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Euthanasia at home...multi-cat family - any experiences?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
My dear friend and neighbour is now dealing with all the issues surrounding her oldest cat's terminal illness.

She is leaning towards allowing Jake to leave for the Bridge from home.

She has three other cats. The question is, what is the best way for the other cats to deal with Jake's passing? Should they be present...should they just have a "visitation" afterwards...what else do they need to help them come to terms with his leaving? Inherent to this question is, obviously, what's best for Jake?

I would appreciate first-hand experiences...and also, if you've "been there", is there anything you would do differently today, and why? If you have known someone who has been in this situation, what would that person answer this question?

If you know of references to this topic, those will be appreciated too.
post #2 of 20
Kandie was PTS at home ... after she left her body was taken after Mom said goodbye none of the others were allowed in the room
post #3 of 20
I've not experienced this, but if I were to go through this situation, I would allow my cats a "visitation" after my loved furry one had passed so that they would be able to know what has happened rather than be confused and wonder at the disappearance.

But that's just my own personal take.
post #4 of 20
I think i would allow my cats to say their last farewell and give them a final sniff Jack is so close to Rosie, and i just know if anything happend to her *God forbid* he would miss her terribly if she was there one minute and gone the next without seeing her and trying to understand what happend?.
post #5 of 20
We had our beloved Louie put to sleep at home. He had battled cancer for 10 months. He went to sleep in one of his favorite spots, the couch in our family room, with my husband's arm around him and me petting and kissing his head. We told him once more how much we loved him and what a very good boy he was and how he'd been so brave. It was so peaceful that I didn't even realize when the moment came that he'd actually passed. The vet was kind and compassionate and let us take our time through the whole process.

Since our family room has no door, our other two kitties could go in or out as they chose. I don't remember them being in the room at the time, though. They were probably a little worried about the vet being there.

We buried Louie at home in our yard. Before we did that, we had him in his little coffin, and gave the other cats a chance to look at him, touch him. The younger one looked briefly, the older girl, who'd been with Louie much longer, spent a little more time touching him with her nose.

There is no doubt in my mind that this was the best thing to do for Louie. I wouldn't do anything differently. It seemed right that he should be with us in the comfort of his own home, surrounded by his family and all his familiar things. I cannot imagine having to make an appointment for euthanasia, and having to cause a sick kitty yet more stress by being put in a carrier, enduring a car ride and then all the smells and sounds at the animal hospital that frighten most cats. I know that many people unfortunately have no choice and must do it that way, but if there's a choice for Jake, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend that his suffering be relieved in his home with the people who love him.

Blessings to your neighbor and little Jake.
post #6 of 20
When Harry was 6 months old he is 10 now FiFi was run over and killed she was the same age as Harry they were so close , we let Harry say his goodbyes he sniffed her and laid with her while we got her grave ready , as we buired her Harry was sat there watching . i went out half an hour later to find poor Harry trying to dig FiFi up . im glad i let him say goodbye by sniffing her but if i could turn back the clock i wouldnt have let him watch her being buired he just didnt want to leave her at the time it was so sad
post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by prettypusscat View Post
When Harry was 6 months old he is 10 now FiFi was run over and killed she was the same age as Harry they were so close , we let Harry say his goodbyes he sniffed her and laid with her while we got her grave ready , as we buired her Harry was sat there watching . i went out half an hour later to find poor Harry trying to dig FiFi up . im glad i let him say goodbye by sniffing her but if i could turn back the clock i wouldnt have let him watch her being buired he just didnt want to leave her at the time it was so sad
Aww that would make me break down so bad.
post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
post #9 of 20
I unfortunatly have been in this situation a few times, and have done it differently each time. With Tissy, we took her to the vet because she was sick and she died right then. I wanted to let BooBoo say goodbye but Jake didn't think that was a good idea. So we buried her and he is still looking for her to this day! With Kitten, I showed him the body, he gave her a smell, realized she was gone and was a little upset. With Moocha, BooBoo didn't get to see, but since it was a new kitten that I had taken in in hopes I could save him he really didn't see him much. Glitch was different. Glitch got sick and was sick with FIP for a while, him and BooBoo were best friends, I had planned on him getting PTS at home but the time came so suddenly there was no other option but to bring him to the vet, they put him down, it was very peacefull, the last thing he saw was me, the last words her heard were I Love You. I brought home his body and prepared him for burial, I removed his IV's, and got his Coffin ready, I then brought out BooBoo to see him. BooBoo sniffed at him, tried to get him to wake up, nudged his head, and layed with him for a few minutes until he realized that he was gone for good. BooBoo mourned him the worst. I know from experience though that its better to let them see them after they've passed away so that they know their friend is not coming back and that they didn't just suddenly dissapear.
Its not easy on them either way, but I think its easier to see the body.
I dont know if I would have the other cats watch while He's being put down though, then they will associate the vet with death!

Good for everyone who is dealing with this...
post #10 of 20
I think it all depends on the personalities of the other cats. When we put Zorro to sleep, I let Boo see him afterwards to say his goodbyes because they had been so close. Afterwards, Boo stopped eating and hasn't been himself since (that was 6 months ago). Now he has anxiety issues and is nervous all the time. If I could go back in time, I probably wouldn't have let him see Zorro.
Like I said, it all depends on whether or not it will seriously upset the other cats in the household.
post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gothicangel69 View Post
...it all depends on whether or not it will seriously upset the other cats in the household.
Not to put you "on the spot"...just perhaps your observations might help my friend:
Any "gut feelings", theories, ideas, on what personality traits would tell you that it would NOT be a good idea? How would you decide to allow one cat to have the experience or not to have it for another cat?
post #12 of 20
I had 2 Siamese littermates. One died at 18 yrs (Sandy) the other at 22 yrs (Samantha). After Sandy was PTS at the vets, Samantha seemed *very* confused for a *very* long time. She would walk around the house just yelling at the top of her lungs. She had never know an existence that didn't include Sandy. It might have helped for her to see Sandy but I guess I can't say for sure. Samantha never really was the same after that.
post #13 of 20
My uncle has a vet that makes house-calls. his wifes parents had a cat, & he weighed a whopping 23 lbs. her parents split up, her mom moved right down the street to live with my aunts parents, & the dad stayed in the family home. the mom came down to visit Fudd(cat) frequently. but when i went there to visit before i could tell Fudd wasnt taking the split easily. he had dropped nearly half his weight, which was probably better, since 23 lb isnt very healthy. but he was loosing patches of hair & his ability to walk with his back legs. my uncle made an appt with the vet that made house calls, but she didnt go all the way to Philly, which is where my aunts parents lived. they bought Fudd to my uncles, where i lived at the time. she examined him, came to the conclusion that his health problems lately were prolly the result of Diabetes, and took some blood work. after taking the blood work, she said she thought it would be better if she euthanized him, bc he was clearly suffering. she gave them time to decide what they wanted to do, & they asked her what she would do if he was her cat. she explained to them that she would let him go, bc he wouldnt be suffering or in pain anymore. they agreed with her, & gave her the go-ahead to euthanize him. she gave us all a chance to say our final good byes to dear old Fudd. she gave him the shot, & while on my uncles island counter, & his meowmy's arms around him, & everyone there crying their eyes out, he passed. it had to be the saddest thing i have ever seen. i still think about poor Fudd, and i sure hope i never have to put my cats down.
post #14 of 20
I don't know if I would do anything differently. Cats aren't people and they aren't going to understand that this is their last time to see their buddy. After the cat is gone, they notice something is missing, that something is different. They might miss the companionship too. They won't remember their last time with their cat, ya' know what I mean? It's more for you than them (the 'last sniff' thing). It might help to have them see the cat after it has passed though, so they will realize what happened.

All that being said, I think cats sense when another cat is sick so maybe they have already kind of dealt with it in their own kitty way among each other?
post #15 of 20
When Webb sneaked out and was hit by a car, I picked him up and laid him in the grass while we got ready to bury him. Fred poked him with his nose, then as realising something was wrong, groomed the dirt off of him. Fred sat with him for a little while, then hid behind the couch for a few days. It was very sad, but not as sad as when one just went away and he never saw him again, even though he was living right down the street, inside all the time. Fred howled and cried for several days after that.
post #16 of 20
my goodness this thread makes for very difficult reading.

my heart goes out to everyone who has shared such difficult moments here.

personally i have always let the other cats see the 'body'. although there has still been grief i feel that there was also an understanding and not them left thinking their buddy has just disappeared.
post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by tab View Post
personally i have always let the other cats see the 'body'. although there has still been grief i feel that there was also an understanding and not them left thinking their buddy has just disappeared.
i would've liked to have done this when Mouse passed. basically, from Pixel's viewpoint, Mouse left the house & never returned. she did seem to miss her - she wasn't the only cat in the household, since Cable had joined our family a few months before, but her littermate, whom she had never been without, was gone. they were the best of friends, snuggling together, grooming each other - i felt as sad for Pixel as i did for myself!
i ended up explaining to Pixel what had happened. i know she didn't understand everything - but she seemed better after the explanation.
that could just be my imagination, but it sure seemed that way. not too long after our 'talk' i snapped this pic - the first time i had witnessed this:

post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by laureen227 View Post
i would've liked to have done this when Mouse passed. basically, from Pixel's viewpoint, Mouse left the house & never returned. she did seem to miss her - she wasn't the only cat in the household, since Cable had joined our family a few months before, but her littermate, whom she had never been without, was gone. they were the best of friends, snuggling together, grooming each other - i felt as sad for Pixel as i did for myself!
i ended up explaining to Pixel what had happened. i know she didn't understand everything - but she seemed better after the explanation.
that could just be my imagination, but it sure seemed that way. not too long after our 'talk' i snapped this pic - the first time i had witnessed this:

Awhile back, I read a post somewhere on TCS about sitting down with your cat, telling her you need to talk to her, looking her in the eyes and explaining what has happened to their friend or littermate, who is now gone. A couple of posters tried it and got very interesting responses from their cats, as laureen227 did from Pixel. (What a sweet picture).

I don't think that a cat will be traumatized or affected adversely by being exposed to his deceased friend, ex. by viewing the body. But it's a safe assumption that if a cat loses another cat it was close to, that cat will very possibly grieve the loss. A good friend of mine says that she believes cats do not fear death because they don't know, or understand death. What they do know is that their sibling or friend is no longer there. That is what affects them and there is no way to protect them from the sadness of that reality. All we can do is to try to help them through it.
post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 
I want to express a very sincere thank you! to everyone who shared their experiences in this thread.

On Monday afternoon Jake pre-empted all the planning for his demise and took the difficult decision out of his mom and dad's hands.

After some weeks of being noticibly 'not himself', he had had an amazing weekend...more like himself, enjoying food again, scarfing down lots of sardines (he was being spoiled), going outside...

On Monday, my friend decided she would take the day off - primarily for Jake's sake. He seemed to relish her company - went outside to "take care of business" and after, spent about 15 minutes just sitting on the deck taking in the fresh air and view. He came in, went to lie in his basket and my friend, as usual, laid his blanket over him for warmth . Later in the afternoon my friend came back into the room and called him, but Jake didn't stir. When she came closer, Jake was lying where she had left him, paws crossed as when he slept.......but, Jake had gone.

Needless to say, she is unconsolable.

(Talking about Jake helps. One story she told which particularly struck me involved my friend's father. He always said that, when he would die he hoped that he would pass with his feet up, in his favourite place, his cabin. So it came to be - he died in his sleep, feet up, in his cabin. This man had had a particularly soft spot for Jake....maybe he and Jake had a plan...

If there's to be a 'theme song' for Jake, what would be better than Sinatra's line....I did it my way!)

To come back on topic, ...
My friend's other cats were, of course, in the house that day. Jake had left so quietly that no one noticed. Later, when they came to realize a that something had happened and approached him, the youngest acted as if she were frightened, ran away and hid. Another was very vocal and the third seemed to understand and remains stoic.

It seems to me - from the majority of other peoples' experiences and from this one - that, where cats live together, they benefit from understanding that one of their own has gone to the Bridge. About a year ago, this same friend lost one of her cats - Teddy - in an accident outside the home. The others were unaware of what had happened except that, that they would have picked up on the distress of my friend and her family. Teddy's soulmate spent weeks going through the house vocalizing distress while searching for him.

On Wednesday night, when I visited, there was a stillness in the house, an emptiness...but, no distress. The frightened one has come to understand. The vocal one has returned to being his usual self. The stoic cat, though, remains stoic...
post #20 of 20
how thoughtful of Jake to spare his loved ones that hardest of decisions... please send our to you & yours.
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