How does feline euthanasia work?

Deciding whether or not to put your cat to sleep is one of the most painful decisions an owner can make. Sometimes, however, it is the right one. If your cat is in severe pain, and is suffering from an illness that makes its life miserable, it can be the humane thing to do. It is a decision to discuss with your vet - you'll want to find out whether there is a possibility of recovery, whether the cat will be able to enjoy itself at all, and sadly, for some people, whether you can afford treatment for the cat.


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Death from euthanasia in cats is painless. The only pain involved is a needle prick. The cat will be made unconscious first with an anesthetic. The vet then administers a drug to stop the heartbeat of the cat, and it will die within a few minutes.

Can I euthanize my cat myself at home?

This is not a good idea. You will not be able to do it painlessly. If you want to have it done in your home to avoid trauma to your cat, many vets will agree to come by to do it. You may have to pay an extra fee, but it depends on your relationship with your vet. Trying to do it yourself with a sick cat is not a smart plan. It is not that expensive a procedure, and this is not something to try to save money on if you care for your cat. If you absolutely cannot afford it I would call a local humane society or animal shelter. They may be able to work something out with you.

When should I euthanize my cat?

This is a personal decision. It is not clear cut in many cases - with long-term diseases that gradually kill the cat such as cancer, the cat may be able to live happily for some time before severe pain sets in and makes life extremely painful. If your cat has a disease, you should watch your cat's behavior - if it is no longer eating, moving about, playing, or enjoying attention from you, then it may be time.

You should also remember that many injuries do not reduce the cat's quality of life that much even though we think of them as serious. A good rule of thumb is that if the cat is not in pain, it probably does not need to be euthanised. Examples of serious injuries with which a cat can live a long, happy life are blindness, deafness, and loss of a leg or the tail.

One other thing to think about is if you have other cats in a household who may catch a contagious disease, such as feline leukemia or feline HIV. Putting a cat to sleep in that case may be necessary to save your other cats. However, you might try getting a friend who has no cats to take on the sick cat. If you're willing to pay the vet bills, you may be able to find your cat a home even if other pets in your house would otherwise be at risk.

If you have had to put your cat to sleep because of an illness, you should also take a look at ways to cope when your cat has died.

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