If she was your cat, what would you do?

May 10, 2011

This is Poppy.

Poppy is nearly 17, and she is a gorgeous, sweet-natured cat. She has lived through three house moves, two dogs and two other cats, and she’s taken it all in her stride.

Her favourite thing to do is eat, bask in the sun, or sleep on my son’s bed.

This picture wasn’t taken recently, because Poppy doesn’t look quite as healthy right now.

Poppy has inoperable bone cancer. It’s a big tumour, very visible, growing from her chest bone.

She doesn’t ‘seem’ to be in pain – she still eats, and sleeps, and sometimes plays with our younger cat.

But I can see it’s getting more of a struggle for her to sit down, and she’s started walking quite slowly.

I can’t bear the thought that I’m letting her suffer. No 1 Son won’t hear of having her put down. His dad wants what’s best for her.

It’s an agonising dilemma, to be honest. If she was your cat, what would you do?

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  • Michelloui | The American Resident May 17, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    I had this a couple of years ago with my little black and white cat, Pippa. She had breast cancer, went through two ops and it still came back. We decided no more ops. We waited until she was having too much difficulty with day to day life and was clearly not enjoying life anymore. Possibly I waited too long, but it was so so SO difficult to know when to make a decision. I prayed she would die in her sleep. No such luck.

    This isn;t much help I suppose. I guess I would just say keep giving her all the love and cuddles you can, watch her continue to enjoy life, and then when you think she’s simply run out of steam and/or in pain, have a chat with a vet to see if they have an opinion.

    Virtual hugs to you and a little stroke for Poppy xox

  • Anna King May 17, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Hi Liz,

    It’s such a hard time when your pets are getting old. We had a very elderly dog (also 17) who got slower and slower. Eventually she was obviously starting to die and we thought she would just close her eyes or pass away in her sleep. Well, I wish that we had taken her to the vet at that point to have her put to sleep as she didn’t die that day and we ended up rushing her over at 9pm on a Sunday night when she suddenly deteriated. Like your son, we wanted her to die peacefully at home but in retrospect euthanasia was much more humane.

    As for your cat, I think vets are very good at giving subtle hints so listen to what he or she is saying. They will know what is the best thing to do and will gently let you know. Coincidentally, my friend’s cat has bone cancer and had a leg amputated. They were worried that they were putting him through unnecessary suffering but the vet advised on the operation and he’s been running around on three legs for over 6 months now! So that’s my advice – listen to the vet. They’ll let you know what to do and take that difficult decision away from you.

    All the best

  • Lisa Jackson May 11, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Tricky situation. My cat is coming up to 17 years old now, and we’ve had a recent scare and thought that was it, but she’s a tough old cookie and just seems to bounce back. Having said that, when she was ill we made the decision that if she was suffering in any way we would end her pain. As your cat seems happy enough I would hang on, but make sure you have a back up plan for the ‘just in case’. Fingers crossed though x

    • Liz Jarvis May 15, 2011 at 5:13 pm

      Thank you – we are just biding our time but hope she’ll give us a sign that she’d like to go x

  • This Mid 30s Life May 10, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    Oh poor little kitty!!! I don’t envy you one bit. We had our darling dog put down a year ago. It still breaks my heart to think about it, but he was in such pain we really didn’t think we had a choice.

    I know with absolute certainty that we made the right decision. But is still breaks my heart. I do feel better knowing we gave him a good life (we were his 4th owners).

    Only you can make the decision though. Just know that I feel for you!!

    • Liz Jarvis May 15, 2011 at 5:13 pm

      Thank you lovely x

  • Mother Badger May 10, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    If she is eating and drinking still then I would expect she feels OK. I remember my childhood cats near the end and it was very obvious when they had had enough.

    • Liz Jarvis May 15, 2011 at 5:12 pm

      I keep trying to think back to how we knew but it’s just gone from my memory completely.

  • nichola May 10, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Oh dear. I’m dreading being in this postion. My head says do what’s best for Poppy, but my heart says let her carry on. I personally would take each day as it comes, and I think you’ll soon know what to do. Good luck.

    • Liz Jarvis May 15, 2011 at 5:12 pm

      You’re right, that’s all I can do at the moment. I keep wavering all over the place.

  • missleslieanne May 10, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    So sad 🙁

    Honestly though, I think the whole time she’s managing to clean herself, eat & drink, then you should hang on. Animals are way more intelligent than we give them credit for – they know when their time is up, and will generally ‘say their goodbyes’ & find a quiet corner. If she’s acting fine, she probably is – just give her loads of cuddles & and let her take it easy.

    Having fur babies really is one of the hardest things in the world! xxx

    • Liz Jarvis May 15, 2011 at 5:11 pm

      It really is – so much blimmin’ non-verbal communication! x

  • Jacqui May 10, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Hi Hun

    The sign of a cat suffering really tends to be lack of an appetite – the fact she is also playing means the time isn’t quite right yet. Our cat got really breathless towards the end and the time was obvious.
    Lots of cuddles and lolling in the sun x

    • Liz Jarvis May 15, 2011 at 5:11 pm

      Lots of cuddles x

  • Amanda May 10, 2011 at 8:27 am

    We had a similar situation – Charlie had been with us 10 years and she didn’t seem to be in pain, but the vet told us that cats mask their pain cos they don’t want to show any kind of weaknesses and I felt so guilty for keeping her going long after I knew she was sick, but thought she wasn’t in pain. Such a difficult gut wrenching decision. Thoughts are with you.

    • Liz Jarvis May 15, 2011 at 5:11 pm

      I’ve since found out they also purr when they’re in pain (as well as when they’re happy) which is making things even more complicated.

  • Eliza May 10, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Oh Liz, I feel your pain. This is a really tough decision – I agree with Moon though, if she doesn’t seem like she’s in pain, hang in there. What have the vets said?

    *hugs* x

    • Liz Jarvis May 15, 2011 at 5:10 pm

      Vet just says it’s our decision… and only we can decide, really x

  • maddydodo May 10, 2011 at 8:18 am

    It’s a heartbreaking situation to be in, and one I’ve been in myself with much loved cats and dogs. All I can really say is that you will know when the time is right. We had a cat called Olly who had cancer. We kept debating when was the ‘right time to let him go’ and it didn’t seem clear. Then one morning we looked at him and just knew it was time. If Poppy is eating, sleeping and sometimes playing then it sounds like she’s still happy to be with you but only you can judge it really. Wish I could be of more help as my heart really goes out to you; much-loved pets are, well, much-loved!

    • Liz Jarvis May 15, 2011 at 5:09 pm

      Absolutely x

  • Kairen May 10, 2011 at 8:16 am

    A few months ago I had to make a similar decision with my cat Felix. Felix was only young but had a large growth which they couldn’t operate on. He was still eating, still following me around the house ( he thought he was a dog). He still sat at the end of my desk everyday as I worked, waiting for me to sit back and he could curl up on my lap. But his coat started to look less glossy and he had a permanent Monday Morning look on his face. I spoke with my vet and he said that it was my choice and would do the best for Felix which ever decision I made. But he did say one thing that swayed me. Who was I keeping Felix going for? Was it for Felix or for me and the children? It was the hardest choice but I had to let him go. I was keeping him going for the wrong reasons.
    Of course ever cat and situation is different and the choice you make is the right choice for you. Hope it helps.

    • Liz Jarvis May 15, 2011 at 5:09 pm

      I think that’s a really good point and I actually made an appointment for the inevitable for yesterday, but on friday she’d perked up so much it didn’t seem right.

  • TheMummyLife May 10, 2011 at 8:15 am

    How sad bless her. I agree that if she’s eating then she’s happy. Our cat had a tumour and the vet told us that they usually stop eating when In pain.

    Personally I’d hold off and just give lots of fuss and favourite treats, she is an older cat so be prepared but if she’s still playing then she’s ok for now.

    I know how hard it is, we lost 2 cats in the last year (18 and 3) they are like our fluffy children.

    Hugs xx

    • Liz Jarvis May 15, 2011 at 5:08 pm

      they really are – still not over losing our old dog and that was two years ago!

  • Joanne May 10, 2011 at 8:12 am

    It is heartbreaking watching a pet suffer? It doesn’t sound like she is in pain? If she can still move around on her own and eat and poop okay then I’d be inclined to give her some more time doozing in the sun. Also time to prepare No1 son about how hard it will be for her to be happy when/if she does get to the point where life is painful and difficult and distressing for her.

    • Liz Jarvis May 15, 2011 at 5:08 pm

      Thank you – I really do want her to hang on for as long as possible x

  • Katie May 10, 2011 at 8:06 am

    Oh no poor poppy. It’s such a hard decision and I totally can imagine how you are feeling. We had to rehome our cat on Sunday because of issues and I am total devastated as I know I will not see him again, but this is nothing like having to make your choice.

    Hugs to you xx

    • Liz Jarvis May 15, 2011 at 5:07 pm

      Thank you x

  • Moon May 10, 2011 at 8:03 am

    I would hang on for now, if she is eating, tends to mean she is happy, however, the agonising decision will soon be with you…but if t was me, I would do anything just yet ….

    • Liz Jarvis May 15, 2011 at 5:07 pm

      Thanks Moon x