What Else Can I Do to Improve the Quality of Life for My Ill Cat?

I have an 11 year old male cat who has some health problems. First of all his back legs do not support him very well and secondly and more importantly he has a cancerous growth in his ear. We have been to the vet for these ailments and he is being treated, however, I am concerned about his overall quality of life.

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He seems utterly miserable all the time. He still eats and does the "two pps" OK. I love him to bits and can't stand to see him like this, but I can't stand the thought of euthanizing him. So, I am appealing for ideas and input from anybody who has been in a similar situation. The picture is of him in better days.

By Sharron from A Small Country Town, SA

March 14, 20110 found this helpful

It has been over 15 years since we had Freckles (cocker spaniel) put to sleep, but I still get teary-eyed if I think about him too much. He had minor surgery early November, we took him for a follow up a week or two later (around Thanksgiving), and we pointed out a new bump on the side of his muzzle. It wasn't there when he had the surgery. The vet looked at it, and his expression immediately changed. He told us it was probably a very aggressive form of cancer. Cocker spaniels, and particularly ones with gum coloration like Freckles, were more susceptible to it. He took a sample for a biopsy, but told us he probably wouldn't last a month.

We decided to keep him for as long as he felt comfortable. A month later, Christmas night, I took Freckles out to do his business, and he sounded like he had a runny nose. We went back in, I gave him some water, and I noticed a little blood in the bowl. His tumor was hemorrhaging. We called the vet's office, and he happened to be there, checking on some animals. So we took Freckles in and had it done. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I got him in second grade, and he made it with me until I was married (15 years). I was an only child, so I felt like he was more of a sibling than a pet. He was even happy and wagging his tail right before we left, so I don't think he was in any discomfort, but if we had held on any longer, I'm afraid he would have felt pain. And as hard as it was to lose my good, faithful friend, I didn't want him to suffer.

Only you and your cat know. You have to decide, and do it for him when you think he's ready, he cannot go and do it himself. I'm not saying any of this to make you feel bad. I just wanted to share my experience with this. I have a 14 year old cat (plus two others). You can tell he's getting older, but everything is fine. If something similar happens to Oswald, we'll try to keep him comfortable and happy as long as we can, but we won't have him suffer for our benefit.

I know it's so hard. Every Christmas is a reminder. I have an ornament, it's a picture frame, and it says "Best Dog in the World." I cry a little every year when I hang it on the tree, and again when I put it away. I suspect it'll be the same with old Oz. But, as the years pass, I manage to remember more of the good times than that sad last month.

I hope I didn't make this any harder for you. Enjoy the time you have with your kitty, he's very pretty (handsome!). Please let me know how it goes. I'll be thinking about you.

Now I have to go blow my nose and wash away the tears.

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March 14, 20110 found this helpful

Thank you Mrs Story, your experience brought tears to my eyes as well. They are family and it is like seeing a child suffer. I will keep medicating him as the vet said and see how he goes for now. Thanks once again.

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March 15, 20110 found this helpful

My dog had cancer last year in her nose and like mrs. story she was wagging her tail and happy right before we put her down. But I didn't feel bad about it. I felt it was her last gift from me. The vet that put her down sent me something in a card a couple days later. Although I didn't feel guilt or sadness about the act of putting her down, what she sent made me feel better and let me know what I did was right. I'll share it with you; it might make things clearer for you:

A Dog's (Cat's) Prayer

Treat me kindly, my beloved friend, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for your kindness than mine. Speak to me often, for your voice is the world's sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when your footstep falls upon my waiting ear. Keep my pan filled with fresh water and food, for I cannot tell you when I am thirsty or hungry. And, my friend, when I am very old and no longer enjoy good heath, do not make any heroic effort to keep me going. I am not having any fun. Please see that my trusting life is taken gently. I shall leave this Earth knowing that my fate was always safest in your hands.

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March 15, 20110 found this helpful

As a vet friend of mine told me... when they are having more bad days then good, then it is time. It is the final act of love that you can do for your beloved pet. I have tears in my eyes writing this because I have also been in your position, albeit many years ago. Blessing to you~

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March 15, 20110 found this helpful

Sharron my thoughts are with you. We have all had a beloved pet pass over the bridge and it never gets easier. I have been lucky in having a very compassionate vet who gave me these 3 guidelines for assessing the quality of life of my pet:

1. Eating on their own

2. Eliminating on their own in an appropriate place & manor

3. Still seeking your attention

As long as they are still doing 2 of these 3 things then your pet quality of life is still pretty good.

I used these for my 18-year-old Manx, Ms Katie last year. I was giving her subcutaneous fluids every morning and pain meds because of a tumor in her tongue. She still came to sit & sleep with me but she could no longer eat and she was not eliminating where and when she should. It was hard but it was the best choice for her.

I found this quote from "Separate Lifetimes" by Irving Townsend to help a lot. I am 3 cats old.

"Another cat? Perhaps. For love there is also a season; its seeds must be resown. But a family cat is not replaceable like a wornout coat or a set of tires. Each new kitten becomes its own cat, and none is repeated. I am four cats old, measuring out my life in friends that have succeeded but not replaced one another."

I've attached a picture Of Ms Katie Bug in her prime. :-)

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March 15, 20110 found this helpful

I have three cats of my own. Previously had 7. I know what a painful decision this will be. But you have to think of him and not you. I never wanted mine to suffer. When I knew the prognoses was fatal, I made that hard decision. But in my heart I also knew it was for the best. Before I took them I made that last day heaven on earth. I loved, played and did all things i could to pamper them. The day was theirs and mine. Memories will always be ours. I also have pictures of my babies all over the house and on face book. They truly are an extension of our family. :)

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March 15, 20110 found this helpful

Hello,

I have worked for a Veterinarian for over 27 years. Your story is one I have heard many, many times. I know that our Veterinarian's would say that it is a hard decision to make but sometimes letting your fur baby have peace is the final act of love & kindness you can offer. Much love & Hugs

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March 15, 20110 found this helpful

If your cat is eating and eliminating OK, his quality of life may not be as bad as you think. When you say he seems miserable, what exactly do you mean? I have nursed sick and old cats in the past and I know how heartbreaking it can be. Just a couple of tips for helping him feel better:

Food: If it is OK with your vet, try giving him special tasty food at least once a day. Try some of the tiny premium cans of cat food or even canned tuna or meat baby food.

Grooming; Set a time at least once a day to go over him with a brush that he likes. Pay special attention to the parts of his body that he enjoys having brushed. Use a soft brush like a baby's hair brush.

Play: Lots of times even old or sick cats will enjoy playing with the owner. Try dangling a string in front of him to which a small toy is attached. You can do this so he only uses his front paws and will be in no danger of falling over. Be sure he is on the floor or you are supporting him on a chair or bed so he does not fall off and injure himself.

I hope this helps some.

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March 15, 20110 found this helpful

Thank you so much everyone for your input. Tiny seems a little better at the moment - he does seek me out and we have cuddles and he eats ok. There is a lot of head shaking and I have ear drops from the vet for him. I'm not quite ready to let go yet but will certainly closely watch him to see when he ready

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March 15, 20110 found this helpful

How wonderful that you have good memories. I have been through this 3 times with my very much loved cats and it is never easy. I always kept them as long as I felt they were having good days but never to the point they were in pain. All 3 were walking around and alert when the time came but it had to be done. These all happened many years apart but I remember their good days and their bad days just like it was yesterday. Love your kittie and let them go when the time comes, you will know when that is.

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March 15, 20110 found this helpful

This beautiful boy has lived a perfect live with you and at his age his legs would not support him as well as they used to but talk to your veterinarian about arthritis tablets. This may help. Good luck.

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March 16, 20110 found this helpful

I had a lovely little kitty who was advancing in years, but was still my lap kitty and seemed ok, until I noticed that she was drooling and her mouth had a bad smell. Thinking that it was just teeth that needed removing I took her into the vet and they found a tumor on the roof of her mouth.

The doctor said that they could treat the cancer and she might live a few to several more months, but she just was miserable and I thought back on the almost 15 years of pleasure she had given me then I decided to let her go and have her euthanized.

Afterwards, when they were asking if I wanted to take her home to bury her or have them deal with, the doctor mentioned that they might do an autopsy on her to study her tumor and maybe help other animals with similar problems.

No one can tell you what you "must" do for your boy. You know him best and I know you will do what is best for him. Sometimes that means making a hard decision, which is not always the one people assume it is in euthanasia, sometimes the hard decision is choosing to continue treatment because your boy is not ready to go.

I wish you a clear idea of what you want and need to do.

Jo

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March 16, 20110 found this helpful

It's never easy to let a beloved pet go, but there comes a time when you have to put their comfort above your needs to have them still around. Over the years some of my cats have died in their sleep, a couple just went away and never returned, and three had to be put to sleep. These pets rely on your kindness and love. You will know when it is time. Also, animals are very good at hiding pain. In the wild a weak, sick animal is an easy prey. Many people are thinking of you, saying a little prayer in this sad time. God bless.

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March 16, 20110 found this helpful

Hi Sharon.I know exactly how you feel. I just put my first pet "down". It was so hard.He was 17 and had lost all use of bodily functions. I had to bathe him every day,but he was so determined to not give in. He was still eating really well,but he got to where he could no longer get up and I knew it was time. I had done all that I could do.

Putting him down was the worst thing that I have ever done in my life. I held him in my arms as he passed away.

I'm sure that I will have to go through this again, but right now I feel so guilty, even though I know that it had to be done. Last year, my Jack Man became lame in his back legs. He was 19 and was with me since birth. My first pet and my heart. I waited too long, even though I knew he was in pain,I just couldn't bear losing him. He died in bed with me. I still feel guilty about him. Any thing you decide, you will feel the same, though it is the kindest thing that you can do for them. My prayers are with you and your loved one. Kathy

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March 16, 20110 found this helpful

I took my "man" to the vet last night they are keeping him for observation and to see what else they can do for him thank you so much for all the posts they are all very special to me and it is comforting to know that there are kind people who understand the dilemma of making a decision on behalf of pets (companions/loved ones) who are so reliant on us

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March 19, 20110 found this helpful

Hi Sharron,

You and your beautiful boy have been in my thoughts and prayers all week. I'm glad to know you took him back to the vet and hope the prognosis is good.

My precious 17 year-and-nine-month-old had been in declining health since we lost his gorgeous twin (litter mate) sister only two months ago (very peacefully, in her sleep). I prayed and prayed that he would not suffer, and that I would have the strength and courage to make whatever decision would be best for him. My prayers were answered when he also died peacefully in my arms last Monday afternoon - the decision was made for me.

I pray for you, too, that you have as much joyful time with Tiny as possible, and you have the strength and courage to get through this difficult time ahead.

Please keep us informed how you both are doing.

Warm wishes and blessings

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March 20, 20110 found this helpful

I rang the vet today to see how Tiny was going and he said he was "comfortable", I get the impression that everything is going to be ok, the vet said to ring him again tomorrow and thanked me for my patience - he is such a nice man - he loves animals and has been known to keep animals for up to a month is he feels they need the care. His prices are maintained at at the lowest rates and he and his partner operate out of his house here in my country town. I feel truly blessed by all the kindness and best wishes and prayers from everyone here thank you kindly and God bless and I empathize with those of you who have been or are going through the loss of your furry or feathered friend and family member.

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March 26, 20110 found this helpful

It sounds like you have a very nice vet -- that helps a lot. I'm glad to hear that Tiny is comfortable. Please keep us posted!

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