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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.

JamieandtheMagicTorch Wed 03-Apr-13 18:11:00

Vet , not vert

Gruntfuttocks Wed 03-Apr-13 18:18:45

I think the existence of pet insurance might encourage people to go for more tests and treatments than are sensible for their pets, just because they don't have to pay. My vet tried to persuade me to book an endoscopy and referral to a specialist centre for my (young) cat that had diarrhoea. I declined the lot and asked for some simple symptomatic treatment. A week of antibiotics and hey-presto, all better. In the mean time, the cat had passed his campylobacter infection on to me via a nasty bite, but that's another story.....

countrykitten Wed 03-Apr-13 18:22:21

I agree with Lonecat who I assume is a vet.

I have been through this quite a few times with elderly cats (the last two were 18 and 21!). There does come a point where it is best to say that palliative care is the only way forward but there are equally things which can be treated really easily. One of my cats became very ill with renal failure and looked to be at death's door but with simple medication every day he lived on for a few more happy years.

It's ultimately up to you but it would be a shame if your mog is getting ill through something not too serious and you could treat it. Surely you should at least get a blood test? That is the minimum that I would do in your place but I do think that you are right to think that very invasive tests and procedures may not be appropriate.

Just one thing I would say though is that having your cat put to sleep when you know it's time is the kindest thing we can do for a pet. Please don't leave a very sick animal to die 'naturally' in some mistaken belief that it is kinder. A friend of mine did this and she is still distraught through what she now sees as her failure to do the right thing for her poor cat who battled and fitted for a long time before eventually dying. sad

But hopefully this is a long way off for you and your mog. Best of luck.

Viviennemary Wed 03-Apr-13 18:29:30

My cat died not long ago aged 16. My vet was really sympathetic. Sorry you had such an experience. If your cat is eating and getting around OK and isn't in pain then just let things go on as they are. My cat wasn't. sad

wintertimeisfun Wed 03-Apr-13 18:38:08

i totally agree with sparkle. alot of vets try to get you to spend copious amounts of cash on some things i don't think necessary. my personal take on it is that when it is my cats 'time' then so be it. i love her dearly but she is a cat, not my child and i have more important things to spend hundreds on. she will never be in pain and if she needs an op then she will have one ie did recently with teeth extraction but keeping her alive with daily medication spending hundreds indefinately i personally don't agree with.

countrykitten Wed 03-Apr-13 18:42:30

I think you are being unreasonable about vets here - on what grounds can you speak about 'a lot of vets'?

In my experience of a lifetime of many animals and many vets in different areas they are, in general, very caring and understanding and have the animal's welfare at heart.

wintertimeisfun Wed 03-Apr-13 18:46:46

then i must have been unlucky. until i moved to a fab' new vets all my previous experiences were tbh pretty bloody awful. i rescued a cat, took it directly to the vets to get it checked firstly for a chip, then an mot thorough check. i explained really clearly that it was a genuine rescue and the story behind it including the business details of the company i had rescued it from (builders yard). the bitch of a nurse was fucking awful and treated me as if i had stolen the bugger, it had no chip. still angry. all subsequent visits were awful. many friends local to where i live with pets all seem to complain about three various vets although the one we are all at now are bloody lovely. obviously not all vets overcharge but they remind me of garages, they can say all sorts needs doing, who are we to know any better. my sister in law is married to a vet, some of the things he said were awful, i never liked the bugger and his comments made him more dislikeable

SmiteYouWithThunderbolts Wed 03-Apr-13 18:54:21

YABU for having a nn that I keep reading as Slimy Yak.

YANBU to not want to subject your beloved old gent of a mog to test that will cause undue distress. Let him go on with dignity, then reassess as and if the time comes that you think he is suffering at all.

thegreylady Wed 03-Apr-13 18:58:17

YANBU I am dreading this with my two who are 15 now.At the moment they are both well and happy although girlcat has developed an unnatural fondness for an orange balloon!The first one stayed inflated from Christmas Eve until March 5th when it began to deflate so we replaced it.She never puts her claws out but just pats it around the room and chirrups at it.

countrykitten Wed 03-Apr-13 19:02:10

15 is not that old really - I hope that they have many, many more years with you.

LunaticFringe Wed 03-Apr-13 19:05:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

whois Wed 03-Apr-13 19:07:18


Our 3 cats have lived to reasonable ages before 'fading out' You'll know if the cat starts to be in pain and isn't happy. Difference between a tired old cat still eating and purring in the final days and one suffering.

One lived to 18 before just getting tired and gave up life peacefully. Wven managed a trip into the garden on her final day to enjoy the sunshine. Died with mum stroking her. The two boys we got to replace her, one lived to 12 and then got ill - rather than prolong his life when suffering and 'treat' him we put him down when he became in obvious pain. The other boy lived onto 16 but got thinner and thinner, took him to the vet a few times to check he wasn't suffering and again it was obvious the day he became in pain and took him to the vets to end it.

Chesntoots Wed 03-Apr-13 20:21:27

My old chap has kidney problems. I got really upset at the vets because he refused to eat the special food and wouldn't touch food with either his tablet or powder in. I thought I was crap owner of the year and failing him. My vet was fantastic and pointed out that it was preferable for him to enjoy the time he has left, even if it is shorter, rather than distress him forcing tablets down him. Since then sometimes he has his food, most of the time he just has normal cat food. He is quite happy lounging about and play fighting with my younger cat. You are not a bad cat mum - you will know what to do when the time us right, the same as I will.

Oops- sorry, Long post!

Dilemma247 Wed 03-Apr-13 20:35:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

dayshiftdoris Wed 03-Apr-13 20:42:13


I took my lovely cat for her jabs and they noticed she was a bit anaemic looking... £50 later and the results were kidneys function abnormal, liver function abnormal & grade 3/4 (grade 4 the worst) heart murmur.

They too offered lots of tests but said that the heart problem will kill her and it was a very slight, ungradable murmur last year.

We decided no... shes ?12 or 13 (a rehome) so she has the best spot on the bed, good food, lots of fuss and black Tom cat walks her home every time she goes out grin

I felt terrible but she wees in terror everytime we crate her to go the vets... that would be worse plus the different systems involved would make things very tricky.

This happened week before christmas... shes by far the perkiest mmber of the family - very happy... go figure that one!!

VeganCow Wed 03-Apr-13 20:58:40


I will stick up for vets here and say in my experience, they are led by the (informed) owner.

I agree that tests cost a lot, and that if you are uninsured, it really mounts up. But, all the vets I have known have been fab.

FarBetterNow Wed 03-Apr-13 21:07:01

Old cats often can't be bothered to drink water, so my vet suggested adding quite a lot of water to soft cat food and giving it a few minutes to soak in, before giving it to the cat.

This will help his kidneys.

countrykitten Wed 03-Apr-13 21:12:07

I bought a water fountain for my old cat and it really helped - catmate do a pretty cheap one and it's great for encouraging reluctant drinkers too.

ithaka Wed 03-Apr-13 21:26:45

My mum really regrets that an over zealous vet made her cat's last months prolonged and uncomfortable - she wishes she insisted she was PTS, but some vets do make you feel like a heartless pennypincher for not wanting to explore every avenue.

In fairness to the profession, my current vet is wonderful, particularly through my old horses last years. Well into his 30s, it was hard to keep weight on him. My vet's view was that he was very old, you could run tests, but what would be the point when he knew we would not want him to suffer and having loved him for over 20 years would be best placed to make the decision that his quality of life was seriously compromised.

The ability to gift our pets a painless and dignified death when their life is a burden is something that I wish we could extend to our human family members.

shallweshop Wed 03-Apr-13 21:42:20

YANBU. My cat was 20 when she started to have difficulties going to the loo. She was uncomfortable and straining in her litter tray. I steeled myself and took her to the vet where I fully expected them to advise me to have her put down. However they took her away and gave her an enema which would have been so stressful and awful but I felt I had to give her a chance. 2 days later the enema still hadn't worked and I had to return. The vet still wanted to try another enema but, when pressed, admitted that even if it worked, it would only give her another 3 or 4 weeks of life. In the end I had to tell the vet to put her down. It was the hardest decision and I really wished the vet could have been a bit more helpful in assisting me with making it.

wintertimeisfun Wed 03-Apr-13 22:15:11

day - that's really similar to what happened to my cat and i. i took her late last year for her yearly mot (jabs). vet (who is lovely, much nicer than the previous git we used to go to) listened to her heart and found she had a mild (grade 2) murmur. he offered loads of expensive fancy tests, the only one we went with was a blood test (still expensive though) to see if her thyroid was ok. fortunately it was. he suggested other tests although he did it in a way as if he was pushing the boat out. i told him i was against looking to spend money we haven't got and simply that aside from the thyroid, if she has a weakened heart which she appears to have then so be it. i don't believe in fiddling with something that can't easily be treated or cured. she is loved, pampered to death, totally contented. i rescued her from living in a builders yard outside, if she were to die tomorrow she would die happy smile i don't think she will die any time soon but when it is her time then it is her time. i kind of feel a bit like this about myself (i have high cholesterol and do not want to go on statins....)

Quilty Wed 03-Apr-13 22:36:04

YANBU - and if the vet made you feel bad about not wanting to put your cat through lots of tests then I would probably change vets as well. The vet should tell you what can be done but I think any good vet when faced with an animal which is nearing the end of its life should be honest about the situation. If they are trying to persuade owners to spend money that's not in the animals best interest then they aren't in the job for the right reasons.

floweryblue Wed 03-Apr-13 22:41:30

what Quilty said. You know your pet, hopefully you know and trust your vet, if you don't trust your vet, maybe a second opinion?

DrCoconut Wed 03-Apr-13 22:50:17

Our cat died in 2008. I knew for some time that he was ill but he was still active, eating etc. one day I knew his time had come and took him to the vet. She diagnosed FIV and possible cancer. Ginger deteriorated while we were deciding what to do and we had him pts with us by his side. I could have had him diagnosed much sooner but he had a wild streak and being cooped up indoors (apparently what is recommended for FIV), subjected to tests and medicines etc would have been no life. Out in the yard one day and gone the next was right for him. Your instincts will tell you what is right.

bootsycollins Wed 03-Apr-13 23:08:28

Bless your lovely old cat thanks

Your much loved cat, your decision. You'll do what's right for your old boy.

I'm really glad I read this thread, I've never thought about these circumstances because its just too sad to imagine but I know I would be the type to panic and instantly agree to tests if I was in your situation. Reading all these experiences and opinions has made me realise that sometimes it's just best to go with the peaceful and dignified option rather than put your cat through any unnecessary discomfort and trauma.

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