had been taking him to a wonderful vet who specialized in Geriatric animal medicine. She was absolutely wonderful and she fell in love with Sebastian at first sight, he was a cream persian with huge copper eyes and the most wonderful personality. Sebastian was my best friend and my baby. It upsets me even now to talk about him. Sebastian was always a food lover .. he would eat whatever I put in front of him. Banana's were his fav right along with watermelon and he always got that last little bit of milk from my cereal bowl. There were times when he would sit on my lap and purr so loud while I was having cereal and a paw would sneak up and try to pull the bowl down. He was such a wonderful cat. So at the beginning of June 03 I could tell there was something a little off with Sebastian. He wasnt as in to food as he usually was. So I took him to the vet and she said that his teeth were bothering him. She cleaned them a bit and gave him an antibiotic shot and we kept him on weekly monitoring just in case. He had always had a heart murmur but nothing that ever affected his health in a bad way, he was always healthy. I took him to the vet on a friday when I noticed things were getting a bit worse, she gave him a vitamin shot to help induce his hunger and told me to give him a supplement (like the hair ball remedy) to make sure he was getting his vitamins and we scheduled an ultrasound for monday cuz she thought he was maybe going into heart failure as cats his age and breed often did. But he wasnt doing so bad that she wanted to do it right then and there. Over that weekend he got worse, so much worse that I knew it was time. He stayed in a quiet dark spot under our futon, wouldnt come out for anything. I would go in and talk to him and pet him and eventually I knew I had to say goodbye. So I started telling him that it was ok to go, he had been a good friend and I would miss him, I told him that I loved him and I apologized over and over and over that he was sick and that I didnt want him to leave. Monday morning I called out sick from work and gently put him in the carrier ( I was balling the whole time), I kept telling him that I loved him and that I knew it was time and it was ok. I told him that it would all be over soon and that he could sleep peacefully and not be sick. I walked into the vets office an absolute wreck and told them that he had gotten worse and it would be best if he was just put to sleep peacefully. I took him out of his carrier and held him and kissed his little face and told him goodbye one last time and he closed his eyes as I put him in the carrier and the vet tech took him in the back. I absolutely could not be there, I was not strong enough. I was so sad and hurting that he was dying but I had said my good byes and I completely trusted my vet with Sebastian. She called me later to tell me that he went so very peacefully and she cried with me. She told me that he was in heart failure and that I had done the right thing. I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face even retelling this but I know I did the right thing and I know that he and I had alot of awesome years together and that makes it all better I will always miss him but I have wonderful memories and pictures Sorry this was so long ... I guess what I am trying to say is that you will know when it is time. Your pet will let you know and you will just be able to tell by the way they act. Blessings to you.
post #10 of 25
Quote:
Thank you. I've been trying to formulate my feelings on this and balance the desire to trust nature without allowing undue harm. Reading your words helps. It doesn't feel right to me to interfere with the course of nature, but I also don't want her to be suffering...I guess, as others have said, I'll just have to trust that I'll know when, if, I need to do anything.

She ate a can of food yesterday, after having not eaten for days. Then she found a dark quiet spot behind the laundry and has been sleeping there ever since.
From my limited experience, this sounds like a natural decline. Personally I would let her continue with the journey and only interfere if she begins to show signs of distress/panic/acute pain.

When cats stop eating and start sleeping all day and night it's natures way of hastening the end. You have decided not to intervene with any heroic measures, so there is a good chance she may simply pass away quietly on her own--especially if she begins to go many days without eating, and begins sleeping more and more.

If her sleep seems restful I'd be inclined to just let her continue a natural death at home.

If something changes and she begins to get upset and distressed you will definitely know.
post #11 of 25
Ryan's Princess I just have to give a to you after reading that post. What a wonderful cat. You and Sebastian were so lucky to have each other!
post #12 of 25
post #13 of 25
You will know it in your heart when the time is right. We actually put our cat Abe to sleep this morning after 7 long agonizing months of CRF. Tests, Sub-Q treatments everyday along with many, many other treatments. Since you've been there, I'm sure you understand.

We knew the time was right because his health was deteriorating pretty fast these past couple of weeks. He always had his good days and his bad... but these past two weeks had been pretty bad with the next day worse than the previous day. We were giving him as much fluid as he could stand and it still wasn't enough. I always thought I would just let him go peacefully here at home but once I saw how bad he was getting, I felt selfish for not helping him pass with the dignity he deserved.

Our vet is a very caring vet who was there and guided us every step of the way through the CRF progression and she helped us make the decision. I have faith in her and when she told me she thought it was time, it helped me comfort me in that I knew I was making the right decision. She was the type of vet that would do anything for an animal before saying it was too late. It was tough but I still feel his presence around me almost even more than when he was alive... (except that now he's playing fetch with his paper ball.)
post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thank you. I'm sorry for all your losses.
post #15 of 25
As CRF progresses and toxin levels rise, cats become more uncomfortable with an overall sensation of feeling unwell. Human patients with a similar condition don't report "pain" but describe their condition as feeling poorly. Dehydration, in particular, can make the patient very uncomfortable. Aggressively treating CRF, especially with subcutaneous fluid therapy, should not be thought of as "prolonging the agony" as there is no significant pain associated with kidney failure until the end-stage. Even then, unless the patient convulses, the chief symptoms will be malaise, weakness, nausea and discomfort.

I found this out when I was doing a search this am.

http://www.felinecrf.com/what0.htm
post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info, phatchristy.

I think her reaction to medical intervention makes her feel far worse than "unwell" or "poorly," but we'll see how things go.
post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joan View Post
Thanks for the info, phatchristy.

I think her reaction to medical intervention makes her feel far worse than "unwell" or "poorly," but we'll see how things go.

I was doing a search about it the other day, I had euthanized my cat going through kidney failure. Someone had written in this thread, that they don't feel "pain" with death from kidney failure...the thing is, though they don't feel pain they feel "awful"....according to the vet I was going to the time it was not an easy way to go, which is why that vet generally suggested Euthanasia earlier rather than later...

Anyhow, it made me feel better reading up on it more...reading about what human patients go through when they experience this as well. How bad, sick, nauseaous and weak they feel. : Anyhow, it made me feel better about my choice to euthanize...that the kitty never went through the worst of it. I didn't write it to suggest that someone continue with heroic measures, medications, fluids, etc. I personally think, if I do go through that again I wouldn't do that to another cat to gain a few months.

Hope that makes sense.

I am concerned that my older girl, who was my cat's sister, may also have the same kidney disease. She had two ultrasounds many years ago, one came back PKD + and the other one came back PKD -. In the case of ultrasound, you're only as good as the technician. I was hoping she was negative. But, it does seem like she's drinking more water than she used to. So, I have had it on the brain. When she gets her checkup they will take blood and that will help me know if there is anything going on. I am a little worried that me switching to EVO may have affected her negatively .
post #18 of 25
Joan, how is your cat? How are you?

post #19 of 25
I'm so sorry Joan ((hugs))
post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mizelenius View Post
Joan, how is your cat? How are you?

I'm not sure what's up with the cat. She spent a couple of days acting like she had one foot out the door, but then she came out of her hidding spot and spent some time on the porch in the sun. Some days she eats, others she doesn't. She climbed on dh's lap the other day and sat and purred while he petted her (sooooo NOT her!) But then she goes to her spot and doesn't seem to move for hours on end. She *looks* raggedy, but all things considered, that's the worst of it for now.

I'm just taking things as they come. We've protected her chosen spot so the dog doesn't have access and she can have peace when she wants it. She's very vocal when she wants to eat, so I'm just feeding on demand, so to speak. Ds is being liberal with the catnip. She seems content.

Thanks for asking.

And, thank you, Arduinna.
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