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To allow my cat to die of old age

(97 Posts)
slimyak Wed 03-Apr-13 15:19:10

Took 18 year old cat to vet yesterday. He's not fairing well, coat a bit shabby, losing some weight (for the first time in 17.5 years) not really himself, definitely a bit of cat altzhimers in there.
Wanted to get him checked out just to make sure that if he's fading out it's without pain or distress, and vet made me feel a bit shit cause I didn't want to fork out £450+ on tests for a number of things I wouldn't put him through the treatment for if they came back positive.
Am I a cow for thinking he's allowed to die of old age and doesn't need to spend the next few months constantly at the vets having injections and tablets pushed down his throat? I just don't see the benefit for him. He's had a great life and he can live what's left of it watching the world go by from the back of the sofa or maybe in the garden if he can be arsed.

I'm looking for palliative care rather than a cure - he's 18 for gods sake! But I still feel like a shit cause I haven't blown most of the mortgage on getting his stomach scanned and a list of blood tests as long as my arm.

PipkinsPal Wed 03-Apr-13 15:52:16

I had an old cat of nearly 17 and I knew he wasn't right. He would sit with is head on the side, had lost weight, had awful diarrhoea at times and was getting frail. At that age I couldn't put him through tests and having to force tablets down his throat. It wouldn't be fair. He and I knew his time had come and we went to the vets and he passed away peacefully. He is now buried by the hedge he used to sit under. He was a lovely, gentle and obedient cat and I miss him. Hope you do the best for you and your puss. Hugs.

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 03-Apr-13 16:00:38

Damned if we do damned if we don't. For every owner that complains when we do offer tests we would have another who complained if we don't offer it. We have know way of knowing what you would like to do until we tell you the options. Many of the old cat diseases we find on the blood tests can be easily treated and improve the cats quality of life.
We give you the options it is up to you whether you take them up or not. I agree there are some vets out there who struggle when people don't want to investigate to the 'nth' degree, but most are of us are of the if it doesn't change the treatment then we would advise against it group. Even palliative care require a small amount of investigation to deem the most appropriate treatment.
If you work out my hourly rate I earn less than the minimum wage and I'm a partner, so yes I'm rolling in money. The charges are less than comparable tests etc. in the human sector.

MusicalEndorphins Wed 03-Apr-13 16:01:58

If you google cat palliative care, there are some suggestions.

This one offers practical solutions

Lovethesea Wed 03-Apr-13 16:07:03

YANBU. Quality of life is much more important for your cat than quantity. I took in a stray years ago, had a lovely year or so with the most affectionate boy ever and then found he was very ill and wouldn't recover. Was offered treatment but the vet agreed it wouldn't cure anything and might leave him in pain we couldn't see. He stopped eating and looked depressed. I had him PTS in my arms then sobbed and sobbed. But it was the right choice and I don't regret it.

WestieMamma Wed 03-Apr-13 16:09:21

Nope, YANBU.

When our cat got old we did the same. Kept an eye on him, loved him and when the vet said he was now in pain (the cat not the vet) we let him go.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Wed 03-Apr-13 16:23:29

My cat was 17yo (approx, she was a rescue) and she had to have a blood test after she refused to eat for a few days.
She did lose weight over her last couple of years. The vet said her test showed increased thyroid but she hadm't had treatment for it.

You have to weigh up the benefits of not treating and the invasiveness of the tests.
And just who is it really for ?The owner or the animal.

dopeysheep Wed 03-Apr-13 16:23:42

I don't think it was the offering of tests lonecat, but the OP said the vet made her feel 'a bit shit' for not taking them. Maybe it was the way it was done?

It is easy to think vets do sometimes take the piss a bit tho - my dog needed sn eye op and I was quoted £90. When I came to collect him they charged me £240 for 'aftercare'.

goingupinfumes Wed 03-Apr-13 16:38:01

YANBU we are leaving our oldest dog to get old, we have been offered all sorts of treatments operations etc - he has a cancer (low grade) tumour on his leg and it's wrapped around his tendons, so do we get it chopped out at great expense and stress to the poor boy with no guarantee he will be able to walk afterwards? or leave him happy walking playing, eating drinking having a lovely life with a lump on his leg!!

Hes not in pain and as soon as he is we would look at our options again, I think your are being lovely to your cat!

GrendelsMum Wed 03-Apr-13 16:41:05

Our excellent vet took the opposite approach - basically sat DH down, said 'look, your cat's elderly and has been in poor health for a while - yes, we could do various tests and treatments, but is that the best thing for her?' I really think it was the right thing.

LisaMed Wed 03-Apr-13 16:53:07


But I would say that as I am doing the same with 19 year old evil cat.

The vet said that his view was that she could have six months of comfortable life just being left alone or perhaps eighteen months with all the test and procedures and be very unhappy. So far she has outlasted all estimates of life expectancy, and is still enjoying herself. She sleeps in patches of sun, kips on radiators, sheds on piles of clean washing, steals food from my father's plate and sits across my knitting. When she can no longer enjoy those then I will make the call.

Mind you, evil cat declared war on vets very early on and now when they visit (she is too frail to go to them) a neighbour holds her down with welding gloves and the vet usually gets a war wound. Last time the vet refused to trim her claws as she yowled, swore, hissed, spat and threatened all the way through the brief examination. He said he thought she would find it too traumatic. All the vets who have seen her have agreed that giving her tablets is just not possible. It would be cruel to put her through tests and treatments.

freddiefrog Wed 03-Apr-13 17:03:26


We've just been through it with our 16 year old cat. We had her put to sleep 2 weeks ago in the end as she was struggling.

About a year ago cat went blind and the vet thought she may have a brain tumour and wanted to to an MRI scan. We refused as at that age we wouldn't have put her through the treatment. We agreed to some non-invasive tests to rule out anything easy and treatable, but drew the line at having her sedated

She had a happy year of mooching around and dozing on cushions, but the day she didn't get up to nick the dog's food was the day we knew she'd had enough.

The vet was horrible about it, but I feel we did the best thing for her and it sounds like you are too

theDudesmummy Wed 03-Apr-13 17:07:39

I fully agree. My cat is 17 and seems OK but looking rather tatty and thin. She has insurance, so any tests or treatment would be covered but I feel the same as the OP, she is not in any distress or pain, and going to the vet is a complete nightmare for her (always been a very nervous cat), so i am just letting her potter on. If she seemed distressed or ill I would rethink of course.

ExcuseTypos Wed 03-Apr-13 17:16:32

YANBU. Find another vet!

Our vet said when our cat was in the same situation " I could carry out several tests which will cost you hundreds, but I don't they are necessary, your cat is very old and IMO it's not in her interests to carry out any further treatment"

Honestly ask around and find a vet who isn't going to try to fleece you.

ExcuseTypos Wed 03-Apr-13 17:16:57

Sorry about your lovely cat too.

slimyak Wed 03-Apr-13 17:17:13

Thanks to all for not making me feel like a heartless bitch. Lisa, I'm liking Evil cat. My old Goose has a simliar attitude and has often been refered to as an angry badger in the hands of someone who wants to do something unpleasent to him. In fact the temp taking yesterday brought on a fight, a growl and a lot of wriggling, so there's still life in the old mog yet.

Lonecat, please don't take it as a personal attack against Vets. We have always had good vet care for our animals and although rarely seeing the same Vet more than a couple of times (not sickley animals as apposed to quick staff turnover) this particular individual just made me feel really bad. It was the fact that my option of if he's not in pain lets leave him be at his grand old age, didn't seem to be an agreed option. He's not showing signs of pain and distress and I think that's a viable approach, I believe that other vets we have seen previously with our other 2 elderly cats would have agreed.

Right I'm off to open the tuna and plump a cushion.

kinkyfuckery Wed 03-Apr-13 17:20:10

If the vet doesn't suspect he is in any pain, I like your way.

Hopefully the old chap still has a happy wee while ahead of him yet.

Booboostoo Wed 03-Apr-13 17:25:36

I think a bit YABU because you don't have a diagnosis. For example hyperthyrodism can cause the symptoms you mention (not the dementia though) and is easily controlled with a tablet. My cat has been on Felimazole for 6 years and has no problems either with the tablets or the blood tests so it really depends. I think that without the diagnosis you are not making an informed decision. You are both guessing that it's an old age problem and guessing that the treatment is not worth it.

If your cat gets very stressed at the vets, or would be terribly upset by a blood test then YANBU, but otherwise get a diagnosis as it might be something quite simple.

Booboostoo Wed 03-Apr-13 17:26:49

Just to add, I don't think you are a heartless bitch in the least. You sound like a very caring and loving owner. We all do the best we can for our pets and these decisions at the end of life are never easy ones.

Binkyridesagain Wed 03-Apr-13 17:37:15

I made a similar decision for my dog, he had prostate problems, we believe it was cancer, he was 12 years old. The vet after trying various medications that didn't work wanted to sedate the dog and investigate, at 12 years of age and knowing what the potential diagnosis was, we decided not to put the dog through a procedure that at the end of the day would only give us a diagnosis. No matter what the outcome he was untreatable, the vet didn't agree with our decision, but respected it.

He lived a very pampered life with us for another month before we made the heartbreaking decision to have him PTS, he was becoming uncomfortable and distressed (he was doubly incontinent at this stage) the last thing we could give him was a dignified death.

You are not a bitch, you are doing the best thing for your pet and I am sure you will continue to do so.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Wed 03-Apr-13 17:48:20

Our 15 year old cat has just be diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, so far we are trying to control with diet, but she's having blood tests this week to see if that is working, and also to see if she's diabetic - hyperthyroidism apparently masks diabetes so when that gets treated it can show up. In the last 3 months we will have spend £250 in blood tests and consultations.

The money worries me TBH, but we will carry on as long as she is happy.

WhoWhatWhereWhen Wed 03-Apr-13 17:50:37

When my time is up, I hope I get treated with as much kindness and dignity as you are showing your cat.


LisaMed Wed 03-Apr-13 17:50:52

slimyak you sound like someone who really cares about the cat, not just your own feelings. Cats can be very good at getting the best out of life. Sometimes I think it is best to let them get on with it.

My vet's practice are lovely and they all know about evil cat. Last time she visited the surgery three of them together tried to get a urine sample and failed. She only takes the piss, she will never willingly part with it. She is almost certainly blind but apart from slowing her down a bit she doesn't seem too bothered. She always used to run into doors anyway. Now she slows down and avoids them. The vet said that the tests are likely to be extremely traumatic for her and given that she fights so much she would have to be sedated, which she may not survive. At 19 I just let her get on with it. If I thought the tests would help or that she was suffering I would act, of course. Until then, however, I just keep grumbling about thieving, shedding, stealing, scratching and foul smells.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Wed 03-Apr-13 17:51:30

BTW old,mtaty and losing wieght depsiteveating a lot were her symptoms

Areyoumadorisitme Wed 03-Apr-13 18:09:48

YANBU at all OP, you sound caring and sensible. We have two 12/13yo cats and when the time comes, hopefully not for a few years, would plan to do the same.

We were once offered an MRI of one of the cats heads to see if his problem was neurological at a cost of £1,000 - even the vet said it probably wasn't worth it! (It turned out not to be neurological and he is now absolutely fine.) When I had a private MRI on my knee it only cost £400 as a comparison....

JamieandtheMagicTorch Wed 03-Apr-13 18:10:43

OP what did the vert want to test for?

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