If and when you make the decision to have your cat put to sleep, call your veterinarian and make an appointment. He or she will assess the situation and give you competent, candid advice. If you and the veterinarian are in agreement, the procedure can be scheduled. Called euthanasia the veterinarian uses a combination of intravenously administered drugs to quietly and painlessly end the life of the suffering feline.
You can decide to have your cat euthanized during that visit or schedule it in a few days, if you feel you need some time to prepare. Consider waiting, just so you don't feel pressured to make a decision. Try to schedule a time when the veterinarian isn't going to be too busy or rushed, perhaps at the end of the day. Also, paying for the procedure in advance will prevent your from having to go through those tedious tasks on the actual day.
Some veterinarians will come to your home to perform the procedure. Local laws may not allow this, however; be sure to check with your veterinarian to make sure.
Perhaps the best advice I can give you regarding the actual procedure is to take someone with you. Afterward, you will be in no condition to drive or even cope with the situation. A trusted friend will be able to take care of the details, allow you to grieve, and give you a shoulder to cry on.
You can decide not to be present during the procedure if you think it would be too painful to endure. Many pet owners do just this. Others wouldn't let an army interfere with them being right there, and their beloved pet slips away in their arms. That decision is up to you.
To euthanize your cat, the veterinarian must first gain access to a vein in the cat's leg. As this is not always easy with a cat, he or she will most likely sedate the cat first, injecting a mild sedative that will make the cat relaxed and sleepy.
When the veterinarian is ready, he or she will shave a small area of your cat's leg, then find a vein in which to insert the needle. Once done, an overdose of anesthetic is delivered into the vein. The drugs used act to relax muscles and stop nerve transmissions. This puts the cat into a deep sleep, after which its heartbeat and breathing cease.
Within moments, the pet's life is painlessly and peacefully ended. Although some cats will take a few additional breaths or perhaps shudder involuntarily, most often they quietly slip away.
Most veterinarians will allow you to spend some time alone with your cat at this point. After this, he or she will ask you what you want to do with the body.
I strongly advise against having young children present during this procedure, since it can be extremely traumatic. Also, if the vet comes to your home, be sure to remove all other pets from the home for the day. They will be acutely aware of their companion's death and could be severely stressed.
Excerpted from The K.I.S.S. Guide to Cat Care by Steve Duno
Copyright 2001 by Steve Duno.
Excerpted by permission of Dorling Kindersley Publishing Inc.
All rights reserved.
No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.