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The euthanasia decision....

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  • The euthanasia decision....

    I know many of you have experienced this before with horses and beloved farm pets so I come to you for advice.

    My dearest kitty friend passed over the rainbow bridge this pass weekend and I find myself having a hard time coming to terms with it. This is not my first experience with euthanasia so I'm not sure why I'm feeling this way. She was 7 years old and suffered from an immune disease that caused her body to attack her own red blood cells. Vets could never pinpoint exactly what it was - she tested negative for everything under the sun. They never expected her to live past 2yrs of age... much less live to the ripe old age of 7! The last year went well. She seemed to be in "remission" and had gained some weight - although she had a mass in her abdomen that the vets suspected was her spleen that was slowly enlarging. I told myself that if she went downhill again, we would not retreat. The drugs were losing their effectiveness for her and it wasn't fair to her to go through anymore of the needles. We knew the end result would still be the same.

    Her illness reared its ugly head once more and Saturday AM, she came to me for the first time showing signs of pain - and I knew it was time. Regardless of the fact that I knew the time would come and that this was the best thing for her, I am having a terrible time coming to terms with the decision. I can't help but feeling like I took my friend's life. She fought so hard to beat the illness and I feel like I'm the one that quit and gave up. I have this unexplainable feeling of guilt and almost regret.

    Am I losing it or have any of you COTHers experienced something similar?
    Last edited by SkipHiLad4me; Mar. 23, 2009, 01:28 PM.
    "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." --Dwight D Eisenhower

    Boston Terrier Rescue of NC - www.btrnc.org - Adopt for Life!

  • #2
    I don't think you are losing anything.
    Grief is impossible to qualify & highly individual.
    Noone can say when you should stop or if you grieve too much.

    The only thing I can add (from my own experience) is maybe something else happening in your life right now is affecting you through your grieving for your cat.
    End of pseudo-theraputic discussion.

    Sorry you lost a friend.
    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
    Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
    Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

    Comment


    • #3
      Give yourself a few more days

      I felt much the same way when putting down a family dog. He was very old and not really enjoying life anymore, but he was still giving to us, if you know what I mean. However, I had a 15-month old daughter and a newborn son, our house was full of PITA construction workers who were taking three times as long to finish as was in the contract, hubby was happy as a clam either working long hours or bonding with the construction workers, and we still had our other dog, who was younger and was definitely feeling the brunt of all the changes in our lives. BJ probably wouldn't have lived more than another few weeks and those weeks would have been unhappy for him, but I'm still aware that I put him to sleep because I couldn't take care of him anymore, with everything else going on. In my pre-child days, it would be unheard of for me to put a canine member of the family to sleep while there was still any way we could support some decent quality of life for him. However, life isn't black and white and sometimes you just have to do what makes sense in the big picture.

      I swear to you that your kitty cat is grateful for your kindness and wisdom in putting her down. Our vet says that while she knows of some animals who seem to know it's time and shut themselves down, she knows of far more who were clearly unhappy but didn't seem to know how to let go. She believes the relaxation and release she sees in their bodies and eyes as she puts them down is more than the drugs, and I agree. You're a good person for having the courage to help kitty onwards on her journey.

      Comment


      • #4
        I think for an animal still so young, it's inevitable that you keep playing the "what if" scenario.

        It's not easier per se to put down an older one, but it's not as hard if we know they've had a good, long life. We don't feel as if we've given up on them too soon.

        You feel like you "cheated" your kitty of more years. What you really did was enable her to live past the time that nature would have taken her, had she been feral. You didn't cheat her, you gave her 5 more years that she wouldn't have had!

        Grieve for her, but please remember that without your love and devotion, she would have died long before now. There should be no guilt, because you're not guilty of anything.
        Homeopathy claims water can cure you since it once held medicine. That's like saying you can get sustenance from an empty plate because it once held food.

        Comment


        • #5
          You are definitely not alone

          I lost both my kitties, sisters, one of whom was my soul-kitty, in the same year. Soul-kitty went first, after 2 operations over the years to remove a malignant tumor. She told me in no uncertain terms when it was time, but I asked my vet if she could come do it at home. So, she was in familiar territory.

          Her sister however, I took in to the vet, just 8 months later. I felt so bad, I said "I'm sorry!" as she left. My wonderful vet said "Nooooo, don't be sorry!! This is the best thing you could have done. There was no hope, she was beyond ready to go, this was an act of kindness." That did make me feel better.

          It doesn't mean it was any less sad (crying over the 2 of them again now and it's been 4 years).

          Terminal illness and disease sucks. Even if your kitty wasn't at the worst place, it was only a matter of time. There might have been some days that were better than others, and those really make decisions hard. But terminal is terminal. Better a day early than a minute late in making that decision.

          Your grief is your own. Most days I'm ok with my losses (lost my first horse the same year). Some days I am not, not at all.

          There are therapy groups for people who have lost pets. I couldn't ever bring myself to go to one, but some people can. I have no doubt you'd find you were surrounded by people in your area who are going through the same issues.

          Good luck, it's hard, I know.
          ______________________________
          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

          Comment


          • #6
            Been there

            I put down a 6 1/2 year old cat two months ago. It was literally a week from the time the vet gave him meds and sent him home thinking he would recover to the time we made the decision. I'm still heartbroken and now dealing with another ill cat. It does sound like you did the best you could but it's so hard to let them go at so young an age. I thought I'd have him a lot longer. 10 years ago I had to put down an older cat. He just kept hanging on and though I don't think he was in any obvious pain, he was getting weaker and weaker. My vet at the time told me he didn't want to let go 'cause he didn't want to leave me. That left the decision to do what was best squarely on my shoulders. I probably should have made that decision a few days earlier. Sounds like you made the brave and correct decision. Sending hugs.
            Last edited by Holly Jeanne; Mar. 23, 2009, 02:23 PM.
            Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Goethe

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            • #7
              Oh my goodness. I am so sorry you had to lose your kitty.
              {{{{{hugs}}}}

              I think your reaction is totally normal. I felt the same way when I had to euthanize my 15 year old-with-terminal-cancer-feleuk-and bowel obstruction, even though it was to end his pain and he would have died within days anyway...
              "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Holly Jeanne View Post
                My vet at the time told me he didn't want to let go 'cause he didn't want to leave me.
                How awful. I assume you no longer use that vet. I had a simailar experience with an insensitive boob of a vet when I was a child. My Newf was hit by a car. I was standing in the dark at the barn wondering why no one had picked me up. When they finally did my parents informed me of what had happened and that "Squid" would have to stay the night and we would go pick her up in the morning. I went home and went to bed. The vet called in the morning to say she had not made it. Then when he saw me next told me that she had just given up because she thought we had left her there. WTF? I was probaly 12. Thanks asshat for a lifetime of guilt.

                OP, I am usually a tough one but not when it comes to animals. I get what you are feeling. You are not losing it. I don't think I have done it too early but I have definately waited too long. That is awful. You have done the right thing, it will get easier.
                "look deep into his pedigree. Look for the name of a one-of-a-kind horse who lends to his kin a fierce tenacity, a will of iron, a look of eagles. Look & know that Slew is still very much with us."

                Comment


                • #9
                  The act of euthanasia is taking their pain away and making it your own. You gave the greatest gift an animal can get. Unfortunately the pain you are feeling right now is the price you have to pay in order to give that gift. I am sorry for your loss. Its sounds like you were both lucky to have each other. When I lost my sheltie after 16 years this website was a godsend. www.petloss.com
                  Godspeed
                  McDowell Racing Stables

                  Home Away From Home

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Laurierace View Post
                    The act of euthanasia is taking their pain away and making it your own. You gave the greatest gift an animal can get. Unfortunately the pain you are feeling right now is the price you have to pay in order to give that gift.
                    That is the most eloquent way to speak of it. I'm sorry for your loss, young or old, it is never easy to make the decision for any of our beloved animals. You made the right choice, even though it was intensely difficult to make.

                    I recently told my husband that I would not trade one minute of the pain we feel when we have to decide when the time has come over the years of joy the animals bring to our lives.
                    There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by SkipHiLad4me View Post
                      I am having a terrible time coming to terms with the decision. I can't help but feeling like I took my friend's life. She fought so hard to beat the illness and I feel like I'm the one that quit and gave up. I have this unexplainable feeling of guilt and almost regret. Am I losing it or have any of you COTHers experienced something similar?
                      It's not inexplicable, it's a normal reaction to causing a death. Humans have a very useful taboo against killing; cops who shoot criminals in the act are traumatized by it, vets euthanizing suffering animals are traumatized by it. Reason - the whole story of your cat's health and the very solid process of making the decision you made - has nothing to do with it. You did the best thing you could do for a beloved animal, and you still feel bad because it's in us to feel bad when we do something to end a life.

                      I think there is an unreasonable expectation that goes along with the 'euthanasia as a positive thing' approach to the issue of sick and dying animals. My feeling about euthanasia is that I accept it as a neccessary evil for animals, and an advantage to to this POV is that I'm not surprised by feeling guilty afterward - in my world view, I've collaborated with evil by doing this, no matter how good the reasons, no matter how neccessary it was. I think people who believe that euthanasia is a release, that they're helping their animals in a positive way, are unprepared for the guilt because they've intellectually built this more positive idea around euthanasia, and are hit blindside by emotions that haven't consulted the brain but come straight from the gut. That doesn't mean their emotions are right or their ideas are wrong, just that they're different - I say, accept the feeling guilty, remind yourself the ways in which you were responsible for the animal's life and happiness, and let yourself mourn however you need to.

                      PLEASE note: I'm NOT questioning the OP's decisions, just commenting on the issue of euthanasia and what I see as two different ways people approach it. I would hate for anyone to think I was criticizing her; I feel it's completely inappropriate to question anyone's timing with their own animals, and I would never do it; I would hate anyone to question mine.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Vacation, I didn't feel any sense of guilt after I had Conny put down. Sorrow, absolutely. Guilt? Not at all.

                        I don't understand why people feel guilty when they're knowingly releasing an animal from pain and suffering.

                        Loss, unhappiness, grief, all of these are understandable; even anger. But guilt, I just don't get.

                        I'm not criticizing, and I know that grief takes many forms. The concept of guilt though, has me truly puzzled.

                        Maybe when I have to put the next animal down I'll feel guilty, but for Conny it was the absolute best thing I could do for him, and never once have I questioned my decision, or felt guilt over it.

                        I feel badly for the OP because she's feeling guilty for giving her girl the last, best gift we can give our non-human companions. She did the right thing, and shouldn't be beating herself up over it.
                        Homeopathy claims water can cure you since it once held medicine. That's like saying you can get sustenance from an empty plate because it once held food.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Thank you so much for all of the replies. I really appreciate the encouragement and the kind words. It's been a really tough day and I didn't even bother to read all of the replies until tonight because I knew I'd be crying like a baby at work if I did. (As I am now.)

                          I know I made the right decision. There was no other option unless I allowed her to continue in her downward spiral. I did not want her to suffer needlessly just for me to have kept her around a little longer. She deserved better. I guess what hit me the hardest was that just before the vet took her from me, I saw a glimpse of her that didn't seem so frail or sick and I think it made me immediately second guess the decision I had just made. Perhaps I was acting too quickly and that it wasn't quite time. But on the other hand, perhaps that was so I would remember her as she'd always been, young and energetic, and not as the frail, tired girl that her terrible disease had made her become.
                          "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." --Dwight D Eisenhower

                          Boston Terrier Rescue of NC - www.btrnc.org - Adopt for Life!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            She probably got a burst of adrenaline from being at the vets as her body went through the fight or flight decision mode. That can definitely perk them up temporarily, it doesn't mean it was too soon.
                            McDowell Racing Stables

                            Home Away From Home

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I lost a horse a month ago.
                              He was injured and spent a futile five weeks at the hospital, where we really knew we could not do anything for him and finally made the decision to let him go.

                              It is still hard to think about what happened and the end, even if it was the right thing to do for him, it still seems so sad and frustrating and sad.

                              I know how you feel about your cat, that just didn't seem right that we have to make those decision, but the alternative is worse, so we have to.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I am so sorry for your loss.

                                At my age, I have made these tough decisions many times and it never gets easier.

                                Right now, I am contemplating that choice with two cats - one is 20 and nature is taking its course with her. Yet, every night her big thing is going to bed with me and she so looks forward to that and purrs and carries on. But her days are numbered and I question sometimes if I have waited too long for her.

                                The other is 13 and has a cancerous tumor that is growing rapidly. She is on some pallatative medicines at the moment, but I must also soon make the ultimate decision for her. She sits on my lap right now purring loudly.

                                I hate to play God - but never seem to receive that written directive that makes the choice easier.

                                It is never an easy decision but I try to live by the "quality of life" theory at these times.

                                I am sure you made the right decision for your kitty as I know I will make the right for mine.

                                Take care - the grieving process is an individual one. I try to remember the many good years and, once time has passed, am grateful to have some pictures to keep the memory even more vivid.

                                Thank you for sharing and big hugs.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I heard someone once say, "If you wait too long, it's an easy choice. If you decide early, it's an easy choice. If you have a lot of doubt and guilt, you did it at the right time."

                                  Had you waited, kitty would have been in a lot of pain and misery, and you'd be able to easily tell it was time. Same as if you had euthanized her when you first found out she was sick--it still wouldn't have been a wrong choice, but it would have been an easier choice. You gave her 7 good years--Good years. Would you rather she had 7 good years and 2 bad ones?

                                  You're feelings are what they are, Feelings. They're natural, they're normal, and as much as we like to think we're strong and in control, they are what they are and it's ok to feel this way. In your head you know you did the right thing, it just takes awhile for the heart to catch up.

                                  (((HUGS)))) You're kitty was lucky to have you.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I'm so sorry about your beloved kitty. My darling Siamese had to be put down a little over a year ago, and my adored father died just last month, so grief and grieving REALLY resonates with me right now.

                                    I'm sure you did the right thing. I worried about doing the right thing for my Solomon, who had cancer. I grieved for him as I never grieved for a pet. It was months and months before I could bring myself to consider another Siamese, and even then, when I got Buster, I sometimes cried and sobbed, "I don't want YOU! I want Sol!" It takes time. Be gentle on yourself. Don't try to second-guess yourself. Our first, gut-instincts on something like this are usually correct.

                                    *****HUGS******

                                    Kim
                                    I loff my Quarter horse clique

                                    I kill threads dead!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Laurierace View Post
                                      The act of euthanasia is taking their pain away and making it your own. You gave the greatest gift an animal can get. Unfortunately the pain you are feeling right now is the price you have to pay in order to give that gift. I am sorry for your loss. Its sounds like you were both lucky to have each other. When I lost my sheltie after 16 years this website was a godsend. www.petloss.com
                                      Godspeed
                                      Aw, I agree with you and MunchkinsMom, that is a really nice and touching way to describe it. *sniff*

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I am so sorry for your loss. The thing to remember when questioning yourself - is that you weren't going to beat anything. From what you posted this wasn't a disease she would ever be cured of, no matter how hard either of you fought it. You went above and beyond and loved her enough to make the hardest decision. When it comes down to it, fighting is the easy part. I lost one a year or so ago to what we think was a brain tumor. She started having seizures. She was older, no idea how old as she had been a stray who found me, so I wasn't going to put her through a horrendous course of treatment or surgery. She had already had her thyroid removed 2 years before, so cutting her open again wasn't something I felt was fair. My vet said if we treated her with phenobarbital and it worked, it was a tumor, and it would work for a while and then it wouldn't. Well that's exactly how it went. We had a good couple of months, and then she started having seizures through the meds. One Friday was particularly bad, so I loaded her up and went to the vet's before i had time to really talk myself out of it. The seizures were horrendous for her and the other pets as she turned into a ball of claws and in the beginning of one was really upset and scared like something was after her. When I got there and handed her to them I couldn't stay in the room for fear it wouldn't go well. I went outside and hyperventilated at the thought I had just told them to kill her. Rationally I knew her quality of life was gone, as she had started getting less and less back after each seizure, and each seizure was horrible on her. I am past questioning myself or wondering if I could have done it differently. I still miss her and dread having to make that decision again, but I know it is coming.

                                        I wish you peace. In time you will start to remember the good days more than the last one. You did the right thing, and loved her enough to know what that right thing was. She was very lucky to have you.

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