It's hard to say ``goodbye``, but it's the kindest thing to do.
Making the difficult decision to put your cat down is never easy.
But you have to remember that the main consideration is their quality of life.
When your cat is unwell, or has lived a full life, then it might be time to consider how they’ll pass on to their next life.
Cat euthanasia at home is the kindest and most compassionate option for an old, sick or unwell cat that has health issues.
You have to face the fact that just like all pets, cats die, as we all do. It’s a part of life, and there is no way around it.
If they are uncomfortable, or experiencing pain, then a peaceful home euthanasia is the kindest option, especially if they are suffering.
The word ‘euthanasia’ originated with the ancient Greek words, “eu” – “good” and the word “than Atos” – “death.” So, to give euthanasia is to give a “good death”.
If you would like to give your cat a peaceful home euthanasia, and avoid the stressful trip to your local veterinary practice, then we’re able to help.
You can be with your pet for their final moments.
Cat euthanasia at home is the most compassionate option.
For most animals the local vet clinic is a place that causes anxiety.
It can also be a bit overwhelming for pet parents who are not ready to say goodbye.
Here are some reasons a home cat euthanasia makes sense:
- The car ride to the veterinary practice can be an uncomfortable experience for your cat if they’re nervous or in pain.
- Vet clinics usually trigger an anxiety response due to memories of past experiences, nervous energy from other animals, or smells that we don’t pick up.
- You can also avoid being in a public place at a time when you need privacy.
The home environment is a place your cat is comfortable and feels safe.
They can pass on peacefully, in a more relaxed place, with their loved ones by their side.
That’s why we firmly believe that a home visit is the much more humane choice for a peaceful cat euthanasia.
Not sure if it's the right time?
Cats are animals, and unfortunately animals can’t use words to tell us how they feel or what is wrong.
Fortunately, there are some easy to spot signs that can give you a good idea of their quality of life.
In the first place, assessing your cat’s condition is up to you, as you spend the most time with them, and know their behaviour better than anyone else.
Here are some general things to look at when considering your pet’s quality of life:
- Is your cat hungry, and finishing their food as normal?
- Is your cat moving around normally, without signs of difficulty?
- Can you see any signs of pain?
- Does your cat shy away from affection?
- If your cat is on medication, can you see any signs of it working?
- Is your cat looking like it’s ready to give up?
- Does your cat seem hot, and is seeking out cool surfaces, like tiles, instead of bed?
Speak with your Pawssum vet about your observations, either by video during a Telepet Appointment, or during a home vet visit.
Thankfully, our veterinary professionals are able to help with understanding your cat’s quality of life.
Together with your observations, they will give your cat’s health a full check-up, while always having you cat’s best interests at heart.
Our goal is to help you get a full understanding of your cat’s well-being, so you can make the decision that is best for them.
It’s important to be fully aware of all of their health issues, as it will help to make the tough decision of choosing euthanasia somewhat easier.
The number one question you need to ask yourself – Are you able to relieve your cat of it’s suffering, even if you’re not ready to say goodbye?
The right thing to do is always what’s best for them, even if it’s a difficult decision.
What is the cost of cat euthanasia?
Prices for cat euthanasia vary. For example, Pawssum has several options to suit all budgets. It usually depends on a variety of factors, like a home visit or in clinic, as well as your location.
Unfortunately, the cost of treatment for a serious illness or disease can far outweigh the cat euthanasia cost.
It becomes harder to justify the cost of treatments when there is little or no hope of recovery, which makes the cat euthanasia price look like a much more affordable option.
If you have concerns about the cost of treatment vs the price of cat euthanasia, then ask your vet for an itemised estimate, so you can have the numbers in advance.
Please ask us for more information on our cat euthanasia prices.
Preparing For A Home Cat Euthanasia Appointment
As much as saying goodbye is difficult, it is also a chance to celebrate your cat’s life, give them some wonderful experiences, and enjoy your time together.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Quickly familiarise yourself with the process and know that is is painless and humane.
2. If you have any questions, ask your vet before hand, so you are informed.
3. Decide if you want to be present during your cat’s euthanasia. If so, ask your vet how you help to make it as comforting and compassionate as possible.
4. If you have children who are old enough to understand, you’ll want to tell them what is happening in a way that makes sense to them.
5. Make your cat’s final days as special as can be. Give them lots of yummy food, take them to their favourite place, and give them lots of cuddles. This is your chance to make memories that you’ll cherish forever.
6. Decide how your pet will be memorialised. Will you bury them under their favourite tree, or will you choose cremation?
7. Organise your support system. Euthanizing a cat can be one of the toughest things you’ll ever make. Be sure to let your friends and family know, so they can give you the support you need.
Perhaps you can make a plan for the day with your loved ones, so they can help you say goodbye. Afterwards, try to do something nice. Maybe go out for a meal, and make a toast for your beloved cat.
Or you could hold a wake, and tell stories of your memories with them. Whatever you choose, just try to keep your mind active and seeing things on the up-side. Positivity is always helpful.
Should I be present during my cat's euthanasia?
It’s a decision that is entirely up to you. Of course, it can be very difficult to think about your cat’s passing, and being present during the event can be even harder.
It’s a deeply personal decision that nobody can make for you. Hopefully, all of the care, love and compassion you have for your cat will help you to decide.
If you can find the strength to be with them, then they will surely appreciate the comfort of having you there.
Some of the reasons to be there to say goodbye include:
- A sense of closure that helps with feelings of comfort and acceptance, which will help you navigate the process of grieving.
- The feeling that you gave them the best send-off possible, where they were as relaxed as can be, with all of their most loved humans by their side.
- One of the biggest reasons for being there is to avoid any feelings related to not being there as they passed. This can lead to an ongoing sense of regret around letting them down when they needed you.
However, some cat owners will choose not to be present when their cat is put to sleep, for reasons such as:
- Worry that their presence will upset the animal.
- Anxiety of discomfort with the idea of death or passing.
- They want to remember the happy times as their last memories, rather than the euthanasia process.
When making the decision, we always encourage people to remember that while you might have many pets over your lifetime, your pet only has one of you.
You are their everything – friends and family all rolled in to one. You are the most important person in their life, and being there to support them means you were there when they needed you most.
Can my children be present?
Generally, most vets agree that the euthanasia process is too much for children. Of course, it is entirely your decision, and it depends on your child’s age, maturity, and previous experiences.
If you choose to involve them in the euthanasia process, you should prepare them for the experience as much as possible, by explaining to them on the steps taken before, during and after the process.
Consider these points when making your decision:
- Is your child old enough to comprehend the good intentions behind the decision to choose euthanasia?
- Has your child said they would like to be there for your cat when they pass?
- Will you be able to give your child the support they need during the process, or will you need support yourself?
This is not an extensive list, but it is a good place to start.
If you are able to answer these questions with a confident “Yes”, then you can consider giving your child a lesson about the circle of life, and how we all must pass sooner or later.
How do I explain to my children that my cat will be put to sleep?
It can be challenging, but the event of a family pet passing on is also an opportunity to teach your child valuable lessons about life, death, managing grief, and how to see the up-side in everything.
While you must be there for your pet, as a responsible parent, your role is two-fold. You need to support your child, while you try to turn what can be a negative experience in to an opportunity for growth.
Before you bring your child to say the last goodbye and witness the euthanasia procedure, you need to consider their age, and ability to understand what is going on.
Below are some guidelines for each age group:
- Children aged 4 years old and younger won’t be able to understand much, but they may still form a memory around the event. Consider leaving them at home so you can be fully there to support your pet.
- Children who are 5 years old will understand when their pet is unwell, isn’t getting better, and when they aren’t there anymore. Thankfully, they’re also easily distracted with activities like food or play. They may feel confused or upset when they see other family members are upset, but will soon forget as they get back to their routine.
- Children aged 6 to 7 years old will be able to understand almost everything that is happening, but may not completely understand why, or be able to ask the right questions to get the answers they need. So, you’ll need to fill in the gaps for them, and perhaps explain some of the bigger topics like “dying”, and if you’re religious, the concept of having a soul and the afterlife. Whatever you choose, you need to explain that your pet has died, and won’t be coming back.
- Children aged 8 or over, will be able to properly grasp that your pet is unwell, but they may not understand the concepts of old-age or disease. They ay be curious about what will happen next, and are likely to take things very literally. For example, if you say your pet is being put to sleep, they might expect it to wake up! Simply explaining euthanasia is enough, but try to do it in a way that is kind. You can tell them that your cat is unwell and can’t get better. Explain that because you love your cat so much, you want to stop its suffering, so you are going to help it die, as it’s the kindest thing to do.
Will my cat know it is being put to sleep?
The short answer is no, cats do not know they are going to be euthanised. Especially when it is done at home, because they are not being taken to a vet clinic, which can trigger their memories of past experiences, or cause anxiety due to other animals and smells.
After all, cats have no concept of euthanasia. It is a human construct.
Despite this, many pet owners believe that their cats somehow knew that their time was about to be up. They might even perceive a difference in their cat’s behaviour, like they wanted more attention, or even that their cat suddenly acted like it was better.
Most vets however think this is subjective, and can be attributed to the owner rethinking their decision.
Usually, when euthanasia is coming up, a owners will give more attention to their cat as part of saying goodbye, which the cat then picks up on and reflects in their behaviour.
On the other hand, a cat that is very unwell will often show signs of accepting that they are unwell, and being ready to give up. This is usually because of their condition, and not because they know they are going to be euthanised.
Is cat euthanasia painful?
The passing of your kitty friend should not be painful.
Vets call the procedure “putting to sleep” for a good reason, not just because it is a nice way to describe the procedure.
During a euthanasia process, your cat will be sedated using an overdose amount of anesthetic, which will render them unconscious within seconds.
The same drugs that are used for anesthetic as those that are used for sedation in euthanasia. It is only the amount that differs. So, that’s where the term “putting to sleep” comes from, as the same drugs that are used for anesthetic in procedures like operations are used in euthanasia.
The process is fast and painless, as they are asleep within seconds, and deceased within a couple of minutes.
There are often some signs of the body shutting down, including muscle twitches, sounds, urination, defecation, and open eyelids.
This can all be difficult to witness, as it looks like your cat might be struggling. But they are simply passing on, and you can take some comfort knowing that they are unaware when they are unconscious. The most important part is that when they are unconscious, they are unable to feel pain.
For the most part the euthanasia process is calm and pain-free. However, sometimes there are things that happen to cause your cat’s final moments to be less than peaceful.
Although the vast majority of procedures are calm and pain-free, there are certain situations where your cat’s last moments might not be perfectly peaceful.
While the situations we talk about below are rare, there is a chance that they might happen. We’ll cover a few examples below:
- Your cat is displaying signs of stress or unrest before the injection
Many cats experience anxiety when they visit a vet clinic.
This is due to the sights, sounds and smells that animal hospitals have, which often trigger memories of previous experiences.
So, it’s easy to understand that when a cat is triggered by their environment, they are likely to be more agitated, can move around, and generally be unwilling to cooperate.
This can make it challenging for the vet to find a vein to administer the solution.
Eventually, when the vet is able to administer the shot, your cat will fall asleep peacefully.
It’s important to note that this behaviour doesn’t have anything to do with the procedure, and instead is triggered by the environment of the vet clinic.
This behavior has nothing to do with the cat feeling pain during the procedure, but rather the memories that they associate with the vet clinic, like a person associates discomfort with visiting the dentist.
What can we do to make the process more relaxing? Removing the cause of the distress is the best idea. A home euthanasia is the best option for many animals, especially those who are triggered by a visit to the vet.
- When your pet is in quite a bit of pain.
Certain injuries and diseases can be extremely painful for a cat.
If they’re unable to be comfortable touched or handled, the chances are that they will react in pain when they are touched or handled to be given the solution.
What drugs are used for cat euthanasia in Australia?
Only licensed vets are legally able to perform euthanasia in Australia. They have special access to barbiturate solution that is a specifically designed product. This solution is available under the trade name Lethabarb® (Virbac).
How is the euthanasia drug administered?
The solution is administered by injection to the most easily accessible vein, which is usually in the front of hind leg.
Sometimes, it can be hard for the vet to find a vein, because of shock or behaviour. So, in these circumstances there is little choice but to administer the solution directly into the jugular vein in the neck or to the heart.
In these situations, it is much easier to sedate the cat first. That way they are relaxed and do not experience any unnecessary stress or pain.
How will my cat's euthanasia affect my other pets?
Much like humans, animals feel emotions as a result of death, grieving, and a sense of loss.
Many cat owners claim that their other cats knew that their family member was going to be put down. While we can’t confirm this, what we do know is that cats, like most animals, are aware of who is in their family unit, and do miss family members who pass on.
It largely depends on their relationship with the other animal. Were they siblings, or closely connected, with a great relationship? Or did they simply get alone? If they had a good relationship with the passing cat, then chances are that they will feel a sense of loss in the same way that we do.
One thing that helps both humans and animals is finding a sense of closure once a family member has passed.
You are able to do this by involving your cat in the process, either by having them attend the euthanasia (which might be scary or uncomfortable for them), or showing them the deceased pet after the process is complete.
If you decide to bury your cat, you can take other pets to the site for a sniff and smell, which can help to provide them with some closure.
The pets who are left behind may display some changes in their behaviour after losing a family member. These are some signs to look out for:
- Less interest in food, or not eating all together.
- A change in general mood, such as being quiet or passive.
- Looking around the house for their missing family member.
- Keeping themselves away from people.
If your other pets are displaying any of these behaviour changes, or even just acting differently, then it’s likely a sign that they are grieving. Here are some ways that you can help:
- Try to create some new fun memories. Do something fun with them, spend some more time with them, and try to take their mind off it.
- Give them their favourite yummy food, or even their favourite treats.
- Be sure that you are leading by example. Calmly and confidently carry on, keep your stress levels low, and show them how resilient you are. As their leader, they pick up on your energy, which they will usually mirror.
If you have tried all of these things and your animal still seems unhappy, you should contact your Pawssum vet for some advice.
What happens during my cat's euthanasia?
Making an appointment for home cat euthanasia is one of the toughest decisions many owners will ever have to face.
When making your home euthanasia booking, be sure to let your Pawssum vet know that a euthanasia might be or is definitely needed. That way, they can be prepared and organized, and will be able to talk you through the process.
The following list is the exact steps involved in a cat euthanasia procedure:
1. Firstly, the vet will use a needle to insert a catheter into the vein in one of your cat’s legs. This is the most effective and pain free way to administer the solution.
2. When the catheter or needle has been successfully inserted into a vein, the vet will administer the pentobarbital solution which will cause the euthanasia. Often, this solution is coloured, and can be pink, blue, or green. It won’t cause your cat any discomfort or pain.
3. When the medication is given intravenously, it instantly enters the bloodstream and travels to the organs and brain, which causes unconsciousness within seconds. Then, your cat will slowly stop breathing, followed by a cardiac arrest, which leads to clinical death. After this, there may be some twitching, urination, defecation, or loud breathing, but this is all completely normal, and are simply signs of the body passing on. Your cat is unconscious and completely unaware of what is happening.
4. Sometimes, certain conditions, like low blood pressure, may make it hard to find a vein, so in this case the vet will need to directly inject the solution in to the heart of neck jugular. In this case, the vet will provide the cat with a sedative, so they are unconscious prior to the lethal injection. Your cat will be completely asleep prior to the more painful injection, so they won’t feel a thing.
5. Once your cat has passed on, the vet will check their vital signs, starting with their heartbeat. Once no hearbeat is heard, the death is confirmed, and the euthanasia process is complete.
The vet will then leave you alone with your cat so you can say your final goodbyes. This is a very emotional and special time, so you can stay with your cat for as long as you need.
What happens after my cat is put to sleep?
After putting a cat down, you’ll need to decide on how you wish to deal with their remains. You have two main options, burial in the ground, or cremation.
Cremation is the easiest way. We can help you, as we have many options for cremation, as well as memorials, such as urns or boxes. You can then spread your cat’s ashes in their favourite place, or keep them to remember the good times.
If you choose a burial outside, be sure to check with your local council. Some places prohibit burial of animals. If you choose a wild burial, be sure to bury them deep enough or use a container to avoid wild animals digging them up.
Simply choose the option that gives you the most comfort.
If you are choosing burial, be sure that other pets or wild animals can’t easily access your cat’s body. The euthanasia solution can and will cause health concerns and even death for animals that consume it, even from an already deceased pet.
Overall, cremation is the much easier and safer solution, which is why it’s becoming increasingly popular around Australia. Plus, you get to keep some or all of their ashes, so they can always be with you.
Another alternative is to donate your cat’s body to veterinary research. For some, it might be comforting to give your cat’s death a sense of purpose, as their body can help the next generation of vets expand their knowlege, and ultimately go on to help more animals.
What emotional support should I have when my cat is being put to sleep?
No matter if its human or cat, getting over the loss of a pet will take time. You have to be kind to yourself and allow the process to take course.
Below are a few things to keep in mind while you grieve your feline companion:
- It can take much longer to grieve your lost cat than you might think. There are several phases of grief, and you’ll need to go through them all. This is normal, and there isn’t any way around it. Give it time and try to stay strong.
- You aren’t alone in your difficult time. Try to focus on the good things, or find support in others around you or who have been or are in a similar situation. For example, there are many Facebook groups, so why not join in and share your story.
- Remember that your family and friends love you, and would be willing to listen if you need help. Reach out to them for support.
- You can always talk to a therapist. It’s their job to listen and help you through the grieving process. There is no shame in asking for help.
- Try to move on, and not just by forgetting, but remembering the good times, and focusing on what’s ahead. You can’t change the past, but you can change the present. Try to do some meaningful activities, and keep a positive mindset. Focus on your family, friends, other pets, and do nice things for yourself.
- You can even consider getting another companion, but only when you’re sure you’re ready to open your heart and home.
Should I get another cat after the euthanasia?
Well, that depends. Are you ready to give your new cat all the love, care and attention it needs?
If you think you’re ready for new cat ownership, then go for it. There’s no right or wrong answers here, or any set timeline for grieving the death of a pet. Many people find it hard to move on quickly, but you can give it time.
When you’re ready, why not consider adopting a cat that needs a home. That way you can feel better about your old cat passing on, as it gave your new feline friend an opportunity to live and enjoy a better life. It’s an easy way to give purpose to the passing of an old friend.
Here are some guidelines to consider when making your decision:
- There is no rush or time limit. Take as much or as little time as you need. Getting a new cat just to fill the void isn’t necessarily the right thing to do, as you may resent your new cat for being an unfamiliar alternative. Instead, welcome a new cat in to your life when you can care for it and give it all the love it needs.
- Consider that a new cat might be difficult for your remaining pets, and be mindful of how the dynamic can change. They might still be grieving, and adding another new pet to the mix could upset their balance. When your pet/s are back to their old selves, and seem OK, then you can consider introducing a new pet to your household.
- Most importantly – are your ready for the responsibility? New pets will require you to look after them and care for them, so don’t underestimate your time and energy commitments.
When you know what to expect, you can be prepared to navigate the end-of-life process much more easily.
Remember, the loving bond between you and your pet is not gone with their departure. Instead, it continues to live on with you, as you remember the beautiful and cherished memories of your time together.