Euthanasia and the Family Pet
Berkeley Parents Network >
Advice about Pets >
Euthanasia and the Family Pet
We have a very old cat whom we have had in our family since she was a kitten. She
remains beloved by our children, but not so much by my husband and me because
of her proclivity for urinating and defecating on the beds in our house. This is
getting more frequent. She is not incontinent (she uses her box), but seems to do
this when she is in a spiteful mood. When we have guests overnight, she almost
always pees on the guest bed unless we close the door to the room. Then she pees
on our bed.
I know that I will probably get a lot of abuse about this from the BPN community,
but we are thinking about euthanizing her. The problem is that I can't imagine
looking my kids in the eye and lying to them by telling them she got really sick and
died. I also can't imagine telling them that I killed the cat because I was fed up
washing pee-stained bedding. Any advice or experience that you could share
without too much judgment would be appreciated.
Perhaps you've already done this, but in case you haven't: talk to a vet about your
cat's behavior. There may be a medical explanation. If your vet isn't helpful, I'd
encourage you to get a second opinion.
If there is no medical explanation, your vet may still be able to help you with
behavioral issues. If all else fails, there's always the option of getting a large dog
crate (spacious enough for a litter box, food and water bowls, and bedding). Then
crate your cat at night, so anything requiring clean-up is contained.
I've also dealt with elderly cats over the years. My kids have told me, outright, that
they're glad that I've taken care of our cats when they're old and sick.
When I was a kid, my mother euthanized a cat. She tried to tell me a comforting lie,
but I saw right through it. I felt betrayed, and never really trusted her again.
I recognize that it's not always easy reconciling one own's needs with our kids'
needs. I hope a competent vet can clarify the issues.
I remember my family having a simular situation when I was in
high school. My mother really wanted to get rid of the older
cat for the exact reasons you are mentioning. For our family
the solution game by giving the cat a safe space in the garage
to live. Us kids would go out and spend quality time with her
and she seemed happy for her final years. Not sure it that
solution is an option or not for you. Good luck.
Here is my response to your dilemma: We have a 20-year-old cat, who has also
been with us since he was a kitten. We are spending a lot of money keeping him
going with medications, daily subcutaneous fluid administration, vet appointments
and hospital boarding when we go out of town. Sometimes I ask my husband, ''How
much longer are we going to do this?'' But I still love the little guy and get a lot of
pleasure from him (I'm talking about the cat, not the husband!). Occasionally the
cat vomits on the floor or carpet. but it isn't all that unpleasant. However, if he were
peeing and pooping around the house, that would be the deciding factor for me. I
wouldn't live with that. Maybe I would feel a little guilty about euthanasia, but not
enough to outweigh the desire to stop that particular problem. I don't have young
children that I would have to lie to. But if I were in your situation, I would tell them
that the cat's messing up was a sign that he wasn't well.
Try giving her 30C of homeopathic Hyoscyamus a few times before
you make a decision. Put it in her mouth or her water bowl. It
might help with the problem.
We were in the same situation last year. Our 17 yo cat had
taken to sleeping in the litter box and defecating everywhere
else. Daily cleaning of the box proved useless. I agonized over
what to do until I read an online article written by a vet that
talked about how a cat can suffer silently long before they
die. Cats will hide physical pain/suffering for some time. The
article went on to say that often an owner will keep the pet
alive for their own comfort level, not for the comfort of the
animal. After reading it, we made an appointment at Montclair
Vet.Hospital. The staff and doctor were so kind and
understanding. My beloved kitty left this earth in a gentle
sleep. I was sad afterwards, but understood that his time here
best of luck to you with this very difficult decision..
You will have to do what your heart tells you, but consider the
quality of life your old, old cat is having and weigh that
against your need for them to be around. I finally euthanized my
two cats 6 months apart a couple years ago. One had alzheimers
and was going blind, the other stopped eating. They were about
16 and 17 and had lived happy, full lives. I held them in my
arms while they got the first shot to sedate them and Albany Vet
on Solano was fantastic about giving me as much time as I needed
with them before and after.
As someone who enjoys and keeps pets but is not a PETA person -
I totally support you in putting your family first before a cat
that is defecating and urinating all over your beds and foors.
Truly, there is nothing that ruins furniture and beds more
quickly than cat poop and pee. Maybe your cat could be an
outdoor only cat - my animals enjoy the outside so much more
than the inside and it keeps them a little more independent.
If I were coming to stay at your house and the cat peed on
thebed I was about to sleep in I would be so utterly
horrified. I think if you look at the situation with a little
distance you will see that it is obviously no longer working.
Grossed out by Poop and Pee on my Bed!
I've searched the archives but did not see this particular
topic...our cat is about 14 years and is now on 3 daily meds
for hyperthyroid and inflammatory bowel disease. Our son is
about to turn 1 year and for a number of reasons, we've
realized that we really need to find a better situation for our
dear kitty. With such a busy little boy, I can't give her the
amount of attention I used to, at a time when she needs it more
than ever. Not to mention being chased and pulled on by our
exhuberant son is stressing her out even more.
So my question is: has anyone else been in a similar situation,
and were you able to find a good ''retirement home'' for your pet
or did you have to euthanize?
Other than being very thin from her health problems pre-
treatment, she seems to be in pretty good health. She just
needs a lot of attention and care that we are unable to
provide. I hate to euthanize her because she seems to have a
pretty strong will to live. Her quality of life has most
definitely declined, but I have the feeling that out of such a
stressful environment, she might thrive again for several more
years. I'm worried too, though, that given her age and medical
conditions, she's not very ''adoptable'' through something like
Thanks in advance for your feedback.
I sympathize with you completely because I had 3 aging cats when my son was little,
and it was very stressful. You could try the VCA Bay Area Animal Hospital in Oakland
(510-654-8375) and see if they would try to find a home for her. They occasionally
have animals for adoption and they could provide the medical care while she's there.
Another possibility would be to ask friends who attend church or a synagogue to try to
find someone to take her. I lucked out at my church when a friend of a friend was
willing to take in the dog of a homeless person. Good luck, and I hope you don't have
to euthanize her.
You'd probably have to pay someone to provide board and care for your cat; most
people aren't in the market for an older cat. Do you really want to euthanize your
cat when you feel he has several years of life left to live? Why turn your back on an
To make pill giving easier, you could try using a plastic device called a ''finger-
saver'' available from most vets. Train your kid not to chase the cat, or separate the
cat from your child by confining him to a specific part of the house. Or get another,
younger cat to amuse your child. Since you don't have as much time to spend with
the cat, you could get him a heated pet bed; cats love them.
I hope these suggestions are helpful.
Hello, I posted the request for help finding a ''retirement
home'' for my old and ailing cat...the kind person who responded
mentioned the VCA pet hospital in Oakland. I called them and
they don't take in animals for re-adoption; they just do rescue
situations. Just FYI.
Thanks for your help, though!FWIW, we also tried Hopalong and
Island Cat Rescue (we live on Alameda). We also posted on
Craigslist. We had no luck. I think the best bet is to post at
the vet's office and, as you suggested, speak to friends and
community members (eg, church/synagogue, etc).
There is a good chance that we are going to put our dear cat
to sleep in the next couple of days due to an advanced case
of diabetes. We would like to do this in our home, he's in the
hospital right now. I have read the recommendations for Dr.
Feldman. My question is, where should the kids be at the
time? I have a two year old and more specifially my five year
old. Also, what do I do with the body. At the vet, there is the
option of having it cremated and put in a little box. Is that an
option with a home euthenasia? Also, what about the cost?
Any advice greatly appreciated.
After a long, long struggle with it, we finally had to put our 8
year old dog down on Nov. 1. Dr. Feldman was caring, but quick
about it. It was a horrible experience for me as an adult, and I
don't know that a young child should be present, as their
understanding of death is very different than an adult's.
As a child, I was present for the slaughtering of animals (I
grew up on a farm) and that was ok, but when our family dog
died, it was really awful and different than butchering animals
If you want to know what happens, he first gives the animal a
sedative but it can make them throw up and our dog looked
panicked before he could no longer keep standing up. Then, the
drug that paralyzes the breathing muscles is given, and the
animal gives a short grunt and that is it.
You need to decide for yourself, but if it were my child I would
talk to them about what was happening before and after but not
have them present.
The cost is expensive- I think it was $250 or $275. The reason
we did it at home was that our dog was incredibly afraid of the
vet's office and I could not bear thinking that his last moments
would be spent in terror at the vet's clinic. We did have him
cremated- there is only one place that does it really no matter
who accepts the body for you- Koefran, I think it is. It was
$105 for us because our dog was big- might be less for the kitty-
call the Berkeley animal shelter and they can tell you the cost.
My heart goes out to you, a pet is so much part of a family- I
find myself crying about our dog still. But try to remember the
good times with your cat, and maybe create a memory book with
your kids to help remember how much happiness the pet brought
you all. My best to you...
Still missing Jackson
I had to put my cat down and can offer the following advice:
1) The vet did 2 injections - I think the first was a sedative
to help her relax, and the second was the stuff that puts them
to sleep. The vet said the sleeping injection can cause
convulsions that do not hurt the cat but are alarming to
witness. It didn't happen in my case but you never know. For
that reason I suggest you do not have your kids present until
after that cat has passed away - then they could come in to say
good by. Also their witnessing the cat receive a shot that
basically takes it's life away could be disturbing to them next
time they have to get a shot at the doctor's.
2) Ask your vet if you could bring the body in for them to take
care of getting it to the cremation people or at least give you
the contact info of the person that does it. I think the
cremation is a good idea so that you can have a ceremony with
your kids and help them let go, be it scattering the ashes or
burrying them in the yard.
3) If your cat is suffering, do it as soon as you can. My
greatest regret with my suffering cat (she had cancer) is not
putting her down sooner - the thought of not having her around
was difficult, but once I saw her finally at peace I felt awful
for the suffering she had put up with so I could have her
My sympathies for your loss.
I'm so sorry to hear of your cat. We finally had to put down
our beloved dog almost 2 years ago now. My husband and I along
with our 5 year old took her to the vet, not knowing for sure if
it was time or not. The vet assured us that it was time. We
explained what was going to happen to our son, and suggested he
wait outside with me and my husband would stay with our dog
while the vet put her down. My son was adament that he be in
the room with our dog, and so, in the end, we were all by her
side. My son has never spoken of anything but fondness for our
I have put down numerous animals and recommend Dr Mckinney
who runs the all seasons mobile vet clinic. He is pricey--I
think it was about 100.00--but he comes to your house so your
cat is spared the last trauma of a trip to the vet. He gives a
shot intramuscularly which heavily sedates the cat--in fact it
quickly becomes unconscious. Then he shaves a leg to find a
vein and gives an intravenous dose that stops the heart. It's
very nice that the animal is not awake for the shaving, and
possible difficulty of finding a vein. Once he did have to put
a mask on one of my old cats to gas it to death because it had
no circulation due to kidney failure, and this was not my ideal
way of euthanasia, but he did it as gently as possible, and I
held, and pet, and talked my cat until it lost consciousness.
This is a heartwrenching thing to do, and I cry every time, but
I'm grateful that I can give my pets this last gift--a humane
end to their suffering. He will take the body and dispose of
it for an additional fee. I sent my large dog with him, my
small dogs and cats I bury in the yard. I don't think the
cremation fee is worth it--I doubt you are even receiving your
pets actual ashes. This is dubious even with human remains--
that's why they never let you observe the cremation process,
and the boxing of the ashes. A racket, in my opinion.
I also recently had to put one of my cats to sleep. I'm very
sorry that you're going through this. It was the first time I
ever had to do it and it was hard. Let me just say that while
it sounds like your intentions are great, I would have it done
at the hospital and especially without the kids around.
Even though my cat was suffering and I knew it was the right
thing to do, it ended up being really, really emotional for me.
At first the cat is given a relaxant that puts him/her to
sleep. Your kids could even be there for that. But what I
wasn't expecting and wish I hadn't seen was that when the vet
actually gives the lethal shot, it tweaked the muscles so that
his face looked like it was in a kind of grimace and he died
with his eyes open. I'm sure he didn't feel it, and I certainly
wouldn't have left him alone the vet to do it, but it's not the
last image of my dear cat that I wanted.
Just my two cents.
We had to have our oldest cat put down a few days after
Christmas. I had hoped that he would die peacefully on his
own, since he did not show signs of distress, but when he
did become distressed, we knew we would have to do it. Of
course, it was a Sunday. Dr. Feldman was unavailable that
day (we tried that morning) and we didn't want kitty to
continue in discomfort, and so we took him to a local vet
(Broadway Pet Hospital-they have Sunday hours.) It would
have been nice to do it at home, but the folks at Broadway
Pet were great. Our 2 kids were there. I went with the cat,
and we brought our oldest (almost 4) in to pet and say
goodbye to kitty after he was gone. We had plenty of time to
spend with our cat before they took his body away. I decided
not to go with getting the ashes (I think it would have been
over $200.) I have plenty of photos to remember him.
In August, I had my 18 year old cat put down by Dr. Feldman
while my kids were at the park with their dad. I did not want
them to be present because I knew it would upset my 7 year old
son way too much, and that he would think I was killing our cat
(who had been my best friend long before I was even married or
had kids). I would not use Dr. Feldman again, as he had some
annoying little remarks to make about my not having my kids
present, and he had to do the euthanasia shot twice, which
freaked me out. I had nightmares about the whole thing for a
week afterward. I would highly recommend Dr. McKinney, of All
Seasons Mobile Veterinary Clinic 430-0366. He was very
sensitive and great. He did the euthanasia for another cat of
mine 2 years earlier, but he was on leave last August due to an
there are a couple of vets that will euthanize at home, which we
did for our dog. It was a big relief not to have to bring her to
the vet, which was always traumatic, and would have been
devastating for us. Easier to cry at home. The vet we used
offered to take the body to our vet, to be sent to a place to be
cremated. THe vet called us when the ashes were back, and we
picked them up. Talk to your own vet and the vet that would do
the euthanasia & monitoring about costs. Cremation is not the
cheapest option (sending the body to a sort of ''mass grave'' is
the cheapest), but may help your own mourning process, which
could throw you for a loop if you're attached to your pet.
Our wonderful family cat has had persistent diarrhea since
April. We've spent hundreds of dollars at two different vets
trying to get to the bottom of the problem, to no avail. Apart
from the diarrhea and constant hunger, he is apparently in
good health. The last vet I spoke to said the next step would be
to take a biopsy of the intestines ($300 - $500!) to get to the
bottom of the problem. He wasn't exactly optimistic about what we
could expect to find (he said the procedure usually reveals
some kind of cancer, although not always). He even
suggested it may be best to put our cat to sleep.
I'm balking at the cost of the surgery, particularly given the
vet's less-than-sunny prediction. As much as our family
loves our cat, his digestive problem is affecting our quality of
life (he occasionally goes outside his litter box, the box
needs constant cleaning, and the smell -- even though the
box is in the garage -- is truly awful). Could it simply be old
age? We think he's about 10 - 12 years old.
We've tried changing his diet, steroids, etc. I found that the
prescription cat food (Hill's: three different varieties) I was
feeding him actually made the problem worse, so now I
feed him a combination of rice and chicken that I make at
home which seems to help a little.
What to do? I would love advice from anyone who has
treated a cat with this problem or had to put a sick cat to
Though I can't be certain that this is your cat's problem -
sounds like he/she may be suffering from hypothyroidism. Our cat
had similar symptoms for almost 2 years (they got progressively
worse) My understanding is that it can be caused by a number of
things, tumors often being the culprit and that it is very common
in cats. Our cat was also urinating a lot and soaking the litter
box. He was on three kinds of medication and at the end we were
also giving him an IV for fluids as he would get dehydrated and
was losing weight rapidly. IT was a VERY hard decision, but we
finally made the decision to put him to sleep. I couldn't do it,
but my husband took him to Broadway Pet Hospital and stayed with
him while they put him to sleep. Dr. Gutlaizer was amazing and
very compassionate. He actually sent us a handwritten
bereavement note after. Hopefully this isn't what your cat has,
but if you do decide that you want another opinion I would
reccommend Broadway Pet Hospital's Dr. Gutlaizer.
We had to put our family cat to sleep about a year ago and were
worried about how our two kids (3 & 4.5 y.o.) would deal with
it. Nikki (the cat) was 12 y.o., arthritic, almost completely
blind, without most of her hearing and was having a hard time
making it up and down the stairs. It was painful to watch her
navigate 'by bump' around the house. She had resorted to doing
her business 'wherever' because chances were slim that she'd
find her way back to her litter box. This was a major concern
because we often had youngsters over for playgroup.
After a few trips to the vet, we had to decide between surgery
to temporarily alleviate a calcium buildup in her hips or
putting her down. After some discussion, we decided to let her
go. It wasn't an easy decision, but we hoped that it was the
more humane choice to stop her suffering.
We explained her condition to our kids and brought them with us
to the vet. The process was done by injection and the kids saw
that Nikki passed away peacefully. Of course, it was sad to
leave Nikki that day. We talked about it and explained that we
were very sad too, but that it was so that Nikki wouldn't suffer
any more. There were a few more relapses following that day..
like when the kids found a couple lost cat toys underneath the
sofas. But we got a kitten about 4 months afterwards and things
have been fine. The kids still reminisce fondly about Nikki, and
seem like they adjusted well. Whew. The only heartbreaking thing
that happened was when we had to leave the new kitty with the
vet while we went on a short vacation. Both kids suddenly burst
out in tears while we got on the freeway. They only knew that we
we left the vet again without the cat and thought that the new
cat was being put to sleep too.
My cat had diarrhea at one point. Amoxicillin treatment for
coccidia didn't help, so when someone recommended children's
Kaopectate, I tried it; it worked.
I'm so sorry to hear about your cat's condition. What a hard,
hard situation to be in. Our beloved kitty of 15 years became ill
in a similar ongoing way (vomiting, in his case). After myriad
tests, we also received the ''probably cancer'' diagnosis. We went
through a few lesser procedures, I learned to inject him with
fluids to keep him hydrated, but basically we knew it was just a
matter of time. When his condition didn't improve and the vet
suggested our remaining options were a very expensive, very
invasive procedure that might extend his life for a couple months
or sending him in for ultraexpensive kitty ultrasounds, which
could confirm the cancer diagnosis but offer no new treatment, we
knew our time together was over.
It sounds like your difficulty is that you don't know how sick
your cat is. You say that besides the diarrhea and constant
hunger, he's healthy, but that doesn't sound healthy. How does he
seem to feel? When our cat's sickness got the better of him, we
knew it. He wasn't himself. I think you know how your cat's
doing. If his condition doesn't improve, is he well enough to
enjoy his life as he is now? And at the risk of sounding too
crunchy, if you're miserable about dealing with his condition,
he'll know it and it'll affect his quality of life as well.
One final note. I was happy that before we had our cat put to
sleep, we found out that vets will come to your home to do it. It
was a comfort that his last experience didn't have to be one of
fear, being shoved into a carrier and hauled out of the house.
Having had two cats who went through extensive and ultimately
unsuccessful treatments for cancer, my one thought is that if my
current cat gets sick, I'll choose euthanasia a lot faster than
I did last time. It's not the expense, although boy, it gets
really expensive fast, it's just that the treatments are so hard
for the animal to comprehend. So you go through a long period of
your cat being sick and miserable, you being miserable with
whatever gross thing the sick animal is doing (one cat had
bladder cancer and peed everywhere, constantly), and then you
have to give the cat endless pills, or take it to the vet
constantly, or do various other things that the cat perceives as
torture. I agree with the previous poster that it's hard to know
what to do when you don't know how sick the animal is, but I
would say that once you get an indication that the problem isn't
going to be easy to cure, think long and hard about how much
suffering medical treatment itself will bring to both you and
your pet. I've loved my cats like they were children (okay, a
little bit less now that I actually have children, but still a
lot) and yet what I ended up coming to is that trying to prolong
their lives when they were seriously ill (and pretty old in cat
years) wasn't doing them any favors. BTW, I've always used
Berkeley Dog and Cat as my vet, and I really trust their
diagnositic and treatment skills. When they euthanized my
animals, it was done in such a loving and gentle way that I
still well up when I think about it. But if you can get someone
to come to your house to do it, even better.
I assume the vets have checked the kitties thyroid value.
Hyperthyroidism is very common in older kitties and leads them
to eat more and develop diarrhea. The other thing I would
consider is a trial of an enzyme called pancreazyme. Older cats
can develop a deficiency of digestive enzymes. They eat a lot
and develop diarrhea because they can't get the nutrients in the
food through their intestinal wall without the enzymes. The
stool usually smells awful also because there are lots of
bacteria feeding on the undigested food. The pancreatic enzymes
are sprinkled on the food, or given as a pill at the time of
eating. You should see improvement within one week if it will
help. The vets you have seen should be able to give you the
medication for a short period to try. I usually feed the cats
meat baby food (make sure there is no onion powder in it) during
the trial as this is one of the most easily digested foods for
a local vet
Hi, I'm sorry your cat is so ill. I've had cats all my life,
and I expect to outlive all but the last one. Whether this is
the time for your kitty to go to Kitty Heaven or not, I can't
say; but when that time comes, I'd like to recommend Dr. Bruce
Feldmann, 525-1404. He is a ''housecall'' vet. In addition to
routine vet care, he will put your pet to sleep at home. He is
well prepared and compassionate and charges about the same as
the ''office'' vets. Namaste
this page was last updated: Jun 24, 2007
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website: BerkeleyParentsNetwork.org
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network