Ryan800
I lost my 17 yr old cat a few days ago, and I'm having a really hard time coping. She went from being her usual friendly, happy, cuddly self one day to not eating, not grooming, not using a litter box, and not moving too much the next. She kept going to hide from me, and within 24 hours of noticing this behavior change, I quickly took her to an emergency vet. They did some blood work and told me that her kidney levels were elevated and so were her lymphocytes, so it could be a number of things (but I was fairly certain it was her kidneys). The vet said they could do urinalysis and an ultrasound and keep her overnight, but I hated the idea of leaving her there when she was in pain. They gave her some meds and some fluids and sent her home with me, but she declined even more over the next 24 hours. She still wouldn't eat, was falling asleep in her water bowl, her breathing seemed forced, there was puss coming out of her eyes, and her fur was very messy and unkempt.

I took her back the next day and had changed my mind. I wanted all the tests. Issue was they now wanted to keep her for a few days and run several blood tests, and something in my heart didn't feel right about it. She hadn't eaten in 3.5 days at that point, and I knew I'd never forgive myself if she spent her last few days on a table with needles in her surrounded by people she didn't know. She was 17, and I figured the right thing to do was to put her to sleep. I knew I'd never forgive myself if I wasn't with her in her final moments and didn't make her as comfortable as possible.

This decision is now weighing on me more than I ever thought it could. I keep thinking "she turned so quickly- are you sure those tests couldn't have identified something that could've saved her?" or "did you just want to save money?" The vet never confirmed that she had CKD, but I convinced myself that I knew her better and that she was displaying all the signs that it was her time. On top of it all, I keep wondering if group cremation was the right thing, and I keep thinking about her in a spiritual sense-- is her soul at rest? Would she understand that I did this so she wouldn't suffer anymore? She also seemed a bit (albeit not much) more lively at the vet right before they put her to sleep, and I can't help but wonder if she would've gotten better.

Apologies for the length-- this has been helpful writing it all out. In the end, I just miss her so much and hope she had a good life. I hope that God is holding her and that she's in a wonderful place, but I have no guarantee of that. I hope more than anything that she knew how loved she was, and if anyone has any coping mechanisms I could follow, I'd greatly appreciate it. Sleeping and eating isn't easy to come by these days, and I feel like I don't want to stop grieving because I want her to know she's never forgotten and always in my heart.
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Runningman66

Ruth sincere condolences on your loss but from what I’ve read you did the right thing.I also have guilty feelings as even now I feel like I deceived my boy when we went the vets with him probably not realising it was going to be his final trip but when I think of how he looked in his final months with his spine showing,his head losing muscle,his stomach bloated with fluid and struggling to breathe it was a decision that had to be made as the vet just said with a culmination of all these things going on in his body it was not fair to him suffer anymore but like you I wasn’t allowed in due to Covid so what the vet did regarding examining him I do not know so safe to say I’m very wary of taking any animal the vets but at least they let me be with him when he passed on but in the end I hope he knows I didn’t want him suffer any longer as he was a shadow of the beautiful big dog he once was.Ultimately we all end our pets lives only if nothing more can be done and most importantly we do it through sheer love.Hang in there and sending you prayers🙏🏻

Love Runningman xx

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grievingmama
I also just posted about making the hard decision to say goodbye and all the hindsight guilt regarding a lack of a confirmed diagnosis (for my dog it was a suspected cancer after experiencing 9 months of other illness diagnosis). I understand your second guessing, I also understand seeing that "sudden glimmer of hope" right before it happened. They grey area is HARD but we all do the best we can, with what we have, in the moment of emergency. I had two senior cats, 18 yrs and 19yrs, and I lost both to kidney disease. I can tell you it is a horrible decline with no cure, just management. Some animals it is a slow onset, some it's rapid, all it kills. It sounds like your cat was in late stage, this doesn't sound like a simple UTI and if they wanted to run diagnostics over a period of days, no matter what the diagnosis ended up being, it was critical and you had a very senior pet to consider. I know myself it doesn't really ease the pain when a complete stranger says you did right by your pet, but I will tell you from my own senior cat experience, sooner than later it the right decision with kidney failure. 
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Ryan800
Grievingmama this was very helpful to read, thank you very much. It’s always difficult to think back on it because you just can’t know how your pet feels, only that you want to always do right by them. You’re right about the disease- it’s horrible, and I’m so sorry about both of your fur babies. Thank you for reaching out and lending a helpful hand, especially when you’re grieving as well. We’ll never forget them, and they’ll always be in our hearts.


Runningman66 thank you for sharing your experience. I totally understand what you mean when you say it felt like deceiving your pet when bringing him to the vet, but you’re right... looking back, she wasn’t herself anymore. She looked in pain, tired, unkempt and thin. I’m so sorry about your dog. You’re right, we do everything we do out of sheer love for them, and I just hope she knows that now and feels no more pain. God bless, and thank you for the prayers!
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Bigcatsdad
Ryan,

I'm so very sorry for the loss of your cat.
Almost 6 months ago I went through a very similar experience with my best bud, my big black cat Albert, he was 16. He was all normal and then within a week he was hardly eating, drinking, vomiting a lot and wanting to be in quiet dark places, just not himself and he was in pain. We took him to the vet and they found an inoperable mass in his abdomen. The vet  told us that frequently older pets would not survive major surgery and that given the location and size of this mass, surgery was not possible. We made the painful decision to end his pain and not to let him decline further. I was with him and had him in my lap and held him through it all, one of the hardest most heart breaking experiences I've ever gone through. I know the pain, guilt and sorrow you are feeling. The first week was almost unbearable, I could hardly eat or sleep and I could not stop crying. The second week the guilt and regret set in real bad, the"what if's" and "should I have's". The vet also told us that cats are really good at hiding and masking pain and health issues and often by the time they show symptoms it's too late. Your little one may have had major health issues for awhile and you never would have know. When she showed signs and issues it was probably too far gone to reverse. As hard, painful and heartbreaking as it is deep down inside we know it's right to end our furry loved ones suffering. She knows you loved her and gave her a good home and you were with her at the end. She is now pain free. The journey of grief can take us down such a dark void of sadness. It does slowly get a little better, week by week. Hang in there. You will get to a point where you can remember the good and happy times and memories of your little one and it will bring a smile instead of tears. There will always be a few tears, even after 6 months, but it does get easier to cope. The memory and spirit of our little ones will always be in our hearts where they leave their paw prints.
You are not alone in how you feel. This forum is really good, you are surrounded by others who have gone through or are going through the same heartbreaking experience and who understand what you are feeling.
My deepest condolences to you, and the others on this post who have lost a little one so dear to their hearts.
-Jeff
Bigcatsdad
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Ryan800
Jeff, thank you for sharing. It's comforting to know that it gets better. You're right- the "what ifs" and "should I haves" are weighing on me and can be very crippling, and I can certainly relate to your experience the first week. It's difficult to stop crying or function in my day to day. I'm so, so very sorry for your loss. Animals really do understand you in a unique way and become such close companions, and I wish they could understand more of what happens to them. Our cats were very loved, and we only did what we thought was best for them.
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Morriash
Hi Ryan,

I am sorry to hear of your loss. Losing our loved ones is one of the great tragedies of our lives.  I recently lost my senior cat (Patches), a beautiful sweet girl of 18.5.  She had CKD, pancreatitis, and diabetes with neuropathy. I made the decision to put her to sleep when she stopped eating/drinking and became increasingly lethargic. As it is with you, I go through the "what ifs" and guilt almost daily...and it's been 11 weeks. Some days it is easier to accept the loss and simply miss her. Other days I feel that I stole time from her and should have done more. I worry that she wouldn't understand I did it out of love.. this thought haunts me.

I wrote a letter to her and put it in her urn which I felt helped. Putting my feeling on paper was a very therapeutic process. This forum has also helped. Reading others stories helps you reflect on your choices. I also take time out of everyday to just grieve and feel the sadness and longing.

The symptoms you describe do sound like kidney disease. My patches went from 10lbs to 5.8lbs, stopped grooming herself, and would choose to sleep more than normal. Watching her turn into this thin, matted cat was so difficult for me but I kept trying to enrich her life and treat her. It wasn't until she stopped eating and drinking for the third time that I forced myself to make the decision. She looked so tired, like she needed a break. Prior to that she was her hungry, demanding self most days. Just like you, Patches also had a half hour before I put her down where she ate a couple bites on her own and walked around acting like her old self. This made me pause, but I didn't want her to suffer so I continued on with my decision. I always wonder if I should have given her a couple more days to try and rebound. But as another writer said, CKD is a losing battle. I know I would have lost her eventually. This fact helps me remember that I made that choice for her out of love and wanting to spare her suffering. I just hope she knows that.

Sending you strength, I hope my story highlighted the fact that you are not alone in this grief.

Warm regards,

Ash and Patches (2011-2020)
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Bigcatsdad
Yes, our little furry ones become such a fixture and important in our lives and we become so close and bond with them. We sometimes don't realize this until we have to say goodbye, then it's so heart breaking. We sometimes take it for granted that they will always be with us. Having to make the painful decision we do out of love and because we care about them so much. Even though it really hurts. Today is 6 months since I had to say goodbye to Albert. It has gotten a lot better but I still really miss him every day.
It all takes time and grieving is different for each person but it will slowly get better. Take it day by day, week by week.
-Jeff
Bigcatsdad
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Ryan800
Morriash thank you so much for sharing your story. I have also set an alarm on my phone to pray for her and talk to her daily, just so I can grieve and feel the loss and let her know that I love her. I love the idea of writing a letter. I did group cremation, so I don't think I'll be receiving her ashes back. I did this because I didn't think I could handle holding onto her ashes, but I did order a frame and memory box so I can hold pictures, her collar, and her paw imprint and fur that I asked the vet for. I now wonder if I should've asked for her ashes back (it might not be too late-- it's only been 4 days).

I'm so sorry for your loss as well. I can relate to everything you've said so far. You saw her behavior completely change and so quickly, so you really acted out of love. I know that if I really thought there was a chance to extend her life and maintain a good quality of life, I would have done anything, and I know you would have as well. Seeing her barely moving, falling into her water bowl without drinking and not touching her food broke my heart. Like I said above, the vet said she needed days of tests to even determine the root cause, and my heart was just tugging at me saying "do you think she'll last 2 or 3 days more? How many needles are they going to stick her with? Do you think this will fix her?" And I just knew that if she died on that table without me being there that I'd never forgive myself for putting her through that pain. I knew I'd be putting her through that more for my peace of mind than for her well-being, and that's what drove my decision. I also really relate to the pain of thinking "does she know how much I love her and does she know I did this so that she'd be free of her pain?" I've been reading a lot on all of this, and one idea that really struck me is that at the end of an animal's life, it's so easy for us to focus on that last moment and wondering if we failed them. It's so much harder to remember the times we woke up in the middle of the night to pet them and those times we did everything we could to give them good memories with us.

Creating this memory box and setting aside time to pray and think about her have been the only times over the past few days that I've felt a little hope that she knows how much I cared for her. I'm also coming to see that I'll never be the person I was before she passed and that this grief won't every simply disappear. My life will go on and my routine will continue, but I'll just carry this burden with me little by little and day by day as time goes on. This thought is actually very comforting- it means she'll always be in my heart, and at these times I'm almost grateful for feeling this loss as deeply as I do because I realize that's how much she will always mean to me.

Thank you again for sharing everything. This forum has been immensely helpful, and it's good to know I'm not alone. It's also great to see how much compassion and love everyone has for our furry friends. Thank you for your thoughts, and I wish you the best with your healing as well.
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