The Hardest Decision...Help Dealing with the Aftermath

Mamanyt1953

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Deciding to have our cats euthanized is without a doubt one of the hardest, more heartbreaking things we ever have to do. And in the aftermath, we always question ourselves. Every one of us, no matter how sick our cat might have been, are left with a nasty case of the "what ifs." This article may help you deal with those feelings. Sensitive, and written by someone who knows, it addresses those feelings in an honest, straightforward manner!


Dealing with Feelings of Guilt After Euthanasia - The Conscious Cat
 

jefferd18

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I understand how hard choosing euthanasia is and frankly I admire those who put their animal friend first when making that tough decision. I have only had to euthanize one cat, Bugsy, because I was told that his last final moments would be the equivalent of being smothered by a pillow. Even then, I waited too long. :(





Guilt is a uniquely human feeling and it does not have to be strictly associated with the choice of euthanasia when it comes to the death of our beloved animal companions. Death sucks and losing an animal in any way always makes us blame ourselves.

Even though Jeff died in my backyard shed from natural causes, there is still not a day that goes by without me questioning myself on what I could have done to prevent her death. There isn't a day that goes by without me asking myself- did I tell Jeff that I loved her often enough?

Here is a sample of some of my guilt ridden questions:
Was I blind to any signs of illness, of slowing down?
She was petrified of humans which is why I never took her to a vet- but should I have forced her to go?
Did the lose of her canine teeth years before have anything to do with her heart problems?
Did I overfeed her?- which may have lead to her heart problems.

....and on and on it goes...


I would add another reason for the role that guilt plays: even though it makes us miserable, oddly it also makes us feel alive.
 
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di and bob

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The article was a truth no one wants to hear, but it is a truth none the less. Forgiving yourself is almost impossible, especially in the first throes of going through it. I truly think you learn to live with the pain, because it becomes a part of you and your life. We will always have something to regret because there is such a hole in our lives, our very soul, that we have to fill it with something and at the time we are not capable of filling it with forgiveness because we need to feel pain, real pain, because that is what is actually in our hearts. It is what we are experiencing. And why do we feel such pain, such guilt, even if there should be none there at all because of the horrible suffering of one we love so much? Because we are human and not one of us will ever make a perfect decision, at a perfect time. because not one of us is perfect. Listen carefully to the statement..."it is better to let them go a day too early, then to let them suffer a day too late". Believe in that. Every life has an ending, EVERY LIFE. We cannot go back in time and make everything better, we cannot prolong life beyond it's conclusion. No matter if we are poor or rich, happy or sad, we all live to the same conclusion. So our time spent here on earth is just that, time. Some have more then others. Every second of every minute should be spent doing what we can to pursue happiness and peace, that we are with those who love us, and that we love someone ourselves. Because that is what life is about. Miracles, the beauty of life, happiness because we are content just because we are alive. Living in the moment, not in the past. Though we can treasure the precious memories we have and learn from our experiences, the past is gone and cannot be changed, no matter how much we would want it to be different. Don't waste precious time trying to change it. Bring the good to the present with you, and leave the bad where it belongs, in the past. The future can be forged from our experiences with the past but it is not possible to see into it. We have to work to make a dream come true, we have to first live in the present to make the future possible. Don't worry about things in the future enough to make yourself lose time in the present, I can guarantee you that almost ALL we worry excessiviely about DOES NOT COME TRUE "what will be, will be...."
Let grief and guilt go, it will always be there to haunt you, because it is a part of your past. Concentrate on the present, be thankful for the good that did happen, be thankful that you experienced a love and a time in your life so wonderful you feel such a loss. Concentrate on teh good parts of the past, I can guarantee you they outnumber the bad. Don't let the minority of bad feelings take over your life. You are alive and you are here to remember and keep on loving that precious little one. That is what makes life worth living, the memories of great love in the past, and the hope it will be with us forever so we can build upon it and keep it alive in the future. Though no two loves, no two beings will ever be the same, it is possible to be happy in the present. But first we have to let go of the guilt and the pain of the past. Keeping it there in the past, where it belongs, and working to live in the present, to seek life again, one day at a time..........
 

Antonio65

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There isn't a day that goes by without me asking myself- did I tell Jeff that I loved her often enough?
You didn't need to tell her. She knew it even too well.
Animals do not need our ordinary and primitive way of communicating to understand things, to know our feelings, to learn our thoughts.
They are much more advanced than this, they can read your mind and feel your heart. Jeff knew what was in your mind and your heart, she knew she was very much loved and how lucky she was to have you as her friend.

Here is a sample of some of my guilt ridden questions:
Was I blind to any signs of illness, of slowing down?
She was petrified of humans which is why I never took her to a vet- but should I have forced her to go?
Did the lose of her canine teeth years before have anything to do with her heart problems?
Did I overfeed her?- which may have lead to her heart problems.
We all have a list of guilt ridden questions that will torment us for the rest of our lives and will keep us from accepting the death of our beloved pets. Most of those questions have no reason to exist, and we feel guiltier than we should.
When we are reunited to our friends, they will tell us that we suffered uselessly over those questions and in that moment our hearts will be light and serene again.
 

solomonar

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From our first breath, we start being guilty. It is impossible not to be guilty an entire life. Humans are selfish, all Creatures are selfish. Otherwise no Creature would ever exist.

Am I guilty to decide the End of my Cat? Yes, I am. Am I guilty when decide not to offer my cat a nice path to the End? Yes, I am. Am I guilty for not caring any cat in my life? Yes, I am. I am always guilty, no matter what I do. Then, what? There is something in our Souls that keep us going, despite this neverending guilt. That "something" is different for each of us. That something makes us humans.

Lets imagine we are never guilty. Imagine we always do "the right thing", at "the right moment". Would we be happy? I guess not- we will be just computers, with no Soul at all.

It is not our fault that we are always guilty. It is nobody's fault. We cry, we are always guilty, we have Souls.

+++

In more practical terms: we use to say that offering End avoids pain. Well, we say that. But we really know what pain is? Fortunately, most of us do not. If we do, we place ourselves in a Hell on Earth.
 

Katerday

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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 get worse from the transportation to the shelter.

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. 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..
 

Mer.kitten

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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 get worse from the transportation to the shelter.

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. 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..
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.
 

Katerday

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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....

.....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.
Thank you so much for your response. It's helped me a lot. :redheartpump:

 
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