A cat's time to die?

Death comes to us all, whether we like it or not. For most of us, death comes later in life and is often expected. While most live to a good age, we lose too many before their time. Death is unavoidable. There is a movement afoot for assisted suicide for terminally ill people who no longer want the quality of life they now have. The individual chooses when their illness or disease has taken away the ability to live with it anymore. It is something that I find myself agreeing with. Why live past the point where you are simply a bag of flesh and bones, unable to enjoy anything, perhaps in constant pain.

We acquire pets, we name them, train them, curse them, cuddle them, sometimes dress them, reveal our secrets and dreams to them, play with them, exercise with them, talk to them, and a million other things but do we make them live longer than is fair to them?

How many times have you known someone whose pet has grown old and doesn’t so much run around as amble from sleeping place to food and not much further? A dog with a disease or illness that causes them pain or suffering? A cat who can no longer jump onto furniture or someones lap? When do you get to the point when you decide that it isn’t fair anymore to let them suffer?

I have had a cat for eleven years. He’s black and white, lovely fur and was abused at a previous home. He has a bit of a hair lip. He is the softest, nicest cat I have ever known. He likes to sit between my wife and I when we watch television. If you are napping, you will wake to find him cuddled into your buddy. I have told him things I haven’t told my wife. I have shared secrets and thoughts, when left alone in the house, we have had whole conversations.

My cat is not well. Since January when he was 17 lbs, he has dropped to barely 10 lbs. He also suffers from blockages in the back end. When he has blockages he makes a yelp that is painful to listen to. He is still mobile although he tends to hide away more these days. After a recent visit to the vets we have a potential diagnoses of diabetes. Diabetes is the most positive choice. My cat is in the process of losing all nerve endings in his rectum. He simply doesn’t know that he has to poop until it is too painful to. He seems to be embarrassed by this. His farts have also become near lethal.

My cat has been with me longer than I have had children. He is part of the family. He is also suffering and I don’t know if I have the courage to do the right thing. I like to think if that if the roles were reversed, he would make the right decision for me. It is wrong to keep a companion, be it human or animal, if they will suffer simply because you want them to be around you. You should not have someone who you love suffer because you are afriad to say goodbye.

As well as my cat, along with another cat, I have two small children who love the cat. We have already had the discussion about when an animal is put to sleep and what it means and what happens. They are probably too young to totally understand but they know that if that option is taken, they won’t see the cat again. They will bounce back quicker and easier than me.

He is my cat. It is pretty much my choice. I am the one who will be there at the end. I am a man of 42 and yet I feel as if I am a small child trying to deal with this issue. Whatever happens I am disappointed with myself. If we choose to let the cat suffer because I cannot bear to lose him, then I will be disgusted with myself for being a coward. If I have him put out of his suffering, I am killing one of my best friends and I will forever carry that.

My wife and I will sit down and like everything else that happens in our lives, we will deal with it. I just wish I didn’t have to ever make this choice.

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One comment

  1. Thank you for sharing with us and writing this article. This is a very difficult decision. Two of our cats are very old as well. Fortunately so far they are healthy – but I dread the day when we have to make a similar and very painful decision. I agree with what you wrote: “You should not have someone who you love suffer because you are afriad to say goodbye.” In my opinion, if an animal is suffering and there’s nothing that can be done to alleviate the suffering – then quality of life is more important than quantity. It takes a lot of love to end that suffering in a painless and peaceful manner. But it’s very, very painful. Pets do touch our lives in special ways. Some people are closer to their pets than any other human beings – which makes a decision like this even more painful.