Sunday, November 3, 2013

What will happen if I have my cat euthanized?

by Amanda L. Maus DVM
Catalina Pet Hospital

Tucson, AZ

What is euthanasia?
Euthanasia is also known as putting an animal to sleep or putting an animal down.  Euthanasia is the process of providing a peaceful death in a relatively painless way.

There are several important decisions that pet owners must make when they decide to euthanize their pet:
  1. Do you want the procedure performed at your house or at your veterinarian's office?
  2. Do you and your family want to be with your pet during the process?
  3. Do you have a place to bury your pet or would you prefer cremation?
Setting up the appointment:
Your veterinarian's office staff can advise you of the method your veterinarian will use to put your cat to sleep as well as how much it will cost.  All veterinarians can perform euthanasias in their office during normal office hours.  Emergency 24 hour care facilities have a more flexible schedule.  Some regular as well as most mobile veterinarians can set up a specific time to come over to your house to perform the procedure. 

During the euthanasia:
Some veterinarians will have an IV catheter placed before giving a sedative, while others will give an initial sedative under the skin or in the muscle.  If a cat is severely ill, an initial sedative may not be needed.  After the cat is very sedated, an injection of a high dose of barbiturate anesthesia will be given that will quickly circulate causing your pet to pass within a few minutes.

You can choose to be with your cat for all or just part of the process.  Some people are embarrassed about the emotion they will display, however your veterinarian has performed the procedure in front of people showing various levels of grief and will not judge you by how you show your love for your pet.  As long as you are able to provide soothing love for your cat in their final moments, you should feel comfortable staying with your pet.  If you know that you will be unable to stay with your pet, feel confident in your veterinarian and their staff to provide a peaceful passing. 

What to do with your pet's body:
Some people have access to an area where they can legally bury their pet in their yard or at a pet cemetery.  The Pet Cemetery of Tucson is an option for Tucson residents.  This business provides transportation of your pet, burial sites, and cremation services. 

Your veterinarian may offer cremation through a local animal crematorium.  Your pet can be cremated with other pets and placed in a group burial site or your pet can be individually cremated with their remains returned to you. 

Some local human funeral homes will also perform pet cremations.  Most local animal control facilities and humane societies can also help with your pet's remains.

Grieving is a natural, expected process that will occur after your pet's euthanasia.  You may feel a mixture of guilt, anger, and sadness before you are able to accept your pet's death.  Do not feel rushed during this process.  Everyone recovers in their own time.  There are online resources such as Help Guide available to assist you.

You can make a donation to PAWSitively CATS in memory of your special pet.

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