19 year old Cat - I have to do the thing we all dread

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-14-2003
19 year old Cat - I have to do the thing we all dread
Wed, 07-30-2014 - 6:45pm

To help her get to the rainbow bridge.

I've had her since I was 20.  She's actually almost 19, will be in late September.  She is my 5th appendage, sweet, loving, a total lap, arm, belly and even shoulders cat.  She is about 5 pounds now and very very senile.  She howls in the morning and in the middle of the night.  She is now urinating everywhere on the hardwood despite several attempts at rearranging litterboxes, sizes, litter, kenneling her (she yowls so loud the neighbours - and we're in a detached home - hear her and have commented) and lab tests to show if something was wrong.  She is weak in her back legs, not grooming herself anymore, but still loving and sometimes still goes after the other cat to show her that she's still the boss (despite being 10 pounds lighter than her and 5 years older). 

This morning she went into the corner of the kitchen by the backyard door and peed on the hardwood as I watched.  I came home today and my home REEKS of urine despite going through ritual after ritual in the morning and when I get home to clean, deodorize and wash the floor, freshen up the litter, etc.  So it's time, but it's hard.

It's hard because she's still fun at times but mostly just sits there with her head down and sleeps.  As long as she's near me, she's content - and always purring.  She is frail, no major medical issues except for, as my vet put it, extremely old age. I've thought of getting a big cat kennel cage rather than put her in what we call "the cat room" because she becomes simply distraught.  She's had 19 years of being by my side and I just feel it is cruel for me to separate her during her very golden years.  She'll also refuse us a moment's peace in doing so.  I can have the kennel cage in the living room where we spend most of our time but she will still yowl like mad as she wants to be by me.  At.All.Times. 

I have to say goodbye to her and I have to do it alone since my hubby is away for two weeks.  I don't want to get to the point like it did with her brother that I lost in November 2012 where he had pancreatitis and kidney failure and it became a matter of not euthanizing him fast enough for his sake.  I want her to go peaceful and before she is seriously suffering like her brother.  Part of the decision is because of her urinating simply everywhere but the litters due to her dementia, but mostly it's because I've suddenly realized that while she is still communicative and shows some shadow of the spry little monkey she once was - her quality of life really is low now and it's only because it's been so gradual, and because I've inappropriately used her brother's illness and quick decline as a measuring stick, that I haven't really given it the credit that it's due.

 I'm heartbroken.  I love her.  How am I going to do this alone?  I have to be there when it happens but at the same time I want to run from it.  I felt better about her brother because is he was just so ill and I have guilt that I waited for the weekend to euthanize him when he should've been spared the pain (despite him being on major painkillers that the vet gave me) 5 days earlier. 

As I was typing this she jumped off the couch I am on and nearly fell face first because she is so weak in her hind legs.

Someone tell me that I'm doing the right thing?  I am terrified of saying goodbye to her too.

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998

I am so sorry for what you are going through.

Yes, you are doing the right thing. As you said, her quality of life is very low and it will not improve. It will be a kindness to release her. She had many good years with you, let those be the memories.

Hugs to you.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-14-2003

Thank you so much. It means a lot. 

I woke up this morning to finding yet another spot she's peed in overnight so I just finished cleaning that. 

But now of course she's snuggled up to my thigh as I type this.  She's acting a little bit more spry today but I expect her to be knocked out from it within the hour. 

I forgot to mention that she also has cancer in the form of a tumour that opens and bleeds, scabs over and then cracks again, bleeding and weeping, in between her shoulder blades.  It's doubled in size in the past year but we can't remove it and can only keep her comfortable because she is just too old to handle the anesthesia needed in order to remove it.  Since she isn't cleaning herself properly and her silky coat (she is short haired, looks like a bengal but isn't, and is the softest, silkiest cat I've ever felt in my life) is matting on her sides so I have to be very careful when I groom her now to avoid the sore. :(

My vet is a professor at the vet university here and told me that it will not be the cancer that kills her, but old age.  I've been avoiding the thought about making an appointment to have her euthanized this weekend, but I think that's what I need to do today. :(

Avatar for tiggs_mom
Community Leader
Registered: 07-02-1999

I am SO sorry. I had to make that decision for my 19 year old man in May. I had a friend tell me this: better to do it a week early than 24 hours too late. As guardians and pet owners, it is our job to have to make these decisions. And there is no way for them to tell us - I am in pain, I am going senile, I am ready to go. We have to make that decision and honestly, it sucks. But here is what you have to remember -  you have given her a wonderful life, you have loved her very much, and letting her go isn't a punishment or something you should feel guilty about - it is releasing her from a body that no longer cooperates. I hope you can find a friend or family member to go with you. Again, I am very very sorry.


Avatar for cmkarla
Registered: 01-03-2001

I am so sorry to hear you are going through this but you are definitely doing the right thing. I'm a cat person too and had to help one of mine to the bridge in the past. It's much more humane than to let them suffer. {{hugs}}

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