How Do You Say Goodbye? by da-AL

The good vet kept my little friend warm, wrapped in a special heating pad…

This week I’ve been looking after a friend’s two elderly cats. While one shows her age only by her lack of teeth, the one in this photo was thin and slow.

A couple of nights ago, this little guy was listless. My husband and I massaged him, got him to drink some broth, turned up the room’s thermostat, and made sure he was comfy on his pillow throughout the night.

The next morning he was back to looking awful.

A couple of months earlier he’d appeared to be on the brink of death, yet pulled through. Now, given how he’d perked up somewhat the night before, I took him to the vet optimistic that some intravenous fluids might perk him up.

Unfortunately, the vet affirmed that there was remote hope that the kitty had any more good days allotted to him, probably not a single day left without constant pain and nausea.

Of the few pets I’ve had, I’ve never had to decide whether to euthanize them.

In the case of this sweet boy, my friend decided. I did, however, decide whether to be with the kitty when the final injection was administered. The vet’s caveat was that the cat wouldn’t care either way. Given that, he suggested that if I stayed, I might always remember the cat at his worst.

After considerable deliberation, I opted not to be there.

Have you had to make such a decision? If so, how and what did you choose?

Do’s and don’ts for if your friend has lost a pet.

Here and here are professional links about pet euthanasia.

62 thoughts on “How Do You Say Goodbye? by da-AL

  1. I’ve had to make the decision three times and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The first time was with my 18 year-old dog and I didn’t stay and regretted my decision later. The second time was with my 18 year-old cat and I stayed and was glad that I did. I held her during the procedure, and then after the vet left me alone in the room with Tigger. I told her how much I loved her and it was a special moment that I treasure. I ended up having to do this again with my 20 year-old cat and I stayed with Kiwi throughout the whole process but so did the vet. I wish that I would have had some alone time with her, but the vet was very kind and loving to my baby and maybe wanted to make it easier for me. It’s not easy to do, but for me it’s important to be there with them all the way to the end. There is a certain peace in knowing that they were not alone, and an energy of love surrounding them that I didn’t provide with my dog, Lucy.

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  2. Not sure I agree with the vet’s assessment that “the cat wouldn’t care either way.” He was probably correct since the cat was your friend’s and the friend was not able to be there. But if it was YOUR pet, it definitely would knows you are there, unless it was unconscious.

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  3. If we can let them escape pain and ease them on their way, I’m very glad. But it’s tough. My cat is getting along, 14, and doesn’t care much for the single-digit temperatures, so we’re enjoying his company indoors a lot more right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes.In our case the entire family stood by. Our dog was only seven years old but suffered from an
    incurable disease and had gone blind.I tried talking to him during his last moments but was in tears
    and choking. The decision was very hard to take. I felt as if I was murdering my own son.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Your cat would definitely have known you were there. I had a hamster who was dying and when I picked him up in my hands, he opened his eyes and looked at me, and then died. In your situation, it must have been very difficult to decide to put your pet to sleep but there was no choice.

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  6. Daal, I’m so sorry the cat was so ill, and I understand your feelings about not wanting to be there when he died. We had a dog we loved very much and she lived to be 15 years old. She had a tumor but she still loved to be with us and to walk every day. I knew she’d let me know when she’d had enough, and the day she refused to walk, I took her to the vet. Our older son came with me, our younger son declined. I didn’t question either decision. The two of us held her in our arms the whole time, and we all thought of her every day for years after. Suffering in pain is not a gift for anyone, but an animal can’t understand why we don’t remove her pain. My heart goes out to you. You made the decision you can live with and that’s important.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes I have. It’s hard. I still get emotional. Prince was the dog I had before Scout. He was a wolf hybrid. He got lose and in an act of rebellion ran out in front of a car. I just couldn’t sentence him to spend the rest of his life in pain and suffering. We took him to the vet and I held him until he drew his last breath. It’s why my little buddy Scout ( border Beagle) is strictly an inside dog.

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  8. It is always a terrible decision to make it.I had to do it ,over the years with 2 cats and a dog.The trigger to decide for me was when they were obviously suffering .I tried to see it as an act of mercy.When life is not life anymore and it is more surviving through pain it is time.It was painful all the time ,took me a while to recover but I took comfort on the fact that their suffering was over.I have always been there with them,during the procedure and my dog I brought it home and buried him under a rose plant.

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  9. Its the toughest part of being a pet owner. It’s probably the most important part in my opinion. I tried to be there at the end because I think its reassuring to the animal but on two occasions I could not because I had to go to work and my husband went on his own (poor chap) and I know that my mother has been unable to face being there with a couple of her cats. So long as they are with kind and gentle people at the end it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is that they are not suffering.

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  10. Ah! Yes, I have made that decision. I stayed. And I swore after it that I would never do it again. But now, many years later I am not so sure. Sending warm wishes…and a shout out for a New Year full of love and light!

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  11. I haven’t ever had to make this decision, but I fear the time is coming when I will have to. My oldest cat is now 15 and she is showing signs of feeling unwell. My heart is breaking as I write this. It is not a decision I ever wanted to make, but having Daisy in my life is a gift I will always cherish.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. In 2009, we made the difficult decision to euthanize our Long-haired Dachshund, who had been part of our lives for 14 years. We said goodbye to her, at the Humane Society office, and she was taken away for her final injection, which was followed by cremation, a while later. We were not allowed to witness either final event.

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  13. I’ve had to go through this twice–with two cats. The first time, I cancelled the vet appointment twice. The third time I went, left the cat with the vet, and ran out in tears. The second time, I held my cat in my arms as he passed on. My daughter was there, too. It was a much nicer experience. I’m sure all the cats look down on us and purr.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I have had tp have horses put down. One was a horse I’d had for several years and it was a heart breaking decision. I was there with him. I felt he needed me to be there. A horse being put down is not like a dog or cat and it is hard to see. But he was in pain and it was a release. The vet left me alone with him. He was on the floor of the riding arena. I went up to him and patted his soft nose and wailed with grief. But I have never regretted my decision.

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  15. What a loving nurse and caregiver you were to Mickey, Daal. You did all you could to help him at home. I have had to euthanize a pet and I never stay to watch it done. I just hand the ill pet over to the vet or assistant, sobbing all the while.

    I nearly cried when I read this post and looked at dear Mickey. I am glad he is out of his misery now. Your mom texted me and told me the sad news. Evidently, Margaret has been comforting Adela for the last couple days and said she would be checking on your mom often!

    Adela and I had our usual 3 hour pizza meal on Wednesday evening at Central Market, a local grocery store with a nice eating area. We enjoy our get togethers! She said you liked my Christmas card and that you sent me good wishes. Thank you!



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  16. I don’t think I would want to be there, Daal. I saw a movie on TV recently about a man who stayed with his dog till the very end when the vet gave the injection. That’s the terrible thing about having a pet. Their lives are so short Happy New Year to you, Daal.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Bless him, and you, and the owner (who made a responsible decision).
    I’ve had to make such decisions .. the biggest and being my horses. Knowing when that time is right to relieve them permanently of a long-term life altering pain… when they still nuzzle your shoulder for reassuring affection, like any other day.
    Having animals is the most humbling of experiences and yet the unconditional love and happiness they bring to our lives means we, as humans, will continue to yearn for animal company x

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’ve never had to decide myself either.
    I remember Tenn’s last goodbye. She was a 14 years old german shepherd.
    She was drifting off right from between my arms at noon, heart beating fast and breathing hard. I panicked, and called at her between sobs. She stirred, came back and licked my nose, and told me everything was fine.
    She spent the afternoon with me, as usual, we had a walk, and in the evening I left for a lacrosse team party. I approached her on her bed, patted her head and kissed her nose. Told her that I’d see her in a few hours and that my mum would be there for her. She stared at me right in the eyes, big eyes, with an expression I had never seen before. Something was different.
    I might have rationalised ex-post, but when my mother called me in tears about 50 minutes later, I understood that was her goodbye. She didn’t want me to see her go. She chose for me, and decided to spare me the pain. My mother told me she walked up to her on the couch, told her she was going, laid down against her and drifted off, with a bit of emotion but otherwise peacefully.
    Sorry for this long comment. That goodbye is a wound I’ll bear with me for my entire life, and it’s sometimes soothing to share it. Or is it maybe that it allows me to go back to those moments, as if I had the chance to choose to stay there by her bed, patting her head for a little longer.

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  19. Yes, I’ve been the lucky friend/parent to two amazing dogs, both goldens. Tory was our family member for 12 years, and she told us when it was time for her to pass on. Literally, she looked at us and said, “NOW.” We would never consider not being with her when the vet gave her the injection that ended her pain and old age. The hardest thing was to not cry; the vet suggested we just let Tory feel our love as she passed on. We waited a year, and then parented Henry, bringing him into our home when he was 8 weeks old. He became an incredible family member and, truth be told, my best friend. Twelve years later, Henry, also, told us with his eyes, “it’s time.” I will never forget the communication that occurred between Henry and my guy and me as he passed on with the help of our vet’s injection, and our soothing loving words. Hardest moments in my life, and yet the most precious. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I’ve been through this excruciating situation 6 times over the last 25 years–three cats and three dogs. We have a wonderful vet who will come to the house and do it while we all hold and/or stroke the beloved pet. Just thinking about it makes me teary. If only animals lived as long as they deserved.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. We had a small grey rabbit called Nanetta – a boy that seemed a girl so this is the reason of its strange name
    He has lived for 11 years. Almost a record for such a rabbit.
    My daughter had to be there when the vet euthanized him.
    When she called me to tell me he had died…we were crying…

    Liked by 1 person

  22. This post made me tear up. I have three cats and a dog, they are quite young still. But I just imagined having to go through something like that with them and I just can’t. I really like the themes on your blog. Keep up the good work 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  23. The toughest decisions to make. With my own pets, always been there, right beside them. If possible in my own home at the spot the pet feels most comfortable. Yes, that moment you will never forget, but the thought I wasn’t there at his/her time of passing, would even be worse, I feel.

    Although, it feels a bit weird besides this topic, but really want to wish you and your family (and for me that includes your pets) a loving year, in peace and with strength to make the difficult choices that may have to made this year. Big hugs, XxX

    Liked by 1 person

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