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My cat died on the way to the hospital - I feel so guilty


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I feel guilty because my cat, Omar, passed away scared and in pain. He was 8 years old.

One night I woke up suddenly to hear my cat coughing in a way I had never heard before. He was struggling to breath. I rushed him to the vet, but he passed away right before I could get there - he was gone within 20 min from me waking up. He suffocated - such a painful way to die! I could feel him convulsing on my lap; those last few minutes haunt me.

Omar had a cough for about a year and a half. I took him to the vet back in 2019. Back then the vet didn’t know what was wrong and just sent him home. Then I took him back this summer because he had started to vomit along with the coughing. They ran a bunch of tests and thought that he might have asthma and a bacterial infection. They sent me home with medication. The vomiting seemed to subside, but the coughing continued. I talked to the vet again about two months later to explain that he was still coughing. The vomiting was still there too, but I can’t remember if I talked about this to the vet (!!!). The vet made recommendations on how to adjust his medication and if that didn’t work, we could try different asthma medication. He also said that the coughing wouldn’t hurt his lungs and that if he was energetic, eating, etc he was likely OK. Asthma can be chronic in some cats, and while it’s a condition that is with them for life, it isn’t necessarily life threatening. Omar continued to cough and I knew I needed to take him into the vet again, but he hated the vet, he seemed happy, and life got busy. Suddenly 3 months had passed. I booked another appointment, but there wasn’t availability until after the holidays and I didn’t think it was an emergency.

Looking back on the last 24 hours of his life I realize there were signs that something was wrong with his breathing - he didn't ask for food in the morning like he often does, his breathing was heavy, and he even started to breath with his mouth open, etc. I keep beating myself up because I noticed these signs, but just thought they were part of his asthma. I never thought they were serious signs anything else was wrong with him.

What makes it all worse is that I noticed the symptoms, but didn't Google anything, let alone take him into emergency! The reason for this is because I was distracted by my work that day - things were particularly busy and stressful. Plus, my cat was still eating, drinking water, and wasn't lethargic.

I’m kicking myself because I should have been so much more proactive about getting Omar to the vet. I genuinely thought his symptoms weren’t serious and so I let other things get in the way. 

I know Omar was sick and I likely couldn't have saved him, but I wish I at least had the opportunity to euthanize him. Instead, he had to die scared and in pain. The last day happened so fast and I was too distracted to pay attention to dangerous warning signs. I feel like a horrible cat mom.

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I am so sorry for your loss of your beautiful cat, Omar!  

It seems to me that the one that dropped the ball here was the vet, not you; they are trained to know about medical conditions, not us.  You would have moved heaven and earth has you known this was serious but the vet didn't make it sound that way!  Hindsight is always easier, but as humans, we don't have it when we need it most.  :(  The "what ifs" we go through in early grief is common/normal as it's our way of trying to find a different possible outcome as the one that happened is too hard for us to take in!  Unfortunately, there's only one outcome and that's the one that happened and it's up to us to begin to adjust to the changes it means for our lives, as inconceivable as it seems.  This is the hardest thing in the world for us!  It's been 1 1/2 years since I lost my Arlie (soulmate in a dog) and one year since I lost my 25 year old Kitty.  I'm not "over them" and never will be.  I wrote stories of their lives, as well as one about my cancer journey with Arlie.  It helped to be able to express it and somehow immortalize them, they were very valuable to me and always will be!  I miss them so much.  :(

Living with Loss - Loss of a Pet - Grieving.com, Help for Coping with Loss Types: Child, Mother, Father, Wife, Husband, Mate, Pet, Friend, Sibling, Sister & Brother

Memories of Kitty - Loss of a Pet - Grieving.com, Help for Coping with Loss Types: Child, Mother, Father, Wife, Husband, Mate, Pet, Friend, Sibling, Sister & Brother

Memories of Arlie - Loss of a Pet - Grieving.com, Help for Coping with Loss Types: Child, Mother, Father, Wife, Husband, Mate, Pet, Friend, Sibling, Sister & Brother
 

I hope you find comfort in this:
The Rainbow Bridge

 

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