This is not a step by step process of what to do when putting a cat to sleep. I am just writing about everything that I went through when I had to put my cat to sleep. Hopefully, it will provide insight if you are faced with this unfortunate, but unavoidable, situation.
This is not a perfectly written post which you can tell from the abundance of bullet points. The post is about remembering an amazing cat and detailing everything that happened.
My cat’s behavior leading up to euthanizing him
My cat’s name was Little Rascal.
When I first adopted him, he would constantly climb up curtains or jump from my mountain bike onto the top of the refrigerator. I would always hear things falling or see him pulling down the curtains.
So his name fit him quite well. He was small and continually causing little problems. He eventually calmed down.
Forgive me if the structure of the post is poor with all the bullet points. I’m just getting my thoughts out and I’m still emotional from the event a few days ago.
Here are the things that I noticed:
- He became very hungry a few weeks before I took him to the vet. I thought it was because he was not eating his dry food and so wanted more wet food.
- I started feeding him wet food twice a day instead of once and I doubled the portion size as well.
- He then started eating my other cat’s wet food and even my dog’s food.
- He was voraciously eating cat treats (Temptations brand) all the time.
- I also noticed that he was throwing up more often. He was a domestic medium hair so it was common to find him coughing up fur balls.
Then his eating and behavior patterns again changed during the last week of his life:
- He stopped eating his Fancy Feast wet food so I switched to high moisture brands with real chunks of fish.
- I bought a can of albacore tuna and would give him a small bowl of milk.
- He was not moving around much. He would either be under my couch when I was sitting there or under a table by the front door.
- A few times I found him under my bed, but that was it. He wasn’t wandering the place as usual.
- He was not playing with my other cat, following my dog or sitting on the window sill.
- Even the cat treats were no longer appetizing.
- I had to put his plate of wet food right in front of him. He would sniff the food but then not eat.
Those are all the things I noticed before I took him to the vet on a Friday afternoon. I believe the only water he was getting was from the wet food and milk.
I could not tell that he had lost a lot of weight because of his long fur. I’m not sure if he was sleeping or not – my guess is that he wasn’t.
What the vet found and explained to me
The vet noticed a lot of problems:
- One of his teeth was quite loose, but that wasn’t the main problem.
- It was obvious that he was not drinking because his fur and skin were not springing back when pulled up.
- The doctor found a large mass, or growth of some kind, near his kidneys. It was a couple of inches long and about an inch wide. That was the main problem, which he believed was cancer.
Then he told me the mass was probably affecting his appetite. I told him that Little Rascal was ravenous a few weeks before. He mentioned that was because the mass of cancer was making him eat more to feed the tumor. Like it had a mind of its own.
So it looks like he had a large cancerous tumor that decreased his urge to eat.
The vet gave him fluids and sent me home with his medicine. He believed that he may bounce back but that I most likely would only have a few more weeks.
He thought my cat might respond to the fluids and medicine and may start eating again but to let him know if his condition didn’t improve.
The medicine did not help as he was still not eating. But I got one more day with him. I took him into my yard and let him explore the plants while I photographed him. And his best friend was with him, my dog Buddy.
But that is the best I could do for him – to let him sniff the world outside and to pal around with my dog. Then I had to take him back to the vet to put him to sleep.
The process of putting my cat to sleep
The cost of euthanizing my cat was very affordable – around $120. I had to sign some paperwork and pay my bill. That way I could just walk out when it was time to go. Here are his final moments:
- They put a catheter in his front leg.
- The doc gave him a shot that made him fall asleep instantly.
- Then he was given the “shot”. The vet pushed on the plunger and that was it.
- I was left alone with him for a few minutes where I spoke to him, pet him and kissed him on the forehead a number of times.
The final shot supposedly causes death either within 30 seconds to a minute or two. I think I was there long enough for him to pass, but I wasn’t in an observant state of mind. It was his spirit that I was speaking to. I wanted him to know that I was there and that I loved him.
I noticed his eyes wouldn’t close and they seemed to be full of fluids. My eyes were filled with fluids as well.
After a few minutes, I went home.
Final thoughts (and regrets) on putting my cat to sleep
I was thinking I should have brought my dog Buddy with me. Little Rascal loved him and always followed him around my place. He probably would have liked that.
I’m not sure how Buddy is doing, but my other cat Luna keeps looking for Little Rascal. She has been crying a lot so I think she misses him. I’ve been giving her a lot of extra attention.
I regret that I did not notice much earlier how bad he was.
I regret that I lacked the financial resources to possibly give him more time and with less pain.
I regret that I could not save him.
If you need to put your cat to sleep, then you or another family member should be with him, or her, at the end. You will be emotional – deal with it. Don’t shirk this responsibility or you will regret it.
I had a day to prepare for it and to get some photos of him. And he got some quality time sniffing all the plants in the yard.
I am glad I was with him at the end as there was no way I would have wanted him to be alone.
I am glad that he found his pet best friend in my goofy dog.
I am glad that I adopted him because he was so friendly and he enriched my life.
His name was Little Rascal and he had just turned 8 years old when he had to be put to sleep. What the hell, man? That is too young to get cancer.
May his eternal spirit find peace and solace!