Making the Decision to Put a Pet Down

If you came here because you did a search on the words in my title and you are looking for answers, or for a post that is going to make you feel better, this is not it. I’m where you are right now.

How do you make the decision to put a pet down?

We have two cats who are both elderly. Our oldest cat is actually quite healthy. It is the younger cat that we have been trying to come to some sort of conclusion about.

I say younger, but she is actually 15 years old. She is overweight, she came to me that way, and although she was able to lose a small amount of weight, it is almost impossible for a cat to go from deathly obese back to a healthy weight. She is still very overweight.

Because of her weight, she has bowel problems, arthritis and is now diabetic (she gets two shots a day). We have been sticking with her through all of this, but the past few months have been trying. She began urinating in our dining room. Then pooping outside of her litter box. We moved her to a hallway on our main floor and brought up the litter box so she wouldn’t have to go far to go to the bathroom. We put up a baby gate so she couldn’t get to the carpeted areas of our house because, really, that is a serious health concern with our two kids around. Plus we rented a carpet cleaner to clean the house and we are not about to pay to do that every weekend.

I ended up letting her out yesterday morning because I hate seeing her cooped up. Her litter box was literally right beside her all night so I was positive she had done everything she needed to in there. Within 30 minutes of being out, she headed straight to our dining room and took the biggest poop I have ever seen.

So now we are at the point where we need to make a decision one way or the other and it is so hard. I hate being in the position where the decision we make affects a life.

We can not give our cat up to another family, that is not an option. Because of her arthritis and being overweight, she walks five steps, then rests. And she eats laying down. She is also not a friendly cat. She pretty much loves my husband and barely tolerates me. We would have to be completely open and say that it is a 15 year old, obese cat who has arthritis, diabetes and a blocked colon and who relieves herself wherever she wants to. Who would take her, knowing that they are entering in to a deal that is not going to get any better?

So, do we keep her alive and confine her to the small hallway she now occupies? We are going in to winter so there will be no outside time for months.

Do we make the decision to put her down?

I know in the back of our minds, we are holding off on our inevitable decision because of how WE feel, and we need to separate our feelings from the equation. Because none of this is about us. It is about our cat and we need to get over ourselves so we can make the right decision for everyone involved. What ever that decision is.

I would love your thoughts on this. Have you ever put a pet down? Or have you ever decided not to put a pet down? How did you make the decision? How do you remove yourself from the decision and focus on your pet?

Update: I just finished typing this and went downstairs to find that she did in fact poop — again. I guess Papa Bird let her go down with him and she took the chance to do it again. As one of the comments said, it is about quality of life and I am so sad to admit that her quality is not going to get any better.

I know this is not about us, but I feel like I failed her. I feel like there is some magical answer out there that is going to make everything right and that I am just not seeing it, and there isn’t.

I also realize that as humans, we need to feel this way. Without compassion and empathy, the tough choices would then become easy and people and animals alike would be put to death over the smallest of offenses.

Sheri Landry
Sheri publishes, and writes at This Bird's Day where she shares all of the thoughts in her head without the voices. Sticking mainly with content for Canadians, Sheri shares family stories, product information and anything that fits into her (and her family's) daily activities.
Found in Pets