Euthanasia of Elderly Frightened Cat

Tranquilizing the Cat First can make it Easier


Sage, a beautiful and loving 18 year old cat, is now blind and has begun to have potty accidents and some vomiting. Although she is a love with us, she becomes feral when a veterinarian approaches (no offense).  Even with a home visit, cat bag and elbow gloves, she is too much to handle! We can see that soon she will be leaving us. Is there a home administer pill we can give her to euthanize her safely and comfortably?


Dr. Nichol:

There is no question that euthanasia needs to be made simple and painless for Sage. The last thing you want is for your beloved cat to face a struggle just before she passes on.


Euthanasia (putting to sleep/mercy killing) is usually done by intravenous injection. Most of the drugs that are made for this purpose amount to a highly concentrated strength of an anesthetic. Given slowly, it first puts the pet under anesthesia. As the last of the solution is injected the heart and brain are overdosed. Death occurs in about 2-3 minutes.


We can make it peaceful and easy for the pet but it’s still hard for the rest of us. Most people want to hold their pet while the injection is given. Sage will feel safer and you will have an important sense of closure if you are there for her. In most cases we place an IV catheter first so there will be no need for handling by anyone but the pet’s family.


Poor scared Sage is a special case. Unfortunately there is no oral drug that will get the job done painlessly and reliably at home. One suggestion would be for you to cover her with a thick towel as your veterinarian gently gives her a sedative injection in the rear end. An alternative would be for you to go alone to the veterinary clinic for a lesson on giving an injection. You could administer the sedative at home, then a relaxed Sage could be given the euthanasia solution intravenously by her doctor.


I know how hard it must be to think through these details. But with planning and communication your veterinarian can help you and Sage get through this. When it’s over you’ll feel a little better knowing that your final act of love was best for her.