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Posts: 4
I had to put my cat down today. I'm furious with myself, and I'm furious with my family.

Let me tell you a little about my cat, so you know what I've lost.

His name was Token.

Four or five years old. My brother got him off the street, even though he's not a cat person. The scrawny little guy immediately starting rubbing on him and purring, so my brother knew he'd be forced to take him in.

The sweetest cat. Loved people -- even strangers. He would lie in visitors' laps. He had the cutest meow, not deep like a lot of cats, but cheery and innocent.

When my brother went off to college, he left the cat with my mom, which worked just fine. When circumstances conspired to have me live with her, I'd play with the cat in all sorts of ways. I got a play cube, one of those circular plastic thingies with the ball that goes around, catnip, a laser pointer, etc. He loved them -- for a while. But he was kind of finicky with playthings. Sometimes he just got in the mood where he wanted to attack your feet when you were trying to make it to the kitchen for a glass of water at night.

When my mom moved to my college town, and I graduated, it seemed perfect to move in with her while paying off my student loans. Then my brother decided he'd move in too -- with his dog, his big rowdy sharpei/lab/pit bull mix. This was a disaster for Token -- he was absolutely petrified for days and days, until finally he got the nerve to try to live his life with the dog around. It was clear he was never truly comfortable though. To keep him safe, we locked him in my mom's bedroom every day while we were at work.

Anyway, fast forward to last week. Since my job started, I hadn't paid much attention to the cat. One morning, I had an urge to check on him and found him on my mom's bed, sitting with his legs tucked under him, staring. Unresponsive. Normally, if I gave him skritches, he'd roll around in ecstasy. No response at all. At one moment, he cried out, almost like a howl.

I didn't know what to think. My mom noticed his behavior too and said we should wait and see if he gets better. A day later, there was no change, so I scheduled a vet appointment, in spite of my mom's resistance.

A urinary obstruction. Severe. It had been going on a few days. Now, I had a choice: $350 to treat him and send him home, with a high chance of recurrence, or $500-800 to keep him overnight, with better odds of him making it. I started sobbing and begged my brother for help so we could take the more expensive option. He refused to give me even a hundred. He had stopped caring about the cat years ago; he had his dog now.

I ended up paying the $350, rationalizing that we could do our absolute best to treat him at home. I vowed that if he made it, I would make up for what I felt was my neglect -- I would buy him the best toys, best food, one of those water bowls with a faucet, some awesome cat furniture...and when my brother left, he could finally be free to roam the house. I'd let him go outside too, let him see the world. I was wracked with guilt that I had left him in a single room for almost all of the day, bored to tears.

I failed miserably. He was never the same. Adamantly refused to eat, was depressed, incontinent, miserable. Watching him die was the most horrible experience. I wanted to, at the least, give him one last week to experience life, to see the world, and instead I gave him a week of agony. Nothing I did worked. I resorted to force-feeding him -- probably too late -- not that it mattered, I suppose.

Today, I was getting ready for work and went to see him. I watched as he used his last ounces of energy to crawl out of bed, amble into the hallway, and collapse on the rug. He stretched out stiffly, as if he had rigor mortis, and let out this awful cry. I will never in my life forget that.

I grabbed him in a towel and rushed him to the vet. The vet told me he was severely dehydrated, might have kidney failure, etc., and it would take an expensive battery of tests to find out. Even then, I was looking at upwards of a thousand to treat him. I called every organization I could to get help -- all of them said their emergency funds are tapped. I rushed him to another hospital, and then another. None of them could help me, unless I paid a thousand, and even then, he could still relapse.

So I made a decision I may never get over. Before they did it, I held him next to a window, so he could maybe see what the world looked like in his last moments. I told him I was sorry over and over. From what I saw, it was quick and relatively painless. But that's small consolation.

I'm drowning in guilt. I feel like I completely failed him. I'm reading articles about urinary obstructions, how they happen to neutered male cats who eat dry food and experience stress and boredom. I'm the one who took him to get neutered. We fed him crappy dry food. I barely played with him anymore. I allowed the dog to come into the house (To be fair, I did protest it for a while). Then I didn't take him to the vet at the first sign of trouble. Then I let him suffer for an entire week. And to top it off, I let them euthanize him. Because I wouldn't pay.

The only comfort I feel is that I'm at least a better owner than my brother, who doesn't seem to care at all that he's dead. I don't know when I'll be able to look at him the same way.

This was one of the worst weeks of my life. I devoted so much to keeping Token alive, only for it to cause him more pain. I'm falling apart, and I know I will feel better some day, but right now it's almost unbearable.

Posts: 1,821

Token is beautiful, and he will always be with you - just for now unseen. It sounds like no matter what you had decided to do short term, you really could not have followed through - it is sad but that is too often reality (often for humans also). So if you had paid for an expensive battery of tests Token would have suffered longer for the same outcome. That is not a reflection on you - just the sad facts, and you chose to spare him that. I have seen cases where over $20,000 was spent in just 2 weeks to save a beloved pet and still that 2 weeks ended with the pet being released to Rainbow Bridge - but it was done in hopes of saving the pet - and the thoughts were the same, 'we put him through 2 weeks with strangers and life in a cage with 1/2 hour visits every other day'.

Your intention for that week was to try to afford Token a chance - he knows that and loves you for it. Many would have said just release him the 1st time at the office, you chose to fight for him. As far as not noticing something was amiss sooner - our 4 legged friends are masters at hiding illness - even vets are sometimes fooled. Often by the time we can see they are not well they have been sick a long while.

You have found a family here that circles the globe and who all think like you do - and most here can tell you it really doesn't matter why or how we loose our fur (or feather, scale, or hide) companions - we ask why, we grieve, and we allow the what ifs and if onlys to create guilt.

Posts: 730
I am so very sorry for the loss of your beautiful Token - what a face he has - amazing.

Please know that it was not a lack of money, a lack of insight, a lack of anything that caused Token's death - it was his illness, pure and simple.  All the money in the world, as Ghatten says above, will not make any difference when such illnesses are happening.  

There is no way to have known just how ill he was as cats and dogs can hide these problems for a very long time.  I did not know my little dog Fiona had been growing a cancerous tumour in her heart until it was too late to do anything to save her - the Vet said it had been there, growing, for months.  

What I do know is that Token's life was made more beautiful because you were in it.  You gave him release from his dreadful illness and that is surely the mark of your love for him.  Yet although it was 'quick and painless' for Token, it is NOT like that for you.  You are left blaming yourself, going over everything you did for the past few years, and convincing yourself that somehow you should have seen this all coming and been able to prevent it.  That is guilt and it's often the first emotion to surface when the grief is so raw and so devastating.

Token would not have been impressed by better food bowls, more expensive toys or special furniture. These are things we humans think of that our pets really don't care about.  What Token cared about, what all of our pets care about, is that he had the love, support, and strength of a human who tried so hard to help him and give him more time.  Unfortunately, it did not, in the end, make any difference to this tragic outcome but I have no doubt Token knew what you were trying to do.

You had a short time with this special little cat and you loved him and always will.  There is no room for guilt because there is nothing to be guilty for.  You did not commit a crime and, at some point, you'll stop punishing yourself.  But not now.  Not when things are so raw and so new.

My heart breaks for you because you think you did something wrong and I know you did not.  So does Token, and he knows you were with him right up to the end, loving him as you always did.  

And when you can process this some day, please try to forgive your brother.  None of us can predict the future and he would never have been deliberately cruel to any pet.  I think he saw Token as YOUR pet while he has HIS pet.  Not an unusual thing, truly.

Please write again and let us know how you are.  I am thinking of you and I am so very very sorry for your loss.   


Posts: 2,465
Wildeyes, I am so very sorry for your loss.  Please listen to Ghatten, everything said is so very true, everyone here will agree.  Sometimes it doesn't matter what we do or don't do, the outcome is sometimes the same.  I will say a prayer for you for peace and comfort to find it's way to you soon.  That is what Token would want for you while he waits at the Bridge for you to join him..............

Posts: 311
I am so sorry for your loss of Token.  Nothing in your post makes me think that you did anything but your very best for him, and I can see how much you loved him.  His life would have been so much different without your love, and you gave him the most important thing, an owner who appreciated him.  I wouldn't worry about locking him in the bedroom, I think it showed your concern for his safety and well-being.  He was safe every day, away from the dog who could have hurt him.  And getting him neutered was the right thing to do, most pet owners will agree.  There are so many more health concerns (cancer, etc.) that come about for un-neutered animals.  You were doing the right thing.  In the end, you made the decision to end Token's suffering, out of LOVE.  Please don't forget that.  -Jessica 

Posts: 4
Thanks, guys -- your kind words really do help. I did better today, but I'm still having flashes of guilt, anger, and sadness, particularly when faced with triggers. I'm seeing cats everywhere, along with other coincidental reminders. It has been hard. It's difficult for me to accept that I can't change the past.

It will take some time before I'm able to forgive my brother, and his habit of not owning up to his mistakes will probably prolong matters. It's infuriating that I couldn't sleep last night, that I woke up sobbing, when he seems to be getting along absolutely fine. He bears none of the guilt and none of the misery (and none of the financial cost), even though he did almost nothing to keep the cat alive. Sometimes I wonder if strong empathy is it worth it -- he seems much happier and better-adjusted than I am. I'm a complete wreck.

I think I learned some lessons here. Prevention. That's something I need to apply to myself and the humans in my life. We need to get doctor's and dentist's check-ups. I learned that I experience extreme guilt and self-blame, but I already knew that. I need to learn to deal with it. I learned that I can be incredibly determined when it comes to protecting the things I care about, and that failures ruin my outlook on life. And then I learned some things about my brother, though none of them are good.

Posts: 109
Wildeyes, do not regret the lack of financial resources to try to extend your beloved cat's life.  Even with those resources, there is no guarantee of recovery.  My Milo's disease had a 70% mortality rate after diagnosis.  Most dogs died within two weeks of showing symptoms of the anemia that killed him.  After he died, I researched the disease and found that Milo would have needed at least one blood transfusion just to POSSIBLY gain him another 21 days of life but would have been subjected to possible thromboembolisms that could have killed him instantly.  He would have to have been hospitalized, poked, prodded, had an IV put in, been alone and in pain for the first time in his life.  When I saw the look of puzzlement and fear in his eyes the last night I slept on the floor with him, I could not let him suffer because I wanted him to stay with me even one more day.  I am miserable without him, but I did not want him to be miserable in what probably would have been a losing effort to save him.  I had the financial resources to try additional medical measures but Milo's disease progressed so rapidly that the vet agreed that further treatment would PROBABLY be futile.  Milo died two months ago and I cry every single day because of the loneliness without him, not because I made the decision to free him from the insidious disease that was destroying his little body.

In the last two months, I've encountered friends and relatives who have said that Milo "was only a dog" and that I should get over it.   But beloved companions, like your Token and my Milo are more than pets.  They are integral parts of our lives.  When we lose that unconditional love, trust and loyalty, we become adrift in a sea of despair until somehow we reach shore again.

I was lucky to have found this site because EVERYONE here understands our grief.  They have all lost a precious part of their lives too and freely offer their friendship and advice, knowing our loneliness, our doubts and our guilt.  The grief of losing your Token will exaggerate all of your emotions.  It is important to take each day at a time.  Try to steer yourself away from any guilt or "what-ifs".  Those are mind games that will linger because we feel responsible for the deaths of our companions, when the reality is that a combination of age, disease and the natural course of life took our companions and there was really nothing more that we could have done.  We want to believe otherwise, because then our pets would still be alive.  But it is a false hope in most cases. 

Posts: 12

I'm so sorry for the loss of your Token.  As the others have already mentioned, you have done nothing wrong.  Your feelings are normal and the grief you feel is to be expected.  I lost my precious baby just last Saturday and I felt the same as you.  I asked myself a million times why I didn't know something was wrong.  She was in renal failure and her kidneys were barely functioning.  How could I not know that?  I ended up spending over a $1000 and used every bit of my vacation time in a futile effort to care for her at home for 2 weeks.  She basically wasted away before my eyes.  I force fed her, stuck IV needles in her on a daily basis to keep her hydrated and made her take several different medicines everyday.

I finally woke up one day with the realization that she was not going to recover or ever have the quality of life she deserved.  I had to admit to myself that when she was initially diagnosed, she was gone already.  I just couldn't let her go or say the words aloud.  I helped her take her final journey to the Rainbow final gift of love.

It's obvious that you loved Token and I'm sure he knows you loved him and agonized over your decision to let him go.  It's so true about these diseases, they hide themselves so well, so don't do that to yourself.  We have these angels for such a short time and we love them the best we can.  Trust me, they appreciate everything we do for them.  Please stay in touch and let us know how you're doing.

I promise it does get easier with some time. 

God Bless you.

Judy (Coco, Chili & Cali's Mom)


Posts: 1,910
Your Token looks so very much like my Julian cat; they may be cousins.  Julian is now the only cat, this is the first time in 25 years I've had only one kitty, so I very much identify with how you feel about your angel Token.

Now... first of all you did **not** "kill him".  His disease did.  That kind of lethargy, the bad test results, all of that stuff... Token was in acute kidney failure.  It can come on so fast that a cat can be dead within two weeks of diagnosis.  Sometimes kitties can survive for even up to four years, but that is pretty much off the charts and something none of us can hope for.

The trouble with kidney failure is that 80% (that's 4/5) of the kidneys can be wiped out before we humans see any sign of trouble.  On top of that cats are such experts at masking physical problems that nationally here in the US cats do significantly worse than dogs by the time they get to a vet.  This is not a nation of uncaring cat owners; our cats hide symptoms from us until suddenly they practically collapse.  Token could well have already been fatally stricken by the time you even saw symptoms.  And then it didn't look all that bad, so you hoped he'd get better.  Just like millions of us do; you can't take a cat to the vet every time it sneezes or every time it has an "off day".

I don't have anything different to add to what others have said, but hope my corroboration gives you some little bit of comfort.  When a kitty gets to that point,  it's tragic, there is no amount of money that could be spent to keep them alive with a life of any quality.  Sure, you could spend $10 even $20,000 in a matter of weeks-- and could very well still have had to make the horrible choice that you made today.

You did everything that you did for Token out of love.  He knows that.  A love bond can never be broken.  He loves you even more staunchly than before, his love for you will never end.

May your pain soon begin to ease.  The hole in your heart, I don't think, ever will completely mend but you were his ideal cat mommy and will be forever.

Posts: 109
I agree with Kamc22, that our pets often do not display any actionable symptoms until it is too late to help them.  My Milo (Lhasa Apso) displayed his first symptom of anemia on December 15, when his back legs collapsed because his red blood cells were so depleted that he did not have the strength to continue standing.  Six days later, despite a regimen of two medications, he had deteriorated rather than improved.  At that point, he could not stand up.  As I slept on the floor with him the last two nights, I saw the fear and puzzlement in his eyes, as he wondered what was happening to his little body that he could no longer stand, eat, drink, urinate, etc.  It would have taken heroic efforts, against a 70% mortality rate, to conquer the disease that was killing him quickly.  As I listened to him struggling to get enough oxygen in his lungs to sustain life, I knew that I could not let him suffer.  So I made the most courageous decision of my life, to end his suffering.  That decision has had enormous emotional consequences, which I struggle with daily.  Not the euthanasia.  But the absence of this wonderfully loving four legged companion from my life.  He was 30 pounds of unconditional love, trust and loyalty and in the relative blink of an eye, he went from being totally healthy at his annual vet exam on November 30 to the brink of death less than three weeks later.  He showed no symptoms prior to his legs collapsing.  He never whined, whimper, yelped, barked or cried out in pain or discomfort.  But on the morning of December 21, the Friday before Christmas, when I looked in his eyes, I knew I could not let him suffer just because I didn't want to be left alone.  If I am half as good a human as he was, I hope to see him again someday.

After researching Milo's disease (IMHA), I know that no amount of money or medical intervention could have saved him by the time he demonstrated any symptoms.  He would have died of a heart attack or a thromboembolism on the night of December 21, had he not been euthanized that afternoon.  That is the only consolation I have, that he did not suffer. 

Wildeyes, you are caught in that emotional argument of what-ifs that we all have gone through and many of us are still going through.  In truth, we did the best that we could for our loved ones and sometimes the disease proves to be more powerful than human action can defeat.  Please be gentle with yourself. 

Posts: 4
Just wanted to update you guys. It's three days later, and I'm doing better, mostly because I have started to internalize the reassurances from people like you. I'm still shaken by memories of Token's life and of that last horrible week, but I'm not having so many crying spells, and I did sleep well last night. However, I'm still withdrawing from others. I want to be alone with my thoughts for now.

You guys do very good work here, and your words were of great comfort to me -- particularly the ones about how I could have spent any amount of money and still failed to save him. Which was likely true, going by what the vets said to me. I still blame myself for not preventing this from happening in the first place, but that blame is getting less crippling.

Posts: 4
Hi, it's me again. I just need to vent a little. Not sure I'm looking for a response.

I've mostly recovered from this, but a few nights ago I ended up sobbing in bed.

What got to me was the realization that Token had gone blind from kidney failure. I had already known this since a short time after he died, and I don't know why it mattered -- he died anyway.

But for some reason, the thought of him going blind, dealing with his horrible pain without being able to see, how terrified and hopeless he must have felt. I'm tearing up right now.

Even if I had managed to save him, he might have never gotten his sight back. The thought of that just fills me with grief -- even though it doesn't matter, he's dead anyway. I can't explain it.

That never, ever should have happened, and I will never brush off any illness like I did for him ever again, whether it be for myself or my family or any other pet I own.

Posts: 158
I am so sorry for your loss, I know personally how traumatic this loss is to those of us who are fortunate enough to feel such deep love, and be so unconditionally loved in return.

About blindness, it's different for animals than for us humans. While it's totally devastating for us to even think about ourselves or anyone we love suddenly going blind, animals are built differently there. They have those extra keen senses especially for such cases, and blind animals can and do live happily. They don't go into shock and fear over sight loss as we would, they turn to their other senses to cope. They also don't mourn for loss of ability to see our faces or the sunset; they live in the Right Now. Remember, animals use their other senses far more than their eyes; their senses of smell and hearing, in particular.

Token had a good and fulfilled life. He loved, and was loved in return. The biggest fear he had, that every animal has, is pain. There is nothing whatsoever they can do about it when they are in horrific pain; they can't tell anyone, they can't call the ambulance, they can't go to the drugstore for medicine. That's the definition of "torture".

When Life deals our furbabies illnesses which are futile to fight against, protecting them from such pain and suffering is your heart's duty, your debt to pay, for the unconditional love you were given.

And as difficult as it is, you did your duty. Your debt is paid.

He is no longer in pain, thanks to you. You took on the pain yourself.

If asked, I'm sure Token would say "My life was good."


Posts: 18
I just wanted to come in and offer lots of hugs and support and to say that Token was a beautiful cat. This is a terrible disease and my boy Leonard had it 4 times, 4th time being Friday and we had to put him to sleep. Life seems very unfair in this situation but please know we are here to support you and that you did the right thing. I know it doesn't make the pain go away (will it ever?) but he is no longer suffering. Big love to you

Posts: 8
Wow - Token is very beautiful! So many of the responses above say all of the things I'd want to say.... you ultimately released Token, and prior to that did your very best to help him. Be kind to yourself. I am so sorry for your loss  - hugs from here x

Posts: 52
I just wanted to say that what LynnRowe wrote was so beautiful, and I agree with everything.  Huge hugs and love to you.

Posts: 4,779
I am sorry for your loss of Token. he is a handsome boy. The thing about cats is they try to hide when they don't feel well, often until it is too late. You did what you could, and Token knows you love him, and that you always will.

Posts: 15
Token is such a pretty boy. So sorry for you loss. I am sure token would have been proud if he knew how hard you tried to save him. I would have done the same thing too.Its crazy nonsense how much the vets charge, and even if you payed there is no way to no fore sure if you kitty would have been all right. You kitty could have been in even more pain now or something could have gone wrong even if you found the money to pay. Hope you make it through this rough time. 

--Hugs all the way to you--

Posts: 2
Hey this almsot exact thing happened to me. I miss my bear bear.. He was only 7.. I did what I thought was the right thing for him. He was peeing blood and this was the second time he had a blockage. I feel like part of it was the expensive walmart cat food Purina or whatever, and I didn't play with him very much. We also had a pit who stays in garage, outside and comes in a big crate at night. (We have another cat also) long story short I think it was a mixture of his high stress levels/crap food/needed more activity. I only buy food from the vet now, and I miss my cat so so so so much. It was sooo hard to put him down. I bawled my eyes the whole time. I was all alone my husband was at work so it was just me holding bear bear as I let them put him to sleep. I didnt have money to pay for operation, not to mention they are more likely to get UTIs afterward, and Bear hated taking medicine.. He was a big o orange cat. He hated taking medicine it was so hard to give him any. I feel so bad.. He was my baby.. Hes buried in my yard. I beat myself up over it all the time wondering what if I had given him more time, changed his food, played with him, what if what if what if... Hope I made the right decision. If anyone is reading this, know you aren't alone. The vet unblocked him for free to show me what was blocking him. I decided to go on with putting him down while he was knocked out from pain meds. They said it was likely to come back. I feel SO BAD ! it hurts so bad. 😢😥

Posts: 5
I know exactly what you expressed. We didnt have money to get all kinds of testing done so my options were limited. The vet clinic didnt charge us for what they did and i can only explain that by the grace of god. Anyway it was take her home and wait..or end her suffering. Today has been a bad day of I should of...what ifs...could she have...if only I had. She gave so much did i do enough...and on and on. Though in my heart I did what I felt in my gut what was right my head feeds off the guilt and anger. Not sure if have done this but I made a video of pics and found a great song as a memorial. It doesnt fix anything but merely helps in the process.

Just knw you did what was best and they love us for it.

Bentleys mom

Posts: 2
Thanks for the reply. It is comforting to know I am not alone. I'm sorry for your loss as well, I hate that we have to make these kind of decisions. I didn't realize how hard it would be until it was too late. I know I did what I felt was right in the moment and that is all I can use to find peace with the situation because everything else I have my doubts on. Thanks for reaching out and hopefully we did do the right thing. I don't think it will ever get easier.

Posts: 22
You were very kind to Token. As for neutering and dry crappy food... we all learn from mistakes. I switched my remaining cat onto hommade raw with holistic supplements. Now I know I wouldn't neuter or spay. I am a responsible owner and my cats wouldn't get pregnant. I was never pregnant and I am intact also.
Just learn from your mistakes and try to do better later on.
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