Facing the difficult decision to have your cat put down or seeking advice on euthanasia? Take a look at our guide.
While many cats live a long and happy life, there comes a time when you might notice that your cat's quality of life is being compromised.
Euthanasia means ending a life to relieve suffering and is sometimes known as ‘putting a cat to sleep’ or ‘putting a cat down’.
A cat’s quality of life can get worse for many reasons. When treatment is not possible or effective enough for your cat to live a full and happy life, euthanasia provides a way to prevent your cat from suffering.
Making the decision can be very difficult. Remember that you can always talk things through with your vet, who is there to help and advise you. Knowing what to expect can make it a little easier.
Your vet will be there to support you and discuss with you what is going to happen during the appointment, and they will ask you to sign a consent form.
Euthanasia involves the vet giving a drug that makes your cat lose consciousness and their heart stop. Other than the brief pinprick sensation of the needle, the injection causes no pain or discomfort.
Your vet might first give an injection of sedative, either into the scruff or along the back muscle. Alternatively, the vet may clip a little fur on your cat's leg and give the medication into the vein in their paw. Your cat will become relaxed and then unconscious over a period of minutes. The vet will then follow with the euthanasia medication which will make your cat fall asleep in a very short time and their heartbeat will stop a few moments later.
This is a very personal decision. Being there for your cat at the end so they can hear your voice and feel your touch may be less stressful for them and give you a chance to say goodbye. However, it is easy to understand why some people feel it is just too difficult or fear their own distress will upset their cat. We are all different, so the best advice is to do what you feel will be best for you and your cat.
Instead of taking your cat to your vet, you may want to consider having your cat put to sleep at home. Some practices will offer this, or there may be a local euthanasia service that you can contact. Again, it is what feels right for you, but being in the familiar environment of home can be of comfort to both you and your cat.
Cat euthanasia cost can vary from practice to practice, from around £100 up to £300. If euthanasia needs to be performed as an emergency at night or on the weekend costs may be higher. The appointment may cost more if you decide you’d like the vet to come to your home rather than the procedure being carried out at the surgery. Costs also vary depending on whether you want the vet to arrange for cremation.
Your practice can talk to you about the various costs and options. As it is a very distressing time you may want to consider paying in advance of the appointment as you are likely to be upset at the time.
You can decide in advance whether you'd prefer for your cat to be buried or cremated.
Your vet can arrange for your cat to be cremated, or you can take them to the pet crematorium yourself. Your cat can be cremated with other cats, or you can opt for an individual cremation and have the ashes returned to you. There can be a choice of urns, or the ashes can be returned in a box or tube if you plan to scatter them.
Alternatively, your cat can be buried in a pet cemetery. Most ceremonies can be followed by a short memorial service. If you would prefer to bury your cat in your garden, check with your local authority to ensure this is allowed.
Losing a pet is never easy and can be a traumatic experience. If you need help and support, you can visit our grief and loss pages, where you'll find contact details of our designated Paws to Listen telephone service.