Wednesday 10 August 2011

When Do You Euthanize Your Cat?

I was at the veterinary clinic again the other day. My geriatric lady cat (Binnie) had cystitis. I can diagnose cystitis. I think it was caused by not feeding her plain microwaved fish plus added water. The fishy soup that I usually give her helps to keep her urinary tract flushed out, which helps to stop the formation of bacteria. I had stopped buying fish because I couldn't get it online anymore from my usual supplier - the oceans are being fished out.

Geriatric catAnyway we are fixing the cystitis (antibiotics and fishy soup!). Binnie is very thin these days and has a lump inside her the size of an orange, I am told.

She must be about 19-20 years of age but I am not sure because I rescued her off the street 18 years ago. I mentioned to the vet that I think about her dying and that it upsets me. I am constantly waiting for it, I said.

She made the point that few cats just die at home. Most get to a stage with their health where the quality of their life prompts us to consider euthanasia. Maybe we should do the same with people? That is a big debate.

Anyway, it is likely that there will come a time when I will have to decide to euthanize my friend of 18 years. I said that I will know when that time arrives. How will I know?

I think you can tell instinctively, but if we analyse those instincts we arrive at these questions:

  • Is your cat in pain and/or discomfort that cannot be relieved?
  • Is she eating and drinking?
  • Can she do the things that she likes to do?
  • Is she having a lot of bad days?
These are all about quality of life. When life has degraded to a certain extent there comes a time when we think it is probably time to leave. As my dad said, "It is time to go north".

Quality of life questions are very difficult. I believe I will know when it is time for my darling Binnie to go north.

In the 21st century euthanasia is carried out by an intravenous injection of an anesthetic agent in an amount that causes unconsciousness and cardiac arrest. It is not always done this way.

Children should be involved if appropriate. They are often able to cope better than adults.

Then the grieving begins.
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