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How to know when a cat is nearing the end of its life

(11 Posts)
MurtleTheTurtle Wed 06-Jun-12 16:12:05

I'd really appreciate some advice.

I took in a stray over 10 years ago, I was told at the time that she was a young adult, probably born in the late 1990's, making her about 14-15?

She has been very healthy and happy until this year. She has now lost an awful lot of weight (though is still eating) has gone almost completely deaf, and her back legs have given way on a number of occasions, though she is still very mobile and active (manages stairs fine).

She had a lump on her jaw a couple of months ago which the vet said was almost certainly cancer, but it seemed to shrink with antibiotics and he said to just keep an eye on her.

She seems to have gone downhill a bit this last week though - she is no longer grooming herself very well (and she has always been very clean), she drools a lot and she has stopped using her litter tray and started weeing and pooing in other places (a rug, my bed, my bedroom floor). She has NEVER ever done this before - even through upheavals of numerous house moves, 2 children, acquiring 2 dogs etc. she has never messed in the house (my old cat used to wee and poo as a protest if anything upset him!).

She has also started howling and crying through the night and her tone of voice has changed.

I'm wondering if she is starting to suffer and if it is time to start thinking of putting her to sleep. But I'm not convinced that she is in actual pain. We've been together such a long time and I want to do what is best for her and not what is best for me (I'm pregnant again and DH is horrified by the cat mess in the bedroom, worried about germs etc.).

I spoke to the vet on the phone who said its probably just old age and senility and not worth stressing her by taking her in for an exam. Does anyone have an opinion? Do I take her in anyway in case there is an underlying cause which could be treated? Or does it sound like a gradual decline due to old age?

Apologies for the length of my post.

lottiegb Wed 06-Jun-12 16:17:08

Hmm, mine withdrew and crawled under the bed in the spare room for much of the time when unwell and dying. I think she wanted to be very quiet, which was noticeable for a previously very sociable cat.

Pollykitten Wed 06-Jun-12 16:20:07

sometimes cats get bad thyroid disorders that make them lose weight - they can be tested for these. Otherwise, if you don't want to stress her out and you do decide to put her to sleep, you can arrange for a vet to do it in your own home and make it all peaceful and cosy. Best of luck x

teanosugar Wed 06-Jun-12 20:04:57

Sometimes the vet will suggest its not a good idea to put an old cat/dog/animal through surgery, this is what they did with my previous cat.

When she got to 10yr she was losing weight and starting throwing up after each meal. She went in for an exploratory operation and the vet rang me half way through the procedure to say they had found 'multiple tumors' on her kidneys. He suggested it was kinder not to bring her round from the anaesthetic than try to treat her as she would not have quality of life.

My other cat is now 15 and every little symptom she has I think 'oh,no, its the beginning of the end'.

What the vet has told me is that when they go incontinent and don't have 'quality of life' that's when you have to make the decision.

Its a hard decision to make nonetheless, when it was time for my german shepherd dog we cancelled the appointment three times before we could go through with it.

Toughasoldboots Wed 06-Jun-12 20:07:25

I think that when they stop caring for themselves and seem so miserable that there is little point in living, it is time.

My vet kept trying to dissuade me for one of my old cats and I regret not doing it sooner. I knew that he was in pain and he kept looking at me as if to ask for help.

MurtleTheTurtle Wed 06-Jun-12 21:40:48

Thank you so much for responding. It would be so much easier (in terms of decision making) if she were immobile or obviously in a lot of pain.

I think I'll take her for an exam just in case it's something like thyroid, but I do think that the incontinence is just old age. For now I've restricted her access to rooms without carpets to make cleaning up after her a lot easier and hopefully reduce the risk of germs for me and the children.

SparkyTGD Thu 07-Jun-12 18:40:48

I'd take her for a check-up & advice.

Recently had my old cat pts, she had overactive thyroid treated by medication for years, then kidney failure. She got very sick/vomiting lots in her last week or so & we just felt that she'd had enough. She could still walk, eat, drink, pee/poo so it was a difficult decision to make but for the best.

timtam23 Thu 07-Jun-12 23:27:03

How is your cat doing now? I hope the vet was able to help. I have a 16 yr old male cat who became ill with overactive thyroid about 8 months ago & the symptoms sound quite similar to your cat - weeing/pooing everywhere including the beds, lots of weird yowling, very marked weight loss (he also ate & drank huge amounts despite losing weight), unkempt coat - He was on medication until last week but the side effects haven't suited him so the vet is having a rethink about it. He is otherwise bright & lively & a really lovely cat so we are hoping he can carry on for a bit as his quality of life is pretty good I think.

IsabelleRinging Fri 08-Jun-12 22:30:12

Our cat had an overactive thyroid at 12 years old, we had an excellent progessive thinking vet who removed the thyroid gland, that was 6 years ago and cat healthy still.

doggiemumma Fri 08-Jun-12 22:41:01

aww, poor kitty - is his coat sort of greasy and sticky uppy? That could be kidney problems. Could he not be grooming because he has a bad tooth/sore mouth? Thyroid affects coat but they tend to eat quite a bit with that. Those things are treatable, cats respond v well to thyroidectomy, kidney problems can be managed, and toothache is easy (althogh im in agony just now and too scared to go to the dentist)

One thing, a poorly cat like yours that begins to purr alot is often reaching the end.

I always say if an animal is eating and toileting its ok, but once those basic faculties go then it is time to let them go, we mustn't apply human needs to animal needs, they need not to suffer and be in pain rather than an extra few months.

MrsSchadenfreude Fri 08-Jun-12 23:00:33

Mine went almost exactly like yours, with the weeing/pooing and change of miaow. The vet said she was senile. How is she in herself? Mine went on like this for a good few months, seeming happy enough in herself (though she would often settle herself down in the middle of the road for a nap and had to be rescued!). We knew it was the end when she was just lying down and drooling. Her quality of life had gone and the vet came round at put her to sleep. I stroked her at the end, and she purred, which she hadn't done for months, and it absolutely seemed the right thing to do.

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