Knowing when it's time - but how?

Eliza_2 Forumite Posts: 1,315
Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
At 72 I've had cats and dogs all my life, they all seem to live long and mostly pretty healthy until the end when I've always just known when it's time - and the vet's agreed with me.  Although obviously heartbroken I've always felt it was the right thing to do.  Until now.  My cat is 16, has arthritis (daily painkiller tablet), kidney disease and dementia.  Sometimes I feel she has ok quality of life, like yesterday when I caught her sitting in the sun washing her paws (I haven't seen her washing for ages!) and felt happy for her.  However today she's back lying on one side (to avoid the arthritic leg), isn't interested in eating much so can't have her dementia medications. I've since persuaded her to take a little walk round the garden with me. She might pick up later. I've twice come down in the morning to find the kitchen absolutely flooded in urine and have barricades everywhere as she tends to get stuck in places she shouldn't do, like under the sofa or in the dogs water bowl.  She can't work out how to extricate herself.  

I was at the vets twice last week, once a routine check up where he gave her a painkiller injection, then a panic visit where I really thought it was time to say goodbye.  However the vet gave her some dementia meds and said it wasn't her time yet so unexpectedly I bought her home - having steeled myself up to those final moments! I have now ordered more specialist kidney food though she's not keen, as obviously the vet thinks she's going to be around a while yet.  And how do I persuade her to drink now that she's losing so much water - she must be dehydrated surely.

I feel that managing her illnesses is now getting beyond me, scrubbing the floor, debating when to take the dog out, barricading the house up and so on, I have to spend the day helping at my daughter's for som of this week as it's half term and she has a disabled child but not sure I can leave the cat, I hate to see her so confused and so on.  I'm probably overthinking it but it's beginning to be about what's right for me rather than what's right for my lovely little cat which is a terrible admission as I love her so much.  I'm sure the vet thinks I'm a terrible person as I've already twice mentioned putting her to sleep and been dismissed, I can't do it again.

Anyway, thanks for listening and if anyone can identify with any of this it would be helpful but really I think I just wanted to clear it out of my head.!



  • theoretica
    theoretica Forumite Posts: 12,067
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    What a difficult time for you!
    I wonder how much space she needs to be happy at the moment?  Perhaps rather than just barricading the house you could make her a safe and comfortable area for use when appropriate that is easy for you to keep clean, and would let you feel happier about leaving her for periods of time.
    But a banker, engaged at enormous expense,
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  • Auti
    Auti Forumite Posts: 198
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    I am sorry that your cat is struggling but 16 is an amazing age. I have a cat. It is hard to judge quality of life but I think you are right to mention euthanasia. If it were my cat I would look at the quality of life - how scared (getting stuck), inability to keep herself safe, incontinence, general feeling of unwell (not eating), lack of interest in life and so on. Then I would think how I would feel if I were her and old - would I want to stay alive like that (with maybe a random half hour in the sun). Whatever you decide it will be right - you love your cat and she you and she trusts your decision. Big hug to you both. (I am autistic and in no way do I mean any disrespect)
  • Marmaduke123
    Marmaduke123 Forumite Posts: 793
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    When my cat had advanced kidney failure she couldn't get enough water and was constamtly drinking. We had water bowls all over the house and outside. We had to reinstate a litter tray, which she hadn't used since she was a kitten, she needed retraining to use it.  She stopped going out, ate very little and lost a lot of weight.. She was clearly miserable, and the vet agreed with us that her time had come.

    Why does your vet not agree with you? My cat didn't have arthritis or dementia, which are obviously going to complicate the issue. I would be inclined to phone the vet and have a discussion, which isn't easy in the surgery when you are upset. Make sure the vet understands the full picture of how your cat's conditions are interacting and affecting your own quality of life
  • Brie
    Brie Forumite Posts: 7,448
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    I hate it that pets become such a big part of our lives (well I don't hate it but you know what I mean). 

    Our lovely Ariadne made it 4 years past her twin sister making it to 18.  The last 2 years she was diabetic and arthritic and having accidents but was happy to be cuddled most days and loved sitting in the sun, particularly when she could also have her back resting against the hot tub - must have been very soothing to her aching joints.  But came a time and she was less happy and I was cleaning up after her at least once a day.  And she wanted to come and cuddle but that meant climbing the stairs which was almost impossible.  And so I knew that while she could still be happy at times that that was outweighed by pain and not being able to look after herself as she normally had.  And it was beyond me to cope with it all anymore.  Personally I was helping to care for my MiL as well as supporting my husband sometimes too, things were getting stressful at work and all sorts of things. 

    There is no shame, in my opinion, for you telling the vet that while the lovely puss may have some quality of life you aren't able to cope with the times that that's not shining through.  Any decent vet will understand and help you do the right thing. 
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  • Sarahspangles
    Sarahspangles Forumite Posts: 1,128
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    We took our elderly cat to the vets when her health started to decline. I promised my children I would discuss with the vet whether or not it was time. The vet said with a cat in failing health, her test was simply whether she still had more good days than bad. We felt she’d had some good days that Summer but it was kinder to save her more distress.
  • sleepymans
    sleepymans Forumite Posts: 898
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    I’m so sorry to hear about your dear cat’s decline. I have had to make the hard decision to end my lovely cats suffering several times over the years.  Although I know vets are generally professional and very caring, but I have always listened more to my intuition and knowledge of my cats that vets…I mean, they are businesses, arent they? Spend a lot of time caring for and tuning into your pet’s feelings/aura….then make your decision in the animal’s best interests. Sending you caring Huggs.
    :A Goddess :A
  • sheramber
    sheramber Forumite Posts: 17,519
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    Compare the bad days to the good days.  When the bad outnumber the good then it is time.

    I have not had cats but with dogs the eyes can tell you.  It is just a fleeting look of being too tired to go on.

    Remember, a week too early is better than a day too late.

    When I took one of my dogs to be pts the vet said he could give her something . I said 'no'.

    I know they can give them an injection  but it would only add a couple of weeks at most and wondering every day if it would be today.

    I did not think that was fair to my dog who had led an active life for 15 years . She had gone for a walk, or a plod latterly, but  that day could not walk more than a few steps before collapsing.

    She had been off her food for a week.

    Afterwards my vet found a massive tumour on her liver.

  • Katiehound
    Katiehound Forumite Posts: 7,191
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    It's always a hard decision but I think it is not only the quality of your pet's life, but your quality of life. This may come across as harsh but if you are having to do a huge amount more cleaning and caring, as well as worrying then I think the time has come.

    Some years ago I had a dog who lost the plot. He was pooping in bed, staring at the walls and got so fraught & stressed  on a long journey that I decided the time had come.He could still walk & run.
    The vet agreed with me and said it was the right decision so he never came home. She reckoned that he had several ita s. He was nearly 15 but certainly had dementia.

    Now his then companion is 16 and I know her back legs are going to fail. At the moment she is is doing really well but if we get a lot of hot weather she will not cope.

    I am in the week too early camp. I don't want my beloved animals to suffer: that is a gift we can give.

    Take care, thinking of you
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  • Murphybear
    Murphybear Forumite Posts: 7,111
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    You have my sympathy, I’ve been in that situation many times.  Our little cat lasted until she was 20, last year, and she went downhill so quickly I knew it was time to let her go.  I’ve always been told it is the owners decision and a good vet will listen and carry out the owners wishes.  This is especially important when the cat is elderly.

    She had renal problems when she was 18 and, acting under the vets advice, went on a special renal diet.  She did well on it until she was 20

    The hardest part of owning a pet is knowing  when to let them go.  

    When we took Squeaky in the vets surgery sent us a beautiful card expressing sympathy and saying it was the right decision.

    Reading your post my instinct is that it is time to let her go.

      Virtual hugs and kisses from a long life cat owner 
  • JGB1955
    JGB1955 Forumite Posts: 3,329
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    Our ESS had a stroke.  The first time we went to the vet (a locum?) she made me feel guilty about mentioning 'putting to sleep' in my words, 'euthanasia' in hers.  Second visit and they managed to deal with his lop-sided-ness and sickness (so perhaps vet#1 was right). Third visit and loss of use of legs (for a working Spaniel) and (a different vet) agreed with our option.  It was (and still is...8 months later) devastating, but absolutely the right decision.  Crying now... what a softy!  Look after yourself, and do what you feel is the right thing for those you are responsible for.
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