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We don't know what to do...

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Basic Introduction...I don't know if this forum is the best for this, but I thought I would post it anyway. This is regarding euthanizing our cat. First, we have euthanized pets before, but this one is a bit different. The other pets we have let go had a very rapid decline with several life threatening medical problems, so the decision was fairly easy.

Background of our cat...We rescued the cat from a cat shelter about 5-6 years ago. We don't know exactly, but think he is around 14 y.o. now. When we got him, he had some skin conditions (feline acne and skin allergies), but nothing else was wrong at the time. About 1-2 years later, we found out that he was diabetic, so he was started on insulin and was put on a special diet. He has had other problems, like cysts/growths (that have been removed) and problems with digestion (most likely due to his diabetes). Because of his diabetes he drinks and pees a lot. In the last 6 or so months, he has become constipated regularly. We have to give him enemas regularly to help him with his bowel movements....needless to say, it has been a roller coaster ride.

Whats going on now...We took him into our vet's office this week, because he has been having more accidents and his eating/drinking cycles have been stranger than normal. He also appeared to be losing weight and had a stiff area near his stomach that could be felt when he was being petted. He has been having some wheezing when breathing as well. They gave him another enema, took x-rays and watched him for a day to see his behaviors. The vet originally thought he had a bowel obstruction or food obstruction and that was what was causing the mass in his stomach. We came in and looked at the x-rays and it showed that his stomach and intestines were fine, but all the other vital organs in the area (kidneys, liver, pancreas, spleen) could not be distinguished. Instead in those areas, a large mass was detected (the size of a grapefruit). The mass was so large that it actually had his stomach pushed over to one side of his chest cavity.

What Next...We talked with the vet and asked about his pain levels, because he does not appear to be expressing any overt discomfort. Of course you can tell his gait is different because of the mass, but he is not whining or meowing out of the ordinary. We asked for her opinion in regards to euthanasia, and she reported that she would leave it up to us, but said that she would be ready "anytime." She said that the tumor has to be causing him discomfort and that these frequest enemas and periods of constipation are a quality of life issue now.

Our views and dilemma...My wife and I have no problem with putting him to sleep if it is his time and he is uncomfortable. Our last cat had kidney and heart failure and we fostered him for a year. When it was his time, he had lost about 4-5 pounds in one week and the vet told us that the time for euthanasia was immediate. I think we are having a problem with this, because our vet is not saying that. She is saying that it is up to us to make that final call. Since this recent vet visit, the cat's appetite is great, his personality is still good and he still seems like "our old cat." I do not want him to suffer, but feel uneasy putting him to sleep if he still seems like our normal cat. I know if our vet would have told us the other day, that today was the day for it, we would be ready to do it. We are conflicted and have gone through so much with him that we feel like we are just giving up...but I don't want to be selffish either. Again, if I knew without a doubt that he was in pain, that would answer our question, but he seems so normal right now.

What does everyone think?

Here is Toby (he is the black & white tuxedo cat)...
post #2 of 20
I've been hearing the same thing from different people lately about knowing when it's time, and that is, "If your pet can't do three of it's favorite things, it's time to let your pet go."

Your vet is right though..it IS a quality of life issue right now, and only you can determine when he's ready.
post #3 of 20
I am one who believes in quality of life also. If your cat is not feeling well, not eating and in pain the most compassionate thing to do is to put him to sleep.
At his current age, even if you can afford the medications and possible surgury would his condition be likely to improve?
If the vet says no, or the odds arn't good I would seriously consider putting him down. It's a heart wrenching decision to make but in the end do you want him to suffer.
Weather the suffering is for a few days or a few months it's a long time and you will be worried every day for his well being.
I hope you ask the hard questions of your vet and make an informed decision.
post #4 of 20
Wow, so difficult for you. Very sorry for you and your baby!

I had an old cat who lived to age 22. At times, as she sloooowly declined, I wondered the same thing, and the vet would not make a firm statement that would allow me to know it was time. Many people said we might as well put her down because she was "old" and not jumping on the furniture like she usually did. My answer was usually "Yeah, at age 102, let's see how fast you move". She was old but not truly sick or suffering, eating great, loving affection, and using her box without fail down the stairs daily. Being "old" wasn't enough.

Over the years I've heard "Your pet will tell you when it's time." I thought sure, whatever, but that is what it came down to: SHE gave up, it was clear to us, and then we *knew* it was time.

I'm sure you know your baby like no other; it might sound silly, but I think there is some truth to knowing your pet and knowing how to pick up the signs. For now, I would prepare myself for the inevitable and take your cues from him. It might be a week from now or tomorrow or another month. I know it's their nature to hide pain, but I'm confident you really *know* how your cat is feeling, will know when it is just one more enema too much, etc.

Was the vet able to be concrete on whether or not he is truly in pain/suffering? (not belittling the obvious discomfort; I'm just thinking if was me, my bum knee is a drag but it isn't kidney failure, so the knee discomfort wouldnt be enough for a final decision).
post #5 of 20
Wow... that is a toughie for any animal lover. And it's hard to gauge if a cat is in pain or really sick until they reach crisis levels. They're good at masking it - something they inherited from their wild ancestors. It's a protective mechanism from predators.

When we had to put my BF's beloved cat to sleep, it was pretty obvious. He had end-stage RF and really had very little quality of life; was having seizures, etc. He was almost 21 when we sent him to the Rainbow Bridge.

My advice: keep an eye on the ol' boy. Make sure he's comfortable and keep doing what you're doing. If he takes a turn for the worse, then you may have to face that difficult decision. Gook luck!
post #6 of 20
Cats don't show pain the way a dog or a child does. They suffer in silence.

“Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”
John Wayne

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.”
Ambrose Redmoon
post #7 of 20
You said that since the last vet visit his appetite is good and he seems normal. I, personally, wouldn't do anything now...let him enjoy feeling good for now. But, prepare yourselves to make the decision when (not if) he starts going downhill again. With a tumor that size at his age, he's not going to get better, so I would take these next few days and make good memories to treasure and spoil him rotten. When he starts declining again, then you make that hard decision. Most of us have had to do that, and there is no easy way to get through it.

He is a beautiful cat! And, I can tell he's well loved, and I'm sure he knows that too.
post #8 of 20
First from a human point of view, my sister had an 8lb abdominal tumor. (non cancerous thankfully!) By the time she had it removed she was having shortness of breath and chest pain on top of serious gastrointestinal issues. She said she actually felt like she was dying and she was. She was severely malnourished.

The size of Toby's tumor would be comparable to my sister having a tumor twice the size of the one she had. I honestly cannot imagine it isn't painful and severely compromising his quality of life. That is just the tumor itself and not his other chronic issues

Please remember that cats do not show pain like a human would. It is instinctual for them to hide it. They won't vocalize because in the wild that would draw predators.

Second, I agree with the three things method that emrldsky mentioned. However these three things should be decided upon when one's pet is healthy. I suspect that Toby has had a slow decline so it will be hard to determine just how much his behavior has changed. I say this because I just went through a similar incident with one of my kitties, his issue was treatable though. He is better now and I am amazed at just how many little things changed that I didn't see as warning signs.

Toby has already gotten to the point he has lost one of the majors, pooping. Eating, drinking, peeing, pooping...the four basics of life.

I am so sorry you are having to go through this. This is one of the hardest decisions we ever have to make, even though it is made out of the greatest love.
post #9 of 20
I'm assuming that surgery to remove the tumor isn't an option?
Personally, I wouldn't do anything right now. Every cat with medical problems has it's ups & downs, and it sounds as if Toby is in an 'up' stage at the moment. I've had to make the decision to have several of my babies euthanized, and I never had to ask if I was making the right decision---I knew it was the only thiing to do.
Toby is gorgeous, and obviously well cared for. Let him enjoy himself as long as he's able and then, truly, you won't need to ask if you're making the right choice.
Gentle chin tickles to your boy.
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
This is all great feedback...thanks for the opinions. The other day I was talking with my wife about the analogy of what if one of us had a tumor comparable to Toby's. I am glad kittymonsters said that about her sister. It definitely puts it in perspective.

Again, thank you for the input. It definitely helps us out!
post #11 of 20
I'm sure the cat is in some discomfort. Cats are just so good at hiding pain until it disables them.

If he's doing OK, eating and using the litter box, I'd stick with him as long as you can. But once it's clear that he's suffering, I would let him go. I think we waited too long with Wickett.


To Wickett

I look down at you,
Curled up in my arms,
For one last time.

I remember the day you were born.
You and two brothers,
To a stray taken in
By a neighbor.

I remember when you
And your brother Truman
Came into our home.
Five weeks old.
I have a photo of that day,
Both of you in one ceramic bowl.

You both grew up,
Changing from kitten to cat.
Then Truman suffered that stroke
And you were left alone.

You were fearless.
You climbed the ladder behind me,
Surprising me on the roof.

You rode for hundreds of thousands of miles
In our big truck, curled up on the seat
Or on the dashboard.
You always bravely stuck your nose out
When strangers came to admire you.

We called you the "concrete block cat."
Size, weight, shape, color and intelligence
Of a concrete block.

But that wasn't fair.
You were never agressive,
Always gentle, inquisitive,
Friendly to everyone.

Now I look down and see that cruel invader
On your chin and throat.
It's a strangler, taking your strength
As it absorbs your nutrition,
Even stealing your breath.

The vet said she could remove it, maybe.
You might live a few more weeks.
But I've seen those bright green eyes
Go dull as the moon behind clouds.

That gray silk that was your fur
Is now dry and mussed.
Your dark gray nose is hot
And cracked.

So now we're here at the vet's again,
But only to end this hell you're in.
Each of your breaths drags,
And you barely open your eyes
As the vet approaches.

She slides the needle into your vein,
And eases the plunger home.
Another tear runs down my nose,
Splashes on your fur,
Followed by one from the vet.

You take two more deep breaths,
Then a shallow one,
Then nothing.

I feel relaxation come to your tired muscles,
And I feel your struggle to breathe end.
I feel the pain and strain
Ebb from your tired body.

We will take you home,
And lay you beside your brother again,
Under the dogwood tree.

And I can only think how lonely we will be tonight,
When the lights are out,
And the wind sighs through the pines outside,
And you are not on the foot of the bed,

Sleep peacefully at the bridge.
Purr softly, play gently
With those who have gone before you.
Wait patiently for those of us
Who will soon come behind.
post #12 of 20
Mrblanche, that was a beautiful tribute to Wickett.

Ugaskidawg, I agree with the others who say that your Toby will tell you when its time. Cats do hide their pain, but it will be clear when they are suffering and have given up. Do what your heart tells you. We are all with you during this difficult time. Toby is a very handsome lad indeed

Vibes that you will know what to do
post #13 of 20
This issue upsets me so much that I didn't even read your whole post... I only want to say that it's clear you truly love your cat, and that tells me you will do the kindest thing for him, whatever you perceive it to be. I have a special feeling for black-and-white kitties (for obvious reasons), and I dearly hope your beautiful boy will slip away easily when the time comes, with full awareness that he is well loved.
post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
I want to say thank you to everyone that responded to this message. It has helped us immensly. In the last few days, Toby became progessively worse. Today we made the very difficult decision to lay him to rest. He truly is happier now and we are very comfortable with the decision. Again, thank you to everyone for the support...

I wanted to forward an article I found on the internet that was quite helpful to us. If anyone ever has this same question of "What to do..." This article would be a great place to start. As anything, the article is left to interpretation, but they have put quality of life into a point scale, which made the decision making process much less ambiguious. It also discusses pain scales, insight and humane euthanasia measures.

It was put in Nature's Corner Magazine...


Again, thank you to all!
post #15 of 20
So sorry about your cat.
Last friday was a year since Stormy was Pts and Jan 11 will be a year since Yoshi was Pts.
It is hard to decide what to do.
post #16 of 20
I am so sorry for your loss. I can only say that you know in your heart that you did the humane thing by ending Toby's suffering.

RIP, Toby.
post #17 of 20
I'm so sorry about Toby; I know what a difficult decision this was. My deepest condolences to you and your family.
post #18 of 20
Thread Starter 
One last thing I wanted to add to this whole experience. We requested that our vet come to our home to do the procedure (which was not afforded to us with past pets). She said she would be okay with that because she had also become very close with Toby over the umpteen visits to her office. We wanted Toby to be comfortable and not stressed out about going to the vet's office (this year alone, he probably had been to the vet's office about 20 times). If anyone out there has this option to do it in the home, I would consider it...it helped my wife and I incredibly. Initially, we had some hesitation about it because we didn't want the memory of our Toby dying in our home, but I think it was much better this way.

The vet brought one of her vet techs with her...he was on one of his blankets and he had the smells of our house versus the vets. Plus, after he passed, the vet got our other cat, Daisy (she is in the original picture I posted in this thread), and brought her to Toby to let her "investigate" and allow her to say goodbye. I found it very fascinating that other animals instinctually know what has happened. Later in the night, she laid on the blanket that Toby was on when he died. I just wanted to say that having the option of doing it in our home helped us more than we ever thought it would.

Again, thank you to all.
post #19 of 20
I am so sorry for your loss. You did the absolute best thing for Toby. You loved him and let him decide, now he is happy and free and waiting for you.

Enjoy him through your memories, you loved him so.
post #20 of 20
How very considerate of your vet! I've never been given that choice, and I believe I would jump at it. Toby was lucky to have had such a caring dr.
Please give a gentle chin tickle to your dear Daisy; she must be missing Toby.
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