Elderly Cat Not Eating: A Euthanasia Decision

20 y/o cat not eating, drinking little

I have a 20 y/o obese cat with the following medical history: urinating outside the box for past couple of years, but much worse in last several months; difficulty walking, rear legs weak and give out last couple of months; very social cat, but recently has been sleeping in the closet 95% of the time; drinking, urinating copious amounts. Over last three days, has not eaten, has had very little water, and has urinated very little (and only where he lays). He's very lethargic and sleeps in bathroom or closet. I'm sure he's dying and have been in touch with the vet by phone. I don't believe he's in any discomfort and taking him into the vet is torture for him, but of course I know soon I won't have a choice.

He recently had bloodwork and x-rays. The bloodwork, surprisingly, was relatively normal, although his bun was slightly elevated. X-rays showed what looked like no space between two veterbrae in the lower spine.

My question is, how long do I wait to have him euthanized? I don't want him to suffer. My vet is very good and told me that he would give him an injection of ketamine before the euthanasia to make him more comfortable. He also said today that as he becomes more dehydrated, it will become painful for him. Obviously, that's not what I want.

Your advice is much appreciated.


I am SO sorry we were not able to get to your email before now and I know you had him euthanized today because I responded to your new email.

I just want you to know that his living to such an old age was indeed a very special blessing. It is very unlikely that he could have survived even if you took him to the vet and that would have been my advice.

He obviously had lots of good care and love for him to have lived to be 20 years old and I commend you for that. I know your heart must be breaking, but try to be happy for his long life and knowledge that in the end you did the right thing by easing him on from this life.

My thoughts are with you.

Best,
Dr. Neely

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20 y/o cat not eating, drinking little update (2)

First thing this morning, Alex was euthanized. After eating a small amount of baby food yesterday, he urinated while lying down several times, and vomited a fairly large volume of frothy liquid with something that was gelatinous brown about 1 1/2 inches long. A couple of days ago, he vomited a large amount of pink-tinged fluid. Last night he kept moving around, about six inches at a time, trying to find someplace comfortable. He was in obvious discomfort, although he didn't make a sound.

I called the vet last night and made an appointment for early this morning. Alex was completely relaxed when I picked him up and wrapped him in a blanket. He didn't even attempt to move or struggle (very unlike him). He stayed in my lap when the vet injected him with ketamine, and he was gone in just a few minutes. There was no need for further drugs.

I still don't know exactly what caused the rapid decline, and I'm not sure it matters really. He was a big fat (17 lbs) happy cat and lived a long life. I'll miss him very much. He was my baby.

Thank you for the update although I am very, very sorry for your loss. I know how much it hurts. However, you absolutely did the very best thing for him.

In sympathy,
Dr. Neely

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