Caring For A Dying Pet

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by stephanie, Jun 10, 2003.

  1. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    How do you handle knowing your pet is dying?

    A little background...

    I got my kitty, Tigger Bear, when I was 12 years-old back in 1990. I had just lost a cat of 3 years due to kidney problems and at the time I was sick myself with mono. I needed Tigger.

    Around December we noticed Tigger wasn't eating his food. Our other cat, Crystal, wasn't eating hers either. We thought the food was bad (we've been giving them the same brand of dry food and thought maybe there was something wrong with that particular box). But, after switching brands, nothing changed. Well, Tigger did eat a bit and Crystal did the same. I'd later realize that Crystal just wasn't eating because Tigger wasn't.

    But then Tigger started losing weight. And still not eating like he used to. Sometime later he started getting cramps or something because he'd make a funny noise and lift his leg up like he felt uncomfortable (like you'd feel if you had bad gas). The vet at the clinic here said that since he's old that his organs are probably beginning to fail and to make him comfortable. Well, that got to me. The reality that he is getting old. I'm used to death. Relatives in my family seem to be dying all the time and I've grieved normally for them. But this feels different. I'm not seeming to handle this normally at all.

    He's been losing more and more weight. Between the new year we've gone through different foods because he hasn't been able to chew right. We're now giving him Kitten Chow and he eats it well (but sparingly). We also had him on hairball medicine and that helped him some. He doesn't look like he gets cramps. He doesn't seem like he's in any pain (just hoping he isn't. Tigger's been mute since we got him as a kitten so I don't think he'd be able to meow if something hurt :().

    But still things seem worse. I think his organs are definately failing. He's losing control of his body functions and has trouble making it to the litter box on time. He "drips" all over the house. And I can't figure out what it is he is "dripping".

    I went through the dying process when I cared for my late grandmother a few years ago. It went by so slowly, watching her get thinner and thinner and eat less, and not be able to control herself.

    I'm afraid we did a bad thing by not doing more for Tigger, like maybe he has a tumor or something. My dad (who just loves Tigger so dearly) is in denial that its anything more than too many hairballs. He doesn't help clean up after him or anything and leaves that to my mom and I. Even my mom said today that she can't handle doing this "all over again" (because it's so similar to my grandmother). I think our biggest fear is if we even take him to the vet now that he'd be put to sleep. I could never do that to him unless he was in pain. When he looks up at me with his sweet little face it breaks my heart. :(

    Sorry for the extremely long post. I had to let that all out. I don't know what else to do for Tigger. Tomorrow we're going to try to give him a nice bath if he lets us because he can't clean himself much these days and he's really dirty and doesn't smell too pleasant.
  2. Stephaine, I'm really sorry that you, your family and your precious cat are suffering like this! It is a hard time, and I have been through it myself a couple of times in the past couple of years - nothing I can say will make it any me I know!

    Tigger is more than likely suffering some. He's not cleaning himself, which is a bad sign that something is up! To me, from what you have written it seem very serious, and very similar to what happened to my g/fs cat only 3 months ago.

    Fuzzy (g/fs cat) only cam to her about 2 years ago. She was about 15 ish and had been the cats of one of her friends dad's. He passed away ,and they needed re-homed - so my g/f took them in.

    Anyway, Fuzzy stopped eating as much, then started to not clean herself. She started losing weight also. She was taken to the vet, and was found to be developing a tumour in her abdomen. Gradually she stopped eating, and we ended up feeding her with a food that could be mixed with water to make it 'runny' through a syringe. This seemed to help for a few days (she had actually got some sustenance!), but really it wasn't going to change anything!

    I eventually convinced my g/f that for Fuzzy's sake and dignity, we should visit the vet's one more time. We did, and the vet recommended the only course of action he could. By the time he had depressed the plunger on the syringe it was all over - she was that weak! She is now buried out in my parents back garden - along with all of the other cats we have had through the years (a regular Pet Cemetery!)

    As uncaring as I may sound, and as unbearable as my advice may be, for Tigger's sake and dignity take him to the vet, if there's nothing that can be done, let him go peacefully! My thoughts are with you!

    As to the dripping. This make s me thing it is to do with his anal scent glands (he is a Tom cat isn't he??). A couple of our cats have 'farted' a very thick gravy like substance a couple of times! This I believe is used in conjunction with the scent glands on their neck/cheeks to mark their territory. It sounds like he has lost the ability to control this function.

    I wish you well through this time.:)
  3. mikemulcahy


    Jun 13, 2000
    The Abyss
    Steph, as harsh as it may seem, I must agree with Johnny. I am not a vet, but as a doctor, I think your Tigger is slowly failing and will soon leave you. The question is, are you ready to let him go? The most precious gift we can give someone we love is permission to die in peace. In all of our lives we have to face the reality that those we love are taken from us. It is very natural to want to hold on to those we love for every second we can. But there comes a time that we may be a little selfish in denying our own inevitable pain, at the cost of extended pain to our loved ones.

    My advice to you is to surround yourself with those that love you, and give Tigger his last gift.I can assure you he will feel no pain and in the end you will feel better knowing you loved him enough to let him go.

    My heart goes out to you.

  4. Stephanie, I had to let two dogs go, and the second one, Misty, was displaying symtoms similar to Tigger towards the end. She'd pretty much lost control over her bowels, and was also acting in a way that I can only describe as "animal senility." She was 15 when we let her go. Most of her hearing was gone too. An animal in the wild will either die of exposure, starvation or fall prey to predators when too old/ill to take care of itself. By living comfortably with us, it artificially extends their time here, and I'm not so sure this is for the best. I have to agree with Johnny and Dr. Mike, think carefully, but, do what's best for your friend. I know you wouldn't want him to suffer unnecessarily.

    I'm very sorry to hear about this.

    Mike :(
  5. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I, too, have had to let pets go. It's heartbreaking, no matter what. But I agree, let him go without pain, and with dignity.

    My heart goes out to you, they're members of our families and I know how you feel.
  6. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    As Pacman and others have said: to many of us, pets are family members, and it is difficult to say goodbye. But please do what is right for the pet.

    This is a difficult decision, especially so now that there are many new treatments for pet ailments. Often you have to use your own judgment. My wife and I are willing to do whatever is necessary to maintain our pets' quality of life, but we have declined treatment in favor of euthanasia on more than one occasion. There were a number of reasons: the pets in question were elderly, success wasn't guaranteed, and they simply wouldn't understand that the procedures were in their own best interest (in short, they'd suffer additional trauma for little or no benefit). This is what Pacman said about letting them go without pain, and with dignity.
  7. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio

    I had to put three of my kitties to sleep within a month's time. They had feline Leukemia (basically a nice term for HIV for cats). It is not contagious to other pets or humans. This is my lesson on letting my cats be inside and outside of the house.

    My little lady and I decided to put them to sleep - We were there with one of them when the Vet put him to sleep. We just wanted to be there for him. We cried like babies when we lost that particular cat. His name was Trek and he was our favorite. Our ferret misses him too.

    Some their symptoms were not wanting to eat, not wanting to clean themselves and mucous around the eyes.

    There is treatment for this, but it is very hard on the cats and owners as well.

    I hope this isn't what you little ones have.

    Stay strong,

  8. =^..^=


    Jan 25, 2001
    Stuck on a rock !
    Claire and I get older cats from the shelter - everyone sees the kittens and thinks they are cute and forgets the older cats. The price is the time we have with them can be short.

    The first cat we got as a couple was Jaffa - a 9 year old neutered male. We had him for about 18 months in total. After 14 months he was diagnosed with epilepsy brought on by partial liver failure. Karl the vet was very good about it - he explained what was happening and the medicine Jaffa would have to take. We looked after Jaffa for another 3 months until eventually he lost control of his bowels and stopped cleaning himself. It is heartbreaking to see your cat which was once so clean unable to clean himself. We persevered though - kidding ourselves that he wanted to be around us when in reality we were just putting of something because we wanted him to be here forever.

    One day we came home and he was lying in his own waste and we knew it was time. We cleaned him as best we could, hugged him and held him and rang the vet. 30 minutes later he was asleep for the last time in my arms.

    Since that time we have looked after other cats but Jaffa has a special place in our hearts as our first cat. We now know when the time is right to let them pass gracefully - as with Jaffa we hung on too long.

    Its a hard decision but one that has to be made some time for all the good times you've enjoyed together.

    Then go to the shelter and get another =^..^= (or two =^..^=)
  9. yoshi


    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London
    Yo I kinda know how your feeling as my pet scorpion perished a few months ago due to it moulting over the heat source and effectivly drying out.

    I didnt find it dead, but kind of half out of its old skin, half formed of course.

    Anyway, I moved it into a small pot wher eI could control its enviroment (humidity esp') easier, with the plan that if I could stablizie it then keep it fed and watered etc until its next moult it'd be fine.

    Anywya, over a few days its condition went up and down, until it began to move around the tank (dragging with its claws). I over enthuastically thought it was great, but alas, it corpsed it the next day. I was upset to say the least :bawl:

    Talking about ill cats, my neighours is critical; its in the vets as some moron air-rifled it and the pellet went in+out of one lung and became embedded in its leg.
  10. i am going through something similar with my oldest dog. my 16 year old golden retreiver is very rapidly falling apart. She is losing alot of weight and is losing control of her bladder and bowels and she has such a rapidly developing arthritis in her hips that she can hardly move. I am afraid that by the end of this week i will have to take her to get put down. it was a nice day out today and i was able to take her out and give her a bath and a good brushing. i know she is in pain all the time and i don't want to see her suffer any more.:(
  11. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    Wow that was really well written. Must have had to say that to families before:( .

    I agree that what Mike said would be the best thing. IF you did any thing, maybe a second opinion at the most.

    Sorry to hear of your pain. Try to feel a little better knowing you gave your pet a very good life.
  12. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Thanks everyone. I appreciate all your support. There's just so much thinking to do, so much confusion. :(

    This just brings back memories of caring for my grandmother. She was in much pain the last days of her life. She wanted to die at home and not in hospice. The last day the nurse came by and gave us a patch which contained a very strong medication (sorry the name escapes me...but I guess you can compare it to Morphine or Demorol maybe?). It was me who put on the final patch that night before she died early the next morning, and I went for so long after her death wondering if she was in pain or not when she died, thinking to myself I put it on too late.

    Tigger's my cat (even though he's cherished by everyone) so I know it's my decision. He had a bit of a good day today. My mom and I gave him a bath and he was so much cleaner. He even ate quite a bit. And there was not much "dripping". He has his good days and his bad days it seems, which makes things even more confusing.
  13. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Tigger passed away early yesterday morning. His last few days he was unable to move out of the kitchen (he loved to sleep next to the refrigerator and that's where he died). Although I am quite relieved that this is all over with, I'm going to miss him so deeply. I've had him for almost 13 years so he's been with me for half my life. It's like a part of me is gone now. :(
  14. mikemulcahy


    Jun 13, 2000
    The Abyss
    Very sorry for your loss Steph. Day by day it will get a little easier. Remember love is never lost, just passed on.


  15. Sorry to hear of your loss. At least he is a peace now, and nothing else can hurt him. Always remember him fondly, time will help you deal with his passing.

    Take care.

  16. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I'm so sorry to hear - they're family members and I know you'll miss him.
  17. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Stephanie, I understand your sorrow...I lost my friend of 10 yrs this weekend: my Rottweiler, Jaco. He was a great dog, and a large part of my family...for years he was my only family. The only good part is that his cancer never got so bad that he was in pain, but caused seizures that got more frequent until the last one took him on Friday night.

    Yes, it is a relief to see the suffering end. Feel good about the great long life you gave your helps.
  18. mikemulcahy


    Jun 13, 2000
    The Abyss
    Mike I am sorry for your loss as well.

  19. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Mike - sorry to hear about your dog. :( My best friend's one dog passed away this week at age 12. She had a tumor they didn't know about it. But actually they were ready to put her to sleep because she supposedly had a bladder infection and she was just in so much pain.

    Thanks everyone for your support. Just running into so many memories as I go through the day. I know it will get better in time though.
  20. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    i am so sorry about your kittie dying. :(