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Guilt over euthanising my cat


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Today we put my cat to sleep, who I've had since I was 7. Since he was my cat from the beginning, my parents let me make the ultimate decision. He was 15 years old, and broke his leg in 3 places at some point yesterday (we can't figure out how), so couldn't walk. He needed a complicated surgery to fix it, and because of his age and how frail he was, we decided not to go ahead with it. This was because we weren't sure he would make it through the operation, or cope with the pain afterwards. He has been going downhill for the last couple of years, losing half his body weight for no apparent reason (he used to be quite a heavy cat, and the vet could not find anything wrong with him) despite eating a lot of food.. in the past few months he had been making strange, long meows over and over again at nothing in particular, which would stop as soon as you went up to him. 

Despite being clearly ill, old and in pain, I am feeling extreme guilt about this decision. I know this doesn't make sense because it probably would've been inhumane to put him through the surgery and the suffering afterwards, and he probably would not have lived much longer anyway. I feel like I can't cope with being responsible for his death. I also feel guilty about not being more affectionate towards him recently.. I didn't stroke him that often, mainly because he was so skinny and bony recently so he wasn't very nice to touch. I keep replaying the last few minutes of his life over and over.

Does anyone have any experience with how to cope with the guilt?

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Dear @alex_n

I know this terrible feeling as today I had to make the same difficult decision.

Our cat, Simba, had suddenly began urinating outside his litter box and stopped eating as much. I noticed he tried to eat but he was losing weight fast. I held out hope that he might just have a UTI for which I have treated him succefully before with a product called colloidal silver. It fights viruses and infections in humans and animals. After about 4 days with the silver, he wasn’t improving like in the past. In fact, he was becoming more listless and inactive. He use to try to escape my clutch when I wanted to love on him. Now he just looked away and didn’t object to me touching him. He had been an outside cat and was always sort of skittish when we made him an indoor only cat. He didn’t purr anymore and today was so feeble that he couldn’t walk. That’s when I knew he wasn’t going to ever be as healthy as I hoped. 

The vet was very caring. We love their practice. She plainly said he looked as if it was renal failure and let me bring his body back home. I had forgotten that he was about 15 yrs old, but they looked it up. He did have a good life with us. He lived longer inside then outside with the coyotes and loose dogs. 

I know you and I both will feel guilty, how can we not? We will second guess our actions and wonder if we could have done something differently. You asked about anyone who has dealt with guilt before. Yes, I have made mistake with other pets. I just have to give myself a break because we are imperfect humans after all. We can’t always see the outcome of a situation. In an emergency situation, our thinking isn’t always clear. We will feel guilty for a time and then it will lessen. 

If you would like some free reading material on coping with grief, I can provide it to a private email. 

I am so sorry about your having to have your beloved cat put to sleep. Let me know if you need a mourning buddy.




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I'm so sorry for your loss.  I tried to get my cat's teeth cleaned, she's elderly and they would not even clean her teeth because of her age, they said she wouldn't make it out of anesthesia, so I can understand their concern about your cat going through such complicated surgery, I'm sure their concerns were legit. 

You ask for help with the guilt, so here it is...




It's common to feel guilt with our grief.  But understand that this is a feeling and it's not necessarily deserved or based in fact.  We do ask all the what ifs in an effort to find a different possible outcome, but the truth is the only outcome is the one that happened.  

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