Saying Good-Bye

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There may come a time in a cat owner's life when there is a need for great love and perhaps even greater courage. When injury, illness or old age makes a cat's life too painful to continue, the option of euthanasia must be considered in order to ease the cat's journey over the rainbow bridge.

All its life, you have made the choices regarding your cat's welfare. Now it may become necessary for you to decide if it is time to terminate its life.

Webster's Dictionary defines "euthanasia" as the act or method of causing death painlessly so as to end suffering.

For most of us, our cats are treasured members of our family. They are our wonderful friends. Our cats are loved, and valued and we share a deep emotional bond with them.

This gentle love we feel for our cat can make the decision to "let go" even more agonizing.

We don't want our cat to suffer needlessly. But neither do we want to end their life prematurely. How can we know if the time is right? Such a decision is always difficult and involves evaluating both the facts and our feelings.

God made the cat's lifespan shorter than ours so that we could
have the privilege of sharing our lives with more than one cat during our lifetime.

How Will I know When to Consider Euthanasia?

While many of these facts of your cat's physical condition are easy to understand intellectually, often the answer is hard to bear emotionally. Your vet cannot make this decision for you, so it is important you understand the details of your cat's medical condition. While you will need to evaluate your own feelings regarding euthanasia, you must allow your cat's medical condition to be the guide in your decision.

It is time to consider euthanasia:

  • If your cat no longer can do the things he once enjoyed.
  • If your cat can no longer independently deal with basic functions such as eating, using the litter box, moving about.
  • If your cat cannot respond to you .
  • If there is now more pain than pleasure in your cat's life.
  • If your cat is terminally ill or injured.
  • If the financial costs of long term medical care is too great a burden for you and your family.
  • If the emotional costs of long term care are too great to bear.
  • If the pain your cat must endure for the remainder of its life is too great.
  • If your cat cannot survive much longer in its current condition.

Questions to ask your veterinarian:

There are a number of fact-oriented questions to ask your veterinarian in helping you make this decision.

  • Are there potential treatment options for prolonging your cat's life?
  • Are there options to manage your cat's pain if you choose not to euthanize?
  • Will the pain management treatment affect the quality of your pet's life?
  • What are the possible positive and negative consequences of these treatments?
  • What are the costs of pain-management treatments or potentially life-prolonging treatments?

How do I discuss this with my family?

Your family will probably already be aware of your cat's medical problems, so discuss the options openly. Encourage everyone to express their thoughts and feelings. Children often have a special bond with their pets, so don't exclude them from the decision-making process. If you try to protect them by sheltering them, it may in fact complicate the grieving process for them.

Having the courage to help your cat cross the rainbow bridge
is the final gift you can offer your beloved pet and friend

Is Euthanasia painless?

Euthanasia is accomplished by injecting a large overdose of a very powerful anesthetic. Your cat slips into a quiet, irreversible deep unconsciousness. Death comes quickly and painlessly.

Should I be present during Euthanasia?

This can be a heart-wrenching choice. Some people find comfort in feeling they are there to help and support their cat in its final moments. They gain a sense of closure. Others may find being present when their pet passes over will be too overwhelming. Do what is the best thing for you personally.


The sense of loss after the death of a pet can be as profound as the loss of a human family member. This can be further complicated by feelings of guilt. Did I let go too early? Did I wait too long? Often there are feelings of anger. If you feel overwhelmed by a sense of guilt, sadness and loss, there are online grief counseling websites to help you deal with the loss of a pet. Understand that grieving is a process. It takes time. There is no right or wrong way to grieve - each person grieves in their own way. Use the knowledge that your cat's time on earth is shorter than your own to appreciate and experience the uniqueness of the relationship you have with it. When the day comes to make the decision to euthanize your pet, be gentle not only with him or her but with yourself as well. Do things that you find comforting.

"A faithful friend is the medicine of life"

Should I tell my cat's breeder?

Caring and responsible breeders keep detailed records on all the cats they produce and this includes medical histories and life-spans, so please let the breeder of your cat know what is happening. Your breeder loved the kitten too and will want to share with your and help you through your grief. has published two poems that we hope will comfort you if you have lost one of your feline friends.

  • Crossing The Rainbow Bridge
    This wonderful poem is a different version of the popular concept of our departed pets waiting for us on the other side of the rainbow.
    March 2001
  • The Rainbow Bridge
    A wonderful story that can give comfort when a pet passes over.
    July 2001

There are also several excellent websites to help you deal with the loss of your cat. We have listed some of the best in our Article Index under Loss of a Pet

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