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Posts: 14
It has been a little over 24 hours since I let my baby go. I am barely able to sleep, eat or breathe. I wake up at night when I do sleep and I wail. I am full of deep sorrow that I will never hold my baby again but I am also ravaged by guilt about his last hours.

Keeker (short for Keekeroni & Cheese) was a stray who adopted me in 2013. He was a full grown guy at that time and showed up on my porch one day, desperate to come into the house. I didn’t let him in initially because I had another (only) cat in the house and I didn’t want to expose her to any diseases or create any conflict. I petted him and patted him and tried to redirect him somewhere else. He was clearly fed but didn’t have a collar and his coat was mussed, his paws callused and the tip of his tail crooked from an old fracture. He cried at the door for upwards of an hour asking to be let in. He didn’t come in that day but he camped out in the bushes in my front yard and would come right out to greet me each time I left the house. At this point I wasn’t feeding him (although I eventually started when I realized how sweet he was and that he obviously had a home at one point and no longer did), but he never left. This went on for about 2 months. One day there were bad summer storms rolling in and I hated the idea of him being in the bushes, getting rained on. I made a makeshift bed on our back porch out of a box and some old sheets and pillows. I showed him the bed and placed him in it and patted him and he laid right down and slept there all night. When I woke up the next morning he was still there and bright eyed and I knew in my heart he was mine now. Very shortly after we introduced him into the house slowly and took him to the vet where he received a clean bill of health. They estimated from the tartar on his teeth that he was maybe between 4-5 years old. That is the beginning of our love story.

I’d tell you the whole middle but this post would never end. In a nutshell, he imprinted on me in a big way. His affection increased and we were inseparable. He is the most vocal cat I’ve ever seen, commenting on everything with little trills and exhibiting a full range of meows - “WAH” “wah-wahhhh” and the extra special “waaaaAAAAAAAAAAH,” a longheld meow that would rise in pitch and never fail to crack me up. He liked to be held like a baby and was always on my lap if my lap was there. And if I sat in a way that didn’t give me a lap he’d either find a way to climb onto me and lay on my chest or he’d huff frustratedly until I acquiesced to his request. We were deeply bonded. My other cat, Enid, who I still have, never imprinted on me this much and in this way and I’ve had her from kittenhood. I love her deeply but Keeker and I had a mutual deep need for each other. If I’d leave town I’d worry about him all the time because he needed to be babied. Cuddling is what made him happy.

Around the very end of February, beginning of March I started to notice him feeling bonier and losing weight. He was also just acting off. More tired, less lively. I started weighing him over the course of a few days and his weight dropped steadily. I was hugely alarmed at this point and after he vomited what looked like the entire contents of his stomach on the morning of my birthday I called the vet and booked an appointment for the next day. The morning of the appointment I was optimistic even though for days I had been worried sick about him and telling him “all I need in this world is for you to be okay, okay?” I begged him to b okay. I changed his foods, gave him treats, prayed that he was just off of his food which I had recently changed. But he never been finicky before.

At the appointment I said “I’m sure I’m just overreacting” (again wanting to make it so) and was thrown into the shock of my life when the doctor said she felt a mass and took him back for X-rays. She came back in the room and took me back to look at them with her. He had a huge abdominal mass which was pushing all of his organs out of true. She calmly explained to me that something this large was likely not resectable or treatable in any meaningful way and that I would need to make a difficult decision as his intestines could become blocked. I was overwhelmed with nightmare visions of him unable to go to the bathroom and straining. I made a follow up appointment for an abdominal ultrasound as they discouraged me from doing an exlap, as they would likely find things were too advanced and they would have to euthanize on the table which was unbearable to think about. I took him home, shocked, shut myself in the house and cried for days. I thought I would have to decide rapidly to let him go.

I went to the ultrasound a little calmer, I had had time to ask more questions. The doctor that did the ultrasound agreed that it was very likely non resectable but it was also clearly demarcated and hadn’t infiltrated his organs from they could see and there was no free fluid but they felt uncomfortable doing a biopsy because the mass looked extremely vascular. I was recommended to do palliative care only, monitor him and let him go when it was time.

I hesitated starting him on any treatments because I still had some hope that another doctor could biopsy the mass or have a different opinion. I was reading case studies on this and knew more questions to ask. I was referred to a specialist who said they could do a fine needle aspirate after getting a CBC to make sure he wasn’t at increased risk for bleeding. I was, however, extremely uncomfortable with the technician and doctor and my instincts yelled “run!” I didn’t trust them to take the best care of him. I got an estimate for the procedure and took the weekend to consider. I agonized over whether to put him through it or to just start him on the steroid and begin palliative care. I was terrified he’d bleed to death with the procedure but felt I had to do something other than accept his decline. I made the decision to consult another area vet about doing the procedure after speaking with them and researching them. I set the appointment for 4:30 on Tuesday and I felt a small shred of hope that I was making the right decision.

Over that weekend he had also started to hide. He’d come out to eat a little and still ate treats well but it became an on/off struggle to get him to eat. I’d give him whatever he would eat and still watch him continue to lose weight, energy, and the light in his eyes. Of course that light would come back now and again. When he got treats, or when I’d put catnip in his favorite blue mousey which he’d drool on and lick and fall asleep on. But he no longer really wanted to cuddle or be on my lap. He’d lay in the room with me at times but not close. And toward the end he was either under the bed or in the closet when he wasn’t eating or being coaxed out by me. On Monday I felt a little better because the sun was out and he came out on the balcony and got fresh air and birdsong. He did go back to his closet after that but he ate well and when I put him in bed with me that night he stayed there, sleeping on a cardigan of mine that he particularly loved to knead.

The next day, Tuesday, the day of the appointment, I went to work and came home on my lunch break to check on him and feed him, which had become my routine. He was in the closet but came out when he heard me come home and ate well. I felt that he would be my little miracle and hold on for me. But it was torture to watch him waddle down the hallway like he always did, skinny shoulders, skinny backside and his swollen stomach. He just wanted to keep living but he was so tired.

I came home from work and had to wrestle him into his carrier to go to the vet. I felt awful but felt like just one more test baby, one more test so I know what to do for you. He was calm on the way there and during the exam. I was immediately comfortable with the doctors and technicians and he seemed to be too. Upon the initial exam the doctor was not enthusiastic but I didn’t expect him to be. The mass was very large and he felt, as the other doctors did, that it would not respond to chemo in a meaningful way. He did his own ultrasound and said that if we do anything we should take a surgical approach. He felt semi confident that he could resect the mass and that Keeker could survive the surgery, and if he couldn’t resect it, he could at least biopsy it. He had the same fear that doing an FNA on this mass could cause bleeding they wouldn’t be able to control. He said if Keeker was his cat he’d choose to let him live out his time but if I wanted to try, this was his best chance and there was a chance it could be benign because it didn’t appear to have spread. I felt I had come to a place where I was willing to make a last ditch effort, the worst case scenario being that he would die on the table, unaware, not in pain, and because I’d do anything to save him. The doctor got a chest X-ray (clear) and a full CBC and advised he’d call me that night with the results. I left feeling like okay buddy, we might have a chance. You’re a miracle so maybe you will surprise us all. I had soft music playing in the car and a piano version of “Hallelujah” came on and I sang it to him. He rubbed his face on my hands. Looking back it was a hugely meaningful moment although the I did not suspect it would be one of our very last.

I let him out of the carrier when we got home and he came right out and demanded his food, which he got, with a side of treats. He then laid down under the kitchen table and sleepily looked at me. The phone rang. I picked it up expecting good news. The doctor hesitated but said “he is dangerously anemic. His red blood cells are at a 16 and a healthy cat is between 32-50. I believe he may be bleeding internally with these numbers.” Numb, I asked “could it be because he’s malnourished?” (The tumor was so large it was absorbing his calories and nutrients) The doctor said “Yes, and when I checked his gums they didn’t appear pale so I wasn’t concerned with internal bleeding, but I did see some free fluid around the bladder in his ultrasound and with the two things combined I am almost positive your cat is bleeding into his abdomen and could hemmorhage at any time and needs an emergency blood transfusion now before we could even consider surgery which he will probably not survive. I would recommend you consider euthanasia and sooner rather than later, within a couple days at the most. I said, quietly, “thank you” and hung up the phone.

I looked over at Keeker who was laying calmly under the table. I imagined watching him continue to suffer or possibly hemmorhage. Something in my heart said no more. No more. I couldn’t allow any chance of him suffering and dying a bad death. I called my family and my brother and mother came over. I wrapped him in a blanket with his favorite mousey. He didn’t fight but seemed confused about another car ride. It was raining and dark, 9:30 at night. He looked around at the rain, at the strange car (my brother drove) and at me. Then he would lay his head down and hide in the blanket. I carried him into the room and set him down. He looked around, again a little perplexed but he didn’t seem frightened. I held him and stroked him and continued to talk to him like it was any other vet visit. “It’s okay budders, what a big day for you, two car rides.” It was like someone else had taken over and was using my brain and body. I stayed mostly together, trying to make sure I didn’t give him my stress, until I signed the authorization form. Then I put him head down on him and cried my tears into his fur. I don’t remember looking into his face, he was thrown off and tired and seemed subdued. When they came in to put in the catheter, he didn’t fight. I held him and cried but didn’t wail, still trying to make sure he wasn’t stressed. The vet then injected the initial sedative and his head dropped and his breathing became very heavy, big gasps of air through his nose, and no light in his eyes. I screamed in agony and clutched him “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry” I cried. I didn’t expect the sedative to do what it did. I expected him to still be able to look around dreamily but it was like he was already gone and his body was fighting to stay alive. Had I known, I would have had the vet do the injections more quickly, watching his body breathe that hard will haunt me for the rest of my days. When I think of it I feel like I cannot breathe and like I will die.

She came back in with the final solution and I shook my head. I held him in my hands and watched, in stunned shock, the solution going into the catheter. He stopped moving and stopped breathing. She checked his heart. Confirmed he was gone. Took off his collar and gave it to me and left the room and I fell to the floor. I got back up, desperate to touch him and hold him and I just kept kissing his ears and stroking his face and telling him how much I loved him, how very much. I can’t unsee his dead eyes. That loving soul, that beautiful spirit who talked to me and loved me and needed me, snuffed out by my own hand. As I pet him and stroked him and put his mousey between his paws I felt I would never be able to leave this room or live a life again. Touching him for the last time, saying goodbye, kissing his face and telling him I loved him for the last time before turning around and falling into my mother’s arms was the most painful moment of the whole experience. The finality, the whole finality, came home to me in a way that I felt would kill me. When I turned back around and he was gone I quietly folded the blanket I had brought him in with, slowly put on my coat and walked out. The strength had left my body. Every step felt like it might kill me.

As you can imagine, my life is now hell. A hell of sorrow and loss and guilt and imprinted nightmare images of my dead and dying baby and the fact that I gave up on him. Deepest remorse that I didn’t wait and spend one last full day with him and that he had to go to the vet twice in one day. Horror and sorrow and a small relief that he didn’t know what was happening. Agony that I didn’t insist on the emergency measures in a last ditch effort to save him. I didn’t know how old he was but he wasn’t very old. He was too young to die. We only had 4 sweet years together but I feel like a part of my heart has died with him. I don’t remember life before him. I gave up and I did it when I had the strength to do it because watching him deteriorate for almost a month and the exhaustion of multiple doctors telling me his hopes were remote, and the guilt of putting him through visits and pills and coaxing him to interact, his muscles wasting away so it was a big effort to jump for him. Something took me over and it wasn’t panic, it was this surreal knowledge that I needed to give him peace from this devastating, fast acting illness that was literally sucking the life out of him. But god, please god, I wish I had waited one more day, held him and soothed him and scheduled the euthanasia at home. I hate myself, I hate that version of myself that said “now.”

I can’t help but feel that if only I’d been stronger and braver he could have had a chance. So many unanswered questions. Was he in pain? Was he okay but just tired? Was the free fluid on the ultrasound blood? Was husband anemia a reversible symptom of the bigger problem? Did I wait too long to act? Did I choose the wrong vet? He had pulled through so many things already in life and here comes a mass that just takes him out and I gave up. I gave up time with him to prevent any possibility that he could bleed out. He had started to pull away from me and hide but he was still sweet, still talkative although his meow had gotten weak and still a perfect angel, right up to the end. I wish so deeply that I hadn’t been taken over by that sense of finality and resolve. It got me through it and got me to do it but now I am left utterly hopeless, still bargaining even though it’s too late, still seeking some confirmation that I did the right thing at the right time and that it was right to do it on a day where he seemed pretty content. I didn’t want to wait until he was suffering but not giving him to chance to have another good day feels like murder.

I woke up around 1 A.M. last night and there was a shadow on my bedroom closet doors that looked just like him, even down to the tag on the collar. My grasping, exhausted mind needs to believe it was him, whole again, saying “Mom, it’s okay. I’m okay. I love you.”

I don’t know how I can go on. I don’t know how I can live wirh myself.

My poor baby, my poor baby.

Please help me. Please comfort me.

Posts: 639
Thinking of you at this dark and desperate time in your life. 

Posts: 3
I'm so sorry for your loss.  I euthanized my beloved, 15-year-old cat on Good Friday.  It is very hard to believe that there isn't something we could do.   Maybe my prior experience might help you.

I had a 16-year-old cat when I was younger; she saw me through many painful life experiences, and she was a unique and wondrous little being. She got a tumor on the roof of her mouth. I did everything there was to save her, but the vet told me early on, there was very little chance for her. I put her through a horrible surgery, where they cut off the top of the inside of her mouth, and I ended up having to force feed her for weeks afterward, as the tumor grew back almost immediately.  I see now that it would have been better to let her go earlier on, as she certainly suffered (she was very stoic, like most cats), and was staying alive probably mostly for me.  Finally, she just refused to be force fed, and lay down in the litter box. She was euthanized the next day.  For many years, I felt horrible about doing that, but I see now, I wanted to keep her for me, not for her.  I've forgiven myself for that, but it took a long time.  This kitty, the one who died on Friday, lived almost as long. She started declining after recovering from pneumonia a month ago, and very suddenly. She had a hiatial hernia, and cardiomyopathy apparently, and when she stopped eating and drinking, they said they thought she had a tumor and fluid was just filling her gut. Dehydration is very painful for cats.  When vets suggest euthanasia, you must take it seriously--they hardly ever suggest this.

You made the brave choice for your Keeker.

It has helped me a lot to make a little memorial garden for my kitty this week, and I go there and talk to her and write to her.  In almost exactly 6 months, you can expect to have a dream about her, where you know she is gone, and she knows she is gone, and she will communicate with you. (I have a good friend who is a dream expert and psychologist. It happens at almost exactly 6 months.)   Don't make the mistake of believing you must stop loving Keeker!  Celebrate and remember the happy times together.  When you remember the end, remember forward to the moment when she was no longer suffering.  Consider she might be very grateful.

Loss is the price we pay for love. (hugs)

Posts: 19
Dear Steffermee,
I am so incredibly sorry for your loss of your beloved Keeker!   I know the deep grief and pain.   It is so difficult - beyond words really.   I have been comforted by people who have affirmed over and over that waiting too long is devastating - that all we can really do is follow our hearts ... then the difficult part comes -- in accepting and grieving and healing ~ from the loss which is really like no other loss.  Our pets are like our babies!!!   
I was and still am at times (it has been a month since I had to say goodbye to my lovie Meena - she was 17 and had kidney and heart sickness ... and it has been 7 weeks since the very sudden, unexpected illness and loss of my Tony) devastated ... and here is what has helped me:
This book --- Soul Comfort for Cat Lovers -- Coping Wisdom for heart and Soul after the loss of a beloved feline by Liz Eastwood.    She (the writer) gets it totally as the major life changing event that it is ... and offers a lot of good help.
I made a special alter for my cats and placed photos, special things, a candle for each, some meaningful prayer cards etc. and even some crystals onto it -- right where I can see it and pay my respects everyday.    Somehow that has helped me a lot.
Oddly, I immediately wanted to go thru pictures and find all I could and make extras at Walgreen's some said it was WAY too soon but I NEEDED to do this.    The lesson is to do what YOU need to do.   It will be different for everyone.
My advice is to seek help in any form you can -- whether it's counseling -- whether it's a book or books, journaling, some time off, talking with whoever you can talk to -- don't give up or isolate.   This is a major loss -- and the world other other non- pet lovers may minimalize it but it's just not that way for us who love our animals like FAMILY.   Treat this as seriously as you would the loss of a parent, sibling or spouse is my advice -- because it is.    We spend so much time and special connection with our animals.  
You are in my prayers for peace and healing -- the regrets and guilt over the decision to euthanize are real and difficult feelings.   But I can tell from your post that you would not have wanted your Keeker to suffer and you did the right thing  -- but it won't matter how many experts confirm it or what anyone says to you -- it's something we all  have to heal up and come to on our own that there was no GOOD option.   If you think about it -- it's just unthinkable when we have to choose between euthanizing and seeing a beloved kitty suffer .... there's no option 3 in that and we all do our very best for the animals we love.   You did everything right.   I know me saying it won't help but you will eventually know it too.   The losses I've had in Feb and Mar of Tony and then Meena have led me to study and seek answers about big questions in life.   I had/have nothing to lose being so heartbroken and what I have found is some comfort as to believing stronger now that they are in a good place and are not suffering and would not want me to suffer either.
Bless you.   Take good care of yourself - it was a really good step coming here to write out what happened.   You are in my prayers,

Posts: 14
grievingmom: Your words have done great deal as far as me taking baby steps toward forgiving myself. I still shake all over when I think about the fact that I can’t go back and say yes, emergency surgery, yes blood transfusions, yes please make this last effort. My one and only comfort is to stop asking what if what if what if and know that he is at peace.

Lady_V: I am so so sorry for your loss and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for trying to use your past pain to put my heart at ease. I am full of self doubt and hatred that I left so many questions unanswered but in the end, I didn’t meet one vet who thought he could survive much longer. But I hate myself for not advocating for his life and giving it one last shot. Everything, from his initial symptoms to the day he died happened so rapidly I felt like my feet were almost never on earth. I had to listen to my soul and my soul quietly said, “tonight.” I knew he was tired. I knew he was probably bleeding internally. But I wish I had sat with that information for a few more hours. That would have eased my regret and possibly saved his life and that is what I find so hard to forgive. I assigned my own trauma and my own misery. And his death. I am trying, so hard, so very hard, to focus on the fact that he will never have another pain. I’ve been talking to him out loud and telling him how much I love him and asking him for signs and so far I feel he has responded. I see shadows at night and see him in the fog of my mirror. I know I am grasping for comfort but it soothes me to my soul to think he’s trying to tell me that I did the right thing and that he’s so happy he feels good again.

ChristinaofTX: I am so very sorry for the loss of your baby. I thank you for the suggestion of that book - I’ve downloaded it and am reading it. Thank you so much.

As an update to all: I am working from home today, finally showered and have eaten some even though I feel nauseated after I do. My mom has been with me since this happened and has helped me clean and function. I am trying to be patient and let myself process this entirely. Tasks are done on autopilot. But it does feel good, even though I don’t feel good, to do things. Keep moving. And talking to him. I have his collar and a little lock of his fur next to my bed and I kiss them every day. And he came to me again in the shadows on my wall last night. I woke up at the same time and there was his precious silhouette. I take comfort in believing his spirit is still here with me, watching over me, providing the comfort he can, like he always always did in life. Thank you all so much for your understanding and reassurance. Every small kindness buoys me back up that much closer to the surface and I hope in time I will breathe again.

Posts: 34

Dear Steffermee,

I am so sorry to hear of your loss of your beloved Keeker.  A few years ago my cat Missy was diagnosed with the exact same thing—a huge abdominal (inoperable) mass in her intestines.  I wanted the Vet to remove it but he said it was too dangerous and would kill her.  I got a second opinion and it was the same.  I will keep this short—she was doing OK but a few months later she took a turn for the worst.  We rushed her to the Vet who said she was filling up with fluids and it was seriously affecting her heart.  I thought of putting her to sleep right then (this was Thursday night), but instead had the Vet drain some fluid and hope she would do better.  We made an Appt. to see the Vet again on Saturday.  By Friday night she was really suffering and I feared she would die before we got her to the Vet on Saturday.  The whole time I was kicking myself for prolonging her suffering and not doing right by her on Thursday.  Anyway, she made it through the night and Saturday morning when the Vet was going to prep her for her final (euthanasia) shot she died.  Please do not feel guilt over your decision.  Mine is a perfect example that every decision will bring us guilt.  Mine was for not doing it soon enough, yet I know if I had opted the other way I would have been guilty for not giving her a chance. 

This is the hardest decision we all have to make.  Sadly, we will second guess ourselves no matter what we do.  Know that Keeker loved you and has come back to tell you so.


Posts: 14
champsmom: I am so very sorry about the loss of your Missy. Your words could not have come at a better time. I needed to read them when I woke up this morning. Every morning when I wake up and realize he’s not here my mind starts flooding with the what-ifs and I am filled with self hatred for taking his life and ruining my own. I desperately wish I could go back and ask them to take emergency measures - it was likely his last chance. Or waited a day or two to see if he stabilized on his own. I also regret not starting him on the steroid the first vet gave me because it may have made him feel better or possibly prevented the eventual bleeding. I didn’t because I wanted to try to find a way to save him and that medication may have prevented that (made a chemo regimen less effective etc.). I regret waiting between appointments, I regret not going to the final doctor sooner as he seemed to be the most up front and willing to be somewhat aggressive. Maybe if I’d done that he would have survived an operation at that time. Maybe he was anemic then and we could have figured out why instead of concluding he was bleeding internally (it haunts me that I still don’t know for sure and I may have snuffed out his life because of an impending threat of hemmorhage that I can never know existed). I regret going to the specialist in between who took him in a back room for the exam because I am full of fear that they palpated him too hard and caused the bleeding. I’m afraid I could have caused the bleeding wrestling him into his carrier. In truth I did everything I knew to do at the time and I agonized over decision I made. I weighed him daily, tracked his eating and potty routines, his moods, I stopped doing anything extracurricular except maybe a walk in the park here and there to try to soothe myself. I brushed him and hand fed him and ran out at night to buy him cat nip and multiple types of food to try to get him to perk up. I took him out in the sun on my balcony when it wasn’t too cold. I kissed him and stroked him constantly which at times seemed to agitate him so I know he didn’t feel good which makes me feel like I failed him in not making a firm decision and choosing palliative care only and giving him the steroid. What if it could have shrunk the tumor a little and given him another few good months? And it didn’t happen because I was so intent on finding a miracle. I watched him get thinner by the day, begin to seek solace under the bed and in closets, and pull away from me. But to the end he kept his “Keeker alarm” routine of waking me up and leading me to the kitchen for his food.

The vet told me point blank and calmly and compassionately l that what I needed to do was call and schedule euthanasia very soon, within the next couple of days at the most because of his risk of hemmorhage and the inability of his body to lose any more blood without going into shock. And I looked over at Keeker and he looked calm and tired and something in me said, it’s time for both of us to be done with this. I could not allow, even for a second, the chance of him bleeding out. So I made the decision. I understand why I did what I did when I did it but in hindsight I hate myself for acting so quickly. I wish I had some guarantee that I spared him suffering and that the timing was right. I ended his life and ruined mine. I don’t know how I can ever live with myself knowing that. He was the creature I loved the most in this world and even for him, even for him, I failed.

I talk to him all the time and ask him to forgive me and know how deeply I loved him and I did what I did to give him rest and spare him pain. His shadow is in my room every night now. I fall asleep looking at it, praying he is watching over me and wishing me comfort and saying “you did all you could and I was ready to rest.”

Truly my only comfort is that he is at rest although I am tortured by the fact that I left him there, in a strange place, to be handled by strangers and returned to me as ash. And looking at pictures of him from just January when he was robust, bright eyed, chubby and happy. Then I look at his final pictures and the light had gone out of his eyes. He looked tired all the time. I had to give him rest from that. But everything happened so fast. Was there anything I could have noticed earlier? I know that blame and guilt will not bring him back. I know that hating myself won’t do that either. My mind is still scrambling on how to fix him even though he is past his problems forever now.

I just can’t see how I will ever accept this. Eating feels wrong, sleeping feels wrong, waking feels wrong, standing feels wrong, sitting feels wrong, being in my body feels wrong. I am trapped into the reality that both the disease and my own handling of it created and it’s hell.

Please continue to reach out to me here. I deeply need it, still. Right now, yes, every day I feel slightly capable of a little more. My mom has been with me since it happened (Tuesday night) and only left this morning (Saturday). She has been the one making me eat and talking me through my most torturous moments. She slept in bed with me at first and now I can sleep in my bed okay. Sleep is getting better daily. Eating is hit and miss. Knowing what to do with myself is still a big question mark. I might go get myself a coffee this morning. Maybe I’ll try to take a walk. Maybe I’ll go visit my brother and niece and nephew. It feels good to do things but it feels like I dishonor the enormity of what has happened by living a life. He was my constant and now I don’t know what my world is.

Just please keep reaching out. All of your words help, even if just for a few minutes or hours. I am so grateful.

Posts: 14
I am full of self hatred this morning. I didn’t hold him in my arms. I didn’t have it done at home. I didn’t give myself time to sit with new, alarming information. I didn’t spend his whole last day with him. I put him through two car rides. He wanted to eat when we got home. He wanted to keep living. I stole his life from him. I defiled our last moments together by acting from alarmed instinct instead of calm action. I asked to hold him at the vet but then I didn’t, I don’t know, I just didn’t know what to expect entirely and I didn’t want to be in the way of what was happening. I held him with my hands and never stopped touching him but I should have cradled him like a baby. Why didn’t I? I hate myself. I can’t even imagine I would have ever acted this way, much less done it.

I was exhausted from the month of watching him waste away and the ups and downs of his good and bad moments. So many people here were either forced or planned carefully. I just reached the end of my rope and felt I had to do it in the moment I felt strong enough. I looked over at him and imagined him hemmorhaging suddenly and I said “over my dead body” but it was over his. It was over his. I didn’t take the last minute emergency efforts and I didn’t give him a chance to have a calm last day. I am worthless. That baby depended on me and I waved the white flag.

I killed him and ruined my own life.

Posts: 34


Please stop beating yourself up. As the saying goes “You made the best decision you could at the time, with the information that you had.” 

I had a Vet and a very good friend tell me once (when we couldn’t decide what to do with one of our dogs who was very old and had little quality of life)—“Better a week early than a day too late.”  I try to remember this with all of my pets now.

You didn’t kill him but you ended his suffering.  I’m sure Keeker knows how much you loved him and that you spared him more days of pain.

Again, I am so sorry for your loss.  My heart breaks for you.  Take as much time as you need to grieve, as this will not be an easy time for you.  But try to let go of the guilt.


Posts: 3
You may want to re-read the words of people who've posted to you--read them again and again. This is a moment by moment mourning you are going through, and it is very, very hard.

Remember that the vets know more than we do. They are ethically required to reduce suffering and to keep animals alive as long as possible as long as they are not being harmed. It sounds like they were telling you he would've been harmed had you waited.

Your kitty wasn't comfortable, but knew you loved him.  You were touching him. He felt that. (Eating is an instinct; it's not a message that he wanted to keep living.)  I believe at these times we want so desperately to believe we had some control over what happened to our loved ones at the end--even that is less scary than the reality of life on Earth: that much of the time we don't, we just don't. Remember that last minute emergency measures are not providing the kitty a calm end. 

You did the right thing.

Posts: 14
Thank you all so much for your words.

I’m sorry I am beating myself up but I wake up every morning full of this overwhelming feeling that I cannot live with myself anymore. Not only for the fact that he is now gone, but for how rushed his last day and moments were.

I wake up in the middle of the night and feel this. I did last night and then suddenly I felt like I smelled him. Then I fell back asleep.

I go back to work today. I know getting back into a routine will help but I dread facing my coworkers and I dread running out of energy or becoming hysterical.

My whole life feels scooped out and empty. I don’t know who I am anymore. My joy is gone.

I have my funny 9 year old Enid and she’s been sleeping with me at night but she’s just never needed me the same way. But she does make me smile at times.

My sister in law is about to give birth to twins. I know they say there’s a birth and a death. I find myself resentful that they are ushering in life while my life is now shrouded by the death of the one I considered my baby. I will try to find joy in them and in time I think I will but I am so hollow without my boy. Nothing matters without him.

No Keeker alarm in the morning. I just get up and shower and make coffee and there’s no little angel saying “wah wahhh” until I feed him.

I got a card in the mail yesterday from the vet who put him down and I broke down because I thought it was a sympathy card but it was a “Welcome” card, because his first day there was also his last. They were incredibly compassionate and I trusted them so I do not regret going there, I only regret not going sooner as I felt the doctor was willing to try. He may have had a chance if I’d made different choices. I feel a need to talk to the vet over and over and ask if I did the right thing. He said very soon, but he said within the next couple of days too which further makes me feel that I squandered my last chance to spend time with him and his last chance to spend a quiet day at home before the end.

I also got a bill in the mail from his primary vet for the nausea medication they gave me - they had left it available for pickup after closing and said I could just pay whenever. So I wrote a check for that and though about including a note to let the doctor know he had passed but it was too painful.

I don’t know how I can live with myself but I thank you so much for all of your words. I am trying to carry on. It helps to write him letters and talk to him all the time but living with myself feeling I failed him is unbearable.

Please keep reaching out. I am drowning and grasping at any comfort.

Posts: 14
I got my baby’s ashes, paw print and lock of fur back today. It still doesn’t seem real but I am so happy to have him back with me.

The doctor is supposed to call me tonight and hopefully offer some reassurance as I am still distraught with guilt.

They also referred me to a Pet Loss Grief support group that meets on Thursdays and I believe I will take advantage of it.

Home feels so empty now but having him back gives me some small degree of closure, at least in the sense of having him apart from me. Now I can start to build a proper memorial for him.

Posts: 14
I wanted to update and let everyone know that I have scheduled an appointment with a grief counselor for this Saturday. I hope it helps me navigate this intense time. Have any of you tried that and how did it help you?

My twin nieces were born yesterday, with full heads of black hair, one week to the day of Keeker’s passing. It was great to see them and hold them but it also hurt my heart. Keeker was my baby and I can’t come home and hold him anymore. It’s hard. I cry every day but am slowly working toward finding new routines. I ordered a big canvas print of my favorite pictures of him and made a photobook. I am wanting to make a beautiful memorial area for him in the house (although right now I want to keep his ashes next to my bed - I also hold them in my lap. It gives me a sense of comfort to keep him near me). I also ordered a necklace that I will be able to fill with some of his ashes and wear all the time. I write letters to him everyday, kiss his collar, ashes, and clay paw prints every night and every morning. He is still very much here for me.

I still wake up every morning hating myself and full of regret. That is one of the biggest things I need help with. Forgiving myself and finding acceptance. Missing him is already unbearable, but the guilt is worse. And now I’m getting to the point where people are getting exhausted with my grief (especially my immediate family with the birth of the twins - who are healthy and perfect, thank God). Not unkindly, but you get the sense that people are like “are you better yet?” And even though, no, I am not in the same level of anguish I was a week ago, it’s not “better.” It’s a rollercoaster. I want to be better, but it’s going to take time. That’s another reason I wanted to seek out a counselor. My family will be busy and enthralled with the new babies and it’s painful to still be mourning during a time when the rest of the family is celebrating new life. I am so happy they are here and healthy but it is a very lonely feeling. I live alone and have no children. My brother and his kids are already always the center of attention as-is and it’s hard not to feel bitterness at this time when I truly need the support and now it’s shifted, already, back to them.

It’s just hard. I’m so glad this forum is here. But back to my original question - have any of you tried counseling to help you through your grief? How was your experience?

Posts: 14
I just wanted to add a picture of my baby boy. Snuggling was his (and my) favorite. 

Posts: 1
Guilt is such a devastating and powerful component of grief. I’m not speaking from a position above you, but right alongside you because, in my grief, the guilt is one of the most intolerable parts of my loss. What you have to remember is that you acted out of love. You did. You said it yourself: you couldn’t stand the thought of being responsible for suffering that you could prevent (“I couldn’t allow a chance of him suffering and dying a bad death.”). You acted selflessly, making the decision to separate yourself from Keeker out of Keeker’s best interest. I hope that someday you’ll know this in your heart and accept that you did everything a loving parent would and could do in the impossibly horrible circumstances you were given.

Counseling is NEVER a bad thing. I hope it brings you the peace you deserve. I see a regular therapist (not one who specializes in grief), but she has been a rock for me, as she is a pet lover and understands what loss does to your soul and psyche.

Posts: 1


I'm going thru much pain & suffering for my German Shepard that I had to put to sleep. He was in much pain that was showing in his eye's and movement.  He never complained of his pain. He taught me to be loving and kind as he was with people. I had him 12 yrs and I will never ever forget him or his love. My Doc is so missed now.
I see and hear him around me. :(


Posts: 18
" I can’t unsee his dead eyes." those words really chimed with me, I still remember Minnie's dead, vacant, staring eyes after she died in my arms over a year ago. I tried closing them with my fingertips (like they do when someone dies in the movies), but they wouldn't shut - it quite spooked me.

Don't beat yourself up and don't hate yourself, Keeker loved you and never judged you, take solace from the fact that you still have Enid.

I have Minnie's ashes in a box and am planning making a memorial celtic cairn for her when we move to a new house in a few months. In the meantime she's been joined by the ashes of Sox (our daughter's horse) and will be joined by Radley (our rescue cat) - it's getting crowded in there...

Life goes on, pain and loss reduce over time with the natural healing process, the happy memories remain.

You'll get through this.


Posts: 1,821
There was once a man who came here and decided he needed not to calm his own grief, but to become a great source of comfort to others. Lobowolf has gone now to be with his beloved fur angels but he left a wide reaching family here to offer support. Some, like me, at times have take a step back to heal - many are still very active here. He also started several of us doing pages and memorials (and some more general healing pages). Sometimes the greatest step to healing we can take is to realize we are not alone. The 2 links below are to the indexes for those memorials. Perhaps they will allow you to see that you did your best for your kitty, and he knows this and loves you for that.

Memorial Pages

Memorial Tales

If in reading these pages a tear falls, remember that tears are healing if we let them bring healing. Remember, too, that your fur angel wants you to be happy - and Keeker knows you are sad and understands, but he also wants for you to heal and find happiness again. Grieving has no defined time frame, each loss is different. The time needed does not reflect how much we loved. Allow yourself time to heal - healing will come if you let it. Initially I think we all feel guilty for one thing or another - that is grief speaking. You have to look hard at guilt and say 'no, I did the best I could at that moment and with what I knew" and I do know that that is not easy to do. I have lost many over the years, each time I was sure I would never recover - and I still love and miss each one of my angels. But with time and patience with myself I did recover. Come here and to the chat room, remember your baby - and know that here is a safe place to be with others who do understand.

I wish you all the best - and for healing,
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