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natural death vs euthanasia

Posted in blogging biz, dying and death, my cats, Sequoia, the little tux on January 2nd, 2010 by Patti Waltz
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

When it comes to end-of-life issues with pets we often hear that euthanasia is the more compassionate route.  Natural death almost seems controversial.  And with humans it is obviously the opposite.  My Mother died 10 years ago this month, I certainly never would have considered putting her down.  I took care of my Mother the last few months of her life.  And I was with her when she died.  Words I would use to describe the experience of being there for my Mother from the beginning of her diagnosis, to the end of her life, would be as follows: bonding, empowering, surprisingly joyous, of course sad, loving and compassionate.   I believe there are invaluable life lessons to be learned when helping the dying.

In regards to Sequoia, she is facing her death with grace.  She almost seems to be trance-like.  I love doting over Sequoia, just as I devoted myself to my Mother through her process of dying.  Death can be drawn out and slow, but once we come to terms with the inevitable, caregiving for the dying teaches us about compassion in ways that only death can.  It’s heavy stuff, but there’s no avoiding it.  And besides that, it may help us to confront our own eventual death with a greater understanding.

I have had 9 cats throughout my life.  I’ve had to face the difficult decision of putting my first cat down and eventually my beloved Bubba Boy.  I’ve also had 2 cats disappear, leaving me with the endless and mournful wondering of whatever happened to them.  And now… Sequoia.  If she was in severe pain, I would consider euthanasia, but she doesn’t appear to be.  The only time she cries out is when she is either cold, or wants to sit on my lap.  I’ve given a lot of thought to Sequoia’s death and feel no desire to interfere with her living out her life in her own way, facing her death in her own time.

Not only do I believe euthanasia depends on the circumstances surrounding the cat, but it is a personal decision as well.  And all of our personal decisions and philosophical views of life are based on the collective experiences of our past.  However, euthanasia is so commonplace.  I was in emotional turmoil for 3 days over this decision.  I felt pressure from the veterinarian and from some of my friends.  I tried to find sites on the Internet that discussed natural death and was overwhelmed by sites that encouraged euthanasia.  I began to doubt myself.  Here is a quote from a popular website which seems to be a standard response.  “Keeping your cat alive and suffering because you cannot deal with his death isn’t humane.  When he can’t enjoy even the most basic of life’s pleasures, such as eating, ask yourself: Is it time?”  Am I picking up on a contradiction?  Isn’t it more like, we euthanize our pets because we can’t deal with death?  Does mainstream America turn a blind eye to the process of dying and death?  And if so, maybe we should think about why.

Anyways, maybe I wrote this to reassure those who are making a decision to let their cat die naturally.  Or maybe I just wrote this to reassure myself.  Whatever the reason… it comes down to two things, is your cat comfortable, and your philosophy of life and death.

Patti Waltz

(cat illustrator of Patti’s Paw cat art cards)


  1. Annie Fain Liden Says:

    Hi Patti,
    I met you the other day at the Handmade in America social. You’re right. Your “natural death vs euthanasia” entry really hits home for me in relation to the story about my grandmother that I told you. We’ve all just gotta do what our hearts tell us to right? Right!
    Also, Your website is great! I like how you can read the story on the back of the card.
    It was great meeting you, thanks again for the Banjo Kitty Card. Annie Fain

  2. Pat Says:

    My handsome Wolfgang died Thursday, 3/4/10 at 1:15am. My Wolfie, named after Mozart was a rebellious, crazy kitty in the beginning, but at the end of his 15yrs, he was a loving, warm and very friendly little guy. He died with me holding him, he wasn’t in pain (had he been in pain I would have euthanized him). I held him for 8 hours, almost continuously until I had to put him on a blanket on the floor and I stroked him as his heart stopped. Crying and telling him how wonderful he was and that I was honored to have had him as my kitty. Thanking him for trusting me and allowing me that honor. It was really tough. I have never been through this with an animal only a human being, but my boyfriend knew what was coming and kept me courageous. I miss Wolfgang so much. I have two other kitties and depending on what they need I don’t know if I can do this again. If they have pain, then I will take them to a Vet, otherwise, well I don’t want to think about it.

    Thank you for writing about letting your pet die naturally. I too have been brainwashed and euthanized a kitty thinking it was better. We don’t know how to deal with death in our culture, but other cultures honor it and understand it and don’t deny it, they mourn as I am now. I am glad I found this and I could comment. God Bless.

  3. Melonie P. Morris Says:

    Just this morning, my Scout passed from feline leukemia, the third kitty in a little over 1 year to pass from FeLV. I chose to allow all three to die naturally, watching them closely for any obvious signs of pain or distress, at which time I would have had them euthanized at home by a holistic vet. I did not actually witness the death of the first two, but stayed up all last night with my Scout till she passed at 6:45 a.m. I’ve heard it said that some folks avoid euthanasia because they can’t let go, and that some do it because they don’t want to be bothered. I have dealt with my three on an individual basis, based on their decline. I read some of a book by Rita Reynolds that helped also. I talked with each of them, verbally and mentally, and tried to recognize what each of them wanted me to do. With Scout, I watched her breathing closely because her hematocrit was only 9, so her oxygen level was low. When she entered what I saw as the final phase last night, I made a pallet and stayed up all night with her. I do hope that I did as she wished, by letting her die naturally. It certainly is not pleasant to watch or listen to, but it wasn’t my comfort I was concerned with. I wanted Scout to die on her own terms; however, had she been gasping for air versus resting comfortably during the past week, I would have made a different decision. Now, I know that she is free from any unseen pain and illness, gone on a new adventure, and restored to full health. I have been divinely blessed to have had her in my life for the past 2 years.

  4. Shannon Says:

    My beautiful kitty is dying as I write this. I have struggled with the question of euthanize or wait. I am waiting. He has been lying outside under the eaves of my house for 5 days now. I brought him in the first night but he lay by the door and cried. He has chosen his spot and it is not to be indoors. On several nights I have made my bed right next to him on a blanket in the garden mulch. He still, with much effort sits up to drink from I cup I hold for him once or twice a day. Food is of no interest. He seems peaceful, then struggles to change position and again lies calmly, breathing steadily, softly with his head on his paw. I am watching for any sign of pain. The vet gave me a sedative/pain killer to give him if he is struggling, but so far, he just seems to be waiting. The intelligence that is his hallmark is still in his eyes along with the sadness of leaving all that he loved and the exhaustion of being fully spent and ready to move on. I talk to him. He listens and we wait. I hope it is soon. This is so hard. I love him so much.

  5. Patti Waltz Says:

    I think the important thing is that your cat is comfortable and warm. I’m not an expert at dealing with end of life issues with pets by no means, so I would find out from your vet the cause of the disorder. It may be that it is treatable. If not, what you are up against is a difficult decision, but important to contemplate. Many people cannot deal with the process of dying, not just death, the process of watching someone they love fade away. And I feel, for those that aid their dying loved ones with peace and comfort, gain a deeper wisdom from these challenging life experiences.
    Blessings to your dear companion, I know how difficult it is. And remember to take time for yourself. You are part of that bigger picture, so don’t forget to comfort yourself as well.

    (As an aside, Sequoia was in the process of dying during the cold month of March in North Carolina. And, knowing how much she liked to stay warm, I set her up with a heated cat bed that I placed under my chair in the studio of my apartment. She loved it, and it keep her comfortably warm 24-7.)

  6. Mandy Says:

    I can’t thank you enough for writing this article. My 18 year old cat is declining rapidly and I have been in such turmoil over deciding whether or not to euthanize him. I feel very pressured by my vet, the vet’s staff, and others and keep hearing phrases such as “quality of life”. I, on the other hand, personally believe that a natural death is an important part of a natural life and feel that by allowing my buddy to die a natural death that I am helping him to have “quality of death”. If I felt that he was suffering greatly and in terrible pain I might feel differently. Thank you again so much for sharing your insights, they have been immensely helpful to me today. Namaste.

  7. Susan Says:

    thank you for this. I am typing with my nearly 17 year old cat, Walden, asleep beside me. Over the past 2 weeks he has gone from normal health to not eating or drinking, and is clearly dehydrated and dying but not in any distress; he still purrs when he touch him. My husband is in favor of natural death and I am more uneasy. I really appreciate everyone’s thoughts.

  8. Kim Says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I lost my Macie today. She was a very quiet kitty, liked to hide and lay under my son’s bed. She was diagnosed with renal failure about a month ago and declined rapidly. This morning I felt that she was going downhill fast, and after getting back from taking my boys to school thought that she had only an hour or two left. I did not think she was suffering, she was just laying quietly. I laid beside her and thought I would stroke her as she died. It turned into an ordeal that has me questioning my every decision. An hour turned into two, then three, and nearing four. She got to the point where she was not able to move, could barely lift her head from the floor, she would try to meow but couldn’t. I started to feel as though she may have been suffering so I called the vet. By the time I was putting her in the car she was making these gasping sounds every so often. Once at the vet, she still had a heartbeat when the tech first looked at her, but by the time the vet got in there she had passed.
    Now I am feeling terrible guilt for not taking her sooner, I feel like I let her lay there and suffer for all that time unnecessarily. but then I try to tell myself that if I thought she was truly suffering I would have taken her in. then part of me wishes I would have not taken her at all and let her pass at home so that her last conscious moments wouldn’t have been rushing to the vet. I am feeling intense guilt that I didn’t do the right thing, but I think I would feel that way regardless of what I did. I am so filled with sorrow because the emotion of the day is still raw and I cannot stop crying for her. I was starting to feel very bad reading everything on the web about easing their suffering, and that is what starting me feeling like I just sat there and watched her suffer for no reason. I am being tormented and just want to know that she knew I wasn’t making her suffer for no reason.

  9. Patti Waltz Says:

    Kim ~
    I’m so sorry for your loss. When a pet passes on, I don’t think it is unusual to wonder if we did the right thing. And we are not use to watching our pet companions die, it is sad, and can be tormenting, whichever route we take. I am going through the same thing with my cat Minnie Mouser now, and that is part of the reason why I haven’t replied sooner, because I am feeling preoccupied with her. She is almost 16. She has lost half her body weight over the past year due to hyperthyroidism, and there may be an underlying problem as well. I’ve been battling in my mind that heavy decision of whether to put her down, or let her die on her own. Two weeks ago she was peeing outside of the litter box, and having problems urinating. I was about to have her euthanized. Then found out that she had a urinary tract infection and also needed the dosage of her medications lowered. So I waited. And in the interim, I made the decision to let her die on her own.
    If you let your cat die on it’s own, be prepared to bear witness to the process of death. The process is beyond our control, and can be slow. Three weeks ago Minnie Mouser began to refuse her usual healthy diet. I scrambled around to different pet food suppliers to find her something she would like. She didn’t want any high quality food, she finally settled on Fancy Feast chicken and gravy or shrimp and salmon in gravy, with yogurt as a side dish, and a little vanilla ice cream for dessert. Anything to please her at this point. Two days ago, she stopped eating completely. She is only drinking water. She likes it cold, and fresh from the refrigerator tap several times a day. So that’s what she gets. She is getting weaker. She prefers to sleep peacefully, in the dark, nestled within her cat bed, under my bed. She probably will pass within the week. I expect that on her final day she will not want to move from her bed. I will be there for her, at the same time, giving her space, if that is what she wants, so that she can pass away peacefully.
    Kim, all we can do, is do our best. You were listening to your feelings, and lovingly responding to your cats situation as you saw fit at the time. Don’t badger yourself for the decision you made. We all have a tendency to do that. And there is always the opportunity to do things differently in the future. I have had to make the decision to euthanize some of my beloved cats in the past. My first cat, Pork Chop, had kidney failure at the age of 13 years, and she was euthanized. It was a rushed decision, and unfortunately, I was not even in the room to comfort her when she was passed. It was horrible, but I learned from that. My cat Bubba Boy was put down 7/7/1999. For him, I had the vet come out to my property and had him put down in a beautiful place outdoors. I had him surrounded with candles and symbolic objects that represented my life with him. I recited a prayer to him at the moment he was being euthanized. My veterinarian was someone whom I felt comfortable with and I knew that she would understand the ceremony that she was chosen to be part of. My veterinarian was the one that cried, after it was all over, and told me through her tears that it was “a good death”. If you are thinking of having a pet euthanized, having it take place in the pets familiar home environment is honorable way to go without stressing out the cat.
    Whether we decide to have a cat put down, or to die naturally, is a personal decision and it depends on the condition of the cat. Whichever decision you choose, I would keep the surroundings calm. Whatever happens, happens, and know that you made the decision in the name of love. That is all we can do. You made the best decision that you could at the time. Watching someone we love die is difficult, no matter which route we chose for our beloved companions. Be kind to yourself for the decision you made.

  10. Warren Says:

    I am right now going through this with my 18 year old companion, Sam I Am. He stopped eating completely 5 or 6 days ago. He is quiet and appears comfortably resting on his blanket in a little nook under the bed. He purrs weakly when I stroke him. I don’t know how long this will take and therein lies my pain. Am I doing the right thing waiting for him to die naturally or should I have the vet come and help him along?

  11. Joan Says:

    Samantha Whiskers lies next to me as I read these entries. She is 16 years, 44 days. She is the daughter of a feral cat, Samantha, adopted by my teenage daughter. Whiskers was born in a closet in my home and we knew immediately that we had to keep her.
    The stories on this website sound so much like ours; we do not have a diagnosis. We knew that we would not go to extraordinary means to prolong her life at this sunset age. When she was 5, she had a seizure on a very hot summer day. Her pupils grew huge, her rear quarter was paralyzed, and she ran in frantic circles. She was blind, partially paralyzed, and not eating. We were sure she would not live the night. We decided that if she lived we would take her to the vet for recovery next day. It was in the 100s that week. When we awoke, she had broken out of the screen , jumped to the ground and was gone. A week later, we heard a meow at the door and there she was, limping, seeing poorly, but alive. Every day since then has been a bonus. Right now, she has lost a lot of weight and eats and drinks erratically. But she’s been “herself”, perking up when I got home from work, following me and getting under my feet as always. This morning she gobbled her first meal, and then ate a second. I came home later and she was nearly immobile and her breathing had changed. A family member was scolding me for allowing her to suffer. He had not seen her for months, and yes, it is shocking. She is frail and was falling down for the last 2 days. I called 3 vets but it’s the week end so nobody would see us. I was sure she will die within 24 hours. When I went to see her after making the calls, she had raised herself up and was walking around. I was sure she had heard me planning her death. So, now, she is mostly sleeping, breathing rhythmically but with a wheeze, and still responsive to my every move next to her. But I am giving her space and hope that she will drift off easily. I do not know what I will do if this continues for days; I may give in and euthanize her. But for now, I will sleep in the room with her and pray for courage to stay with her. It is amazing how unacceptable death has become. I lost a child due to natural causes, and I became so aware of how unacceptable death is in our culture.
    I am so grateful to the author of this website and to the contributors. I feel that a natural death is a viable alternative, unless I see suffering or pain. We have had 5 adopted or rescued feral cats over my lifetime. Usually they go off to die. This is the first one to stay close. She has brought us much joy, warming us after work on a winter’s day by lying on our laps, giving us equal time. She always had to touch; but lately, she prefers her space….I will miss that most of all…sleep peacefully, dear Whiskers, and dream sweetly. And God, give me the strength and wisdom to do the right thing and help others to understand my choice.

  12. candie Says:

    my vet pressured me to have my dear cat pts when i was in a very emotional state and then i found out she had a stroke from which she might have recovered. i feel tormented with guilt

  13. BJR70 Says:

    I’m struggling with this right now. Gracie, my beloved 19-year-old cat has a respiratory infection and is not getting any better. I am struggling with the idea of putting her down vs letting her go naturally. She is on medication but is not responding.

    Gracie does not appear to be in any pain, but is not improving. :( Thank you for writing this. I don’t want her last moments full of fear or stress, but if possible I want her to be with me and in her home where she feels safe.

    This has been impossibly hard but it’s nice to know that others have struggled with the idea of allowing things to take their course. Thankfully my vet has not pressured me one way or another, saying instead that they were here to support my decision.

    It’s in God’s hands now. I just hope I can keep her pain-free and let things take their course.

  14. Kristi Says:

    Dear Patti,
    Thank you so much for these moving and touching posts. I’m writing this response as we were helped not only by your sweet posts but also the responses of the others who took time to write in and add their experiences to it.

    My husband and I were helped so much yesterday by this page that we thank you with all our hearts, for your love & compassion in writing it. We had been watching our dear cat Spooky (at 16 years of age) have the same problems as your dear Minnie Mouser (and our cat Spooky coincidentally looked a lot like her!) and toward the end, he too only wanted the fancy feast food with gravy. He mostly licked the gravy off. He also had the hyperthyroidism and had lost a lot of weight in the past year. We were able to get his thyroid pills down him in those handy little cat food “pill pockets” and so he got a little better for awhile.

    But then this past Monday he woke up unable to walk steadily and had become very weak in his back legs. He had been to the vet the week before (as we were worried about him, as he was eating 5 times a day but was still losing weight) and his tests had come back okay for his age, except for the thyroid one- and another one that started with a p, I think, that was very high. The vet wasn’t clear as to what that particular test meant as it was a different one than the typical “failing-kidneys” blood test (which that test seemed to be reading okay for him.) So we thought/hoped we would have more time with him by adjusting his thyroid medication again. But alas it was not to be. I cried when I saw his unsteady walking (back legs collapsing under him) on Monday morning as I knew that was a sign of the end coming. We called the vet again and asked what we could do, if anything, to make him more comfortable. They were wonderful at returning our phone calls and consulting with us over the phone so we didn’t have to stress him further by taking him back in again. They told us some things that we might expect as he was dying (as they agreed that he was) and were patient with our questions.

    So I stayed close by his side from Monday on and tried to be brave for him as I watched him decline more and more. Tuesday he could only walk short distances before he had to lie down and was no longer eating or drinking much. By Wednesday he was asking to be put in his favorite chair and any other place he wanted to go- we would carry him. So we were very surprised when we couldn’t find him in our fenced backyard on Wed. In five years here he had never gotten out- so we had a hard time believing he hadn’t come back in the house and was just somewhere we hadn’t found yet but we looked everywhere and he wasn’t in the house. Turns out he had used the last of his walking energy to visit our next door neighbors much lusher :) green lawn and make himself a napping spot in the shade of a pine tree on the grass. He was happy to see me but couldn’t get up and so I carried him home and sat with him in his favorite spot in our backyard for the rest of the day. (I’m a self-employed artist as so thankfully was able to do that.)

    He didn’t seem as if he was in pain and so my husband and I wanted him to die surrounded by lots of love as he had always given us so much and wanted him to die at home with us, if possible. (I am very sensitive to the suffering of animals and so I would have had the vet come to the house to give him a shot if he was in obvious distress or pain.) But he was so sweet and even though very weak, he would still show us glimpses of his fun personality. Even so, I was in a little bit of doubt as to what to do for his sake, as I didn’t know how long this process would take (in our case it ended up being four days)… and mostly wanted reassurance that what I was choosing for all of us was okay and so I got on-line and there you were! This popped up first and I’m so glad as after reading it.. I didn’t want/need to read anything else.

    Your compassion toward others in making their decisions is wonderful. Your comments were very helpful and we also appreciated the comments from others on this page- Mandy’s comment about “quality of death” also stayed with me and helped me be brave in watching Spooky this week. Of course, I cried and cried and tried not to around Spooky but being so sensitive to animals, I couldn’t help it sometimes when he was being so sweet. We’re so glad that we could wait with him and have this special time with him even thought it was very very hard because we loved him so much. It was also hard because of course I didn’t want him to die. “Natural” or not, death cheats us of more time with those we love and so of course, I don’t like it. I chose to spend the time thanking him for all the wonderful years of love he’d given us instead of kicking at death for taking him away from us.

    Even though he’d become deaf in the last couple of years, I talked to him anyway- somehow hoping that he could sense the vibrations through my chest when I was holding him or read my body language when I wasn’t. I petted him off & on.. sometimes giving him space and then reassuring (or distracting him) with petting when on the last day he seemed to be getting uncomfortable on occasion. We both stayed with him all day Thursday as his breathing became slower and we would help him sit up when he wanted to for a minute, or help him change sides when it seemed that he wanted to lie on the other side for awhile. He liked soft blankets sometimes and the plain floor at other times this week but toward the end he liked having his head supported a little higher than the rest of his body by the towel/blanket cradling his head and his back. He seemed to like pushing his paws against things and so my husband would put his hand out for him to push against or if he was holding him, his legs & paws would push against my husband’s (his favorite human’s) tummy. He was a Havana Brown breed of cat and they love to communicate with their paws so we would also hold and pet his paws as well as his head.

    I appreciated your comment about the cold water from the fridge, as I tried that after reading your post and he really liked that. He even managed to drink a bit of it after playing in it with his paws (he loved playing with water all his life so much- that even in his weak state- he still wanted to try.)

    It was very touching to us that he took his last breath last night while cradled in my husband’s arms while they were together in their favorite chair.

    After a while,we laid him gently on a towel on the floor and let the other two cats we have, see him. We had read that advice and it made sense to us- so that they wouldn’t wonder where he had just “disappeared to” and it seems to have worked. They have not called for him today and seem to be sticking close to us but are at peace.

    While I had been waiting with him this week, I had made a beaded necklace whose different colored beads and charms represented all the places we had lived and adventures we had had with him. I put that on him and then we lovingly buried him in his favorite spot and that made us feel better too. I know that’s not always possible for people to do, but in this instance it was and for that I’m very grateful. I’m so thankful to God that we were blessed to know Spooky in this life and I look forward to seeing him again in heaven. I know he has plenty of company there to play with till we get there. :)

    Thank you for letting me share the experiences I had this week with you. My husband and I feel “right” about the choice we made to let him go naturally here at home, making him as comfortable as we could. So I’m at peace but my heart is sad because I miss him so much today, as he was such a presence in our lives and there is a hole in my life (and my kitchen :) now,) where his fuzzy little face used to be. But I am allowing myself to feel the grief and walk through it.

    I know time will hopefully help ease the sadness I’m feeling.

    Thank you again for your gift of warm wisdom on these pages.

  15. Kristi Says:

    Hi.. Kristi here from the previous post.. just wanted to correct a mistake I made. Spooky walked to the neighbor’s front yard on Tuesday. He was also too weak on Wednesday to have gone anywhere, so I had also spent the whole day with him Wednesday helping him be where he wanted to be. Wednesday evening we carried him out to lay on the lawn by my husband (while he did yard work) and a beautiful rainbow came out over the two of them while they were out there. It was so touching to see the two of them together with that rainbow overhead. I’ll never forget it.

  16. Sarah Says:

    Good to read all the comments on here. My cat Sam died a natural death in March of this year but I too remember struggling because of the lack of info. The vet had said that due to renal failure he probably wouldnt last too long but shouldnt be in any pain. As we had some leave we decided to look after him and only consider euthanasia if he seemed in pain. Before any owner considers this route it is important to know what to expect during the dying phase. From what I had read I expected Sam to get sleepier and for death to be quicker. In total it took four days, sleepless nights. He was calm and not showing pain so I was not concerned from that perspective. Just kept him warm and sat with him. The day before he died he had some small fits and there was some ‘head wobbling’, a rigid coma followed which he stayed in for the next few hours. His breathing was normal sounding but more shallow, no gasping. He was also incontinent of urine at this time. All through this I looked for signs of pain and as far as I could tell there were none. I had doubts, especially at 4am in the morning. Was i doing the right thing? This is taking too long? Is he suffering but can’t express that he is? About an hour before he died the rigid coma left him and he was the soft floppy cat he had always been. The family were around him gently talking when he took his final breaths and felt honoured to do so, we were glad he didnt have to go through the trauma of going to the vets aven though we had the trauma of witnessing the dying process. It has to be the right decision for you, your family and your circumstances. (if we hadnt have been on leave we couldnt have devoted the time dying needs so he would have been euthanased). The natural route can be more painful due to the biological process, please equip yourself for that. I work in a care home and have seen ‘natural death’ many times so that helped for me. xx

  17. Jeannette Says:

    Dear Patti,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for creating this blog. My dear Baby girl died just a couple of days back, at home. She started to get sick back in the summer (we recall that it came after eating a bird). After antibiotics she appeared to be recovering again although was drinking quite a lot of water. But then she went down with a runny nose, this subsided but she then had a runny eyes and nose which again went away after after a few days of salt water washes. Then quite suddenly we noticed a tumor evident inside her nose. After this her breathing became difficult and she was constantly knocking the thing off which would bleed, heal and block her nose again. She’d always been more of a biscuit cat than a meat eater but she could no longer feed herself. I did take her to the vet a couple of times; the emergency vet broke my bank and left me struggling to pay them before I could take her back to my own vet. He mumbled chemotherapy, small chance, £2,000 plus….what could I do? :( I took her home and watched over her, fed her daily by spoon and pippet. She was up and down until about a week or so ago she suddenly looked really well, shiney coat,loved the mackerel I was liquidising for her and would ask me to feed her; she still couldn’t feed herself and didn’t drink but started coming back to sit with me or my son and had started talking again. We felt blessed and I hardly dared hope she was on the mend…my son on the other hand was convinced she was getting well. Then on Monday night I walked in the door at around 7.00 and as she rose to meet me she just fell over weak; she didn’t recover but after seemingly walking into the corner with no idea of where she was she let us put her in her bed. My son and I sat with her for the next few hours, talking to her, stroking her and after a couple of small fits she went stiff as tho in a coma. She would make little moves as we mentioned her name but eventually it was clear she was no longer lucid. I put her beside me at 1.00 am and stroked her until around 2.00 but must have fallen asleep. At around 3.00 something woke me. I reached down and realised she was still slightly warm but she was gone. My son said something also woke him at around the same time.

    I realise some pets are just that, pets. And some pets take on a character of their own, they eke into your family and become one with you. this was she, smart, sweet, never asking for food but always wanting cuddles…so she got the lot! My other two cats are also adored but it was she who would stand on her back legs with her paws out to be picked up like a ‘baby’ and she who would knock at the letterbox to let the three of them in.

    I heard from a friend who had a bad exerience with euthanasia. For me, on this occasion, the time was right, the natural way was right. she went in her own time, she chose. I know she had a couple of fits but then I watched my husband and my father do the same and was assured they felt nothing. I don’t think she suffered, I hope she didn’t but I am glad for her and for all of us that we didn’t listen to the vet and we had some 2 months more than he would have given her. She came out to the garden with us, sat with us and slept beside us. when it was her time she went peacefully, I believ it was right. #thank you so much Patti, after reading the letters you started here I am convinced it was right this time. xx

  18. Melissa Says:

    Thank you sooo much for this. My story is alot like many of the others. My Roni died yesterday at the age of 14-15 yrs. He was a beautiful Blonde Maine Coon. B He died in the comfort of his own home with his family around him and our other cat, who had been his partner for the past 8 years. It was soo hard to do, but I am convinced I did the right thing. I couldn’t bear to have to take him to a cold, smelly vet clinic and choose the time for him to die. We dont do that to our dying family members, so why do it to our beloved pets (unless of course they are suffering) he went from old but normal in 10 days to his death, a rapid decline, but again not suffering. He got to lay in my bed and eat his fave food for his last few small meals, drank water until he could no longer get up to use the bathroom or drink, which was only the last 36 hrs or so. he died pretty peacefully, a little twitching and gasping for a few minutes before the end came, but he responded to me until seconds before he passed. I got to hold him and tell him how much i loved him all that time, and talked to him endlessly about the wonderful 15 years we had together. I love him and miss him, but I definitely believe a natural death is the best thing. We all live and die. Thank you Patti.

  19. Kathy Geary Says:

    It’s hard to do this with my cat Vladimir. He would be 20 yrs old this may, but 2 months ago he started to lose weight and now it is his last days. He stopped eating three days ago and now only drinks. He’s calm, not meowing. I’m sleeping with him on the couch since I’m afraid he’ll try to jump down from the bed and hurt himself. I’ve never been with an animal when they pass. I’m scared and trying to be strong so he won’t sense my anxiety. He’s taking little sips of water. I’ve considering taking him to the Vet but after reading so many posts about this I’ve decided to spend this last time with him at home, where he wants to be, with me at his side as he as been unquestioningly at my side all this life. This is one of the hardest things I have had to do. But it’s a gift to share this with him as he leaves. I read about going stiff like in a coma before the end for a few hours. I’m so afraid to witness this struggle, but he is the one who is facing that transition and I am the one who will learn from him how it is done. Thank God my friend Kevin is here with me or I would not be able to face this without his support. It gives me a chance to give my boycat all the love I can, unto the end.

  20. Kathy Geary Says:

    And I also wanted to thank you Patti for having this blog, it’s very comforting to read everyone’s stories.

  21. jennifer Says:

    I am struggling with this issue with my sweet 19 year old cat. She is in end stage of renal disease. She’s down to 6 pounds and eats just a few bites a day. I am giving her sub-q treatments each evening, which seems to help a bit. Until Sunday, she still wanted to sleep with me, but now she spends all of her time in her carrier in the kitchen. Once the quintessential lap cat, she no longer wants to be held Since Sunday, she’s been unable to jump on her favorite resting spots. She doesn’t seem to be in pain, though she clearly feels rotten. The vet (and other family members) are urging me to euthanize. I’ve done it before with two other cats and believed at the time it was the right decision. But, for some reason, with this cat, I can’t seem to bring myself to do it. I so desperately don’t want her to suffer, though. Am struggling with whether we owe it to our cats to make that hard decision to spare them more pain.

  22. Lisa Says:

    Thank you.

    We are doing the “death watch” on Rosco, our sweet beloved mackerel tabby.

    16 months of hyperthyroidism, cardiomyopathy, and pilling him twice a day. And since the end of November, a lung tumor that makes him sneeze. But for most of that time he seemed like an active healthy cat to anyone that did not know he was on 5 medications.

    He had lost a lot of weight, about 4 pounds since November, and was not eating well because of the sneezing. We changed medication about 10 days ago, dropped the diuretic, upped the steroid. He stopped eating (we were force feeding him last 10 days to get his weight up also). In his prime, the Jehovia Wittnesses would stop by and ask when he was going to have his kittens. Top weight was 20 lbs, long story involving a Siamese in kidney failure.

    He gave me that look yesterday, after a Vet visit to check his condition and blood levels. Now I find he is in kidney failure (diuretic, steroid?), last week and a half. The Vet was so stressful, meowed and howled all the way home.

    So we are done. No more pills, no force feeding. No more Vets, unless I think he is in distress. I think he is in a coma now. I will keep him warm and clean, and keep him close. We will call a Vet to come to the house if this goes downhill. He had a great 14 months or so after we first thought we were going to lose him, very playful with the other cat, kitty dust wallows, and the garden and huge catnip plants. He lived long enough to move back into a new house on the property he grew up on (11 months). About an acre and a half, with a field and a barn, and giant fir trees. He had a very good 15 years. I know he loved us, and knows we loved him very much. Every cat that lives dies, and I hope he goes peacefully. He had a great summer, and I feel blessed to have had that bonus time with him. There is nothing more we can do to give him extra time at this point.

    Of the four things that could kill him, I think it is the tumor that is doing him in. I also told him that if he comes back, make sure he does not go to China.

    He just started making bad noises, not sure if we will decide to call the Vet in or not. Wish him luck. He has had enough of Vets, and he is so tierd. I just do not want him to suffer any more than he has to. This could be over tonight, or it could last a week. I hope I have the strength to do right by him. Death is never good, but some deaths are worse than others.

    Rosco will be missed.

    -He is gone, and I am on this damn computer, but he is at peace.

  23. Micheal Says:

    My Mishka died at home early this morning as a result of complications due to hyperthyroidism. He held on as long as he could, without the appearance of any suffering. A few hours before he passed I gave him his last meal of butter on a spoon, and got an uncharacteristic epic purrr in return.

    I knew right away when he went from resting, to the shutting down process towards death. I think he was a little bit afraid of what he was feeling, so I gave him very small doses of buprenorphine as things progressed. I think this helped with any fear he may have had, and did a lot in my mind to help ensure any suffering was minimized or removed completely. I held him closely until the end.

    Your posting, and the comments helped me to decide to let my cat die in a natural way, on his own time, and at home with his family. It was a raw, and difficult process (for the humans), yet genuine and dignified.

    RIP Mishka
    07/27/1998 – 02/28/2012

  24. Marcie Says:

    Thank you all for these posts. I am allowing an older cat to die naturally now, and, as many of you have experienced, have drawn criticism which is why I’m online seeking support for what so few people see as a good decision. I worked at a vet clinic years ago and I’ve seen good euthanasias and bad ones. They aren’t all easy and good. People put too much into that “Putting to sleep” euphemism.
    I think you have to make the call, hard though it is, of what the CAT would want- home or vet clinic? Euthanasia or natural?
    My very spicy tempered cat, who has had to be anesthetized in order to be examined her whole life, would rather die than go to the vet clinic again (sorry- bad humour but very true). I think I am doing what she would want and she is not in apparent pain as she sinks. I put her through a lot to keep her healthy during her life. Now as her life draws to a close I am letting her stay in her own bed to end it.
    Another cat I allowed to die naturally at home was very frightened of strangers and the vet office. Her final days at home were peaceful and, except for a few convulsed breaths at her final moments, all was okay. In fact, her death was almost identical to my mother’s death which made me think and to allow this second cat to also have the natural option.
    I wish people didn’t look at me as though I were a monster when I tell them I’m letting another kitty die at home. When I tell them my mother died at home they act like I’m strange trying to draw a comparison. But, I’ve been there, I’ve seen it. And trust me, it is the same. It’s death through old age and organ failure. The only thing that is different is how people treat you.
    I’m not against euthanasia.I have euthanized animals. I just want the option to make the choice for my pet as I think they want it and I want it as comfortable for them as I can make it.

  25. Kristin Says:

    Wow! I just want to say ‘thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this! I’m going through a similar situation and have decided to let my cat die naturally, at home (he doesn’t appear to be in pain) and it’s reaffirming to find someone who feels as I do!

  26. David Says:

    I had my sweet 15 year old Makena euthanized three days ago, and now I have deep regret that I did not honor her life by allowing her to stay home and die a natural death. She had been going downhill for a couple of months (after drinking excess water due to kidney failure for 9 months), and had lost almost half her body weight. Her normal weight was just 7.5 lbs, so she was reduced to fur over bones.

    Her hind legs were going lame, and for some strange reason she decamped to the bathroom vanity and commode top (both hard surfaces) as her safe resting places. [The bathroom was closer than the bedroom to her food bowls and litter box, and if I carried her back in the bedroom where she spent most of her life, she would quickly gallop right back to the bathroom.]

    She was not sleeping and would have occasional tremors, and had enormous difficulty getting into a comfortable position. At times she would nod off and fall over into the bathtub! She no longer used the litter box, so my partner and I decide to euthanize her, rather than watch her go downhill even further.

    The trip to the vet was terrifying for her, and I will never forget the haunting last look of fear on her face when I walked away from her. I did not witness her euthanization, so I will never know if she went easy or was in great distress.

    I am retired, so I could have easily watched over her and made her comfortable in her final days. I only wish I could roll back the clock three days, and do this over the right way.

  27. Lauren Says:

    Others have already said it, but I just want to thank you so much for this site and all the previous posters with their stories.

    Our fourteen year old kitty Simba, was diagnosed with kidney failure six weeks ago and we discussed at length what to do when the time comes for his passing. It amazed me how few and far between the resources are for those who do not wish to have their pets “put to sleep.” We decided that we would rather have Simba pass naturally, which of course to many translates to “suffering unnecessarily.” What many fail to understand is just how difficult it is to arrive at such a decision. I have had Simba since I was seven years old and we’ve been through a lot. I want him to know what’s happening, rather than take him to the vet (a place he hates), stress him more in his final hours, and be euthanized while unaware of what is happening. Just as we want all living creatures to have a good quality of life, we must also bear the responsibility of a quality of death.

    I would never judge someone for “putting their animal to sleep” and I would hope that no one would judge me for my choice for a natural death for Simba. Shouldn’t we all just love each other in these difficult moments? No decision here is an easy decision, certainly.

    Love to all of you who have lost or are in the process of losing a loved one.

  28. Devoted Pet Owner Says:

    Thank you so much for your site. I could barely find any information on the internet about letting your pet die naturally but neverending sites about euthanizing pets. I have had pet’s before growing up and euthanizing is usually how their lives ended. I have been struggling with the decision after recently being given an at home euthanization referral by my pet’s oncologist who also told me my pet was not in pain from the cancer. I had an emergency er visit that following day for a blood transfusion, my pet is severely anemic because of chemo treatments, and was told by the onstaff ER vet it would be inhumane to let my pet die naturally and if i couldn’t afford the transfusion then maybe I should euthanize my pet. Then given all these papers to fill out and asked to leave a large deposit. My oncologist never had me fill out papers or leave a deposit. I was also told by the vet the reason her estimate for the transfusion was higher than average was because my pet was half dead. I thought the vet’s behavior toward me was inhumane.

    At this point I began to really question was I wrong for considering natural death. I wondered if I was struggling because I wasn’t ready to let go, but I have been there when family members have passed naturally in hospitals and at home so I am no stranger to death. I consider my pet of 16 years to be family. I do not want to put my pet through the misery of anymore vet or ER visits. My pet HATES going to the vet and will use every last bit of energy to let the vet know.

    Everyone has to make their own decisions. Most people who struggle with this decision genuinely have great love for their pets and should be able to decide without judgement.
    It’s not easy to watch my pet grow weaker each day. I fear I will come home and find my pet dead or worry if I am making the right thing. Then I stop to remind myself it is not about me and what “I” want. My pet has a fiesty fighter independent spirit but loves to cuddle, be petted, and held like a baby. I read all the euthanization articles about, “quality of life,” I can assure you after watching family members die their quality of life was no better than my pets. Two of them were in comas for 1-3 weeks, none of them could walk, or wanted to eat. I am not sure when my pet’s passing will happen and I am not going to try to control when it happens but I hope to be here when it happens.

  29. T Says:

    THANK YOU for this blog. I am once again toiling with this. This is long as it is a way for me to get this out and off my chest. There is so conclusion here–sorry–just thoughts. Thanks in advance for reading it! I went through an awful ordeal when my first cat reached the age of 21 and was euthanized. She had a brain tumor and had terrible attacks. I was home from college that summer and she longed to sit with me and that is what we did all summer long. One day I made the decision after watching a violent attack and smelling a very disgusting odor in her drool for weeks, that we should take her in to the vet to be “put to sleep.” Like many readers have mentioned, the euthanization was a violent death as they could not find a vein and she screamed through the whole process…this is a memory that has haunted me for some 25 years and turns my stomach even as I write–dusty did not want to go, why was I so dumb as to not hear her wish? FF–Three years ago, our dear cat Ambrose at the age of 11, became sick–not one vet could diagnose what he had. The pet ER suggested euthanization. The minute I repeated the word back to the vet, Ambrose looked at me and gave me the “get me out of here” look I wish I would have read when Dusty expressed it so many years before. The ER tech was terse with me when I refused and warned that I had at best a few days with him…we took him home and we had six more months together as a happy human and 2-cat family. Even in sickness, he gave his younger housemate a game of “try and catch my tail” from time to time. After some agonizing times throughout those months, I remember thinking “why does he not die?” In tears one night over his weakness , I squeeked this phrase out to my husband and again, Amby looked at me as if to say “hey, I know what you are talking about, I will go when it is time!” I felt like crap about my insensitivity. One day when I was out visiting with my own sick father, Ambrose passed at home in my husband’s arms–Amby loved my husband. My husband said Amby cried and dropped off his bed and my hub picked him up and sat with him on his chest for an hour and then he passed. We curled him up in his bed so his housemate could see he had passed. I was devastated for a good year, but I had peace. I could not have asked for a better end and I really prayed for that end after the “euthanasia” experience of my youth. So why write again–well my little girl of three has lymphoma —her eye bulges from a tumor behind her eye. Her three housemates adore her (needless to say we do too, but she was real rescue and has never been a cuddler with us, so she is hard to read–she loves our one fluffy male.) She still enjoys sitting in the sun, getting washed by her favorite beau and watching the birds and squirrels from her perch. She is losing weight, but eating, and two tumors are making her rather knobly looking. My new vet is working with me, but no lie, the eye looks terrible and I imagine she is thinking that I am cruel. Again, the pet ER got her set for the big E during one panicked visit over the eye one weekend and I said “no! I am taking her home!” Again, I got that old ” we understand your pain, but you really should think as she has at best a few days” speech–I have since learned that is Pet Er speak. I take her to the vet every 5 to 14 days to check the eye and to get pain meds for when she needs them ( so far she has not, but he does get a prednisone shot.). She has enough vigor to refuse eye drops and to run for an hour throughout the house as I try to catch her for the vet visit, but again I wonder, am I being selfish? We both feel we are not after our collective pet Euthanasia experiences, but it is disheartening when an outsider comments “oh, she is so tiny and thin” as if to say “you are just keeping her going for yourself–put her to sleep lah di dah no biggy–be grown-up–it is time to let go!” I support any of you out there in this position. If you told me your story or we met and I saw your sick pet for the first time, I would respect your efforts to let your pets live out their days at home with palliative care. Once again, we are waiting to see what happens next with our little girl. She is going to die and I accept that, but I have learned now to just treat each day with a sick pet as it comes–do not make plans–every day is a blessing with them and they will hopefully relay in the best way they can as to how they want to go. Tonight, as I watch my little girl sit in the window, happy that I am home telling her how pretty she is, I cannot help but think about what the vet will say to me tomorrow during our visit regarding making a decision and it being time to “let go”–is that what death is about? My “letting go” with a sick parent does not mean I am deciding to put him or her to “sleep” at a certain time. No, it means for me to “make them comfortable” and to make peace with the fact they are going to die with or without final days of pain. Am I wrong to believe that my pet deserves the same dignity in death, and like a person, the time of death will be decided by a power greater than all of us? If this comes up tomorrow, I will say “you are right, I need to let go, in fact, I have already let go, so has she, and therefore, right now, I am taking her home so she can hopefully pass in her favorite spot or by her favorite housemate or maybe it will be all alone when we are at work, hopefully not in agony, but at least she and I will know she was in the comfort of her own home where she is loved very much and it was the ending planned by her Maker!”

  30. Jhari Says:

    I am so glad to be able to read these entries. Right now my 15-yr.-old, Bruce is dying. I took him to the vet a week ago, diagnosis, heart failure. His abdomen was filled with fluid. I gave him lasix which the vet gave me, but now he is refusing to eat or drink. He lies on the porch all day and usually all night (it’s an enclosed porch) and sleeps, sometimes changing position. I do not want to have him put to sleep. He does not seem to be in any pain. I just pray that he goes to sleep. I rescued him when he was a young cat from an abusive home, he has been a wonderful cat. I am getting pressured from all sides to have him put down, but I will not do it unless he is in pain. This is so hard.

  31. Linda C Says:

    What a wonderful experience…I’ve had reading all these posts and the main thing I feel is the love that everyone has felt for their pets. I too am experiencing the death of my beloved 17 year old little lady. My son and I have both decided to let her die at peace at home. She has stopped eating and drinks very little. She falls down all the time, but does not seem to be in any pain, just weak. I still remember the night she came into our lives as a kitten, picked up by a rescue group because her owner wanted her put down for having ear mites! She was really not a very pretty little girl, but full of spit and vinegar. She grew into a beautiful cat with the most lovely face and sweet personality. She was raised with a couple of dogs and several other cats. She outlived all but one (another cat)whom I am sure will miss her dearly. She has had a wonderful life and is spoiled rotten by my son. I know we both will be with her when she draws her last breath and I feel it will be a privilege to give her love and comfort in her last hours on earth. If she was in pain, I would have had her euthanized by the vet, but I know that the experience is much worse and terrifying for cats. She probably would die from the trauma before the vet could even see her. We will all miss her terribly but we were so fortunate to have her in our lives for as long as we did. Thank you again for all your wonderful posts.

  32. amy Says:

    I am grateful to all of you who have shared your stories – they have helped me a lot. Yesterday morning our beloved Kora passed away at home. She had been battling kidney failure for months and developed what appeared to be a sinus infection a couple of weeks ago. I had been giving her sub-cut. fluids every day and she had to have a few perfusions at the vet a while back. The fluids I was giving her seemed to help – her kidney numbers were better at the last vet visit a couple of weeks ago – but her sinus infection didn’t go away after doing the inhalations suggested by the vet. So a couple of days ago I got antibiotics from the vet and gave started giving them to her the day before she died. I am wondering if I would have given them to her earlier, she might be with us still. But she started vomiting again that day and night. I was up with her a couple of times during the night, cleaning her up and spending time with her. Finally, I saw she was so weak, I took her to the sofa and stayed next to her for a few hours as the sun rose. She seemed uncomfortable a few times, wanting to get up and move around but being too weak, so I helped her change positions. Then she went stiff and her tongue stuck out for a few seconds. Soon after we took her out in the garden and she laid on me while we petted and held her. Her breaths became more spread apart until they finally stopped. She didn’t appear to be in any pain, but can we really tell? We did call the vet but she couldn’t come because she had a surgery that morning. I hope she didn’t suffer and I was happy we were with her in the end. We will miss her so much!

  33. BB Says:

    Thanks for this reflection. You are quite right that there is little written on this, and yet the points you make are quite accurate. The comparison with human beings (and for many of us, there is, as we say, no comparison) but also the habit we get into of handing over to professionals the things we ourselves should encounter. Mitford’s The American Way of Death points to that from an era before the present era when the oddness of hospitals and hospices and the generic professionalization of life was still patent and could be seen. Now, we don’t see it with human beings at all, and we certainly don’t see it with cats. I know, because I did the wrong thing in my own case with my own cat. So my grief is doubled. Once again, thank you.

  34. Susan Says:

    Chloe is dying as I type. One of 3 sister cats, age 17. She would choose a natural and home death, of that I am certain. When the time comes for her sisters, I may choose differently. She has been a very shy indoor cat and always hides if anyone else is visiting. She appears pain-free, but do I know? Very quiet all day, and only still breathing. I have put down 4 other pets due to health failure- all dogs, each 18 yrs. Not even a choice for Chloe. But boy, this is hard– it has been a very long day. Bless you my sweet Chloe and this website.

  35. Deon Says:

    I’ve had the same cats getting old together over the years. 3 have passed in the last few years, and like you I was not at peace with this wandering off that cats do… wanting to know their space to die was safe and undisturbed, unthreatened… and having wanted them to feel the familiar love as they go. My last old cat is at my feet right now. He hasn’t eaten for a few days or taken any water. He’s in a zone, moves now and then, barely /softly breathing. He knows I’m here. It’s hard to see him go but he’s been such a darn good and super loving cat to us for so long nothing else would be right.

  36. Belinda Says:

    I thank you too for this. There is very little information or support for those of use who choose to let our kitties go about the sad and messy business of death. We were about to put our guy down when the vet called to say she needed to come early. I couldn’t do it, and I’m glad. We had almost a week more of purring, quiet kitty, and now he’s moving slower, and sleeping more and looking scraggly, and I would say he’s just waiting. He hasn’t eaten for two weeks, I had no idea how long death would last. It’s not easy for us, but I think he’s just fine. It would have been so much easier to euthanize him, but we are all learning an amazing lesson from him and appreciating every extra loving minute we’ve had.

  37. Carey Says:

    Our cat, Meowser, passed away two days ago. He was my second natural death and both times were practically the same. My entire life I have been uncomfortable with euthanasia. Meowser was a fighter and the toughest cat I have ever known. I had pressure to put him down due to several different health issues. He had used every one of his nine lives, but he had an intense will to live. I knew he was not ready to go. So instead, I dutifully took care of him every day for almost two years. In that two years I got extra experiences and bonding that I would not trade for anything. His very last day, he spent the day outside. He could barely walk, but he kept relaxing in the sun, sniffing the air and finding the puffiest spots of grass. After coming back inside and settling back into his favorite sleeping spot (an area set up with a heater, heating pad, fluffy mattress cover and fleece blankie, he cozied up and stayed until the end the next afternoon. My husband and I were both with him and it took maybe 20 minutes. His body would stretch out and twitch. His feet would curl up and then relax back out. Every minute or so, he would take a deep breath. Not a gasp, just a deep, jagged breath. The very last breath he opened his jaw wide and stretched out all of his legs and then he was gone. We were able to talk with him the entire time and I told him over and over what a good cat he had been. I miss my buddy. But I am so glad I could give him the gift of staying home, calm, relaxed and doing all of his favorite things up until the very end.

  38. Cheryl Says:

    I just found out my dear Jazzy’s kidney’s are failing. I’ve never let my cats die naturally. I ‘ve had three of them put down and it is so awful. Cats are not pets for me or any of the other people who have commented here, they are family. We love our cats with our heart and our soul and when they leave us we grieve and feel such a void without them. I don’t know what I will do with Jazzy when she declines further. I don’t want her to suffer. I just watched my mom suffer for nine weeks until she died and I have to say there were many times as I held her hand and tried to comfort her through painful moments that I wished I could end her suffering through death. But we don’t do that with humans. There were times over that nine weeks that I wished we did. Not for me, but for my mom. Everything has a life cycle. Jazzy is my dear sweet 17 year old tortoise shell persian. I won’t let her suffer, but I won’t end her life unnaturally either. She can lead the way, unlike my mother, who had to suffer, because with humans our choices are limited.

  39. Susan Says:

    Thanks to all of you for sharing. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to each of you as you lose your precious pet. We are in the final days of losing our beloved kitty. I have been agonizing on whether to take him to the vet to end it quickly or keep him at home. It is so very hard to see him wasting away and now barely able to walk. Occassionally he will prop himself up enough to drink but he is no longer willing to lick the baby food chicken from my finger. I didn’t realize he could last up to two weeks without food. I hope he is not feeling any pain. If I knew he were in agony I would take him to be “put to sleep”, but he hates the vets office and would be so stressed out from the procedure that I will do that only as a last resort. After reading all your posts (for which I am profoundly thankful) I feel more confident of my choice to keep him home. We plan to bury him in the back yard in the corner of the garden. He loved being outside. Wishing you all peace during this letting go.

  40. Billie Says:

    Marmalade, our darling orange tabby that we rescued at the Animal Shelter 8 years ago after her previous owner abandoned her and her 2 kittens, our sweet lady has terminal kidney disease. A few months ago she was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and kidney disease, and we decided to opt for the radioiodine cure for hyperthyroidism. It truly is a cure and her thyroid is now “great” according to the Vet, but the extent of her kidney disease has been unmasked, and we now battle high phosphorus levels that make a kitty feel really bad. We have decided to do this battle with her as long as she is willing, and she now receives daily meds to restore the thyroid gland left behind after the one with the tumor was shut down from the radioiodine. She also is receiving daily doses of aluminum hydroxide, a phosphorus binder to bring that down, since like so many kitties, she would starve rather than eat one of the feline prescription diets. I know, though, that our days together are numbered, and I count every moment until her death as a precious moment. I also know that I have to decide how to let her die, and after reading these comments, I believe the answer will be to give her the respect and dignity of dying naturally, at home with us, where she is comfortable and loved. When we next visit the Vet to have her phosphorus level checked and to see if there is anything else we can do to make her remaining days better for her, I will talk to the Vet and tell her our plans to let Marmalade die at home. I just hope I have the strength to face those final hours with her, tho’ they may not come for many months, maybe a year or two. I want, above all, for sweet Marmalade to know that she is loved more than she could ever imagine.

  41. SadMomma Says:

    My poor old cat that came into our lives nearly 13 years ago is in his final stages of life. He seems to be comfortable, but I really can’t tell. I try to hold him, but all he wants to do is go in our walk in closet and crawl into the farthest corner. I’ve spent the last two days holding him. I’m crying as I type this. The bond with these animals is so very strong.

    Last year I went through this with my husbands cat he had for over 16 years. I known him only 12, but watching him pass was difficult. I’m finding myself going through this same process right now.

    I keep thinking to myself that I should bring my current cat into the vet to be put down. However, I can’t. I can’t put him down since he doesn’t seem to be in pain. He is still eating and drinking, but in very limited amounts and we went out to get him canned cat food. His favorite is milk and he will only take small sips. My heart is aching. I’ve turned a completely feral cat into a super loving lap cat. He always had a little feral behavior in him and that made him really special.

    Another cat of my husbands turned into my buddy. He went where I went and never left my side. He did not like people much including my husband, but he loved me. He fell sick at the short age of 8 years. The vet was encouraging us strongly to put him down. I could not do it. I kept him comfortable after spending $1000 on several tests, IV fluids and antibiotics. I fed him mothers milk for kittens every 2 hours. He lived another 7 fulfilling years to the age of 15 spending every moment with me not leaving my side. I never did get over his death. It’s been 5 years since his passing and I think of him and my husbands cat frequently.

    I honestly think the best way for a pet to die is in the home unless they are in pain or suffering. Even if you know your pet is on its way to pass that rainbow bridge.

    I’m devastated I’m losing another pal. I wonder why I let them in my life in the first place. Losing them is so hard. Right before my current boy fell ill, we brought another precious feline rescue into our lives. This small little kitten of roughly 4-5 months old is already a lap cat. Some idiot abandoned him and his litter mates. The new kitten was the last to go at the humane society.

    In a few years when my children are grown I will be a foster to momma cats and her kittens or momma less kittens. I will be willing to do whatever it takes to bring them back to health and go into good homes.

  42. Doe Says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. My 17 year old cat is dying and I was 99% sure I would take him to be euthanized and decided to do a google search. I am glad I did. He is the last of three of his family. His mother died a few years ago. She had lung failure and was suddenly gasping and I took her to the vet and upon x-ray and confirmation that one lung collapsed, I had her euthanized. His sister had tumors in her large intestine and I had all sorts of medications and then finally surgery. Not 15 minutes after the surgery, she passed away. Now it’s his time. He’s not himself, but he’s not in pain like his mother was. With her, she was literally suffocating on one lung and terrified. He is quiet. He ate this morning but refused dinner. I hadn’t considered before reading all of your words that it is a measure of respect to allow them to go through the process in their own time. I felt guilt for not taking him to the vet, but dreaded having to take him in the car and waiting, and I didn’t know that they might have a hard time finding a vein as one of you wrote. I do pray that he passes in his sleep. It is so hard. Deciding which is the selfless and respectful thing to do. I wish we could tell them that we have a choice to euthanize and ask them if they would prefer it or not. But without being able to tell them, it would be a traumatic last hour or two on Earth to take them in to the vet. I want him to go peacefully. Thank you again for posting your words and love and strength to everyone going through this.

  43. Gail Says:

    My beloved Bacio (Italian for ‘kiss’ as he is a very friendly and loving cat) who is 14.5 years old was very traumatised by a forced house move end of March 2012. My landlady said she ‘needed to sell the house’. Turns out she only wanted to increase the rent by 50% and knew I could not afford it.

    He spent 2 weeks hiding under my duvet. His immune system collapsed and he developed inflammarory bowel disease. He has gone down from 5.5 kg to 2.1kg.

    I am so angry with the woman – he loved where we lived. Now we are in a house under the flight path to Heathrow with continual noise and pollution.

    I don’t know how to tell if he is in pain. He goes up and down each day and it is hard.

    Pleae advise me.

  44. Karina Says:

    My 17-year-old Leonardo is dying now, and I am currently trying to figure out what to do. While he is not in pain, he, unlike many of the stories here, does have a diagnosis: inflammatory bowel, pancreatitis, kidney failure.
    He isn’t that interested in eating, but he still does use his box. He also climbs stairs OK, but he doesn’t land well if he tries to jump down. It saddens me because he still tries to jump!
    I do not want to euthanize him, preferring to let him go naturally and at home.
    Bleh.

  45. Joy Says:

    My boy was born in our spare room. His mother was a frightened stray who we fed and made a nest outside in a shed for her to have her kittens in. She decided to have them in our house, she had 5 but left one to die! Anyway, we called them Eeny, meany, miney & Mo. We kept mum and Mo and Meany, who became Lady, Brandy and Tigger. Tigger has epilepsy and hypothyroidism. 4 yrs ago he was diagnosed with a heart murmur. Brandy died at 15 yrs, went suddenly his kidneys and was ‘put to sleep’ at vets. Lady had a stroke and went blind but managed very well for about 5 years until another stroke and fit left her walking, walking, walking, bumping into walls and furniture, not recognising voices, not feeding or drinking. Baby was one of the kittens, she was in her 19th year last August and like her mum, had a stroke and went blind, she didn’t cope as well as her mother but managed another couple of years of quality life, before passing peacefully at home with the family.
    Tigger has been on and off his food and now he’s not eaten for last 24 hrs. He is just lying around, totally worn out. He won’t eat, I am trying him with all sorts and spoon feeding him tsp at a time but, he doesn’t want it. He’s drinking and using his litter tray. family have called in today and he is responsive to voices, last night his pupils looked ‘blown’. I thought he’d had a stroke but he is a little more responsive this morning. I slept on the floor next to him…sorry lay on the floor next to him, I couldn’t sleep. I will do the same tonight and any other night if he needs me to. He was born under a bed in that same room. I tell him all the time how much I love him. I miss when he was well, him climbing on the bed at night, sitting above my head and planting ‘kisses’ on my nose. He’s always put me to bed at night and tucked me in.
    He’s nearly 20yrs. Vet says that’s over 100 in human terms.
    He was, is and always will be, My Handsome, My Darling, My Sweethert, Knight in shining armour, My Mr. Wonderful, My Bodyguard…If there is such a thing as a soul mate, he is mine….Love him so very very deeply, yes and madly too…What will I do , how will I cope? he fills my days with Love, he is my Baby, Love him to bits… always have, always will.. God Bless my Tigger. XXX

  46. Jennifer Says:

    I am so comforted by your stories. My kitty, Nena, a sweet, yellow tabby, whom I took in as a stray 5 years ago, was attacked by a raccoon last Thursday evening. I have struggled over the whole vet thing and decided to let her die naturally at home. The toughest issue is that I know I could take her to the vet to save her…only to have this happen again as I am surrounded by woods. I have decided not to risk that again for her sake (she loves to be outdoors…). I have been petting her, singing songs to her about what a good kitty she has been, and just saying my goodbyes with many tears and prayers. That may sound silly, but it has been deeply healing to me in letting her go.

    I have to say although this is very painful, it is like many of you have shared, very meaningful to care for her at home as her body shuts down. She doesn’t appear to be in any pain and simply turns herself around when she feels the need. She also is not eating or drinking. I tried to give her water through a dropper but she fought it and I just couldn’t keep creating more stress for her in that manner.

    I am amazed she is still with me and I am grateful for her resilient spirit that is giving me the gift of time to say my goodbyes, but for her sake I keep telling her she can let go and rest. I will miss her greatly, she has been the sweetest kitty I have had the gift of knowing.

  47. Gillian Cowley McPhee Says:

    Thank you so much for this post. My elderly cat is dying and hasn’t eaten or drunk for a week now. She purrs and sits with us; and doesn’t appear to be in any pain – just shutting down. I felt very pressured by websites who claimed how cruel I was being. However, I agree that euthanasia is often a way for us to avoid witnessing the dying process – and I’m very heartened to have read that. I have no problem with my cat dying naturally at home and feel it’s where she’d prefer to be. The vet option is, of course, still available if things get too difficult for her – but thank you for helping me with what is a very difficult decision.

  48. Catherine Hockridge Says:

    This blog is so encouraging. Our sweet 22 year old Patches is in the process of death. We have not taken her to a vet for many years, as she became an inside cat for those years. She had been healthy and happy and turned 22 this past April 2013.
    I am so honored to watch her spirit as she transitions from life to death. A bittersweet thing to witness, but one that has given me more respect for my little girl. What a trooper.
    She is having much trouble walking, which breaks my heart, but she insists on trying. She has not eaten for 6 days now and still tries to get up to drink a little water. I tried moving her water closer to her, but nope, she insists it has to be in the usual place. I caught her sitting in the usual place, so I moved her water back to honor her choice. Also, I raised her dish up so that she does not need to bend down to drink (where her balance and strength is waning). Now she just has to lower her head a little – that has made it better for her.
    I have noticed her paws are cooler, so I know the process is nearing the end. She has lost a lot of weight and that is tough to see, but it is the process. She is so loved and still purrs ever so slightly when I hold her. Often times I just lay next to her on the floor and place my hand on her, trying not to disturb her, but to let her know she is not alone.

    My husband and I are okay with her passing, she has lived a long life for a cat. We will miss her and are thankful to have known her.

    We are honoring our Patches and helping her with her passage.
    Thank you for having this blog, I am encouraged.

  49. Barbara Says:

    I was very thankful and encouraged to read all the previous posts and to know that there are many other compassionate pet owners devoted to their beloved pets. We are losing our senior cat, Sam, and it is heartbreaking for sure. Also struggling with whether to euthanize or let him go naturally at home. He is approximately 21 years old and in final stages of kidney failure. We adopted him 10&1/2 yrs ago, when he was already about 10&1/2 years old! He was the neighbor’s barn cat, and they left him behind when they moved away. . . he was very sick when we found him, and starving. I nursed him back to health and then a year later he got diabetes. So gave him daily insulin shots and a LOT of TLC. He is the sweetest, friendliest and most faithful cat I have ever known. Snuggles in my lap every evening when I am reading or watching a movie, and loves people – even total strangers. He has been our “nurse kitty” if anyone in the family is not feeling well and lying down on the couch. He was there for me when my Dad died 9 yrs ago, and was my faithful “nurse” when I had a bad case of shingles about a year ago. He is a real trooper and survived many close calls, including a mysterious severe tooth infection. Then about 3 yrs ago he was diagnosed with kidney and heart disease, and the vet painted a dire picture of quick failure and loss of quality of life. Well, I learned how to give the sub-cutaneous fluids by needle and he kept on going, living a good life with us and giving much joy! His diabetes even went into remission and I didn’t have to give him insulin anymore. He is our miracle cat! But now, sadly, he has come to the end of his road and I have run out of options to prolong his life. He has lost half his body weight, now only just over 6 lbs. He’s so thin that I can’t get the sub-cut. fluids in him anymore . . . this is breaking my heart and so hard to watch him failing. I actually had an appointment with the vet today to have him put to sleep, but he suddenly and mysteriously rallied and took us all on a walk outside with him, as if to prove that he isn’t ready yet. As we discussed whether or not to make another appointment, he looked at us and got up and walked like normal for a little while. So now it’s just waiting with him, and taking it an hour at a time. I slept on the couch near him last night in case he got distressed, and will probably do the same tonight. I also have Bupronorphine – a pain med – that I can give him to ease the discomfort. I can’t bear the thought of life without him, and yet I don’t know how I could bear watching him like this for days. Just praying that God will take him in his sleep, and that it will be a gentle passing. Wa had to put all 4 of my dogs to sleep, and it wasn’t a nice way to go — traumatizing for them and for us, and dealt with guilt afterwards. . . . Sam is truly special and we want to do what’s best for him. It’s never easy, either way. But all life comes to an end at some point, and I have to remind myself that he is never going to be better than he is right now. My heart goes out to all of you who are also going through this difficult time.

  50. linda craig Says:

    This is the first time that I have seen this site and I am so very grateful. I have chosen to let my kitty, Lucky die at home. She was diagnosed with feline herpes nearly 2 and a 1/2 years ago and I believe that cats do have 9 lives……… as this little lady has had numerous sick times that I can hardly believe that she survived and came back around. This time she is basically fur on bones and up till yesterday morning was eating and drinking water. That has since stopped. I have learned so much for having read every story that has been submitted to this site and it is such a relief to know that I am not alone with my decision to keep her at home. She does not appear to be in pain and should that present it self I for certain will not let her suffer. Thanks to you all and I in closing would like to say that I deliver a Grief Recovery program that I was trained to do. As far as major losses that we grieve the loss of our pets is our 3rd major loss. I was enlightened to learn this as over the years we heard it is only a dog or cat and don’t we know differently? They are part of our family and their lives are way to short and the love that we have for them goes beyond words. I will spend the rest of the hours or days or whatever it takes to be with my little buddy as she goes through her process and keep letting her know what a special kitty that she is. She was a snow bank litter and was brought to a vet clinic with her mates and I am so glad that she has been a part of my life She absolutely loves cages as that was her home that she came to when being brought to the clinic and I am readying her cage shortly here as that is something she absolutely loves and is peaceful in. Thank you all for sharing, it sure helps.

  51. Tracy Says:

    Thank you for writing this. My 13-year-old cat was diagnosed with lymphoma five weeks ago when we finally realized her weight loss was beyond normal. I just don’t feel like I can make the decision to kill her, though the deterioration is steady if slow (she had incontinence yesterday for the first time). But you are right, everyone seems to be of the attitude “are you crazy? why don’t you just have her ‘put to sleep’ and out of her misery?” I spent eight months with a parent dying of intestinal cancer and some of the same issues – including wasting – and would not have traded any of those moments, up to the last hour I spent with her, two hours before she died, reading to her (she was unconscious by then). I might change my mind but I am glad to know I am not the only person who might go against the grain.

  52. Tracy Says:

    … and three days after I wrote that, our cat died this afternoon, at home, in her own time, on her own terms. She was still walking around, albeit slowly, this morning. Then while we were out for a while this afternoon, she crawled under the couch, stretched out behind it – someplace she had NOT been hiding or resting – and died. Still warm when we found her.

  53. Kelly Says:

    So grateful for this site today. My husband’s kindness and strength and the stories of love here on this site got me through the last few hours of PrettyKitty’s life. She died peacefully in my husbands arms with loads of love to help her transition to better things beyond. Just as she took her last few breaths it started pouring rain and shortly thereafter the sun came out again. Signs that life is everchanging.
    Thanks again, all your stories were so helpful.

  54. Mary Ann Says:

    Bless this site! My 16 year old best friend, my heart and soul Lucy is dying. I am filled with so much grief…. I have had to euthanize other pets, and those decisions were the best ones due to the pain my pets were experiencing. I respect Lucy’s life too much to euthanize her. She is not in pain, just things are slowing shutting down…I have been watching her decline over the past 5 days, not eating much at all, drinking some water, but still purring, walking to the grass to pee, lifting her head when I pet her and comfort her. I want her to go out on her terms..not my terms. This is her life and her death..as heartbreaking as it is for me, it has been joyous to be here for her, as she knows how much I love her, and will miss her terribly. Her favorite place is under the magnolia tree, where she can hear the crickets, cicadas, and my fountain gently soothe her soul. That is where she is now. I am so blessed to have her in my life, thankful she had another summer of wonderful sounds, warm sun on her body, and honored me with her sweet, wonderful self. I know now the compassion, and love for her final days is the right thing- the humane way to let her go..going through this has changed my life forever..these 5 days ( and possibly more) have me living in the moment, grateful for each moment I have with her. I will see my friend in heaven again, and we can both sit under the magnolia, listen to the crickets, and cicadas sing their joyous songs together! In the meantime, I am comforting her, telling her stories about our 16 years of life together, like when I would drive up the lane and yell ” LUCY I’M HOME” like Ricky Ricardo did. Lucy would run a crossed the lawn and greet me. So many funny stories to tell..Right now she is purring gently as she knows she is loved, and will always be loved.. I love my Lucy! Thank you for these thoughtful, wonderful posts- it is hard..I share my grief, and my love for my Lucy. I am grateful to read Lucy and I are not alone.

  55. Paige Says:

    My cat George is 11 years old–a beautiful, green eyed tuxedo. He was healthy and thriving untill recently–last several weeks or so he’s been eating voraciously, yet losing weight (worm?). About 10 days ago, he tilted his head and could hardly walk (Ataxia)–to me classic feline stroke symptoms. I took him to the Vet.hospital and they kept him for 2 1/2 days with IV fluids and Antibiotics. They ran numerous tests–FIV, Feline Leukemia, fungal infections, etc–all negative. I brought him home and is appetite returned–his vet (not at the animal hospital) suggested I have him euthanized. He made progress, was eating, drinking water, using the litter box–doing great for about a week. Now he’s refusing to eat, drinks only water and is very thin–was 11 pounds now down to 7.4 pounds. George has had respiratory illness/pna?, one kidney is much larger than the other, and they kept saying he presents as gravely ill, although his tests don’t reflect it. They think cancer might be a cause, however, I didn’t want to have the MRI and put him through chemo and surgery. I feed him syringes with pureed food, and he hates me doing this. Perhaps he wants to let go. I’m scared he’s dying on my watch. Should I put an e-tube in/feeding tube? Is his body shutting down and he’s trying to tell me it’s his time?

    I think the idea of our pets (really fur people) dying at home naturally is the ideal. I don’t think he’s suffering or in pain–I just keep monitoring to see if this changes. He enjoys chasing lizards, yet he’s so frail and thin. He enjoys his home and is happiest here. Having a community like this to offer support and input is wonderful. I’m not sure what to do. To have the etube put in or keep giving the syringes with food–or is that forcing food on him?

  56. Caryn Says:

    My beloved 14-year-old cat Dusty has been hiding for 2 days, unlike him at all. His brother Tuxedo died last year at age 13 of kidney failure. Dusty has always been pretty healthy until early this spring when he developed a URI. My husband and I nursed him back to health, have been giving in Pet-tinic vitamins, and he has experienced one of his 9 lives. He has seemed well until 2 days ago, when I couldn’t find him in the morning when I got up for work. He would usually meet me in the bathroom, for me to turn on the faucet so he could take a drink of water. He had started to hide in weird places, like the back of our entertainment center, a back shelf in the pantry in our basement. He had fallen off our bathroom sink 3 days ago, couldn’t lift himself onto his cat tree which he was always able to do, wobble a little as he walked. My observations were becoming reality. Our little guy was failing. When he had the URI, his doctor performed an x-ray, found a swollen spleeen and his liver enzyme readings were high; he was anemic, and she said he could have hemangiosarcoma, a cancer of the blood vessels. She said she’s been wrong before. Because I couldn’t afford to do all the tests to confirm any of this, we took the vitamins and hoped for the best. The vitamins helped, he seemed back to his frisky self over the last several months. Now the hiding and the change in behavior. I’ve done a lot of reading about cats who are dying and he has the classic symptoms. I am inclined to let him die at home, to go through the process with him. We adopted him and his brother 13 years ago together, siblings from the same litter. I put my Tuxedo to sleep last year. We were lucky to have Dusty a year-and-a-half longer. I don’t know for sure if Dusty is ready to die but I feel it in my soul. I don’t want to just take him to the vet to put him to sleep; he is still eating and drinking a little and still using the litter box; he can still walk around and use the stairs. However, he is lying on a shelf in our basement in the pantry alone and he turns he head when I go down to talk to him. He doesn’t even know me anymore. I imagine the end is near. It is very hard to watch, and to know that this could go on for days, even weeks.

  57. Karen Says:

    Sukkah came to live with my grandson and me over seven years ago at the age of 11. She turned 18 on August 26. She has been in very good health, has eaten well and always drank plenty of water though not to excess. About three months ago, she stopped sleeping in her bed on a chair in the kitchen and moved to a spot between the couch and wall. I know cats tend to look for close spaces when something is wrong, so I called the vet who came to the house to check her. She found nothing wrong with Sukkah. She noticed the a/c vent was blowing on the chair which held the bed and suggested maybe she was just looking for a warmer spot. She also suggested that perhaps Sukkah had some arthritis which prevented her from jumping into the chair, but no sooner had she said that Sukkah jumped into the chair, settled down and gave the vet a dirty look. She soon stopped eating her usual food but happily accepted another (very pricey of course!) and continued drinking water and chicken broth as a treat occasionally. Last Thursday she stopped eating and drinking; nothing appealed to her, yet she came to me expectantly every time I walked into the kitchen. Water with ice enticed her to drink until this morning. I came to the internet looking for an answer as to whether or not I should have her put down. Thanks to this website, I found what I was searching for. She has taken up residence in my bedroom vanity area and seems very content — not her usual location. At this point, she can do whatever she wants and I’ll follow her lead. She does not appear to be in any pain, purrs when I pet her and looks at me with those big eyes as if to say “it’s OK”. It won’t be long and I pray she will not suffer at the end and I will regret not taking her to the vet. I believe she doesn’t need that stress on the last day of her life whenever it comes. Natural death it is.

  58. Mary Says:

    My lovely Tibby (18) went into acute renal failure 4 days ago. Vet recommended immediate euthanaise. 2 days on drip to re-hydrade & no hope. Took her home last night to say goodbye, and booked appointment to put to sleep this evening.
    She improved slightly during the day today, and I began to have serious doubts. Went to appointment to have her put to sleep – couldn’t do it. Even Vet was surprised to see the improvement. Still sick yes, but so much better than Tuesday, and Vet thinks it can’t really be attributed to re-hyrate as it is now over 24 hours.
    Will watch & wait. Think for her, I’ve done the correct thing against all logic.

  59. Ang Says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. My sweet kitty is in the dying process right now and I feel like having her pass at home is the right thing for her right now. She seems to be at peace. Trying to research how to best care for her through this process has just made me feel guilty as everything I read makes me feel horrible for not euthanizing her. If she were in pain, I would consider that route. We lost her sister kitty several years back and we had her euthanized as that felt like the right thing to do for her. Thanks for the support. Bless you.

  60. Janet Says:

    Like everyone else who has posted here, I thank you Patti for your posts about Sequoia (a beautiful cat). I read all of the posts last night while sitting with my 19 yr old who is getting weaker every day (hyperthyroidism, which has been controlled for several years, and now failing kidneys). He is not the first feline I have had to say goodbye to, but the first I am choosing to stay home for the goodbye, hopefully, in my arms, ultimately, when he chooses. Reading the other posts, I’m assuming this is still several days away, so I am able to spend as much time as possible with him. Thanks to all of you who have posted. It is good to know what lies ahead. You have encouraged me to try to be as brave as my handsome brave black knight. Bless you and your furry loved ones.

  61. Sarah Says:

    I just want to say thank you for writing this.

  62. Patti Waltz Says:

    As the author of this website, I want those of you who are reading this to know that I am not too active on this site, and if I do not respond, my apologies and please take no offense. I leave this site up because I feel it is important for people to express themselves on this issue. My heart goes out to all of you who have a beloved cat that is in the process of passing, or has already passed.
    Since Sequoia’s death, I have had two other cats die. Two years ago, my Minnie Mouser died at home. When she took a turn for the worse, I took her to the vet and they informed me that she was on her way out, and there was nothing that could be done. Euthanasia was an option, but I decided, as I did with Sequoia, to let her die at home. Being a freelance artist, I was home all of the time and could easily monitor her, and cater to her every need. Minnie Mouser died peacefully at the age of 16 years. She was a true beauty. This past year, Tobe, a stray cat that I took in and cared for, died while he was being boarded and treated at the animal hospital. We didn’t know if he was going to get better or worse. He was boarded there for a week, and I visited him twice a day. And sadly, he died in his cage before I got there one morning. Looking back at that situation, and if I had a crystal ball and knew his future, I would have had no hesitation in having him euthanized. Every case is different.
    An important thing I would like to say is, if your cat is sick, please seek veterinary help as soon as possible. At least find out what is going on, because there maybe a solution to the problem. Sequoia had hyperthyroidism at the end of her life and was treated with Metronidazole for 3 or 4 years before she died at the age of 19 years. If she wasn’t treated with that medication, I wouldn’t have had the joy of her companionship as long as I did.
    Thank you for all of your comments and stories. My dearest sympathies to those of you who have suffered the loss of a beloved feline friend, and may we all be mindful of what is best for our cats that are still with us today.
    By the way, I currently have 3 tuxedo cats that constantly entertain me around the house…Neko, Smudge, and Boyboy. And they get lots of love and squeezes daily! ^ .. ^ ^ .. ^ ^ .. ^

    All the best to all of you.

  63. Carey Says:

    Thank you. Your stories have been a comfort to me. Bug, my best friend of 21 years, passed away in his sleep shortly before I arrived home from work last Monday. I found him on his favorite chair with his blanket. He was a rescue kitty who ate, played and cuddled right up to the day he passed. He struggled with finding his litter box for the last two years of his life on and off. He was very old, frail and didn’t care for his coat anymore. Many people said to put him to sleep. I couldn’t do that, I felt he would know and would not want that. In the end, I am glad I let things go naturally. Happy that I stuck it out with him and trust that it was what he wanted me to do. One thing to remember is that you don’t always know ahead of time when they will go. So, make everyday special as if it is their last. (love my Bug)

  64. Kathleen Says:

    My 11 1/2 year old cat, Josey, is laying quietly in a bed I just made her. Josey was named after Josey Wales the Outlaw as she growls and yowls if you touch her anywhere else but her head and does the same if I try to pick her up. So, she’s not been my cuddle cat but she’s been with me through lots of things these last 11 years.

  65. Kathleen Says:

    Her antics have been a source of many stories as she is who she is and you can take it or leave it! I always said that when her time came, I would let her die naturally at home (if not suffering). Every night I read until I am sleepy and Josey always lay on the bed … at a distance. Last week she wanted to lay right next to me, even creeping close to my face. I accepted it as her choice and enjoyed a little closeness with her. Then 3 days ago she lay next to me all night and didn’t appear to move. Since then she has been very lethargic and is now no longer interested in food or water. She is very unsteady and today can barely walk. Her weight is dropping rapidly and she appears dazed … but still lifts her head up when I speak or touch her head. I’ve been able to pick her up and hold her but she growled the first time. Today she isn’t saying anything but she will lift her head and as I know her I’m thinking that’s the only way now that she can show me it’s not what she wants. Her bed is next to mine and I keep her covered with a fleece blanket. I have the radio on and the room is peaceful. She is where I know she’s comfortable. I’ve been especially sad today as I was so sure that she wouldn’t make it through the night and when I got up her bed was empty. She had been able to get under the bed & was laying there. Today I’ve been checking on her a lot, giving her a couple of strokes on her head, then leaving her to rest or sleep. I started thinking that I was not doing the right thing and that’s when I got online & did a search “should I let my cat die naturally?” This blog came up and I’m so glad I saw it. This is probably harder on me than it is on Josey but it’s so distressing to watch her slowly die that I thought it would be more “humane” to help her. After reading the posts I’ve decided not to call the vet and just keep a close eye on her. Thank you.

  66. Chris Says:

    Everyone writing on this site helps me so much. I am already experiencing this at a deeper, more emotional level. I am one with my cat, who seems to know a lot more about this than I do.

    I have to say I am really stupid, though, in that I have been doing all these classic interventions, subcutaneous fluids injections (which I found creates holy terror and horrible pain, so we nixed that right on the spot), B12 injections, glucosamine, etc. but he CaoCao has already let me know he doesn’t want that stuff, or anything else in his food. why change the routine at such a latte hour?

    I am the dumb one, the helpless one, probably trying to treat myself but I know now what to do, and that is to trust him and let him go. He knows more about this than I could and I have already told him he can go. I know that much about the process, but that was probably unnecessary.

    You’re so right, we won’t euthanize ourselves but we cover the pain, and don’t think the same way for our animals, like we’re acting from some veterinary script on TV.

    I think death should be seen as a beautiful experience, a physical release and spiritual event of great significance. I want to be with him when it happens……….thanks for that insight and

    Thank you so much for your informative and gutsy website! I plan to go to sleep now with my cat…
    by the way, if you haven’t done this, make sure to put your head and ear on your cat’s side and listen to them purr…it is the most amazing sound in the known universe, I think, near the cycles of an idling diesel engine but puts them to shame for depth, quality and the circling of sound. I’m not kidding.

  67. Christina Says:

    Thank you, all of you….. my cat Mama became suddenly ill, and tonight is her final night, I think. I have spent the last 10 hours with her, trying to make her exit from this world the most peaceful it can be. I am floored that so many of us in so many varying stages of grief have posted to this blog over the years. Knowing we are here for each other and support each other and our wonderful furry best friends…. it warms my aching heart. I know Mama would rather be at home than hauled off to a vets office to be euthanized. She can go on her own time, here with me and my fiancé, who love her. I’ve been able to tell her so, to pet her and comfort her…. a vet, having no emotional attachment to your pet, performs euthanasia on many animals, day after day. I know that Mama’s transition from this life to her next one needs to take place where she is adored and honored and cared for. Vets mean well… they do… but they are not your pet’s family. They are not the ones who have meant the most. They are a stranger in an unfamiliar time, encroaching on a natural process…… I know that Mama will pass peacefully at home with me nearby her. :( I will miss her but I know that she and I feel a mutual comfort by letting this take place in the home she has lived for years. Thank you all again for sharing your stories….. bless you all.

  68. Donna Says:

    I lost my beautiful boy Furball also known as my little cuddle boy 4 days ago.

    He had been suffering with diarreha for a little while and it had gotten particularly painful and I took him to the vet thinking it was something simple that would resolve.

    He had always been a lightweight in the family but had lost some weight recently. The vet clinic I attend ran a few tests and ruled out various things until finally we performed and ultrasound and I was given the diagnosis as ‘it looks like cancer’. They never really talked about the various treatments directly, hinting at some but proceeded with an initial treatment with a ‘we will see how he goes with this’.

    I of course started googling to look at options etc and was determined he would be given every opportunity to live as long as ‘humanely’ reasonable then I would have to take him in to end his suffering.

    Most who heard about his diagnosis questioned why I would pursue further treatment as surely it would be kinder to let him go before he suffered.

    I too had this discussion with myself a few times in the short weeks that have followed. He was taken back to the vet for IV fluids twice (the 2nd time was after he showed sudden signs of distress and pain and I feared that I had said my last goodbye that day).

    He returned home to me on the Tues and passed at home in the early hours of Sunday morning.

    Through that short time he was still eating (although much less than usual on each visit to the food bowl) and I never really saw him drink (though he may have used one of the outdoor water bowl)

    I had not really considered allowing him to pass naturally at home believing that I would at some point need to take him to the vet to end his suffering.

    He was very placid on the vet visits only ever objecting when the vet wanted to take his temperature. Even on the trip he would just sit quietly in the cat carrier so I kept in my mind that the final visit would not necessarily start out with a stressful car ride at least.

    Furby as always seemed to have other ideas. We had been to the vet Sat morning and they were pleased with his progress.

    We returned home and he ate and I gave him some water via syringe just to ensure he had some hydration and we settled down on the sofa and cuddled for a while.

    I had to head out to visit my mother who was also in hospital at this time and left him quietly sleeping on the sofa.

    I returned home just 2hrs later and noticed he seemed to be out of sorts. Still on the sofa but hunched on the edge and just ‘not right’. I decided that I was going to give him my undivided attention during the evening and set about tending to the various household tasks so that I could.

    By the time all was done and I sat down to spend time with him he was looking even more ‘not right’ than before.

    I popped him down to the food bowl and he ate a few bites, gave him his medication and another lot of water via syringe and let him climb onto me and get comfortable and we stayed like that for a fair few hours.

    As time went on I started to sense that he was waining. Nothing had changed as far as his breathing rate or heart rate he had just become listless yet was still fully responsive.

    I decided to move us both into the bedroom where we could get more comfortable and he could lay on my chest under the covers while I gave him his favourite head and cheek rubs.

    I noticed more and more that he seemed to be ebbing rapidly and was decidely colder than usual and very limp.

    Most of the time throughout this period he lay in a way that I couldn’t see his eyes and I would move him occassionally so we could make eye contact. He was alert and would follow my hand as I moved to pat his head then look back at me and I could see the sadness growing.

    After a while I lay him down on the bed so I could look into his eyes whilst comforting him and telling him how much he was loved, and that he was safe and how I knew he was tired and understood if he needed to sleep.

    I lay as close to him as possible so he could hear my heartbeat and breathing as he would always insist on resting his head just so normally.

    Having never really thought to look into ‘natural’ death options I was starting to wonder how I would get him to the vet (as it was after midnight and out of hours).

    I then decided that I would overide the vets instructions and give him a dose of his pain meds as perhaps he might be feeling poorly as we had just alternated from daily medication to every 2nd day and he had just passed the 24hr without medication mark.

    I headed back out to lounge and popped him on the sofa and was getting his medication (and also moved the cat carrier in readiness, and as I look back now I realise he was letting me know in his own way – no vet) he suddenly got up, took some food and repositioned himself to his normal sleeping spot as if to say to me look he was ok, stop worrying.

    Heartened by this activity I decided that I would wait a little longer to see if the medication would help and we settled back onto the bed where I cuddled up to him once again.

    I ended up drifting off to sleep somehow and when I awoke I knew he was gone. He has passed somewhere in the 4hr period that I had slept.

    In the 4 days that have passed since I have run the gammit of emotions from being
    comforted knowing I had spent quality time with him in his final hours, letting him know he was loved and safe,
    consoled that he was in his home with everyone he loved (including his parents, brother/sister & neice/nephew – I have 3 generations)
    feeling guilt that I fell asleep,
    anguish that he may have suffered at the end and I wasn’t awake and comforting him.

    I also have found myself feeling like I need to convince people that he died peacefully and perhaps justify why I didn’t get him to a vet straight away.

    Tonight whilst I lay there despairing about what he may have gone through while I slept, I decided to try and find some answers, and as many others have, found this site during my search.

    I have read every post here and am just so thankful firstly to have found it and to see so many stories from others who have gone through similar experiences and emotions.

    Whilst I know that Furball’s last few moments (perhaps even hours) would have been difficult, I am very much comforted that he was able to spend his final hours in his home where he always found love and safety.

    I know now that as each of my remaining fur kids come to their final days that I will most certainly consider natural passing at home if possible.

  69. Soori Says:

    My 15 year Jack Russell is in the trance like state and almost seems like an infant at this point, she has recognition when i pick her up and cuddle her and wags her tail ever so slightly, Eats very little. Our other two dogs check on her once in a while but leave her alone most of the time. Sometimes they will sit a few feet away and just watch her intensely. Do they know? She sleeps right next to us , and i stroke her when she stirs in her sleep, she settles down right away . I went through immense guilt and heartache when i euthanized my previous dog, after she had multople seizures.I am facing immense preassure from friends to have this one put to sleep and end her suffering. She is not suffering! She is just old, I will let her die naturally as long as she does not show signs of pain. We do not go around with a syringe and euthanize wild animals that are old, why do it to our pets?

  70. Nancy Renner Says:

    My Kosmo was 16, healthy and always such a delight. He loved on everyone. You could find him sun bathing on our boat down at the dock or teasing on a mouse that he caught behind a bush. Eventually he would bring his catch to our back door to impress us with. He loved to play in the yard and sunbath. However, Kosmo always came when I called him in whether it be because of an impending storm or bedtime. Kosmo was in every night to eat, get loving and bedtime. At 16 -1/2 Kosmo went blind in one eye due to cateracts. That did not stop him from having fun. At 17-1/2 He went totally blind. The vet said he was too old for surgery. Kosmo still wanted to go outside but he would get disoriented and end up in places that could have caused him harm. He could no longer go near the water nor explore the yard. He was now prey to wild animals that he could have otherwise ran from or avoided. Kosmo turned 18 and was now a permanent indoor cat. Kosmo still loved to jump on my lap and get his petting and loving. He was content with his situation. I know this because he always found his way around to the food/water dish and litter box and still purr like a champ. Three month’s shy of turning 19 Kosmo stopped eating and drinking. Kosmo started to lose weight and walk in circles. Within a week of this happening Kosmo began to lose his breath when walking and his heart started to beat rapidly. I knew he was having difficulty so I called the vet and they said they would stay open until my husband and I arrived. I picked Kosmo up and he sensed we were going to the vet and panicked. I called the vet back and told them he was slipping fast and would never make it. Kosmo wanted down so I let him down. He went to his favorite spot and laid there panting. He was dying and all I could do was pet him while telling him how much I loved him. I prayed to God to comfort my baby and guide him to the place all God’s creatures go when passing. Of course, I was crying like a baby the whole time. Kosmo died at 6pm on 6/23/2014 in his own home where he was fed and loved. We laid his body to rest next to his favorite tree and shaded spot. Dying at home around loved ones is a choice we made, actually Kosmo made that choice because of his response when we called the vet. Kosmo will always have a place in my heart.

  71. Sharon Says:

    Thank God I stumbled upon this page. I was close to calling a vet to euthanize my 16 yr. old calico but didn’t feel right about. I knew I could care for her but felt guilty because every other website suggested letting her die a natural death was cruel. For a week I spoon fed her tuna and cream when she would take it. Brought water to her constantly, changed the blankets on her pillow when she had an accident and held and pet her while she purred and looked at me. I knew a couple days ago was her last. I warmed a blanket in the dryer for her and put it on her pillow. I pet her while she purred, she looked peaceful and comfortable. When I woke up she was gone. I’m so glad I didn’t end her life early. I would have if she appear in distress or pain, but she didn’t. Thank-you so much for posting this page!

  72. dragonfly Says:

    not only do we euthanize pets because we don’t understand and generally fear the natural process of ‘dying/death’, but we also opt for euthanasia because we can then time the death for convenience with our own schedules so we are assured of being there at the moment of transition… to let a pet transition naturally risks them jumping ship alone, when you may not be there at that to be holding them – as comforting to both of you as that may be…

    if you choose to let them go naturally and you want to be there for them at their moment of transition, you must be willing to completely dedicate and focus exclusively on your pet for an unknown length of time – and most pet owners simply aren’t willing (or able) to invest that amount of time and energy of totally being with their pet for an unknown amount of time… it’s so much easier and cleaner to simply pay a vet to speed up the process to fit your schedule with an injection – no muss no fuss…

    not unlike an obstetrician performing a C-Section so the infant arrives on the doctor’s schedule – so he doesn’t miss his tee time at the golf course…

    and knowing of cases where a pet went into convulsions/seizures, vomiting, emptying bladder and bowels uncontrollably, not recognizing the lifelong caretaker – we have been taught to react with horror to such a passing, but it is quite possible the animal is in shock, despite how bad it looks, and is actually feeling no pain or suffering…

    there is a wonderful book about the natural process of dying called The Grace in Dying by Kathleen Dowling Singh – highly recommended…

  73. dragonfly Says:

    Noodles, our dear cat, finally passed over this morning at 6:48 – all on his own… although he’s been very sick for the last month, last night we knew it was getting close when he would not eat or drink, and couldn’t get up to go to the litter box – which he always at least tried to do, even if he didn’t always make it all the way there… he was / is my Hero – having taught me so much about life, and then at the end, how to leave so gracefully… it was not pleasant to watch him slowly withdraw, and the sounds and motions of his body as it began shutting down can be gut-wrenching… i couldn’t have done it alone – i am blessed to have a partner, Kathy, who was a beacon of strength and compassion the whole time talking to him… i’m 64 and have never done it this way before – always going to the vet and having the shot administered… it was / is the most profound experience of my life – watching his consciousness slowly withdraw from his body… it really made me feel my own mortality… i’m lost without his presence here…

  74. Nikki Says:

    My Sophia passed away early Monday morning. She had health problems (hyperthyroid, uti, weight loss, ear infections) for about 2 years now and her little body just couldn’t recover from this last bout. She was so skinny and her body wasn’t fighting off infection anymore. She’d been on antibiotics for about 4 weeks and she stopped eating on Friday, but I was so silly and must have been in denial because I thought her special medicine food had gone stale, so I spent $50 to buy her some new stuff. She had fought off illness so many times before and always freaked me out that she was dying or near death that I think I thought this time was no different. As a matter of fact, her passing away Monday was the last thing I thought was going to happen.

    I would always go out and check on her before I went to bed, just to see where she was sleeping at night. I walked into the kitchen around 12:30am and she meowed very quietly but very urgently at me. When I ran over to her she was having trouble breathing. I picked her up and immediately knew that it was time.

    We contemplated taking her to the emergency vet, but because our town is so small, the local vet uses the emergency vet after hours, which is 40 miles away. I just laid down on the couch in the living room with her on my chest, right by my heart. It only took about 20-30 minutes, but it felt like forever, which was actually okay because I got to calm down and talk to her a lot. I was just petting her and telling her how much I loved her, what a good cat she was, and how I was so thankful to have her in my life for so long.

    Her breathing came in gasps with no inhalation in between. Over the course of the 20 minutes it became longer and longer between the gasps. Until finally she took one last gasp, closed her eyes and passed away right on my chest. I’m glad it didn’t last longer because I didn’t want her to go through that all night. I didn’t even have time to decide on euthanasia, although I was never crazy about it, but during those 20 minutes, I understood why it is done. It was very, very hard to hear and see her like that, but it is what it is and everything just happened so quickly and after hours.

    My boyfriend Jeff (who she loved to pieces) was there and did the really hard stuff like get a box and towels and put her in it after she passed. He was so awesome the whole time, helping me and being there because I couldn’t get up and do it. We both actually had our hands on her the moment she passed. I think it helped him process death too, as his grandmother just passed away 2 weeks ago. He is amazing–so patient and funny and kind. I think Sophia knew it was okay to go because I have him in my life now.

    It was hard, but it was time. I’ve never experienced the death of anything that close (even a person) and to tell you the honest truth, it was peaceful and . . . beautiful. I really could not have imagined it going any better. You know, if she had trouble breathing like that during the day, I would have rushed her to the vet and it would’ve been a different experience. It was just so strange and happened very fast . . . but somehow perfectly.

    Jeff and I drove to my parent’s house yesterday and buried her there under a beautiful Spanish olive tree in the front yard. It was very nice. My parents loved her very much too. She would often come with me or stay with them when I was going on an extended trip. She was very much a part of our family.

    I am doing good too. I’m getting to the point where I can smile when I think of her instead of crying. We had so many wonderful memories, as she was with me for over 13 years. I still have no idea how old she was when I got her, maybe 2? The vet thinks she was older than that, so she was maybe 16 or 17 when she passed away. I still have moments when I miss her, especially when I am at the house alone, but I know that it will get better and that she is healthy now and sleeping in some sunny spot with shiny, fluffy fur.

    I don’t know which way of dying is better. Dying is hard and it hurts so much. It’s probably the worst hurt out there, but I find it easier when I think of it like this: I was her Momma, just like I have a Momma. Now, if I was a cat and I passed away and was looking down on my Momma, I would not be focusing on how I died. I would want her to be okay and for her to know that I am okay. I would want her to be happy and to remember the good times we shared, and how well she took care of me, and that death was going to happen, no matter how . . . and that I love her.

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  82. Kristen Says:

    My 15 year old cat seems to be at the end of life. She is neither eating or drinking and won’t leave the corner of our basement. I put her favorite blanket near her and she has snuggled up onto it. She is crying a little but does not seem to be in great pain or distress. I feel like bringing her to the vet will cause great anxiety and to me that seems more cruel than letting her die here in her own home. She is still purring when I pet her and seems to appreciate the company. My husband seems to think we need to have her put down. I’m not so sure.

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  84. Stacie Says:

    I just want to say “thank you”. Our cat Rebel died yesterday after 12 great years. He was the greatest cat. He was always affectionate and friendly. Anytime anyone came over, Rebel was there to greet them. Rebel was diagnosed with kidney failure almost 2 years ago. We have him fluids everyday along with Pepcid. He never seemed to be in any pain. A week or so ago, he quit eating and his weight dropped dramatically, but he was still happy. Then 2 days ago, he was incredibly lethargic and couldn’t really walk. Later that afternoon, I tried giving him his Pepcid and he struggled to get away. He tried jumping down onto the floor but he fell and just laid on his side. I thought for sure he was gone. I’m not sure if that was just his first of many small comas but he didn’t seem bothered by it. He just laid on the floor or wherever we would move him to, content, and relaxed. Finally when it was time for bed, I took him to our room and laid him on my pillow which was one of his favorite spots. But, he hobbled down under our covers and curled up on my belly. Throughout the night, I would awake and verify that he was still with us. Eventually, I noticed his breathing started picking up going faster and faster. I figured the time was coming. At almost 6 a.m., I woke up to him struggling to move. I helped him back up on my pillow. He kept twitching and struggling to get up. My husband and I just kept petting him, telling him that it was ok. He cried out a few times and had what may have been a seizure and then he was gone. I’ve been crying over not only his loss but also my guilt for the past 2 days. I feel like I read so many negative comments about letting an animal die at home that I’ve convinced myself I’m this horrible person who put her cat through so much pain. My husband keeps reassuring me that’s it’s what our Rebel wanted, but it’s hard to convince myself. So, I thank you for this article because now I do feel better about choosing natural death. It was definitely hard to watch, but he was here, with us, in one of his favorite places.

  85. michelle Says:

    recently lost our 18 yr old terrier mix, he became unwell and having trouble peeing not eating like he used to we though maybe time to say goodbye he was given convenia as he had urine infection a few months back and it worked for him then ,from moment this time he got quite drowsey his heart was already high but breathing became harder and heart rate wouldn’t go down and raspy mouth open like gasping or drowning , i rang emergency vet and they said give meloxicam it will help with any distress he never recovered and died overnight , he also lived with dementia last few yrs as well ,this comes to my reason for writing to you,in his condition at the time of dying with drowsiness of convenia injection and meloxicam would he have been in any pain  or a distressing experience or would meds have helped  for him i suspect at his age was 18 he would also have some form of congestive heart disease as he passed out about a week before he died, but he came out if it,. This is not a witch hunt or a way find blame i just need to know please if he may have suffered in Pain if he suffocated  or was it dementia also shutting him down on top would he have lost unconsciousness before that happened and went or was it without too much discomfort with his fast breathing would appreciate anytime you could send a reply as it took hours for him to pass and vet told us it was just the process of dying  high heart rate gasping  for breath  like a lung infection distressing for us  once he went downhill . As we couldn’t get back to vets early hours to end things for him Thankyou  ,appreciate any reply you could give us to help with closure,did ee help hi. Or cause him more diststress

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