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Posts: 2
It has been a month since we chose to euthanize our beautiful cat. She was only 8 years old and had been with me through all the stages of early adult between graduating college, getting my first apartment, then house, meeting my husband and welcoming my newborn son.

On Father’s Day, she snuck out of the house as we were settling in for the night. She’s always been an indoor cat. When we found her the next morning, she was hiding in the garage (which thankfully had been left open) and in obvious pain. We took her to the emergency vet who noticed some tissue damage to her leg and odd numbers in her bloodwork that corresponded to a cat who had gone much longer than one night without eating. With pain medication and lots of TLC, she recovered. She was eating more. Out regular vet didn’t know what to make of the numbers in a follow up visit and did detect a heart murmur and an enlargement of her heart via x-ray, but since she was eating again and acting normal we didn’t pursue any other diagnoses at this point.

Flash forward to the end of July. She started vomiting and having diarrhea. She stopped eating altogether. The vet sent out the x-ray of her heart and we were told she had congestive heart failure. We started her on medication for that and medication to increase her appetite and settle her nausea. This was on a Tuesday. By the following Monday, she was gone. Nothing I could try would make her eat. The vet suggested hospitalization, but I just had a feeling that it wouldn’t help and would only take her away from me to be scared and alone in the last days of her life. The vet said lymphoma often has vague symptoms like we were experiencing now and with the bloodwork a month earlier, but the diagnosis involved a biopsy. Again, I was hesitant to put her through that. Despite frequent phone calls where we were told they didn’t know what was going on, we never actually saw the vet at the end. It was a combination of not wanting to torture her and thinking I’d have more time to think things through. On Saturday, she showed glimmers of her old self. She greeted my husband at the door, she cane out to be with the family, she asked to go outside to walk in the grass. But by Monday she was so weak she couldn’t walk more than a few feet without collapsing, she showed no interest when I pet or brushed her. It seemed very much like she was too tired to fight. So we decided to euthanize her and end her suffering.

The point I’m at now is one of “what if.” What if I would have noticed there was a problem sooner? What if I would have gotten a second opinion? What if I would have pursued more serious options to prolong her life like the hospitalization? What if I demanded the vet see her instead of just speaking on the phone? What if I had tried to wait just one more day before I made the decision? Would she have bounced back like she did before? What if she had never gotten out of the house back in June? I know that this isn’t helpful for my grief. But I just can’t shake the feeling that there is something else I should have done. She was only 8 years old and it all happened so fast. I just miss my girl so much. She was too young and I feel cheated out of the years we were supposed to have together. At the time, I felt in my heart that I was making the right decision, but now I’m second guessing all of it. I don’t know how to get past this phase of grief.

Posts: 2
I am going through this phase as well. It’s so hard... my cat Mittens had been on and off again sick since March. We went to several vets trying to figure things out and we were in the middle of moving cities during it all. She would get better temporarily and then sick again, quicker and worse each time. Cats are so good at hiding their illness, I wonder if I missed even earlier signs. My last decision was to put her to sleep or put her through a blood transfusion, with a poor prognosis. She had already been hospitalized and was home with me just 3 days before her health took that turn for the worst. I wonder what if I hadn’t added stress to her life by choosing to move. What if she could have pulled through the blood transfusion against all odds. I’ve been reliving her last moments with me over and over, replaying all her behavior, trying to make sense but nothing works. My girl was around 10 years and I thought I’d have so many more years with her too, we only knew each other since 2016 when I adopted her.

I try to tell myself I made the best choice I could because I knew it would end her pain and suffering. I know you made the same choice out of love too, pure love. I hope we can both get past this pain and through these “what ifs”.

Posts: 43
I am so sorry.

Almost everyone who loses an animal they love goes through this self-torture. It is because we love them very much and we want to do the best possible for them; but we cannot know everything and we cannot control everything. You cannot answer the questions you are asking yourself; no one can. The real question is whether you loved your cat and did your best for her. I know you did; she knows you did; and you should know that, too. Your cat was very blessed to be loved so much.

It sounds as if she was struggling with some very serious medical problems that even vets couldn't figure out. If the vets couldn't figure it out, how could you?

The hard thing about the what-ifs is that they can get worse with time because our memory fades. We forget why made the choices we made. I hope you will not use that as an opportunity to deepen your guilt. Try to treat yourself at least as gently as you would treat a friend in the same circumstances. What would you say to a friend who had said these things to you?

Big hugs.

Posts: 2
I’ve had those thoughts too, LaurenandMittens. We moved last June and welcomed her (human) baby brother in November. I’ve been working through feelings of guilt for introducing all the changes and for being so absorbed in life that I didn’t give her as much attention as she deserved for her last year. We always think we have time. If I had known it was her last year, I would have tried harder to play with her, brush her more, love her more instead of being absorbed with my newborn.

And thank you, ItWillTakeTime. I need to be more gentle with myself. I made the decision that felt right in my heart at the time, but as time passes it feels less certain and the doubts keep creeping in. I need to remember that I did what felt right and did it out of love for her. I’m just missing my best friend and want to know that I did all I could for her.

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