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#432: A Decision I Do Not Want To Make

Monday, November 29, 2010

I do not post blogs merely for the Spark points. Nor do I beg people to read what I write through Friend Feed updates and Huddle messages. I write when I feel moved to share experiences, memories or thoughts that I hope will be inspiring and encouraging to those who choose to read them.

Sometimes, though, the message is a sad one and one I need to explore more for myself than for anyone else. A form of release, I suppose. This is one of those times.

I do not enjoy playing God, deciding what life must be spared and which one should be taken. I hate having to make that decision, but I do it. We all likely do when we spray Raid on a roach or sprinkle pesticide granules on fire ant hills. And we do these things without expressing a second thought about our actions and without thinking of the insect lives we terminate.

So why is it so much more difficult and emotional to take the same action with animal lives like cats, dogs, birds, horses and others? Is having them as pets the difference? Is it because we can interact with a higher species that can return the love we show them?

Many of us have had to undergo the unpleasant experience of deciding when a treasured animal's quality of life has eroded, some of us many times. It never gets easier and is, I believe, one of the most difficult decisions we will ever need to make.

Do we hold on as long as we can because we are selfish and want more time together with them? As long as the animal is responsive, how long do we hold off on making the decision to stop their life? How do we always know when it is time?

Once again I am faced with this task. I thought today would be the day but it is raining and I want to prepare a burial site for Kitty who has been sick these past two weeks. So maybe tomorrow. I know she can not be happy with the I.V.s of fluids and antibiotics she has received or the needle sticks for blood samples. And I am convinced she is at the end. She won't eat or drink and is lethargic but she still responds with wide open eyes when I call her name and hold her. So why is making this decision so difficult? I've talked with the vet who has prepared me and I know it is the right thing to do for Kitty.

But I hate having to be the one to make this decision. Then, I think, isn't this part of being a mature adult and responsible pet owner? Is there such a thing as too much compassion in instances like this? Several times in the past these decisions were made for me when a valued pet just didn't make it through the night. But there have also been times when I had to trust the vet's judgment.

No, these things never get any easier. I hate playing God and would not want the job of being God. But I am the one who rescued Kitty from a life as a stray on the street and I am the one to have to decide when the time is right, for both of us.

It has been emotionally draining the last few days. I have shed thousands of tears and had many talks with Kitty as I looked into her eyes hoping she could tell me it will be okay. The other pets, especially the dogs, sense my turmoil and sadness and have offered their comfort. Now I know I must show that same concern for Kitty, just as I will for the remaining two cats and the dogs one day.

Some people will say, "But she's only a cat. What's the big deal?"

But those of you who are or have been pet owners will understand the anguish such a time causes. I know you will not deride me for expressing my emotions about this.

And I know you will understand why I now have to go and cry and hold Kitty again on our last night together.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    My kitty's name was Splotch.

    After disappearing for a day and a half (something she never ever did) I heard her mewing at the kitty door. It was more like crying. I helped her in and noticed her leg was just hanging - no wonder she had trouble getting into the door. She was a tough kitty and would have survived being a three-legged cat well.

    I held her and realized her breathing was labored and her heart was racing. To the vet we went.The trauma with her leg revealed a heart condition. It was clear she was suffering. My heart broke. God, I am not.

    I spent a couple of hours with her at the vet's. I gave in as I realized she was only getting worse. I had the vet put her to sleep and held her in my arms while she did. I felt her body relax, free of the pain.

    To this day I miss her!

    There is no easy way to decide. I wanted to be selfish and keep her with me until she died naturally. But, I couldn't bear to see her suffer. My decision was based on seeing Splotch in so much pain and knowing, if she survived, she would have no quality of life.

    I sense your grief. My heart goes out to you, Lou, and your Kitty.

    3742 days ago
    As I sit here crying for you and your beloved pet I know the pain. We just had to do this not a few months ago with our beloved cat. It breaks your heart. God bless you for not allowing kitty to suffer. I know you are hurting but god has a special place for our strays in his kingdom.
    3742 days ago
    Keeping you in my prayers as you make a very difficult decision that must be made. Wish I could do more to help ease your pain...but only God can do that. May you find comfort and strength in the Lord. Praying...
    3743 days ago
    My eyes are wet with tears and I feel your pain. I lost my horse of 26 years and a cat of 15 years and both of them I had to make that decision. My horse could not stand for very long, she was in pain and the pain meds no longer worked and Zoey my cat had cancer. She was very brave but it went into her lungs.

    It is never easy Lou, because we love them and they love us. But we do it for that very same reason.

    I am so sorry for your loss. I have a dog who is 16 and will be 17 in Jan., everyday I evaluate her. Is she still happy, is she in to much pain with her arthritis. What does she still enjoy. So far, she is happy and we have not reached that point. But I know it is coming.

    I wish I could be there to help you as you go through this period of grief. But actually, no, it is best to do this on your on terms.

    Hugs my friend.
    3743 days ago
    3743 days ago

    Comment edited on: 11/30/2010 7:55:47 PM
    I am crying as I type this. I agree that playing God is a difficult task. You are up to this task. I am so sorry that you are losing your loved one. You're in my thoughts and prayers my friend. Love ya, Dawn emoticon emoticon
    3743 days ago
    I had a cat once that had a cancer tumor and it was big on her belly. The vet said there was no hope. At that time we had put her to sleep. It was sad as my cats were like my kids to me. My other 2 cats died in there sleep of old age. And another cat died of liver failure. I always had hope for all of them. Now I believe they are in heaven. Sorry for your "kitty".

    3743 days ago
    emoticon Having been at the vet's a few times to hold or pat our cats while being put to sleep. It is an awful time, but I am so thankful that we have the means to do this for a pet who is so unwell that the suffering is too much. I flew all the way from Santiago to my sick cats in Perth Western Australia as my daughter had the flu' and we did not know at the time whether 1 of the cats needed to be put to sleep. I had friends question my sanity in doing this. But I needed to be there! As it turned out both cats came through and are still with us. One of them now has diabetes requiring insulin twice a day. That is the price we pay to have the love of the pet while they are alive.
    Thinking of you in this sad time. emoticon
    3744 days ago
    I had to make that decision for my little toy poodle last Febuary. It was a decision I had put off for far too long agonizing over "when". It was the most difficult thing I ever did.

    Now I am facing the decision again over another of my aging toy poodles. He eats well but I don't know what his quality of life is cause he is deaf, blind, has dementia, and congestive heart failure. A lot of times he seems to enjoy life, but a lot of the time he just seems 'lost'. Some days I think "it is now time" and other days I think "no, he still enjoys life".

    I feel for you for what you are going through, as I know first hand what you are going through.

    3744 days ago
    emoticon emoticon Joy
    3744 days ago
    emoticon but you are a wonderful person for making the decision instead of letting kitty hang on being sick.

    3744 days ago
  • no profile photo CD6400103
    I am so sorry to hear you have to put Kitty down.
    I have been there and its no fun, its just like losing a family member!

    I keep you in my thoughts today!

    3744 days ago
    Oh Lou, there's nothing I could say to ease the pain that you are going through but I did pray that God provide you strength through this. I lost my cat, Onyx emoticon , over six years ago and it still hurts like it was yesterday.

    Kitty was blessed to have you. You are in my heart today. emoticon
    3744 days ago
    My heart aches for you. We have always had our menagerie of pets in our home. I always considered myself the least attached and yet when that decision had to made, I was beyond consolable. Our pets ARE like family and they often represent a specific time in our lives chock full of memories.
    You are in my thoughts!
    3744 days ago
    I have had to make this same decision more times than I care to say, and of course, it does not get any easier. Please try to keep in mind you gave Kitty a wonderful life and now it is time to spare her undue suffering. Cats in particular are so good at hiding illness and just how sick they really are. I am crying as I key this. I wish there were some way to take away your emotional pain, but it's not possible. I can only empathize and say a prayer for you and Kitty. Many, many emoticon
    3744 days ago
    Oh, I agree. It doesn't get easier. Just hold on to the thought that Kitty knows how much you love her, and just take a day at a time. emoticon
    3744 days ago
  • no profile photo CD8689328
    Awww that's so sad! I shed a tear. I had to re-home my cat and it was very difficult. I understand your views and hope that you can have the strength to put your kitty to rest. You gave it a chance at life and the little thing just wasn't strong enough. There is nothing that can be done and it out of your hands. I will think about you tomorrow.
    3744 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5178852
    Lou-- thank you for blogging and sharing with us. If I could send a hug across the miles I would do it in a nanosecond.

    Your pets are fortunate indeed-- to have a fellow like you in their life. This blog tells how you are a friend at the saddest and most hurting times.

    I wish all animals had a care giver like you!
    3744 days ago
  • BOVEY63
    She isn't just a cat, she is a living creature that you love and one whom you have given a wonderful home.
    Having just lost our Ginger, I know exactly what you are going through. I called the vet to have her put down, but she decided to go at home a little over an hour before her appointment. Making the call was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. Kitty and God will lead you to the right decision for her.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you my dear friend. I wish I could be there to give you both a big hug.
    3744 days ago
    I had to do this awhile ago, at almost the same time of year - a week before Christmas. Never in my wildest dreams did I know how hard the entire process would be. The decision, then bringing my beloved 13 year old Himalayan to end his suffering. It absolutely broke my heart and I still miss him so much. But honestly? Seeing him in pain and going through things to keep him here with me was not fair to him. It's a very tough situation. I feel for you. And your baby.
    3744 days ago
  • LESLIES537
    I had a bad feeling that kitty was not doing well. I'm so, so sorry Lou. Pets are like a part of our family and times like these are incredibly hard. Know I'm praying for you and am here for you in any way I can be. I'm just a phone call away, day or night...24/7. Hang in there, brighter days await, for you and for kitty. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3744 days ago
    3744 days ago
    Dear Lou, I completely understand what you are going through. I'm so sorry you have to bear this heart pain. I've had to cross this threshold with several pets in the past and face it in my future. But still, I will always have pets. They bring such joy and unconditional loyalty. How can I resist?

    They remind us of the circle of life and fragile nature of mortality. Enjoy your evening. My heart is with you.

    \ emoticon Night . . .. Jan
    3744 days ago
  • no profile photo CD4364104
    I am so sorry you are faced with this tough decision. Especially during the holidays.

    I went through this same thing about 4 years ago with my beloved cat Mozart. I didn't want to be the one to make the decision, but since I know more about medical and animal stuff, the decision was put to me.

    She made the decision for me a little by slipping downhill quickly. But it was a terribly hard decision to make and I still tear up a little about it.

    You and kitty are in my thoughts!
    emoticon emoticon
    3744 days ago
    I'm so sorry Lou. This is never an easy time. Your pets are part of your family. You are right, it's never easy, even when you know their time is up! My dog is now 12 yrs old, and I dread that awful day! Just be thankful you were blessed with Kitty for as long as you were, and remember the special moments, when she enriched your life! God also picked you as her owner and you have blessed her with your love and good care! May God be your comfort in this hard time, give you peace and let you know when the time is right to let Kitty go.
    God bless you my friend,

    3744 days ago
    Lou. My prayers are always with you. You know I just recently went through this, and it was not my kitties 'due time'.

    It's tough...

    It's tough.

    Know, as you do already, that time heals everything, and that I understand exactly where you are coming from.

    And yes, I understand that you don't want to play God. How about, you are a disciple right now... and that's okay too.

    Through this comes the strength and wisdom all apostles need and deserve.

    Sending strengthening prayers your way... for all our needs. I apologize for the timing, but see the true connection of divine timing... as will you.

    My boy Dexter came right before my hardest burial thus far... blog to follow, eventually.

    Hugs and love Lou.

    3744 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5710470
    I am so, so sorry you have to go through this.

    She not *just* a Kitty, and I completely understand.

    You need anything, I am here.

    I'll be thinking of you tonight and tomorrow.
    3744 days ago
    As the owner of three cats I realize what a big deal it is. My thoughts are with you emoticon
    3744 days ago
  • MILLER1224
    Lou: I too have had to make those decision, but i always had to come back to the thought of my doggie, they get to that point of suffering they need someone to make that decision for them. Still it's hard. Have a blessed night with your Kitty.

    Your SP Friend: CJ from OK. emoticon emoticon
    3744 days ago
  • REJ7777
    Anyone who owns and loves pets will understand. I'm crying with you. She knows you love her, and she IS telling you it's time to go by refusing to eat. But, it's still an extremely difficult decision to make. emoticon
    3744 days ago
    Aw, sweet blog ~ thanks for sharing!! I love my misty... kitty, and she is getting older, so I understand!!!
    3744 days ago
  • 0309COOKIE
    My heart goes out to you Lou. I had to make that heartwrenching decision once and it was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I will pray for you and your kitty.
    3744 days ago
    Sorry you have to make that decision, Lou...I've been there with two of my beloved dogs and I can relate to the heart ache you are experiencing. Just know that you gave your pet the best life possible and you are making this decision out of love.

    God bless and comfort you, Lou...
    3744 days ago
    Many of us have faced the same situation, Lou. It's gut wrenching. The last time I had to make a decision like yours was 15 years ago. I've never wanted to go through it again. I pray you'll take comfort knowing that Kitty will be released from pain and misery she can't understand or overcome. emoticon Vikki
    3744 days ago
    I'm feeling with you. I had to make that decision several times, even once for a hamster - poor thing could hardly walk due to cancer in his belly. Putting down my 14 yr old dog was the worst - she was my friend and I still feel her comfort and protection. May God comfort you and kitty. Hugs, Wilma
    3744 days ago

    The tears are flowing as I read your blog. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this very difficult time. I had to make that decision one time, and it was the most excruciating decision of my life. May God grant you peace and many fond memories of Kitty.
    3744 days ago
    Totally understand. Thanks for sharing your feelings... sometimes it helps to write it out. May your sorrow be comforted in the memory of the love you shared with your furry friend. No animal that has shared your home and heart is "just" a cat or a dog.

    3744 days ago
    Aww, Lou, I knew something must be up because I hadn't seen a lot of you on SparkPeople lately. What a tough thing to have to go through! I have never had to make the decision about a pet, but I have indeed lost them, either to a neighbor poisoning my precious Sugar (great white Pernese), to Ginger, our 13 year old sheltie who died just 15 minutes after I told her goodnight on her last night (the vet didn't think she'd make the trip there, and he was right--my son came and got me). I think there are several people who are moved to tears by your loss, and my heart goes out to you! emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3744 days ago
  • no profile photo YW84FRIDAY
    I'm sorry, Lou. It is hard to even think about what it will be like when Jack reaches that point. My prayers are with you...

    3744 days ago
  • no profile photo CD6035648
    Aww.. I'm sorry you have to go through this.. And no it's not silly to love your pets, and feel the way you do. They give us so much love and joy, and really don't ask for much in return..
    If you personally do not want to make the decision, ask the vet what he/she would do if Kitty was their pet.. That won't make it easier I'm sure, but it might give you a little peace..
    Praying for you, and for Kitty..
    3744 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5002230
    3744 days ago
    Lou, I'm shedding tears of empathy as I read your blog and write these comments. Yes, I've 'been there' and it was a horribly painful and difficult decision. I won't pretend my comments will comfort you, but trust the Lord to provide the comfort and strenth you need both now and in the days/weeks ahead.

    When my 17 yr-old Callie (cat) became ill, we spent much money on his final weeks - but the vet finally told us the best thing we could do for him was to put him to sleep. I put my arms around Callie as he lay on the vet's table, and after we were given much time with him, I asked the vet to go ahead with the injection. I watched thru my tears as the light went out in Callie's eyes. Our vet told me, 'He was ready to go. If they aren't, they fight as the medicine starts going into their system, and Callie was still.' It was just a small measure of comfort at a MOST difficult time.

    I am praying for you, and for Kitty's last hours. I know the Bible doesn't address the issue of pets in heaven, but surely they are there, aren't they? I mean, they don't have souls as we do, but I can hardly imagine heaven w/out our pets.
    In Christ,
    3744 days ago
    This is a hard decision to make. Hold your precious Kitty gently tonight. Remember all the good times. emoticon
    3744 days ago
  • BIGDAD1211
    I am sorry Lou. I had to do the same thing with my dog. They are family and you should show them as much love as you can. Praying for you my friend
    3744 days ago
    My heart goes out to you. I have 3 cats with the oldest being 19. This spring my 17 y.o. cat was very sick and lost a lot of weight and was very lethargic. After visiting the vet we discussed having him put to sleep. Of course I couldn't do it right then, I had other family members who would want to see him one last time. This was on Thurs. I was planning on calling the vet on Mon. to make appointment for him to be euthanized, but over the weekend he somehow rallied and began to eat and drink again and lucky me, he is still with me. But I will miss my cats terribly when they are gone. emoticon
    3744 days ago
    Lou, I am so sorry for you and all of the pets. It is true, our animals give us unconditional love & are such a precious part of our lives. Anyone who thinks its just a cat... well mistaken. I know what you mean about the other animals. I have never had a pet who did not know what was going on in matters of the heart. I am thinking of you and hope you will make the right decision. Victoria
    3744 days ago
    My heart goes out to you.

    It's the flip side of the joy and comfort our pets bring.

    May God be with you.

    Joe emoticon
    3744 days ago
  • no profile photo CD8301081
    I am so sorry you are going to have to say good bye to your precious kitty. It is not easy and it is painful. emoticon May God give you peace when the time is right.
    3744 days ago
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