By Dr. Bethany Hsia, Co-founder of Codapet
The decision to euthanize a beloved cat can be one of the most difficult and emotional choices a pet owner will ever have to make. It’s a decision that no pet parent nor veterinarian takes lightly. However, there are circumstances where cat euthanasia is considered and there are circumstances when it may be the most humane and compassionate option. Below are the 4 most common reasons why someone might consider cat euthanasia.
Terminal Illness: One of the top reasons for considering cat euthanasia is when your feline companion has been diagnosed with a terminal illness that cannot be cured or managed effectively. In such cases, euthanasia may be the kindest choice to prevent your cat from suffering from pain and discomfort. Cats with terminal illnesses such as cancer or kidney failure may experience severe pain, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, and other symptoms that significantly reduce their quality of life. When disease management or palliative care are no longer effective, euthanasia can provide a peaceful and painless end to your cat’s suffering, allowing them to pass away with dignity.
Chronic Pain: A second reason why someone might consider cat euthanasia is chronic pain. Cats that suffer pain due to chronic progressive conditions such as organ failure, neoplasia, severe degenerative joint disease and the like, may experience a reduced quality of life, difficulty walking or performing daily activities such as grooming themselves. Despite advances in veterinary medicine and palliative care, some cats may not respond well to treatments or responses may diminish with time and disease progression. In such cases, euthanasia may be the best option to prevent your cat from experiencing intractable pain and prolonged suffering.
Aggressive Behavior: Cats that are behaving aggressively can be challenging to manage and can pose a risk to both humans and other pets in the household. Cats that exhibit aggressive behavior towards their owners or other animals may require extensive behavior modification training, adjustments to the home environment, and possibly medication to manage their behavior effectively. However, in some cases, these interventions may not be successful; and in the absence of a suitable home, the risk of injury or harm may outweigh the benefits of keeping the cat alive. Euthanasia may be considered as a last resort when all other options have been exhausted.
Loss of Dignity: Cats often begin to show signs of aging when they reach 7-10 years, but it is not uncommon for healthy and well cared for cats to live to 20 or 21 years of age. As cats age, they may experience a decline in cognitive function, which can lead to confusion, disorientation, and behavioral changes. Senior cats may also struggle with hygiene, as effective grooming and litter box use may become issues. Advanced age alone is never a reason for euthanasia, and there are adjustments that can be made to help cats age with grace. However, when their quality of life has significantly deteriorated, euthanasia is a viable and kind choice.
While the decision to euthanize a beloved pet is often a landmine of misplaced guilt and “what ifs”, in certain circumstances it is the best option to prevent unnecessary suffering. If you are considering euthanasia for your cat or have any concerns about their health or behavior, it is essential to consult with your veterinarian first. Once the decision for euthanasia has been made, you may wish to pursue in-home pet euthanasia, wherein your final moments with your beloved feline friend will occur in familiar surroundings and spare your cat a trip to the clinic or hospital. Considering euthanasia for your cat is a weighty undertaking; one you don’t have to approach alone. Speak with your veterinarian for guidance on treatment options, referrals to a veterinarian that specializes with end of life care at home, and to help you make an informed decision about your cat’s end-of-life care. CodaPet is currently serving cat owners and their beloved cats in Fresno, Oklahoma City, Nashville and Seattle.