We Euthanized our Cat Yesterday

Yesterday we put our seventeen year old cat to sleep. Euthanized is the proper term but “put to sleep” has a peaceful feeling and killed has an awful feeling.

I work with dying situations all the time, 42 years to be exact. But this was personal, this was our Danger cat. (I know, a totally inappropriate name for the biggest scaredy cat I’ve ever seen. Husband Jack thought the name would give her courage.) 

Over the years we’ve had many animals: dogs, cats, rabbits. All have been indoor, live with us animals. Yes, even the rabbit was cage free and lived in the kitchen. I’ve seen death, animals, and people more than most people BUT it’s never the same when it’s personal, when emotions are involved. When I am ending a life. What a powerful statement that is. Dying is not following its natural course. I am interfering with the order of living.

As difficult as the decision to euthanize a pet is, there is also the difficult decision of when. When do I have her die. Sounds so harsh doesn’t it? It is harsh, yet when is that timeline between now only suffering is left of a life and can we still squeak out some quality

When have we made the decision to not euthanize because WE don’t want them to be gone versus it is a blessing to end the life. To let them go because it is helpful to them. 

I had a veterinarian and her assistant come to the house. They were dear, compassionate people. We held Danger, said goodbye through our tears while a relaxant was given. A few minutes later the second shot was given IV. Before the needle was removed she was gone. 

We held her, petted her, let her death sink into us, then handed her little body to Trisha (I feel first name-close to Trisha now that she has been involved in this intimate experience). She gently wrapped Danger’s little body in a baby blanket, leaving her head uncovered and gently, respectfully carried our little cat out of the house.

She is gone, the house seems emptier. Baxter cat (who we let smell her before she left) seems at a bit of a loss, as he wanders the house. Is he looking for her? 

I’m wandering too. Processing, reviewing, looking for regrets. No, no regrets. As hard as it was, we did the right thing. We did not continue her suffering for our own wants. Everyone and everything dies. It is what happens in life. There will always be an end.

I think we have the same feelings with people when we are faced with taking a loved one off of life support machines. I hesitate to compare animals with humans but for many of us our animals are our children, both in our lives and hearts so actually the decisions seem equally challenging. 

So often our decisions are based on our own selfishness, on what we are comfortable with (even what we are uncomfortable with). “I want my mom even if it is just to look at her and hold her hand.” I want my cat so I can hold her. I am not ready to let her go. Sounds selfish. It is selfish but oh so human. Letting go of something we care very, very much about is a growth experience. An opportunity for us to transcend our personal comfort for the sake of another’s comfort.

Something More about...  We Euthanized our Cat Yesterday  

For people faced with the loss of a beloved animal, A Place In My Heart: When Our Pets Die offers direction and support during a difficult and seldom understood time.  

The experience of a pet dying is traumatic for us. We find ourselves feeling fear, confusion, and apprehension. We want to help, but don't know what to do. This booklet provides signs of approaching death, burial options and support through the grief process.

A Place In My Heart is the Gone From My Sight for those who are facing the death of a beloved animal. 

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Thank you for sharing your experiences. I believe that the dynamics are similar whether a pet or a friend or relative is near death.

Recently, my special friend, who was 79 years old died after having a stroke. He fought through many life threatening medical problems: emphysema, heart disease, controlled diabetes, heart problems and had been treated for cancer (1 kidney was removed and small amounts cancer were treated, etc). He wanted to live. I told him how much I had loved him since we were teenagers. I verbalized the reasons that I respected him; I thanked him for support that he gave me when we were teenagers and when I was an older women(forgetfulness, pain, numerous doctor appointments, etc.) I verbalized that he was going to be ok regardless to his outcome. He died within a few days. I was devastated; thankfully, I read Barbara’s article regarding the medical condition that my friend would have to deal with “briefly” if he struggled through his hospitalization. Barbara, thank you for your article reminding us that the person would have more problems, that he had before this hospitalization…that would be difficult for him and his loved one. I miss him very much but I am relieved that he died. Again, I thank all of you for sharing.
BK Books replied:
Donna, I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. It sounds like your conversations with him were meaningful and helpful for him in making his transition. Blessings! Barbara


Dear Barbara,
I also know the hurt of loosing our furry family members. It’s really comforting to know that Danger passed away at home in the arms of love and that this option is available to us. My prayers of comfort are with you and your family and the other furry family member who grieves also.

BK Books replied:
Thank you, Wilma for your supporting words. Blessings! Barbara

Olivia Rogers

Thank you for sharing this deeply personal and moving story. What a lucky cat to have had you as parents. We can’t put a time limit on grief or decide that “it’s been long enough”, whether it’s people or animals; we grieve the loss how we grieve it, and we then carry the beloved with us forever. May your heart be comforted and may Danger’s memory be a blessing.
BK Books replied:
Olivia, thank you for the support your beautiful words have given me. Blessings! Barbara


Hi Barbara….thinking of you, Jack and Baxter cat as you grieve. Such a heartbreaking time. Thank you for sharing Danger’s story. You continue to be a blessing to many who benefit from your wisdom and compassion.
BK Books replied:
Terry, thank you for your kind, supportive words. Blessings! Barbara

Jennifer Schwarz

“Sounds selfish. It is selfish but oh so human.” Your words just helped me to release the harsh judgement I have been holding about a friend’s wife who wanted her sister kept on life support hoping for a miracle and a couple of years later did not listen to my friend as he asked for the end of life he wanted. I couldn’t get past her selfish actions- it was all about her needs- until I read those words… yes, so human. Thank you for sharing this personal story of yours as well as your years of experience with end of life. My heart is with you and your family. And I am ever grateful for your wisdom.
BK Books replied:
Hi Jennifer, thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. My blessings are with you. Barbara

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