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Someone Please Tell Me This Gets Better...


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I need help. I feel like I am drowning here. I can actually feel the pain in my heart and on my chest. Two days ago I made the decision to have our cat "Bill" ( a female.. don't ask! ) of 14 years Euthanized. Now I spend every second doubting my decision, reliving every second of the past month and questioning how sick she was, and whether or not I did the right thing. Here is the story.

Several months ago we noticed that Bill's breathing had become noticably loud. She sounded a bit like Darth Vader.. to give you an idea. When Bill would sneeze, she sneezed blood everywhere. I thought it was maybe allergies ( we had a horrible season) but when it persisted.. we took her to the vet one month ago.

The vet said that Bill most likely had a tumor in her sinus cavity. The vet visit was frustrating.. I thought we would go in.. and have blood tests and xrays .. .something.. ANYthing...

but the vet explained that blood tests only show blood cancers.. so the type of cancer probably afflicting Bill would not show on the blood tests. No xrays.. because a cat's sinus cavity is so small, that they would have to be in the exact right position at the exact right second to even show a tumor. She did say that she could refer us to an oncologist if we wanted, but really that we should go home and enjoy Bill while we could. I asked how long.. Months? Years? All she said was that it wouldnt be years.

I struggled with that vet visit.. unsure if the vet was blowing us off .. or if she was trying to save us money.. which is what I ended up accepting as truth.

The vet's office gave us a 14 day dosage of Clavamox, in order to attempt to reduce the swelling around the presumed tumor, and make Bill's breathing easier. The Clavamox worked like a miracle. Bill's breathing noise stopped and she seemed to be 100% "healed." I went so far as to ask if Bill would be able to STAY on the meds.. but was told no.. because it can cause diareah if taken long term.

Bill completed her two weeks on the meds and then stopped.

About ten days later... the breathing noises returned. No bloody sneezes this time, more of a wheeze.. sounded like she was trying to suck air in through a pinhole. It was worse at times and better at times. There was a night on the couch that we cringed everytime she took a breath.. listening to her wheze and squeak. Then there were mornings she seemed better.. the breathing still noticable but not horrid. ( This was all in a period of a week or so after the noises resumed)

Wednesday night the Vet's office agreed to give us more clavamox.. Said that Bill could have one week on the meds.. followed by one week off.. to see if it helped. I was so relieved to go pick it up. The miracle pill.

Wednesday night Bill took her pill..and then lay with us on the couch sounding horrendous.. puffing out her cheeks when she breathed.. squeaking air in and out.

Thursday morning Bill took her pill.. and then followed my daughter and I to the door when we left.. sitting in the hallway staring at us.. something she had never done. My 11 yr old said it seemed like Bill was saying goodbye.

Thursday evening Bill refused to take her pill.. ( we had been placing it in a pill pocket that she loved) She also refused ( initially ) her wet cat food.

Later that evening we were able to get her to take the pill and eat some food.. but the breathing was once again bad. Bill would climb on and off my lap... an overwhelming desire to be pet.. but she would go off and on my lap..several times in a period of a minute.. as if she couldnt decide if she wanted to be pet or if she felt to bad...

Listening to her breathe, and watching the expression on her face Wednesday and Thursday .. my daughter and I decided that she was in pain.. and that we needed to make "the decision."

Friday morning Bill lay on a kitchen chair.. wheezing...

I called the vet and made an Euthanasia appointment for 10am.

Friday morning Bill actually wanted to eat... she wanted her treats... although she seemed to not be able to smell them and it took her a while to decide to actually eat them.

Bill lay on my lap here at my laptop friday morning while I just sat and cried.

We took her to the vet...and she was wheezing, yet active and alert - jumping on and off the table in the exam room.. trying to get out.

I kept telling people.. I wish she would be SICKER.. I wish she would be lethargic in the corner.. so the decision would be more clear to me. She had some awful nights.. and then some ok days.. where the symptoms didnt disappear.. but they were not as bad. I wish there was some consistencey. How do I know if it's time or not?

We at with Bill and stroked her, hugged and kissed her, and explained what a great cat she had been as she died.

Since Friday I am overwhelmed with guilt and questions.

I go back and forth..

some hours I believe I did the right thing.. she was not well.. she was not treatable.. she was starting to not smell.. starting to refuse food off and on..

and then some hours.. I feel like I as hasty.. was the breathing as bad as I remember it...? ( my daughter confirms this.. but is she only trying to make me feel better? )

I can't stand that I am the only adult in this house..

I made the decision to have her killed..

I took her away from my child..

and from our dog of 14 years that grew up with Bill from puppyhood..

I look for her everywhere I go in this house..

I feel like I can actually feel her in my lap..

I feel like I am losing my mind.

Should I have waited..?

I was petrified to wait... in case she progressed over the weekend ( emergency care was not an option saturday and sunday )

Someone tell me PLEASE that this gets better. I feel like I am dying.


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Hi, Im so sorry for your loss, I feel your pain, my cat pass away 10/13/10, just a few weeks ago, she was only 2 1/2 years old. We found her when she was 4 weeks old inside of a bulldozer engine that my husband was operating at the time thank god he heard them crying. Im assuming she was abandoned by her mother. We brought her to a vet to find out she had a very bad heart, so we bought her to a cardiologist for a tests but were told she only had 6 months to 3 years max, she had medications daily. And I tried to get her a heart transplant (i know im crazy) and was very willing until i was told i would have to adopt another cat that would be a match to her and have that cat put down and take the heart. I just couldn't do that to another animal. So we decided to just give her the best life we could for what time she had on this earth. but we still knew someday she would pass we were not expecting it at all when it happened. We brought her to the vet because we could see she was in distress, so i had asked my husband to go have her put down and he ended up coming home with her and the vet gave her meds to clear the fluid from her lungs and pain pills, i believe the vet knew she wasn't going to live long and pretty much sent her home to pass. and she passed the following day and im so happy he didn't put her down she passed in my arms but it was the saddest thing to see. I cry daily for her and also look everywhere for her so i know what the pain feels like and my heart also hurts with chest pains. Your Bill is not really gone just out of sight she will always be in your heart forever as my Emily will alway be in my heart. Im not the best person for advise i just wanted you to know your not alone, Your Bill looks like my Emily.



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First of all, sit down and take a deep breath. It will get better in time. You are grieving, but also you are second guessing your decision and creating a personal hell for yourself. Stop it. I know what you feel like right now. Let me explain. I lost my beloved Fletcher just days befor Christmas (almost two years ago next month). He was only nine and I thought we had alot more time togather but fate had different plans. Just like you our vet discouraged expensive surgery options and bloodwork helped only in guessing that he had liver cancer. A grapefruit sized tumor in his dachshund/chihuahua tummy that caused him to slow down and stop eating suddenly. The night we had him put to sleep was awful. The vet was an old friend of ours and he came to the house on a Sunday night...shaved Fletch's little arm so he could get the shot into the vein easily. Mu puppy looked up at me for approval as he proceeded. My husband had dug the grave in the back yard before dark and we had to work the next day so out he went after with his blamket and bed all wrapped up around him in the dark we buried him. It had taken a bit of time as his little heart didnt want to stop beating! I was devastated. He was still getting up to go outside to potty. he was such a gentleman to the end. He was so connected to me and I knew that after ten days of not eating he would die a horrible death. the next morning it snowed. I had this obsession that he might be cold out there under the tree all by hinself under the snow. I had killed him. I was miserable, and as I work from home I spent weeks looking out my kitchen window to where we had buried him and mourned. Fast forward...a christmas puppy. I wasnt looking for but came across a litter of pups in a parking lot freezing while a lady tried to sell them. My fletcher had been a brindle color and as I inquired about her litter she pushed a 6wk old brindle boxer/pitt into my lap thru the car window.I came back an hour later to get the pup and when i peered into the kennel in the back of her truck I saw a pile of 14 puppies all different colors tying to keep warm. I spoke to them and all of a sudden I heard a sqeal and saw the pup I had held an hour before climb out from under his siblings to run to me! He remembered me ! I recofnized his markings and his wite spot on his nose. I took him home and was sure Fletcher had sent him to help ease my pain.He always walkedwith his back arched so we called him Dobby the christmes house elf :) Fast forward 6 mos.I had fallen in love with this new dog. He reminded me a Fletcher in his color, but also in that he would look at mike Fletcher had donr for many years. He and I connected, and he had a focus that was uncanny. I had enrolled him in dog training classes as his pitt bull side worried me. I was unfamiliar with that breed. During the training his teacher told me he was special and we should pursue therapy dog classification. I was so proud of him and he loved going out and meeting people. Then he got sick. For two months and over one thousand dollars in vet bills we couldn't identify why every ten days he would begin vomitting and dirarreah, then seem to get better and then fall apart. After 2 months of struggle and weight loss he died in my arms on the kitchen floor at 7:10 am just as my daycare children were beginning to arrive for the day. He was exactly 9mos old and he was gone. We buried him later that day in the backyard just a few feet away from Fletcher. I felt oddly like Fletcher was not alone now. I went into a funk that was intense. I lit candles one week from his death and then one month..for a while in the kitchen I lit a candle for him every morning at 7:10 just to mark the moment I lost him. Months later I would still get empotiona; when I let myself relive it all. I have another puppy. A girl this time. She is a brindle boxer/pitt named Sophie. She is healthy and sweet. She was born the day after Dobby died. I found her on Facebook and felt it was meant to be.She will never replace my Fletcher or my Dobby but I tell her all the time she would have loved them as I did. What I learned was this...I think Dobby needed me. He picked me out when I returned to the litter. I think he needed me to be patient enough to help him through whatever it was that was going to kill hom so young. Many people wouldn't have put up with his messy illness for so long. He taught me something. I had done what you are doing now. I had convinced myself that I killed Fletcher too soon. That I hadn't let him go in his time. I didn't kill Dobby, and I lost him after a long difficult illness. He died inmy arms and I felt terrible I couldnt help him. What I learned was that there is no way to know what the"right" thing to do is.There is no way to lose a pet that is easier than another. What you have to do now is accept that what you did for your pet, you did out of love. And accept that he knew that. In the moments just before he passed, you were there with him telling him how much he meant to you. He wasn't alone. My Dobby took a terible turn for the worse the night before he died. All of a sudden he wouldnt lay down and he arched his back and stood for hours. We placed his pillow besidehim and blamket over him. I couldn't call the emergany vet as I was out of money. I felt like I failed him.After he died I was hysterical at times as I relived it. My huisband pointed out that if we had rushed him to the er vet that last night, they would have sedated him and left him in a kennel all alone till morning. He would have died alone in the dark instead of in my arms on the warm kitchen floor with the sounds of children and the smell of coffee and breakfast cooking like he was used to. He tried so hard not to die. His final breath was so dramatic as I could see he didnt want to go yet. I do not understand death, but I know that his eyes met mine before he went and he knew he was loved, he knew he was care for and he knew he was not alone.You did all that you could for your cat. He knew that. You loved him, and that is a wonderful thing and sometimes all we can give in the end. Let yourself grieve. Light a candle maybe or something that makes you think of him. Just kmow that it will take time, but you will heal.Kmow that your decision was made out of love and stop second guessing yourself. Move forward slowly and carry bill's memory with you. Give it time.




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does it get better? well, it doesn't feel quite so bad after a week or 2. time does heal to some extent, but it never disappears. you won't ever forget Bill, but when you think of her you will smile rather then weep. i know, because i've been there, and am there. euthanasia is a great way to go really, you wouldn't want her to be in agony? you ask should you have hung on? but who would benefit from that? you? the animal? neither. you didn't 'kill' her, it would have happened within days anyway by the sound of it. i have had the same thoughts, believe me. but thinking rationally, you can only do the right thing, at the right time, and you did. and it's done now, you can't change anything. but if you could, you wouldn't do it differently. you're not dying, you can't. you have to press on for the sake of your daughter and your dog too. you've done 100$ exactly the right thing, and been a responsible pet owner, you should pat yourself on the back rather than beat yourself up. tomorrow will probably feel a little better, the day after likewise, a couple of days later your car could go bang [mine did!] and you have more mundane crap to deal with too. let us know how you bear up. ;)

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It is clear that you love Bill. You saw her struggling to breathe. Your decision was a compassionate one. They are harder to make. Know that she is breathing fine now and chasing butterflies with everyone else who has crossed over. She thanks you for taking such good care of her. You put an end to her suffering.

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You did the right thing. Your story is very similar to my story with my cat "King George" (named that to differentiate between my husband George)...I had the cat when I met my husband so they both had the same name.

I was told my cat had an abcess above his eye. The emergency vet (my own vet was closed, it was a weekend so I traveled to the city to one of those high faluting places.) examined him, expressed some green stuff out of his sinuses, and showed me how to, (it looked gangrenous) and put him on antibiotics. He ran the course of antibiotics and wasn't any better so I renewed the Rx. Still no better. He was miserable, underweight, you could tell his whole head hurt like 1000 times a head cold, and he wasn't improving. I took him to my vet who examined him and immediately said he had cancer that started above his eye and traveled through his head and he showed me where it came out at, in the roof of his mouth. My God! I felt horrible! My poor cat had suffered so much, so needlessly that last month of his life, when he should have been put to sleep to start with! Nothing was going to make him better! And I think of how stoically he took all that we put him through, the poor baby! He was 19, it was time for him to go in peace. We had him put to sleep and I held him in my arms as he drifted off to cat heaven, dreaming of chopped bacon and catching moles.

It is hard for us to let them go, but the truly loving thing to do is what is best for THEM! We are fortunate with animals, we do not have to let them suffer needlessly like us humans go through. Fortunately, this is not the end, we WILL get to be with them again, and I WILL hold my George in my arms again...both George's. Right now I have to content myself that husband George is looking after King George and both of them are waiting for me to join them.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Your story is so sad, I just cried my heart out. I had to put down my Teddy. For 15 years he followed every step I took. Slept on my shoulder. He was never more than 5 feet away from me. The day my brother-in-law was killed I knew I had to make a trip to Ohio. My partner died just 7 days before. Teddybear was so sick and weak, he had a bad heart.I knew I had to do this before I left, I could not leave this to a friend to deal with while I was gone. So basically, I had 3 deaths to deals with. Then his brother, Toby grieved so deeply that in 2 months I had to send him home to God. I'm so sorry for you. I know how your heart is breaking. Let us know how you are doing.

There are 2 cats here, but I never really bonded with them. I am trying now to know them better.They seem to know I am sad, but they will not let anyone hold them. So I have no one to hold and cry except an electric heating pad and a pillow. When I break down, which is often I don't know who I am grieving for, Sheryl, David, Teddy or Toby. It's been 3 months since the first death and I fall apart daily. I need help and I know it!

I have asked myself over and over if I did the right thing with Teddy and Toby. And the same as you, I guess the answer is yes.Your bond with Bill is something special and no one can ever take that away from you. And when I had to put the second dog, Toby, down I asked myself again. Is he sick enough. And I guess when you have to say "sick enough" then it is time. although It took me 3 weeks of cancell appointments, crying jags, holding Toby for hours to finally make the decision. And he did the same thing. He showed off in the waiting room by howling at all the other dogs. But he was nearly blind, deaf and very unsteady on his feet amoung other things. He fell in the pool frequently. And with the cold weather here, it would have been cruel to risk his falling in again. It hurts, Oh God it hurts so much. Thank you for sharing your story. May we all meet again on the Rainbow Bridge.

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Christine...my heart goes out to you. It is so very hard.

I can promise you it does get better after a lot of crying and time. At least, this has been my experience.

I had to have my much loved guinea pig put to sleep a few years ago. She had issues with overgrown teeth and I hadn't realised until she became very thin and stopped eating. The vet advised I have her put down as it was apparently a genetic fault. Like you, I beat myself up over whether I should have done more, made the right decision etc, especially as I read somewhere that teeth problems can often be fixed. However, the vet assured me it was the right thing to do and I didn't want her to suffer so I agreed to have her put to sleep. I did the best I could with the knowledge I had at the time.

This is key:

YOU DID THE BEST YOU COULD WITH THE KNOWLEDGE YOU HAD. Right or wrong is irrelevant, you intended the asbsolute best for your cat and this is what I believe matters. This doesn't take the pain away but I hope it eases the guilt. Guilt is natural but it only causes more suffering. You did the right decision for your cat and nobody could ask more than that. You made it out of love and this shows me that your cat knew he was loved.

Time does help. The pain doesn't go completely - my mum's beloved dog died 13 years ago and she still misses her - but you do get to a stage where it's in the background more. Give into the pain and hurt, this is what gets it out and reduces it to bearable levels. Being in the grip of strong emotion is hard and feels overwhelming but this is the fastest way of feeling better. Emotion wants to come but it wants to go.

Thinking of you.

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Hey Christine, just stumbled across your post today....I too have lost many animals over my life, in lots of different ways & it hurts so badly. I can think of them now without overwhelming pain, but at the time it hurt so badly.

In the end it comes down to: if we let them carry on in that state are we prolonging their life, or their death? It seems clear in your case that carrying on would have just been prolonging the dying process.

We are priviledged to be able to spare them suffering. This is what you did & makes you a loving pet owner.

So sorry for your loss. XXX

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  • 1 month later...

I had my 15+ year old dog put down a week ago. I thought, this time I am sure, I won't second guess the decision.

But I was wrong. I am second guessing the decision, and it is a very painful time for me. The advice..."You made the best decision you could make with the knowledge you had". was very helpful. Still, if I had it to do over, maybe I would have brought her home to die, but that probably would have been painful too...to see her suffer before dying. In the end, I guess there is no way to avoid the pain, but maybe the next time, I will bypass the euthanasia??? No matter how I have approached it, it has brought me pain and guilt.

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