Cat Euthanasia is often the hardest, yet, kindest, decision we can make. Cats age quicker than humans, but are living longer lives than they used to.
There is something essentially human in nurturing another species and many studies demonstrate how pet-keeping makes us better people. However, unless you are a mahout with your lifetime elephant partner or you keep a cockatoo, then your pet is not going to live as long as you.
Dr Kim has been in Chatswood for 16 years which is about one cat’s lifetime. She is now seeing the end of life crisis for many of your long-term feline friends. So how do you know when enough is enough for your feline friend? How do you deal with the decisions that have to be made? What are your options?
Cats age more quickly than humans, but they are living longer. The average cat is only 13 years on this earth which would be the human equivalent of about 70.
Every owner-cat combination is unique, and each relationship needs to be approached differently. We know Dr Kim’s clients love their cats – as friends, confidants, bridges (between and across other relationships) and always just for ‘being’. Owners spend a long time learning a cat’s ways (and they are very good at training us!). Eventually however, there comes a time to accept that time with a feline friend is finite and has come to its conclusion. Regardless of our beliefs eventually death comes. And then grief. How you approach this for your furry friend will either enrich your shared experiences or deprive you of your memories of your four legged friend. Making decisions are never easy and sometimes we’re tempted to put our needs before those of our furry companion.
Dr Kim sees her role as speaking for your cat’s dignity and peace. It is all about comfort and grace. Few cats die quietly at home. Their hearts are stronger than ours and their terminal health issues (kidney failure, cancer, malabsorption) mean that death comes slowly, after prolonged wasting. Most cancer patients die of starvation, as the cancer hijacks the body’s metabolism and feeds itself first. Unfair.
We do not know whether cats have a concept of their own death and they do live very much in the moment. If you are aware that their moments are not going to increase in quality, then we have to acknowledge our pain as fear of loss, but their pain as being ‘in the now’. How will you know? Enough is when your cat stops eating (a sign of pain or nausea is not just being finicky as we used to think), or stops drinking (their metabolism crashes then). They might be telling you it is all too hard by not getting out of bed or greeting you. You will know.
What happens then is between you, your cat and Dr Kim. Euthanasia can give you an opportunity to be with your beloved cat at a time and place that works for you both. Afterwards, there is sadness, but also relief – your feline friend is safe from suffering. We all feel that.
Commemoration of your feline friend can come in many forms: from simple burial, home burial or cremation with the ashes returned for scattering or preserved in urns and wooden boxes. Some people like the taxidermy option (in the Dickens Victoriana tradition). Talk about it within the family – it is important for lots of reasons, none the least being the importance of dealing with the grieving process. Some adult emotional crises stem back to childhood when pet loss that was unresolved. Pet grief counsellors include: Jansen Newman Community Clinics (02) 9436 3055 www.jni.edu.au and David Foote (veterinarian and counsellor) Phone: 0425 281 424 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
And remember to remember the happy parts of the relationship. Memories are perhaps fragments of spirit left to comfort us. For truly, only time can give you an old friend.
So let me share this: Happy 21st Birthday to Peppa Kolarik (which makes her 100 human years old!) who Dr Kim has looked after from kitten hood. A long story, worth the telling another time!