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Racked with guilt after cat euthanasia

  1. #1

    Racked with guilt after cat euthanasia

    2 days ago I took my 15 year old cat to the vet...I noticed he had a ruptured anal gland abscess that was pouring pus and it was very painful and he kept licking it nonstop. I thought I would take him to the vet and it would be a fairly easy fix. The vet took blood work and probed the abscess which gave him so much pain he was screaming. It was so so difficult to witness. The vet came back and said that his blood work was surprisingly good other than his thyroid was very abnormal and he had lost a ton of weight since his last visit a year ago. We knew he had hyperthyroidism but it was untreated due to the fact that he would absolutely not take the pills. She said that between his enlarged heart and high blood pressure from the hyperthyroidism and the fact he had lost most of his fat and muscle that he may not make it out of the surgery that he needed to cure the abscess and even if he did it would be a long recovery especially since he refused to take pills.



    We made the decision to euthanize him. She took us to a room and we kept him in the cat carrier thinking this was temporary and that once they were ready to euthanize we would get to spend time with him holding him and saying goodbye. I talked to him through the bars of the carrier and told him I loved him but he was so miserable and scared being at the vet. Then the vet came in and said she was taking him and was going to sedate him to make it easier to find a vein to inject the lethal drugs. I still did not understand that this was the last time I would see him awake. She just took the carrier from me and left.

    When she came and got me for the euthanization he had a gas mask on and was already unconscious. They told me I could say goodbye and talk to him and pet him. It felt so wrong though...I did not know I was going to have to say my final goodbye when he was unconscious and could not hear me. The last faces he saw before the gas sedated him was of the vet and the vet techs. The same people that Just a little while ago were causing him so much pain and he was fighting with. I immediately broke down...I knew it was too late to go back or do anything differently. It was such a shock. I wanted to be the last face he saw and just let him know I was there and loved him and that it was ok. I sobbed into his fur long after they gave the lethal injection, I just kept telling him I was sorry and I loved him. I have so much guilt with how it all happened.... I had no idea I was not going to get to hold him again before he was unconscious and couldn't see or hear me. I hate that his last conscious moments were with strangers that he associated with pain and fear. I'm upset with the staff that they let it happen this way and with myself that I did not take him out of the carrier and love on him. I know I did the best I could at the time, with not understanding the process but I just hope he knows I loved him. I have so much guilt and cry all the time.,,I wake up in the middle of the night sobbing, racked with guilt and wishing I could go back and do it differently. He was with me nearly half of my life and I feel like I did him wrong at the end.

  2. #2
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    Very sorry for your loss.

  3. #3
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    I am very sorry for you about what happened. The guilt is completely understandable. Everyone is guilty about something when a pet dies. It is easy to think about what you could have or should have done, but that will not do any good right now. I think the best way to help yourself is not to ask the "what if" questions. Instead, try to remember you were doing the best you could to help your sick kitty,
    Rescued is my favorite breed. Don't shop, adopt!

  4. #4
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    I'm sorry for the loss of your cat. We here have all lost a pet at one time or another so we understand. In your mind you know you did the best you could for him but your heart says differently. In time you will come to realize you did the best thing you could do for him, but I to would be upset with the way it was handled. Just keep telling yourself he is beyond pain or caring. He loved you and you loved him and he knew it. You have all the years of memories you had with him and those no one can take from you. Give yourself time, it will get better. I don't think we ever really get over loosing them but we just learn to live without them. When the time is right another cat will come into your life and you will love it like you did your lost boy. Things have a way of working themselves out, when you least expect it another will come along and you'll start a new journey with another little one that needs you. In the meantime grieve all you want, cry if you want, talk to him, even though he isn't physically there. Who knows what's on the other side, he may be watching you and wouldn't want you to be sad. Enjoy your memories of the time you had with him and when the time is right you'll move on to new adventures with another. Don't feel by getting another you are replacing him, one never replaces another, they just make a new place all their own
    he is your friend and protector, he will love you unconditionally, you owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion

  5. #5
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    I agree 100% with everything Linda posted. Think of it this way: grief is a way of loving your cat. This is one of my favorite pet loss poems, which sums up Linda's comments:

    WHAT HE WOULD WANT

    You can shed tears that he is gone
    Or you can smile because he has lived.

    You can close your eyes and pray he'll come back
    Or you can open your eyes and see all he left.

    Your heart can be empty because you can't see him
    Or it can be full because of all the love you shared.

    You can turn your back on tomorrow because of yesterday
    Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

    You can think of him and only that he is gone
    Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on.

    You can cry and close your mind,
    Be empty and turn your back,
    Or you can do what he'd want:
    Smile, open your eyes, love, and go on.

    Rescued is my favorite breed. Don't shop, adopt!

  6. #6
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    I'm so sorry for your loss, my condolences. Please don't feel guilty or blame yourself at all, you did what was needed for your baby. I do sympathize with you that you couldn't say your last goodbye when he was awake, that's very odd that they didn't have you present in the room for the initial injection for sedation, that's usually the time to say a word or two and give a last kiss. He knew you loved him and that's all that matters, may he rest peacefully now. Hugs.


  7. #7
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    Alpha is right. Ususally the vet administers anesthesia via injection in front of the patient's parents. I did not even know gas masks were used on some cats for euthanasia. It is either an IV and a shot or, in most cases, two shots. Pelase do not think just because your vet did something unusual, it was your fault that the kitty died there on that day.
    Rescued is my favorite breed. Don't shop, adopt!

  8. #8
    I think it is very unusual but the reason is because he becomes a different cat when he is at the vet. He becomes very angry and screams and hisses and tries to attack whenever blood is drawn or anyone hurts him in any way. I think to give him an injection when he was awake would be very traumatic so they used isoflorane gas to sedate him so he felt no needle sticks and so he hopefully was more calm.

    I did not know any of this until after the fact...when she said she was going to sedate him I thought that meant he was going to still be alert but was just more calm. This was not the case though and with the gas he was alive but was not awake or alert.

    I am very upset that I did not understand that part. I did tell him I loved him and all kinds of things while he was still awake and still in his carrier before she took him. And the night before we took him to the vet as well as the morning of i laid with him on the bed and gently rubbed his head and told him he was my boy and that I loved him. Right before going to the vet my husband spent a lot of time with him giving him rubs and talking to him.

    We will have to accept those times as our goodbyes I guess. While he was under the gas I rubbed his head and bent down and said he was a good boy and that I loved him...I just pray he could somehow sense I was there. Then the vet gave the injection and my boy was gone and we stayed with him sobbing for another 5-10 mins.

    My husband and I laid him to rest last night, we buried him at my parents' house where he lived the first 5 years of his life. We cried together and said a lot of good words about him and I believe that helped a little to get some closure. Thank you everyone for the kind words.

  9. #9
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    Right now the only thing that will help you in time. You need time to grieve, time to remember the good times and in time move on. Its never easy loosing a pet and doesn't matter how long we have them, it still hurts.

    When I lost my first bengal I was devastated. I took him to the vet because he didn't seem himself and was having a hard time to breathe. He was 12. After tests I was told he had an inoperable cancerous tumor in his chest. I asked how long he had and was told a few days to maybe a week. He was suffering not being able to breathe so I had him put down right away. I would not let him suffer and be in pain. When he was younger he was so bonded to me that if I left him alone he'd pull his hair out, took him to the vet and vet said it was stress and to get him a kitten. So I got a siamese mix rescue for him. End of problem. But when I lost him she was lost, she'd run around crying looking for him, even tried to get outside to find him. It was very sad. That year my oldest daughter got me a bengal kitten for mother's day, He wasn't born yet but my daughter put a deposit on him and I got pick of the litter, she perked right up and the two became best friends and she was happy again. This year for Christmas my daughter got me a snow leopard bengal kitten. The bengal accepted her pretty much from the start, the siamese needed a little time to adjust to her but now they are all buddies, all play together, sleep together ect. My german shepherd loves cats so she was no problem, good thing because when the little one isn't tormenting the big cats she pounces the dog.
    he is your friend and protector, he will love you unconditionally, you owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion

  10. #10
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    I understand completely Apet. It is so easy to think if it is a shot, it will hurt him, no matter how many people say the sedatve one is painless. (How does anyone know it is?) Maybe the vet did not realize she needed to explain sedation is putting a cat to sleep, not just immobilizing it. Is this the first time you had a cat euthanized?

    I am glad you and your husband were able to bury his body in the best place for it. Twice I had to leave my cat on the exam table and let others take it to a pet cemetery. Take solace in that part.

    Your final goodbye that he could hear was when you talked to him through the carrier bars. Although he was not awake the last time you saw him, he knew you were there. Cats have extra sensory perception.
    Rescued is my favorite breed. Don't shop, adopt!

  11. #11
    No I have never euthanized an animal before. I am a registered nurse and when we say a patient is going to be sedated we usually mean given a medication that puts them in a calming state, not asleep and unable to move. I guess there are different levels of sedation.

    I just wish she would've let me come with him while they put the mask on him...but then again he probably struggled a little and then I would have that image in my mind. Either way I cannot change anything and I keep telling myself that I did the best I could on such short notice.

    I had no idea what to expect and I am glad I did get to tell him I loved him and got to hold his carrier up to the window and we looked out at the cars and people in the parking lot together. We shared so much love and playtime and cuddles in his 15 years.

    I guess that trumps 1 hour of trauma at the vet. I keep playing scenarios in my head of how it could have been done differently...like for instance taking him out of the crate and loving on him but then I would've had to shove him back in before they took him to the back and that would've broke my heart.

    Or being there with him when they laid him on the table and put the mask on him and had that scene in my head because I'm sure he didn't just cooperate very easily. He was very grumpy and uncooperative at the vet. So even if it could've went differently I probably would've still had some regret and guilt and wish it could've went another way.

  12. #12
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    You are right Apet. No matter how it went down, you would have been upset about something. I would have hated to see the vet put a mask on my cat. The only way it could have been "better" is if your vet had communicated clearly before doing it.
    Rescued is my favorite breed. Don't shop, adopt!

  13. #13
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    Oh I'm so sorry for your loss. I understand feeling guilty along with so many other emotions. It's not easy but you're not alone. Coming on our forum to talk about him can help.
    “Save a life and save a stray”

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Esme View Post
    Oh I'm so sorry for your loss. I understand feeling guilty along with so many other emotions. It's not easy but you're not alone. Coming on our forum to talk about him can help.
    Absolutely. In a chat room, nobody would care if Apet's kitty was 15 years old. It is so much nicer here.
    Rescued is my favorite breed. Don't shop, adopt!

  15. #15
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    Apet25, I am truly sorry to read how you feel. The vet should have made things clearer and there was clearly a failure to explain the procedure in detail. But do not worry. As a qualified hypnotist (although I have never practised and only use it for family and friends) I can assure you that your cat's subconscious would have heard what you said. The subconscious is actually more impressionable than the conscious.

    Concerning the general issue of euthanasia, you did the loving thing. You could have forced your cat to live on a few more weeks, in pain and very miserable. Instead, you chose to help your beloved cat to pass peacefully and without pain. Please do not feel guilty. You did what was the compassionate and loving thing to do.

    Every best wish to you!

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