Is It Time for Me To Release My Cat From Suffering?

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

Last year, my cat Kravitz underwent treatment for hyperthyroidism and a bladder infection. He was cured of the hyperthyroidism, but was diagnosed with mild kidney failure. He was switched to a renal support food, and he was fine for a while.

Last week, he stopped eating a lot and was constipated. A trip to the vet with some mild medication, sub-skin fluids, and an appetite stimulant, and Kravitz was back to his old self. At some point this week, he urinated a great deal on my bed, soaking through all my blankets. Since Kravitz recently had a urine test, my mother thinks it introduced another infection. However, Mom also thinks that the renal failure is advancing, and at 13 years old, she believes he’s on his way out.

I don’t want to believe Kravitz needs to be put down. I need him too badly. I’m going to try to consult a pet psychic next Thursday, and ask Kravitz what he wants to do. But what do I do if he says he needs to go, and how can I deal with this latest infection, besides completely stripping my bed every morning?

~ Leigh

Dahlia sits in a meatloaf position, her eyes closed, finding comfort in a sun puddle

Dahlia basks in a sun puddle on Mama’s bed, April 2012.

Siouxsie: There are times when it’s easy to know it’s time to release a cat from suffering. When Mama had to let Dahlia go last year, there was no question that she was in pain and it was clear what the right decision was.

Thomas: In the case of illnesses like chronic renal failure (CRF), it can be harder. Cats with that disease have ups and downs, and often veterinary treatment can get a cat feeling better — at least for a little while.

Bella: But eventually the bad times outweigh the good.

Siouxsie: Leigh, the only way you’re going to know for sure what’s going on with Kravitz is to get that information from your vet.

Thomas: If your vet does a blood test on Kravitz, you’ll have more tools to make a decision about what’s best for your kitty.

Bella: If his problem is just a urinary tract infection, antibiotics can clear that up and he’ll be back to himself again.

Siouxsie: On the other hand, if Kravitz is in late-stage kidney disease, it may be the kindest thing to release him.

Thomas: Kidney disease, unfortunately, doesn’t get better — especially after the kidney damage reaches a certain point.

Bella: On the other hand, cats with CRF can live good lives with some home support, including subcutaneous fluids and special diets.

Siouxsie: If you want to find out more about kidney disease in cats, is by far the best resource and support for people with cats in kidney failure.

Thomas: also has a page that describes end-stage kidney disease and the signs to look for as the end approaches.

Bella: Incontinence and loss of appetite are among those signs, unfortunately.

Siouxsie: We’d recommend that if Kravitz wants to sit on your bed (and clearly he does) and you don’t want him hosing down your sheets every night, you put some waterproof stuff on your bed — perhaps wee-wee pads with towels over them, or maybe plastic garbage bags with bedding materials on top, because no cat wants to sleep on garbage bags!

Thomas: Ultimately, Leigh, we’d recommend that you do whatever you need to do to logically understand what’s in Kravitz’s best interest. Lab tests and advice from your vet will be a big part of that. The animal communicator might be helpful in giving you emotional confirmation of what science tells you.

Bella: We understand that it’s hard to let go of a beloved friend. Mama’s been through this several times herself, and she has lots of compassion for you.

Siouxsie: But ultimately you need to do what’s right for Kravitz. If the right thing to do is to put him to sleep, it’s up to you to make that choice — and, as all cat lovers know, it’s the bravest, most loving and most heartbreaking choice you’ll ever have to make.

Thomas: We send lots of purrs your way. Please let us know how things turn out.

Bella: *sends loving head-bonks and purr therapy for you*

  • Jana

    I also struggled with this decision for my cat who was in stage 3-4 renal failure and on 5 medications including daily fluid therapy under his skin. It has been 6 months now since I made the call to euthanize him, but I still sometimes question if I made the right decision. It is a near impossible thing to make a life and death decision for a living thing that can’t make it for themselves. This article is well-said and I hope others will benefit from it.

    • Prisca Q. Setschen

      With the problems of illnesses, kidney failure and no more eating, it is time to release your cat to avoid suffering pain and to die miserably.
      We just had to do it to three cats, one already 16 years with us, who also stopped to eat and , despite our feeding with syringe, became just skin and bones. We really cry for every one of our animals and we bury them in carton coffins and covered with flowers. But we have to let them die in peace and without long suffering, even it is for us like losing a family member and still we shelter 80 cats and 4 dogs, all found, incoming, thrown in or thrown away animals.
      My husband, a foreigner, loves animals extremely and is very sad that local veterinaries are unable to determine illnesses of pet animals. So, during our 20 years ith such animals, we spent more for them than what we spent for our house, but still not a sigle sick animal relly has ever recoverd, all ends sooner or later still with death. Therefore we had to decide not to wait too long if there is no real recovert, it will only let our darlings suuffer and lastly still to die.
      It is very sad to say this, but at least the animal will die in peace and without a long suffering. We have countless pictures of our animal friends as a rememrance and hundreds of them when we display them with flowers before we say “Good Bye” and bury them.
      As a nice remembrance, look at the internet (Google) for “Rainbow Bridge”, it is my husband’s releave after every burial.

  • Sharon

    I lost my cat “Puppy” last October, he was literally dying in front of my eyes. . . he was telling me at least a week before he became so sick, I could feel him , see it in his eyes it was excruciating to see, feel and the guilt still haunts me. He was after all 19 years old, my baby, my friend, my everything at times. . . I grieved for 3 months crying every day I even began drinking to kill the pain in my heart but nothing worked. . . so my dears here’s what I know for sure, we know our animals especially if it’s one of a few. . . you have the connection, you may not be completely positive it is the end but you are thinking about the “end” for your beloved cat, just that tells me at least, that you suspect it is time. If he/she can’t eat, won’t eat, use the cat box or not use the cat box, either goes everywhere or doesn’t go at all, whimpers, has the third eye lid showing. . . . begin the grieving process now before your final decision. Your vet can also help in the decision if that comforts you a little. I also lost 3 others last year all too sick at the end . . . I completely understand and morn with you as you struggle thru this. It’s still so painful . . .

  • Gail

    Oh, Leigh, I so know what you are going through. What the ‘Esteemed Kitties’ have said is so Correct.
    This happened to the very first cat, I ever had, that was all mine. Kezia was beautiful cat and I will say she was 21 years old. She had a great life, but she did start doing what your beloved cat is doing. I took her to the vet and yes, he gave me medication, but after a couple of weeks, I had to take her back.
    What I couldn’t do, was let her go myself, she meant the world to me. I guess, I was lucky – the vet, who was a really lovely, compassionate person, who had been at the clinic right through Kezia’s entire life, told me it was time. I needed to hear it from him, as I, seriously couldnt make the decision.
    I know how if feels, but if you trust your vet, ask him outright. If he is a sensitive vet, he will give you an honest answer and wont keep suggesting to try this and that. I am sorry, if I sound slightly, well I dont know, heartless – I am not. My Kezia, meant the whole world to me – I couldnt make the decision.
    In all honesty, it took over 5 years before I could even think of getting another cat and it wasnt until one day when I walked past this pet shop that I saw these two absolutely gorgeous babies, that I melted. At the time, I was off work for an extended period, as I had been diagnosed with Clinical Depression (wow, it is all coming out now – thanks esteemed kitties for posting this letter). I went in, really to just get one, but found out they were brother and Sister, so had to get both. The thought of seperating was horrific. They were the best thing I had done – they listened to me etc etc.
    Anyway, I am raving on – I know how you are feeling and it is such an awful gut wrenching feel, but, if you find it difficult to make the decision yourself, even though in your ‘heart of hearts’, you know it is right, ask your vet, and if he is a good sensitive vet and not a money hungry one (sorry, but this can be the case), he will give you an honest answer and it will be the same as the ‘most esteemed Kitties’. I wish you well and like they said, I look forward to hear the outcome.

  • Melissa

    Please visit Tanya’s site for a wealth of information on CRF and fluid therapy. There is also a page there on knowing when it is time to let go.

    My cat, Jowls, was diagnosed with CRF many years ago. He lived over two years past diagnosis with nothing more than daily fluids. He frequently urinated in a special litter box taht I filled with 1″ kitchen napkins (and dumped every two days), but other than that used the regular litter box to poo, ate a regular diet, etc.

    Hugs to you as you experience this difficult time. (Also, check out Yahoo Groups at for several “groups” you can join to talk with others who have cats with CRF, if you desire.)

  • Granny Beth

    Such a hard post to read. My beloved Lucy died of kidney failure last week. The only good news is that she was a happy peppy smiling dog up until the last night. We’ve had to say good bye to many furry family members over the years. They always let me know when they are ready.

  • Marilyn

    I recently had to have my feline companion of 13 years sent to the Rainbow Bridge; it was, of course, very difficult, but I believe firmly in quality of life, and his was no longer a good one. He did have his good and bad days, but he was a very mellow and strong cat – I could still tell that any treatments for him would be intrusive and would make him sad. So, I had to let him go – it was horrible for me, but a blessing for him.

  • Multi-Facets

    Thank you all for your kind words, the links, and the article. So far, Kravitz is still doing all right; he’s eating, drinking, and using the litterbox. While I do have to strip my bed and put a shower curtain over it, he hasn’t made any more messes on it.

    When the time comes, I’m not going to force Kravitz to stay in a body that’s not doing him any good. For now, though, I’m cherishing all my time with him.

    Thank you all again. It means so much to me.

    = Leigh.

  • Multi-Facets

    PS: I’m on a new anti-anxiety medication that seems to be taking the edge off. Hopefully it’ll continue being helpful.