Injured stray feral cat - guilt after euthanasia

Katerday

TCS Member
Thread starter
Kitten
Joined
May 5, 2020
Messages
7
Reaction score
7
I'm grief stricken with guilt over a stray outdoor cat. He was recently euthanized in a shelter a week ago. I've been caring for him the last year and a half. He was left by his feral mom when he was little in our property.

Since we already had 2 cats indoor, my hubby didn't want anymore addition so I just fed him from our deck. There he stays and after eating would just lie down on the chair next to our sliding door. At night he comes back to sleep on the same chair. Our cats know him and he's been friendly towards them. They even sleep next to each other by the glass door. Eventually, I am able to pet him and he kneads and purrs a lot too. I named him Tabby. He sometimes wanted to come in but because he hasn't been fixed and vaccinated, I couldn't let him in yet.

I did try to capture him in the hopes that someone else can adopt him but he's smart and when he sense it, he would just run away. I did call the animal shelter if they can put him up for adoption but told me they were full. I still planned to catch him whatever it takes because it had been very cold outside.

A couple of months ago, he didn't come at all. I blame it on another male territorial feral who's been chasing him away. I still wait for him every night in case he did come back. I somehow felt he would starve because he doesn't seem to know how to catch anything and he's used to being fed by me.
 I was wishing that maybe someone had adopted him.

A week ago, I saw him again, walking slowly and being cautious towards our door. As soon as he saw me, he came straight away, and was wagging his tail! But I was shocked to see him limping and what seems to be a broken hind leg. He had a wound and seemed swollen. I immediately petted him, he purred again and then I gave him food. He ate a lot and seemed to be very hungry.

Again, I wanted to catch him and get some help. I observed him for a couple of days and made some call to the animal shelter. They have been assisting me with the TNR of a cat colony i'm taking care of. Maybe they can also help me with him.

He was able to walk still but not using one of his hind leg anymore. He was still able to jump up our deck to eat. Then come down again to go relieve himself, then inside the cat box I made for them for winter and harsh weather. He would just stay in there until the next feeding time or when he needed to go. The animal shelter agreed to take him in since he's injured but informed me that if he was deemed un-adoptable, that there is a greater chance he would be put to sleep. I thought if they get to know him and give him a chance, he should be ok since I can pet him and he still purrs despite his injury.

On the third day, I was able to coax him in the cat trap. It didn’t have to be triggered, I just slowly moved his cat food further inside and he went in on his own while nibbling. He wasn’t agitated but was meowing wondering why he’s in there after I closed the latch. I placed a cloth over it so he’d be calm. This is where I noticed more of his injury, and it looked like a puncture wound. The person from the shelter came and took him away. Since there is a COVID-19 restriction, I am not able to see him after that. He did say that their vet will be able to look at him in a couple of days. I was worried for him though because his injury may have gotten worse from the transportation to the shelter as the trap didn't have cushioning on either side.

I was told that he was very shaken upon arriving and he didn’t let anyone touch him. The next day though he was calm and was inside his box.

The following day that he went to the vet, I got a voicemail saying that he has a dislocated hip, broken leg (not even sure if this was just from observation or x-ray as the rep who took him said they may not do an x-ray on him but just observe) and that he would be needing massive dose of antibiotics. Also a leg amputation which mean he will not be allowed to go back outside. He will need to be quarantined as he had a bite of unknown origin. They're guessing a bigger animal that bit his leg and dragged him around. They asked if I wanted him back but that it is going to be a rather expensive vet bills. And that he will have to be indoors all the time. Their vet recommended he’d be humanely euthanized because they deemed him un-adoptable as they can’t handle him. I’m sure he was so scared of this unfamiliar territory and new people. I wished they have given him a bit more time to get accustomed to them.

He was already sedated when they called and wanted to know what our decision were soon. If we agree to have him euthanized instead, they will not wake him up anymore and go on with it straight up. I don't know if they even did any x-rays of him. As far as I was told, they would just do some observation. I was desperate and confused, I don’t really know what to do.. so I had my husband speak to them instead. I couldn’t bear the thought of him being put down so I had him call. He asked if he was to go on surgery and live, will he still have a good quality life? They said since he’s an outdoor cat, he may not like to be indoors and also because of his condition, the infection seemed to spread to some other parts of his body. And from how bad it sounded, and a rushed decision, we’ve reluctantly agreed to euthanasia. They said we did the right thing, but i'm still second guessing.

I cried for the next few days. And felt so guilty and depressed. I was not there for him. He came back knowing I’m his shelter, that he’s safe with me. Knowing I will be there for him and take care of him. That I’m his refuge. He jumped up the deck even though it was hard for him. He can take it. He was a survivor and a will to live. He was always happy to see me…

I should’ve been the one who gave him the chance.. I should’ve given him a few more days for him to get accustomed to the new environment. He would’ve loved to be indoors, as he always came inside a few inches from the door. I would know.. He was still ok, it would’ve been better for him.

I felt that when he was at the vet shelter, he wanted to escape because it was an unknown territory, another traumatic event for him. That's why he wasn’t calm with other people. I wonder if he struggled too much and so they deemed him un-adoptable.

It’s hard for me because my husband was not 100% on board initially. He thinks I’m humanizing the cat too much. And he doesn’t feel I should take care of him because we already have two cats. I didn’t fight for him and I regret it so much. My husband did regret it later on but was too late.

I wish Tabby could forgive me. I know I can’t turn back time anymore.. This feeling really sucks. I’m in so much grief.

I wish I had more resources and took the time to get more informed of his situation. I browsed online and found that there were similar incidents as him, if not worse, and they turned out ok after being taken care of. And there would be other shelters that would take in injured cats.

I’m regretting that I should have fought for extra testing to make sure I was doing the right thing. I feel so rushed and so confused. I really didn’t want him euthanized, I just wanted to get help for him. We should’ve just taken him back. He trusted me. We had a bond..
 

di and bob

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Dec 12, 2012
Messages
11,039
Reaction score
12,847
Location
Nebraska, USA
You couldn't let him suffer, and he WAS suffering. At times like these, please rely on the advise your vet gave you, the have seen much.
His life would have never been the same. He came to you to stop the suffering and you did. The guilt that comes after is always present, the fear and confusion we feel when we face a decision like this comes back to haunt us every time. Even if you would have had his leg amputated, dosed him with huge amounts of meds and fought the massive infection that overtook his body, he would have suffered immensely, and being an outside cat, his life would change forever.
He will have a place in your heart forever. You gave him what he wanted the most, someone to care for him and take him into their heart. Many times there just isn't a happy ending, although we want it so very badly. And it hurts, it hurts so very much. You have a wonderfully big heart, you took care of him the best you could. This is something you will never get over, you learn to live with it. He will forever be as close as your thoughts and prayers, so tell him he is still wanted and loved, and that you will always be there for him. He is at peace now, because of your love, do not dwell on his end but celebrate his time with you. He would never hold this against you, he loved you, and thanks you for being there for him.
My heart breaks for your pain. I have been there too and know how much this hurts. Everytime we open our hearts to one of these sweet creatures, we take the chance of being hurt. But you, like me, would never turn our backs on them, and they know that. They thank us for that too. Just love those who are still with us, do not close your heart to their love because of the pain. Let them help you heal your broken heart by concentrating on the present and their needs, Tabby is at peace and his suffering is over. Bless you, for hurting so bad from caring so much.... RiP dear Tabby. You will never be forgotten, you will forever have a special place in a loving heart, May the good Lord bless and keep you, until you meet again!
 

Catsnquilts

TCS Member
Young Cat
Joined
Nov 10, 2017
Messages
49
Reaction score
110
Thank you for loving and caring for him when no one else did. You did the best you could given the circumstances and he’s no longer in pain and no longer fighting to get through every day. He knew you cared for him that’s why he kept coming back, you did an amazing job! Words are just that, words don’t make the pain go away, they don’t take away the guilt we all feel for not being able to take care of the ones who have our heart, they don’t take away the hurt when we lose them. But do know you did your best, and that’s all anyone can ever do because they know you did your best.

When I bought my house I discovered 2 strays that were in need of help, I did the best I could but despite my efforts I had to make that tough decision and have them put to sleep, one was too far gone and the other had an allergic reaction to a medicine. Each time I chose to have them cremated and their Ashes are in engraved boxes with their name and they have a special place in my home, never to be homeless again. Perhaps you can get his remains and give him a special place somewhere.
 
Last edited:

fionasmom

TCS Member
Top Cat
Joined
Jun 21, 2014
Messages
1,651
Reaction score
2,469
Location
Los Angeles
I am so sorry for your loss. These situations are absolutely haunting and difficult to move ahead from. About 5 years ago I had to trap a previously TNRed cat who had lived on my porch for years. He was never friendly, but he knew that I had protected him and fed him..he had a heated bed, huge crate, pillows, etc. However, as time went on, I could see that he was failing and I could not retrap him despite trying. My best guess was uncontrolled diabetes, for one, which had resulted in severe neuropathy in the hind legs which he basically dragged behind him. One night, I was able to finally shut him in what had been his bed and home for years, catching his poor foot in the door along the way. When we got to the ER, and I did plan to euthanize him, I asked to be with him but he reacted so wildly that they would not let me in the room because he fought even the initial sedation. I spent a long time dwelling on the fact that, at the end, the only person he had ever trusted had taken him to his death and how betrayed he must have felt. But I finally realized that I had not let him die from being hit by a car because he could not move fast enough, or being eaten by a coyote, so it was the best I could do.

Any time you are working with strays/ferals, there are always rough edges that can never be smoothed over or made better.

I think that you tried very hard to help this cat and gave him a home for the time that he was well. The extent of his injuries was quite serious....you are more than likely downplaying it in your head and telling yourself that it all could have been made better if only you could have done more. Let me just add from a practical point of view that if you were going to be presented with the bill for the treatment that it might have been very high, more than you are imagining, and I say that having a dog who did have a leg amputated. You also don't know the extent of any communicable condition or internal injuries he might have had which might have added to his suffering, treatment, or expense.

Taking him back home with you, while it seems fine in retrospect, would only have prolonged his suffering with all the injuries that were visible, not mentioning the ones that were not immediately visible. I don't think that there was much hope for him, despite having been given a run down by the shelter of what was wrong and what they could do, and you did the right thing to release him into peace.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #5

Katerday

TCS Member
Thread starter
Kitten
Joined
May 5, 2020
Messages
7
Reaction score
7
He will have a place in your heart forever. You gave him what he wanted the most, someone to care for him and take him into their heart. Many times there just isn't a happy ending, although we want it so very badly. And it hurts, it hurts so very much. You have a wonderfully big heart, you took care of him the best you could. This is something you will never get over, you learn to live with it. He will forever be as close as your thoughts and prayers, so tell him he is still wanted and loved, and that you will always be there for him. He is at peace now, because of your love, do not dwell on his end but celebrate his time with you. He would never hold this against you, he loved you, and thanks you for being there for him.
Thank you for loving and caring for him when no one else did. You did the best you could given the circumstances and he’s no longer in pain and no longer fighting to get through every day. He knew you cared for him that’s why he kept coming back, you did an amazing job! Words are just that, words don’t make the pain go away, they don’t take away the guilt we all feel for not being able to take care of the ones who have our heart, they don’t take away the hurt when we lose them. But do know you did your best, and that’s all anyone can ever do because they know you did your best...
I am so sorry for your loss. These situations are absolutely haunting and difficult to move ahead from...

Any time you are working with strays/ferals, there are always rough edges that can never be smoothed over or made better...

I think that you tried very hard to help this cat and gave him a home for the time that he was well...
...you did the right thing to release him into peace.
Oh hun, i understand all of this, so much. I understand every single sentence you wrote. I feel how much you cared about this kitty. I have two things to say to you, which may kind of sound contradictory, but i dont think they are.

First: you did everything you could at the time-you fed him and made him a shelter and gave him love and a safe home base to return to. When he got hurt you had him trapped and brought to the vet. And then you were presented with a difficult set of circumstances. Should you believe the vet when they say euthanasia is the best choice? Its so hard to make a decision in a situation like that. Also knowing your husband wasnt really on the same page at the time. But you know what? Every decision you made was what you believed at the time to be the right thing. Nothing was out of malice or lazyness. Yes, later on you researched and found out maybe he wouldve been ok. But at the time, you trusted the vet, which is a normal thing and does not make you a bad person. And you know what? Its possible the vet was actually right. Its possible the kitty had infection all through his body and it was going to be a long battle with poor quality of life. But you did the best you could at the time.

Second: i believe that guilt, especially in cases where a person or animal has gotten hurt or died, helps us grow. It feels horrible at the time, but guilt makes us ask ourselves the important questions-should i have done this, not that? Did i make a mistake here, did i move too fast, too slow? This pain is extremely uncomfortable-guilt makes us go over and over the situation from every angle- and thsts how we figure out where we can improve, so the next situation turns out better.

Youre already doing this-youve already decided you shouldve fought harder for kitty to come inside, shouldve pushed for xrays, ect. These are the lessons youre learning. And again-this isnt to say you did anything wrong-your motives were pure and you did the BEST you could at the time. Period. But now youre learning from that situation and deciding what you might do differently, so that next time a stray kitty comes around, you know what you'll do this time.

Its ok to think a bit more of what you could do differently, but please dont torture yourself anymore thinking you failed this cat. You did so much for him, and he knows that. I believe you'll see him one day at rainbow bridge. Til then, take what you learned from taking care of him and use it to help the next stray kitty who needs you. He knew you loved him. He knows you did your best.
:redheartpump::redheartpump::redheartpump:

Thank you ALL for your time in responding. Actually, I cried again after I’ve read all your message and just a bit down to respond straight away.

I recently learned that his injuries “may have been a result of a cruelty incident”. His wound was similar to pellet air gun shot and doesn’t resemble the usual bite wounds. The person my husband spoke to initially was not the vet directly but an admin person who was just relaying the message of the cat’s condition. She may just have assumed it was an animal bite that caused the injury. I managed to get some info on my stray cat’s med report and it only said “Multiple puncture wound (but does not speculate the cause), fractured leg near the hock and right hip dislocation.”

I’m having some emotional rollercoaster. Not trying to torture myself, but sometimes it creeps up on me, remembering kitty. How he meowed and cried when he was in the trap I’ve placed him. I thought that I should’ve made it at least more comfortable for him, placed some blankets on both sides of the carrier so he’s not beaten up during the time he was in the transportation.

He must’ve been so scared and felt forsaken. I think that’s what’s been bothering me. I know it’s too late now, but maybe it will just take a bit more time for me to let go. This was the only stray cat that would stay on our deck for the longest time if he can. He was the only one that befriended my indoor cats and rubbed on them through the screen door. He was the only stray that my cats will not try to scare off. And they wait for him. Also slept beside him with the glass door in between as separation. He purred the loudest, and kneads his paws the longest.

I’m so grateful for people like you who cares and responds to those who are distressed for their pets whether feral or not and give time to provide some comfort and advise. Especially now we can’t even go out as freely due to the pandemic. It’s just been hard. But knowing someone is there to listen, understand and talk to helps.

So again. Thank you. 💗
 

movinintime

TCS Member
Adult Cat
Joined
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
261
Reaction score
428
A pet or feral will steal your heart MORE than any human can or will! I KNOW THIS!

I've seen both parents die & I was sad but ill health & age caught them as it will us all. But, the unconditional love, trust, dependence & just overall beauty of a pet is overwhelming & not even something we humans deserve. No way are ppl anyhwere near the blessings of an animal & in some ways the animal is far superior a being & we are their subservants.

I know I sounds nuts, so be it, but everytime I see a kitty hurting I wish I could trade places with it. I understand life can be hell & there's no innocence there for us humans believe me, as we all know, as I'm not caught by surprise but rather know it is coming. But a pet looks up at you & sees only you & the love & devotion it has to you -- & THAT alone is unparalled by anything a human can give, say or feel from/to another human.

Ok, now you can call the men in white coats to take me to the mental ward. Hahah, but I will rant this all the way there. ;) :)
 
Top