When is it time to put your cat down?
Original Question: Change in behaviour for a week now, hiding and not eating. Ready to put her down because she seems to be suffering. BUT symptoms seemed to be better today. Back to a normal and happy cat from last night to this afternoon but then she relapsed tonight. Not eating and seems lethargic, and is hiding. No diagnosis after many tests. Blood tests rule out kidney, thyroid, liver problems and no pancreatitis. Here stool is normal and no urine infection. X-Rays (3) are all normal except for an area of calcification around where the stomach and liver meet. She is not constipated. The only problem is resorptive lesion on the tooth but she's had this fixed before yet she didn't show symptoms that time. Wonder if I should put her down. Ultrasound and internal med consult is so expensive and I’m not sure if it will find some thing curable. What are the chances that the ultrasound would pick up something fixable? Vet gave me prednisolone. Not sure if that's just going to prop her up temporarily. Is it cruel not to put her down at this point? Thank you! I just love this cat so much. She's such a good cat and I want what's best for her but it’s so hard to let her go. I would appreciate any advice you have. I listen to the Clayton Greenway show on 1010. - Anonymous
Thanks for your question.
It sounds like you care for your cat very much! It is never easy when you are faced with a decision to continue with diagnostics and treatments or to euthanize your pet. It is a situation we try to help guide pet owners through daily, and it is always difficult. Obtaining a clear diagnosis can be very helpful in deciding how to proceed with your pet. Seeking out additional diagnostics (such as the ultrasound you mentioned), or referral to a specialist veterinarian may be very valuable. However, as you stated, there is always the possibility that it may not be a good prognosis. This is certainly something to be prepared for if you decide to pursue this route.
Often, pet owners must decide on how to proceed with a sick pet without having a clear diagnosis. This is often necessary when financial limitations prevent us from proceeding with more tests, when there are other complicating diseases, or perhaps it is an emergency. Without a diagnosis, deciding on how to proceed can be challenging. Your veterinarian will use their clinical judgement to help guide you through these situations and help you make the best decision for your pet.
Ultimately, the most important thing to remember is to ensure that your pet’s quality of life is maintained at a reasonable level. This is what veterinarians focus on when helping pet owners with end of life decision-making. At our practice, we often send clients home with a “quality of life” questionnaire that focuses on things like activity level, appetite, pain level, mobility and daily routine – and we use this as a tool to help clients decide when to put a cat down. Ultimately, these decisions are personal and different for every pet and their family. I hope this gives you a bit of insight.
Wishing you all the best,
Dr. Kim Hester
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