What is a nice way to tell an older lady she needs to put her cat down?

I know this sounds bad but this cat has cancer and kidney disease and the vet said will die and there is not treatment. Right now the cat is just starving to death because it can’t eat at all. It will just die slowly if she doesn’t do anything about it. She wants to keep it alive as long as possible but that is kind of selfish especially because she is gone all day. What should I tell her? She is just making it harder on herself.
I do live with her and she has asked my opinion on several occasions.

  1. troublesniffer, 24 May, 2010

    Red Leaf,

    You question doesn’t sound "bad" at all to me. In fact, you are in a difficult position, not wanting to be blunt and to appear insensitive, and on the other hand, thinking about this cat’s quality of life.

    It is not just a question of being "selfish", and I don’t know the history of this woman and her cat so I cannot even speculate about her reasons.

    Some people feel that a pet should die "naturally" when it is time, religious issues come into play, and some people feel that putting a pet to sleep is tantamount to murder.

    Some folks feel that making that appointment is similar to an "execution" date. All people are really so different in the way they feel.

    Perhaps a gentle way to approach the subject is to ask her what she is feeling about her cat, and her concern for its well being. Share with her how you feel, and your thoughts. Tell her you are there for her and that you support her in whatever she decides. She may feel very torn and guilty no matter what she does, afraid to make the wrong decision. And while she is not home all day, perhaps this kitty is her only real companion.

    On the other hand, there are some very special things that you can bring up as you tell her how you feel.

    Comment on how you feel about this cat’s quality of life. Tell her that the decision is always hard for anyone to make. Just please don’t judge her, because she will become more upset and unwilling to look at options. Ask her whether she has any options for a cat that has been diagnosed as "untreatable".

    I have been in her position, years ago, with a cat that was my soul mate. It took me far too long to send her to the rainbow bridge, and my vet was praying she would pass in her sleep. It didn’t happen and I had to give her that final gift of release from her suffering. It was one of the most difficult choices I had ever made at that time. But I did know it was right.

    Here are some links that may be of help to you in helping her.


    I hope I have been of help to you.

    Owned by cats for over 40 years
    member of the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement

  2. bossy, 24 May, 2010

    print out some facts on the matter and give them to her to read. you can’t encourage her more beyond that, she’s going to do what she wants. nobody wants to hear they have to ‘put down’ a loved one, even if it is a pet

  3. chigwell_shell, 24 May, 2010

    Its very difficult to get someone to let go.

    All you can do is tell her that her cat is in pain and is suffering, tell her how quick and painless it would be to put the animal to sleep and end this suffering
    be very gentle with her.

  4. Macie, 24 May, 2010

    Ooooh, I’m sorry to hear that! We had to that with my grandma. Her cat is three years older than I am, I’m 16, so I guess the cat was around 130 in cat years, anyways. The cat was slowly dieing from not eating, i sat down and gave my grandma a hug and told her that it was time to let the kitty go. When she finally let it go, we agreed to get her a pretty little kitten. She was still sad, and the kitten didn’t replace her other cat, but it made her happy. =]

  5. chantelle p, 24 May, 2010

    Get her to sit down and cut it to her bluntly…Sometimes its the only way because they are just in denial and not taking it in because they don’t want it to be true…

    I would get the cat and show her it….and tell her all the pain that the cat is going through and how its unfair to keep the cat alive… she wouldnt like to suffer and if she loved the cat so much she will put it out of its misery…

    Maybe she is worrying about the vet bill…that she can’t afford it…or maybe she doesn’t want to be parted from the cat..

    Overall she needs to know the pain that she will be putting on the cat….the point you need to keep making is that it will be kinder for it rather to carry on suffering..

  6. Laredo, 24 May, 2010

    Ask her if she wants to make the cat continue to suffer just because she is a selfish person. Clearly it is suffering from both the disease and starvation and that is the worst form of animal cruelty. Tell her that it would be a merciful, loving act if she has the cat euthanized so it will stop suffering. Please stop using the words "put down." That just sounds so harsh and unloving.

  7. Connie S, 24 May, 2010

    unless you are living with them, you can’t know all of the circumstances behind the situation.

    If you do live with her, then you are in a position to offer assistance. Tell her you know it is hard emotionally and or financially to put a pet down, and offer to help – to be there, to offer to help pay for it, etc.

    if you do not live with her but are close enough to truly know the details of the situation, then the same as above.

    If you don’t live with her, and you are assuming the cat can’t eat, and is thin because of that and are making other assumptions, then you would be stepping on all kinds of toes. if you do feel comfortable talking to the woman, then see above.

    When my kitty was dying of cancer, she became very thin and tired. I would monitor her behavior daily and watch for signs she was ready to be put down. Those signs never came. She fought every day to stay alive. I finally couldn’t watch her fight any more, and ended her fight before she was ready mentally.

    You can’t know what is going on unless you are involved in the day to day care. I pray she is not being selfish and is working in the best interest of the kitty. if she isn’t, I pray you find the strength to have this conversation with her.

  8. eyJude, 24 May, 2010

    yOU HAVE TO BE VERY GENTLE about this one… obviously this cat means a lot to her.
    I had to put down my 21 yr old because she was fading fast. no one could have told me to do it.
    I would suggest that she start force feeding the cat. or that it MIGHT BE KINDER to have him put "TO SLEEP" suggest that if the cat is in pain it really doesn’t have quality of life. If it doesn’t eat it will starve to death… and the kinder thing.

    be gentle this cat probably has been through a lot of things with her.

    OH and you can OFFER to take the cat to the vet for her so she won’t have to do it… or go with her so she won’t have to go alone.
    good luck.

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