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Elderly cat - not sure what's best for her - any advice please?

(26 Posts)
Stinkle Wed 04-Jun-14 12:08:59

First of all, cat is insured so any consideration of cost can be taken out of the decision.

I have a 15, nearly 16 year old cat. Until recently she's been doing OK, bit thin and raggedy, not as mobile as she used to be but she seemed perfectly happy pottering around the garden and snoozing on sunny window sills.

3 weeks ago she wandered off, and was gone 3 nights before she was found by a neighbour (curled up right under one of the bushes in her garden) and we got her back. I don't think she'd eaten during the time she was away, we'd left food out for her but it was untouched so she was very thin when she came home.

When she came home she decided to move in behind the sofa, had her checked over at the vet who advised making her a little dark cave somewhere so we got our crate out and put it in a quiet spot in the house. She seemed happy with this and gained some weight. All OK

At half term we went away on holiday for a week and we had a cat sitter stay here with her (cat has always hated cattery and finds it all very stressful so we thought it better to leave cat in the comfort of her own home with someone she knows).

On our return Sunday evening, cat sitter reported that cat had been fine and eating well for the first few days, then stopped eating, despite cat sitter spending several hours trying to feed her warmed up tuna fish to try and tempt her, cat just wasn't interested. Cat also seemed to have lost a lot of hair and had a couple of bald spots on her back

Thought I'd see how she went Monday and if her appetite would improve once we were all back and the house was back to normal, but she still didn't eat and on Monday night we realised that she'd drunk a lot more than normal

DH took her to the vet yesterday morning, who pretty much straight away suggested that cat was old, tired and probably had enough and we should consider putting her to sleep

Vet thinks she has problems with her kidneys and is generally just old and tired. Her eyes are dull, she's very thin, her face is sunken and she's not eating. Vet did suggest a steroid injection might stimulate her appetite but there's no guarantees and it's not a long term solution, especially when there are kidney issues. Depending on the damage, it can be controlled with a special diet, but he'd need to examine her more thoroughly, would want to do some more tests, etc

Vet sent DH home with an appointment for today so we could make the decision overnight

DH thinks we should try treating her and give her every chance possible

I'm inclined to agree with the vet, she is old and tired and yes, I think she's had enough now. She hates being poked and prodded, hates the car, hates the vet, finds the whole thing quite stressful and I don't want to put her through all that just to prolong the inevitable

I just don't know


(Sorry it's so long, I didn't want to miss out any information)

LastingLight Wed 04-Jun-14 12:37:37

Our oldie is on medication for blood pressure, kidneys and arthritis BUT it's easy to give him meds and he is not traumatised by it. If his illness had meant lots of extra vet trips or he hated taking meds I would have let him go a long time ago. I agree with you and the vet, it sounds as if your kitty is telling you that it's time.

lljkk Wed 04-Jun-14 12:42:34

It's an impossible decision, I understand how both of you feel. flowers
I rate quality of life over quantity so tend to agree with you. Also think Vet is speaking from experience about what happens when they try to help a cat like this. It's usually a lot of effort & stress for very unclear gains.

cozietoesie Wed 04-Jun-14 12:45:29

It sounds to me as if she's in pain - maybe from arthritis which can be very sore indeed. Seniorboy goes in on himself and stops eating properly when he's sore. Has your vet considered pain meds?

haggisaggis Wed 04-Jun-14 12:48:42

It is really difficult - my cat ended up in the vets for a few days at that age (thought it was liver problems) but ended up living happily for another 6 years. I would be inclined to see what effect the steroid injection has - and then take it from there.

Stinkle Wed 04-Jun-14 12:50:10


Medication is next to impossible to get into her (I still bear the scars from the last round of antibiotics), we have to crush it and sprinkle it onto her food - however, she's not eating

We've used this vet for years, I trust him, I don't think he'd suggest putting her to sleep lightly. He was reluctant to offer treatment

I understand where DH is coming from, but I also think her quality of life is the most important thing, she she just looks so sad and old today

We could give her the jab, we could get a couple more weeks, a month, whatever, but at what cost to her?

I think it's time


Stinkle Wed 04-Jun-14 12:51:49

Sorry, x-posts,

Vet says he's confident she's not in pain

pleaseaffixstamps Wed 04-Jun-14 13:08:07

I feel for you - my cat was very old when she went.

I'm inclined to agree with you. Aggressive treatment isn't going to be fun for anyone, much less your cat, and it probably won't make much difference in the medium term, never mind the long.

Does the vet think the cat is in pain? And if she isn't, is it possible you just leave her at home to slip away in her own time? Or if she is uncomfortable, to have the vet visit, give a painkiller, and then leave her again?

If you do decide she's had enough, would the vet be willing to come and give her the injection at your house? That way, she wouldn't have any extra stress before she went.

Whatever you decide, OP, thanks. It's hard to lose an old friend.

Stinkle Wed 04-Jun-14 15:19:27


The vet is confident that she isn't in pain.

She's just clearly not happy and I just don't think prolonging the inevitable is in her best interests.

I still don't know

I trust the vet, I don't think he'd suggest putting her to sleep if he thought there were any other viable options

I wish she could talk

timtam23 Wed 04-Jun-14 20:42:06

Very difficult decision (having been through this with 2 very old cats of my own, both reached the age of 18, the last one had to be put to sleep 2 days ago after a combination of high blood pressure, blindness, old age and finally tongue cancer took its toll on him)

I would say, if you're really not sure, try the steroid injection as it can have miraculous (although temporary) results - my old boy cat regained his appetite for a short while and we gave him a lovely final weekend before having him put to sleep.

But if she's not eating & has started to withdraw, I'm very sorry but this is what my old girl cat started doing last year before she died (I ended up having her put to sleep as well as it was obvious there was no hope of recovery for her)

A hard call to make & my thoughts are with you

Lovethesea Wed 04-Jun-14 21:02:29

I think I would feel I was keeping the cat going for my sake not hers. I also had to put a lovely cat to sleep when he just faded and stopped eating. I think they are so stoical with pain I would always err on the side of a quick jab and into eternal sleep rather than watch them struggle about for no gain to them.

They have no affairs to set in order. No goodbyes to make. No retreats. No fears.

A good death is the best ending to a full life of however long.

BetweenDogandWolf Wed 04-Jun-14 21:20:05

I think I would go with the vet's suggestion too especially as your cat would find regular visits to the vets stressful. I kept my old boy going for a long time but he was fine in the car and didn't mind the vet. My old girl is at least 20 and I know if she goes downhill I will make the decision to have her put to sleep a lot sooner as she has an entirely different character (nervous and independent).
My old boy had a steroid injection and it perked him up enough to manage to spend some time outside during his last summer. If you really can't decide or your husband is really not ready to say goodbye that could be a good compromise. I was amazed at the difference it made to my cat.
Best wishes, I know it is a horrible difficult decision.

KatieKaye Wed 04-Jun-14 21:25:41

I have had to make this decision three times and each time I took the view that this was the last act of love I could give my pet. When they are old, tired, ill, not eating and generally just existing, I think it's a good thing to listen to your vet. Sometimes it really is the best thing for the animal so that it does not get to the stage of being in pain.
It's a horrible decision to have to make and I am thinking of you.

wannaBe Wed 04-Jun-14 21:34:49

op -

I had a cat similar age to yours who had an overactive thyroid. Medication was immensely stressful for her and me, and even when I managed to give it to her she would keep it hidden for ages and then spit it out (pills couldn't be crushed) and I'd find them around the house days later. So she gradually deteriorated until a few weeks ago I decided that she was old, too skinny, much more lethargic and needed to be pts. And then she perked a little bit and I put it off knowing that it needed to be done soon.

And then she went out two weeks ago and never came back. sad I'm pretty sure she probably just curled up somewhere and went to sleep forever, but I'll never know as we haven't found her. I wish now I'd made the decision when I first decided that was what I should do....

It's time....

Stinkle Wed 04-Jun-14 21:34:57

Thanks all thanks

Had a good long chat with the vet tonight and we decided to let her go.

She was snuggled in my arms and just went to sleep.

She's now out in the garden under the tree with her sister (who we lost last year)

I feel like I've said good bye to an old friend, but I really do think it was time and it was the best thing we could do for her.

Thanks again

Stinkle Wed 04-Jun-14 21:47:18

Oh, and I'm really sorry for all of you who've lost pets too thanks

timtam23 Wed 04-Jun-14 21:47:35

So sorry Stinkle but it does sound like you made the right decision for her thanks

wannaBe so sorry that your cat didn't come back, I hope that someday you manage to find out what happened

Bakersbum Wed 04-Jun-14 21:56:10

Sorry to hear this, but I agree it sounds like it was her time. Such a difficult thing to do, I went through it a few weeks ago. Heartbreaking but for the best and as someone else said, the final act of love.

KatieKaye Wed 04-Jun-14 22:13:25

I think you made the right decision in listening to your vet's advise and I do know how hard it is - but it is the last thing you do for them - I firmly believe that.
Hope that you can remember all the happy times and smile at the memories soon.

pleaseaffixstamps Thu 05-Jun-14 07:58:42

Stinkle thanks - you did what you could for her, including this last act of sparing her a long end.

wannaBe - oh, I'm so sorry. I'm sure you are right about her just curling up under a bush, as cats do hide away when they know they are about to go, but that's hard on you. thanks

Stinkle Thu 05-Jun-14 10:45:53

Thank you

wannaBe I hope you find out what happened.

I agree that cats do go for a wander when they know it's time, our vet thinks that's probably why our cat went wandering

TalkinPeace Sun 08-Jun-14 00:07:50

Stinky compost heap cat is sitting next to me : distended stomach, gurgling noises, sleeping with her eyes open, purring constantly.
She is clearly in shed loads of pain, but LOVES company.
We've actively chosen not to treat her health issues (kidneys, heart, skin cancer, arthritis) but its so hard to know when to intervene.

Cats are so effing stoic you do not know.

she might be better tomorrow ....

cozietoesie Sun 08-Jun-14 00:22:10

Maybe ask the vet for some pain meds, Talkin? They won't help her basic problems but they'll surely cheer her up.

TalkinPeace Sun 08-Jun-14 18:07:28

Mad old moo won't take pills - and we know nothing of her history : we found her nearly dead in the compost heap just before Christmas.
She can no longer curl up to sleep but delightedly scrounged from the Sunday lunch table.
Any painkiller that would actually whack what's going on would probably leave her too groggy to walk.
So long as she can focus and cares she stays with us.
Once the lights go out I know the choice I have to take.

cozietoesie Sun 08-Jun-14 18:35:02

Of course - and frankly I'm staggered she's still with you. You've given her so much love and a few happy months that she wouldn't have had otherwise.

Just so you know though - Seniorboy's vet has given us pain meds that are in liquid form that you just make sure go on the mouth soft tissue (under the tongue/on the gums etc - just not down the gullet.) He is completely pill resistant but i can administer these and they've made a huge difference to him on only a small dose as required.

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