Putting Your Pet to Sleep

Sleeping gray cat

What can I say about Leo, mi amore? He is the best bad cat ever. That’s not to be confused with the best cat ever. There is a very important distinction.

The best cat ever might not tip over their litter box, kick all the litter into the space between the washer and dryer, then crap in the empty box.

The best cat ever might not tear the shower caddy off the wall and eat ¾ of a bar of oatmeal soap and throw up bubbles for two days.

The best cat ever might not knock over a $30 canister of leg wax , step in it, become adhered to the carpet, and then howl like a crazy person at 4 o’clock in the morning, not because he is stuck, but because he was planning on getting stuck in the cords to the blinds like some horrifying cat-marionette and wasn’t planning on getting stuck to the carpet till next week.

But the best bad cat ever totally would.

Leo the cat
Leo, the best bad cat ever

Leo, the bunny king, the pleasure pig, the bad little cat man… he cracks me up every single day.

I say that Leo is the best bad cat ever because he is still alive in my heart. I should say that Leo was the best bad cat ever. He died this week.

My heart aches. My home feels strange and empty. I keep going to feed him and have to stifle calling for him. Creatures of habit and all…

I have to believe there is a lesson of great value to learn with all heartaches, with all pains. And as blurry-eyed, as I am, I want to do the most loving thing I can for you and yours. And for me, because I am really writing this one for myself.

I felt so guilty putting my beloved bad kitty down. There was the pressure from the vet and an entire lack of support to be found anywhere, not in real life, not online. So today, I wanted to give you something I didn’t get:

Today, I am giving you permission to put your pet to sleep.

Here are five obstacles you may be trying to overcome:

1. You can’t afford it

There is no guilt like the one that comes from not having the money to take care of something that you love. If you can not afford to provide your pet with a life-saving treatment, you can’t afford it. In a perfect world, we would all have unlimited resources but we don’t.

I always advocate adopting a shelter pet because you extend their life to more than what they would have had, and that is something you can feel good about long after they are gone.

2. You can afford it… technically

Strangely, this can be even more stressful. My close friends lost their cat about 6 months ago and seeing what they went through, and what they put their cat through because they could just barely afford treatment, was such a lesson.

Their 12-year-old cat, “Murphy,” had lost consciousness one morning and after a trip to the emergency vet and was diagnosed with a softball-sized tumor pressing on his lung.

The vet told them the cat had to go into surgery, which he had a sixty percent chance of surviving.

Four days of labored breathing later, Murphy underwent surgery. True to his namesake, everything that could go wrong went wrong. He suffered intense complications. Hours after the operation, the hospital informed my friends that he would have to undergo another surgery at an out of state facility the following week. He would need to be kept in the hospital until then.

One long car drive and two lethargic weeks later, Murphy was again found unconscious. My friends rushed him back to the vet and were informed that there had been complications from his second surgery and he would need to return to the out-of-state hospital. There, they discovered he would have to have another surgery.

In the end, Murphy underwent five surgeries, four out-of-state trips, and $18,000 in medical treatment. He spent the last six months of his life on the road,  in a cage, in the hospital. He was repeatedly stuck with needles, pumped full of IV fluids, catheterized, and put under anesthesia. He died the way he had lived the previous six months: painfully and in a strange place.

Just because you can afford it, doesn’t necessarily mean you should do it.

3. They would be in extended pain

Leo had oral cancer. I could have had all of his teeth and part of his jaw removed. I could have started him on chemo.

But Leo was a creature who lived in the moment. He was the ultimate hedonist of the animal kingdom. He couldn’t understand that a lot of pain and discomfort might make him live longer. He would only know that he was in pain. Would subjecting him to months of discomfort for a small chance at a slightly longer life really be for him, or would it be for me?

4. They are old

There is a huge societal pressure to keep our pets alive as long as possible. It is so easy to project our own fears of death, our own sense of what life means, and our own desires and goals onto our pets.

Leo was old and he wasn’t hanging in there waiting to see his grandchild being born. He wasn’t trying to finish that book he promised himself he would write.  Although I am sure if he were to write one, it would be a cookbook called The Delicacies of Crickets, Grasshoppers, and Large Pieces of Scrap Fabric.

He was a happy agent of chaos. He was a powerful, old beast and I couldn’t take that away from him. What I could do was not project my goals and desires onto him. He had a beautiful life filled with anarchy and it was over.

5. You can do right by them

We got him high on catnip and snuggled his beautiful, evil little face as the vet put him to sleep in the comfort of his own bed.

Austin Powers Cat GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Some might be horrified that we didn’t do everything in our power to prolong the life of our cat. But in my heart, I know I did right by him.

I wanted to give you the permission that I didn’t get.

I give you the permission to love your pets enough to put them to sleep.


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126 thoughts on “Putting Your Pet to Sleep

  1. You did the right thing, Leo sounds like the bestest baddest kitty ever, and I’m so sorry for your loss. We’ve lost four in the last four years, and I still miss them all. Love can be hard.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so, so sorry for your loss. And, I agree that sometimes it is the best thing to do. I think of how many months our old kitty Cinnamon spent in pain because we’d had her literally since the day she was born (a whopping sixteen years) and my mother just couldn’t bear to let her go. I could see how miserable she was every time I looked at her, the poor thing.

    Sometimes it’s best to just give them peace. You did the right thing by Leo by letting him go while he could still pass away in relative comfort. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m so sorry for your loss, I lost my dog a couple of years back by Christmas and it was so painful, I would say it gets better (you know the cliche saying) but it takes times. With my dog, we did end up getting another one but she would never replace my precious dog.
    Leo sounds like a little bad ass cat, and sometimes such like your case, you have to put your pet down as it’s for the best, for both you and the animal.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. In the end, this is the final, kindest gift that we can give to our animal friends: to alleviate their suffering. It is a promise we have to be ready to keep, no matter how painful. I have been where you are, more times than I care to think about. Thank you for sharing Leo with us in this way.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh my gracious. I hope writing this helped you as much as you’ve helped every animal lover who reads it. What an incredible way to give back through your pain.
    I’m so very sorry for your loss. It sounds like Leo is a bad cat for the history books. 💛

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Aww, Tiara. This post broke me. It hurts to know that you didn’t have the support you needed, and I wish I would have known so that I could have offered some to you. You see, sadly, this is my wheelhouse. I am still reeling from the loss of my pets. In Sept of 2012, I let my 19-year-old cat go. In Sept of 2103, I let my 15-year-old Jack Russel go. Then, in Oct of 2014, I let my 16-year-old Jack Russel go. I held him close to my chest as he took his last breath, and my life has not been the same since. I feel a kind of lonliness I have never before known. They all had amazing lives, and I know I did what was best for them, but it wasn’t easy and, of course, lots of people were telling me what I should and shouldn’t do. After putting the second one to sleep, though, I basically told people to go fuck themselves when it came to my third. Nobody’s opinion was needed – it was b​etween him and me. There is a hole in my heart that will never be filled, but the memories I have of them are worth every ounce of heartache. Thank you for sharing this and for reminding pet owner’s out there that the hardest choice is soemtimes the best choice. I hate that you are dealing with this. Please know I am thinking of you and hope your heart feels a little lighter soon. Big hug to you, darling, and tons and tons of love. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m so very sorry for your loss of Leo. He sounds like a truly badass kitty. I’m in tears here, as this is still raw for me with having to say goodbye to my boy Charlie. I totally agree that putting a pet to sleep is one of the most loving things we can do for our furbabies. It’s an incredibly painful decision, but we can’t make it based on our desire to keep them longer. Thanks for posting this, and be kind to yourself xx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh Sweetie, I wish so much that I could have told you at the time that you were doing right by Leo in saving him from suffering, that you had done right by him his whole life. It pains me to know that you are suffering this loss and that you ever, for any moment, questioned that what you have always done for Leo was out of love. You are love and kindness and generosity; you are fierce and, I imagine a bit bad, just like Leo. My oldest, Daisy, is 15 and starting to fade; I have always know that I will not put her through the suffering of having to endure endless medical treatments. She is my baby, the one I fed with a dropper at 3 weeks old, the one I was told may not survive. She has survived and thrived and I will always do right by her, no matter how much it may hurt me. You did right by Leo. My love goes out to you in this time of grief, but know that everything you did and do comes from a place of love; this is evident even through the tangle of the virtual world.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I’m so sorry for your loss. We all know it happens, but it doesn’t make it easy, at all! I’ve had to put several to sleep. Going to hug my cats now. My heart breaks for you. Thank you for your post. I know it was hard.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Beautifully written. I’m sorry for your loss. One of my earliest blog posts had been about my fur-babies… What we wont do for our pet family members is incredible, but like you say – just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Do what is best for your pet, first and foremost. Hugs!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Sorry for your loss, you absolutely did the right thing and also you gave your cat a lovely end. I love your post. I always say, cats don’t think, nooo, I haven’t seen the pyramids yet! Preventing suffering is the most important thing.


  12. I am so sorry for your loss. I’ve been through this more than once, so I can definitely relate, and every time I had to make the decision, a little part of me died too. Or maybe it died because one of my fur-baby had just died. I think making such a hard decision is just one more way to tell a pet how much you love him/her. How much you care about him/her – more than about yourself and your happiness.

    A few weeks ago I decided to give the two strays I adopted a voice. I’m new to this – I may not be doing it right, but I will learn.

    Thank you for this beautifully written post. You’ve just made me cry, and remember. My sincere condolences.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I had to put my dog down in December, and the guilt of making the right decision for them can be unbearable. You did the right thing. It hurt you. It was hard. But it was right for your cat. Thank you again for a thoughtful blog. I hope you are getting the support you deserve, even if it is after the fact

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Friend of mine had a huge great dane. Both he and his dog went over a cliff and fell like fifteen feet into some rocks.(that’s not the funny part? wtf) Dog broke it’s back.

    This idiot douche friend of mine kept him alive, for about five extra years so he could carry him everywhere, build ramps so he could walk, spent thousands of dollars on treatment…. why? So he could say “but i just love my fucking dog”

    no, that’s not love you stupid nine fingered moron.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. A few months ago I had Fifi put to sleep. She was the best good cat in the world. I mean, she was such a good cat she was practically a saint. Sometimes I used to wish she’d let herself go just a little bit, so she could learn to enjoy herself fully.

    I don’t believe in an afterlife for any of us, but perhaps I’m wrong, and if I am then maybe Leo’s teaching Fifi to live a little, and Fifi’s teaching Leo to chill out and sit down more.

    Also, re. wanting to call your cat when they’re not there – I’m not ashamed to say that for several weeks after Fifi died, I found myself walking into the living room and calling out “Pretty Cat! Pretty Cat? Where’s my Pretty Cat?” (I called her Pretty Cat, because she was… well, a pretty cat). It gave me some form of comfort: gradually I felt the feeling of the Pretty Cat fading, and that was sad but OK.

    I miss her a lot, and I’m sure you miss Leo too. But we had them for a while, and I wouldn’t swap that for anything. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  16. I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my Sadie Cat after 19 years together in October 2016 and she is still right there with me. I love how you honoured your friend and your best bad cat ever, and you made me laugh out loud. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 3 people

  17. I have a 9-month old kitten named Spirit who terrorizes me at 6 am with her endless scratching, meowing at my door, shoves her tiny head into my hand while I’m trying to read and sneezes directly in my face. Yet, I love her so much. She’s the perfect friend because she listens without interrupting me (If you don’t count her licking her butt as interrupting) . I say all this to say that I’m sorry you lost your friend but I’m happy you have great memories and thanks for preparing me for the inevitable.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. This was just too real so I’ve been putting off reading it and even now I just skimmed through it (I’m super sensitive to these things), but I feel for you and thank you for writing this. Sending lots of love to you and Leo. That’s the thing with pets… you love them so much and they can’t live as long as you, generally, but without them, life would be so bland. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth the pain, but I always find myself thinking it is. All good things in life are worth it.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. This touches me so deeply. My Melvin Cornelius, aka Fat Guy, aka Baby Kitty Man, aka Handsome, is sixteen years old, and though he is debonair as fuck, his age grows more apparent every day. Melvin is healthy, but I know one day I’m going to wake up, and he will not be. I love my guy so much. He’s my child, my best friend, my therapist. And he loves me.

    Thank you for writing this post. I’m sending you lots of love. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Thank you for a beautifully-written post. This is the permission I needed last year when our beloved Cubby struggled with cancer. We tried one round of chemo and it made him so terribly ill, on top of the cancer issues. He was suffering and in the end, we decided to let him go rather than prolong his agony. I miss him every day and still struggle with that decision (we could have paid for more treatment, but …). Thank you for your words. You’ve helped to heal my heart.

    My sincere sympathy for your loss. Please know that there are many people out here in the ether thinking of you.


  21. I’m so very sorry for your loss! I’m currently through a similar situation. My cat Baxter is 21 years old. I know, that’s insanely ancient! On New Years Eve he had a stroke. He couldn’t walk on his own, we had to help him do everything. We have him on a steroid which has helped immensely but it won’t work forever. He has had a few strokes since the first one and eventually he will start having strokes again. A part of me wonders if I’m doing the right thing. He is perfect happy right now, he even seems to have more energy now. I know I’m just prolonging the inventive and I wonder if I am doing this for myself because I can not cope with losing him or if I am doing what is best for him.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I had two cats. One of them suffered from polycystic kidney disease and an enlarged heart, also a scarred liver. I didn’t want to put her to sleep because thought she wanted to go on living and because I was afraid if I put her to sleep it would be because it costed too much money to keep her alive. I was struggling financially back then and didn’t want my decision to be selfish. I got a job with longer hours just to be able to afford her treatment. Looking back, I realize I should’ve put her to sleep. She’d died in my house, and she mewed loudly a second before she’d died. I was in total shock and felt like a zombie for a year, still grieving a decade later, now.

    I hate when people say, “Just buy another cat,” like it was a furniture or a toy. But with my other cat, I did the right thing. He was old and in pain, could hardly walk. And this was a cat that used to be totally hyperactive. I decided I wasn’t going to let him suffer, I’ve learned my lesson because after the death of the first cat, I’ve thought about it and obsessed over it again and again until I realized all I was doing was make her suffer. I’d put him to sleep, and despite the pain it had caused me, I know I did the right thing and don’t regret it. The doctor said there’s no way to stop the pain, no operation, no stronger medicine, nothing, and the shot he gave my cat had weakened the pain some, but he was still in constant pain and miserable.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Sorry for your loss. I have been there and it was so painful. I can’t imagine going through it again though I have three more cats. Mind over matter, I tell myself I gave them the best life possible, and I do get a little comfort from that.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. I am sorry for your loss. So much of your post hit home with me. I just wrote one for myself about my 14 year old cat I just lost in January. I wrote it as if I was talking to him. Mine took such a quick turn I decided to stay home with him where I thought he’d be more comfortable. My heaet goes out to you. 💜

    Liked by 3 people

  25. I worked at an animal hospital in New Jersey for several years. I started as an animal attendant and worked my way up to outpatient technician. The very first animal I held was for a euthanasia (unbeknownst to me who was a mere one day on the job and hadn’t even been given all three rounds of rabies shots yet).
    The doctor who asked me to hold the dog didn’t know I was new as it was a large hospital and I was too nervous to say no so I followed along. It wasn’t until the “pink juice” was given and I felt the dog in my arms slipping away that I realized what was happening. Still I held my composure for the families sake and when it was over I quietly left the room and rushed to my supervisors office where I broke down in tears, mere seconds from saying “I don’t think I can do this”.
    After explaining to me that it was in fact something they do there he asked what I would do if it were my dog. To be honest I had never thought about it and I’ve never had to do it but I can honestly say that if I had to I would do what’s right for my pet. It’s never an easy decision and we don’t want to let them go but if we can end their suffering and know that there is no chance they are going to get better then we are doing the right thing no matter how much it hurts.


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