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Monday, May 27, 2013

Move A Cat Or Euthanize Her?

Apparently several people have concerns about euthanizing their pets.  The following comes from Aimee....

I know you have written on this before, but that is exactly why I am reaching out to you. I have an 18 yo cat, with excessive hyperthyroidism, high bp, tachy, and bad teeth. She is about 5 lbs and has been holding at that for a year, but is very thin and arthritic. She is on 15 mgs of felimazole per day. She is also deaf. And hypervocalizes and cries every night, every two hours, both for reassurance of where I am and for food. She doesn't like to sleep with me, but enjoys being pet. She still grooms some, and sharpens her nails at times. When she does hypervocalize at night, she is almost always at the front door, although she has never been an outdoor cat (hmmm...). She stills jumps on the sofa and bed, but is generally very anxious. Hates being pilled and will frantically run from me. She also gets disoriented at times.

I also have two younger cats, both females and 2 yo and rescued together. The bigger of the two definitely is the alpha, and more and more bosses, bumps, harasses the older one.

I now have to move in the next two weeks to a smaller condo (we are 1500 sf loft now), and I, like your other readers, wonder if it's not more humane to let her go. I have a wonderful vet, who comes to the house, and has been following her for years. She agrees we are close, but every time the vet comes over, it's like Zuzu pulls another rabbit out of her hat and has another life. And we say "not yet..."

Now I am not so sure. We are both suffering, but I just don't know. I have had many pets before when I knew and had no choice due to heart or kidney failure, but this is really old age. And I worry that the stress of moving will be too much. Any advice you have is so welcomed.

As I've mentioned in similar previous discussions, I think euthanasia should be a last resort.  It's as permanent choice, so as soon as that injectino is given there is no turning back.  It's often necessary but should never be entered into lightly.

There is a somewhat simple thing that lets me determine when it is time to euthanize a pet.  It all comes down to quality of life.  If they have more "good" days than "bad", I usually recommend continuing to press on.  But when the bad days outnumber the good it is time to look at letting go.  The reason for more bad days can be many and varied, such as an inability to afford treatment, side effects of medication, or the disease/injury being untreatable due to the extent or lack of efficacy of medication.  I always evaluate these cases in the light of how their quality of life seems.  And that's something that only the owner can truly answer, as the vet generally sees the pet outside of their normal environment and only for a short period of time.  In situations like this I rely heavily on what the owner tells me, supported by my own observations.

In Aimee's case I would lean towards moving the cat and continuing treatment as it sounds like she is stable at the moment.  I might re-evaluate her to see if all of her organs are doing well (simple blood testing) as well as talk to the vet about pain medications or supplements to help with the arthritis.  There may be some tweaks that can be done to help her condition, including putting her on Hill's Y/D, something many vets are now doing as a treatment for hyperthyroidism.  Your vet will know the situation better than I and can advise better.

I would look at it in the following way.  If you were not moving and planned on staying in the same place, would you be looking at euthanizing her?  If so, that is still a reasonable consideration.  However, if you wouldn't and are only thinking about it because of the move, I would probably advise against it. In all likelihood she can make the transition even at her age.

I hope this turns out okay for you, Aimee.  Again, talk to your own vet.