Euthanizing a pet

Experiences of putting a beloved pet to sleep.

domestic-cat-726989 640

 Original post:

"Sadly, it’s almost time for our poor 19 year old cat & we are considering euthanizing as the humane option. Neither my husband nor I have had any experience putting down a pet ourselves. Wondering if anyone has experience putting their cat to sleep? Any vets you recommend around north slope? What are the approximate costs we should expect? Do people typically cremate and take home ashes? Or just leave the pet with the vet? Any tips to prepare ourselves/the pet/our 2.5yr old daughter? Sniff, sniff."



"First of all, I am terribly sorry about this event. I’ve been through it many times. It is never easy. For the two year old, Rainbow Bridge, where pets cross over into Heaven would be a beautiful thing. There is even a website and vigil you can participate in to remember your furbaby.OK, vets. I do not like my animals to be shaved and since this will be the last time your pet will be in the here and now, do your best to find one who can administer the drugs by finding a vein using warm water to separate the fur on the foreleg. What animal needs the panic and fear of a buzzer? I have always traveled to Dr. Wen in Speonk after using most vets in PS. It is a hike, but WE are the ones left with the experience and carry with us the encounter. Dr. Wen has never, ever shaved an animal of mine, it’s just not necessary. He made the experience soothing, spiritual and he had a hand on ME. I locked eyes with my Little Man for his "whole trip" and had my hand on him throughout. Ultimately, our story was memorialized in The Metaphysical Cat, written by a friend. Sent and shared with love, K."


"I’m sorry you are going through this. We just had to put our beloved cat to sleep too. I wanted my cat put to sleep at home. She was feral when we got her, and while she became the sweetest most loving cat, she did not like traveling at all. I had set up an appointment to put her to sleep (at home) with our regular vet, but then when our cat went downhill even faster than expected I ended up calling tons of places who do house calls to try to get someone to come sooner. There are a bunch that will do this. Our cat definitely had the peaceful end we wanted for her, while we stroked her fur and she was in a familiar place. I’ve unfortunately been through this 3 times over the years and this was the first time I was able to do this at home, and I was so glad we did."


"As for my son, he is 4.5 so this wont be the same for you. We prepared him that our cat was dying because she was sick for a while. We told him she had a disease (which is different from just being sick) and pointed out how she had lost weight, was sleeping all the time, couldn’t make it to the litter box etc. and answered any questions he had along the way. On the day she was put to sleep, we told our son when he got home from school that she had died, that we then called the vet to come and make sure and the vet took her body away. (Although I lean toward honesty and openness about death, I did not feel like we needed to introduce the idea of putting animas to sleep.) My son was upset that she wasn’t still home, and it became clear that it wasn’t that he wanted to say goodbye to her, but that he wanted to see what she looked like dead. “Because I’ve only ever seen one dead animal and it was just a squirrel in the park!” I remember seeing that squirrel eight months ago maybe. I never would have guessed he even noticed it. Nonetheless we talked a little bit about what she looked like and then he moved on.
My point is that kids lean toward the practical, and may have comments or make connections that surprise you and so be on the look out for those. Also, around the time that our cat was sick, I said it felt like our younger son was losing weight, and my older son said, “Maybe he’s dying like Emma!” I’m glad he said that out loud so I could point out the difference there, as opposed to him worrying and wondering about it on his own without sharing. Good luck, A., mom to O and A."


"Hi K., so sorry about your cat. Sad to say, we’ve been down the same road twice over the past few years. Cremation is the standard follow-up. We didn’t choose to take the ashes with us, though vets often offer this. My parents still have my childhood cats in coffee cans in their garage; we don’t have a garage, so we were comfortable keeping our fond memories and allowing the earthly remains to re-enter the cycle of life. As for your daughter--our son was 4-ish when we put Lyle (13, brain tumor) to sleep a few years ago and after asking a couple of basic questions, he moved on pretty quickly. Our daughter had just turned 2 and I don’t think she even noticed that much. Kids at that age are still very out-of-sight, out-of-mind. It’ll be a lot harder on the two of you than on her, mercifully. When we put Lyle’s sister Ava (17) to sleep last fall, our daughter has just turned 6. We’d got the successor kitties about a year earlier and they’d claimed the attention of our kids pretty thoroughly. We made clear to the kids that the old dowager wouldn’t be around much longer (losing weight, slowing down, seeming very much her age), but who can compete with kittens? We kept them informed in those final days but the end still came as a shock. Ever since, our daughter has burst into tears every week or so about missing Ava, and is especially haunted that she hadn’t paid more attention to her toward the end of her life. She’s drawn many pictures, written many notes, etc. to work through it, and recently wrote a song about it to the tune of “Ode to Joy” (“I’m so sorry I ignored you but the new kitties needed love too,” etc.) Sure, it’s a little melodramatic, but I think it’s been a good experience for her to deal with these kinds of emotions in a relatively safe, manageable way.
Meanwhile, I’m sitting here getting choked up yet again about Lyle and Ava…
Again--you have my sympathies. Why do we give our hearts to these mortal little beasts? (Because we have no choice)."


Further reading on Park Slope Parents:

Death of a Pet

Explaining Death to Children