What is euthanasia?
Euthanasia literally means a ‘good death’ and is the word used to describe when a vet humanely ends the life of an animal. You may also hear people use the phrases ‘put down’ or ‘put to sleep’. Care must be used when using the term ‘put to sleep’ as children sometimes think this means the pet will wake up again.
How can I arrange it for my cat?
You can arrange a time to have your cat put sleep at your vet’s surgery or it may be possible for the vet to come to your home. Get in touch with your vet to discuss your preferences.
How much does it cost?
Costs vary from practice to practice but it will 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 look after the body afterwards. Your practice will always be happy to chat 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.
What happens during euthanasia?
Firstly, you will be asked to sign a consent form stating you want the euthanasia to go ahead. Your vet may also give your cat a sedative to help relax them if they are particularly fearful. Your vet may begin by shaving a small patch of fur on one of your cat’s front legs. They will then gently inject a high dose of anaesthetic into the vein so it goes directly into the bloodstream. However, if your cat is very sick or old, the vet may find it easier to find a vein in another part of the body.
Your cat will quickly lose consciousness and a few moments later their heart and breathing will stop as they painlessly slip away. Don’t worry if you hear them take a deep breath or two and see their muscles twitch, these are not signs of pain or distress. Your cat’s eyes are also likely to stay open and, as their muscles relax, their lips will pull back and their bladder or bowels may empty. Finally, your vet will check for a pulse or heartbeat and may place your cat in a sleeping position.
Should I be there?
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 gives 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.
What happens after euthanasia?
You may want to decide in advance if you wish for your cat to be buried or cremated so that you don’t have to make this decision at what could be an upsetting time. You have many options.