Moral obligation to sick cat


#1

OK. I need good moral guidance on this. We have two cats. Both are quite elderly. One just this last weekend started acting very odd. He seemed to stumble when he would walk and kept trying to put his head in corners. It was very odd behavior.

We have not had these cats to a vet since they were kittens. They’ve always been healthy and are both indoor cats. And frankly we didn’t (and don’t) have the money.

We did not bring him to the vet at the time, but checked with some people we knew. We were pretty convinced that his time had come. Everyone we talked to said to bring him to the vet right away. Then they went on to talk about diabetes medications daily and kidney transplants. This is not the kind of treatment that we could afford. After talking with my father (who was a little more reasonable) he said just bring him upstairs with you and keep him comfortable and love him. Which we did. We determined that he was blind after observing him for a day or so. He wasn’t eating at all and not really drinking much. It didn’t seem like he was peeing either. Like I said it seemed that his end was near and we decided to just keep him as comfortable as we could until he died.

Now it’s several days later. He is basically unable to walk. He is definately blind. He will drink water when we bring it to him. And now he’s started urinating wherever he is since he can’t move well or see.

My question is if this is not the end of his life, but the beginning of a long disability that would require our family to revolve around bringing him water and cleaning up his urination, what are our moral obligations to him. I know this sounds awful and uncaring. But I also understand that animals are not humans. And that the obligations are different. However we also understand that God gave us the animals to care for and we do not want to shirk a duty that we have to this animal. We would go into debt trying to pay for care for this animal. Our budget is tight. We have no savings for anything! Help…


#2

Tovlo,

The kindest thing that you can do is take your beloved friend to a vet to be put to sleep. I have had cats all my life and it is definitely a sad moment, one over which I have shed tears, but is really the only humane thing to do. What you describe is massive system failure, not a time of disability, but the beginning of the end of his or her life, and likely a period of suffering as well, if you don’t intercede. Even if you had the money to take extraordinary measures, the vet would likely recommend against them if, as you said, the cat is elderly and, therefore, unlikely to benefit or even survive surgical intervention.

My prayers for you and your family at a sad time.

Many years,

Neil


#3

Imagine what those same $$$$ could do for charity.


#4

Since your little fellow is in misery, not merely OLD, it is best to bring him to the vet. What a hard thing!

I’m facing a similar instance with a crippled old little dog who can barely walk and poops everywhere if she’s inside for longer than 1 minute. I keep her outside so at least she doesn’t ruin my house, but haven’t dared to put her to sleep yet because she has lots of spunk left still and isn’t in too much pain per say, just old and crippled. But she still loves to eat, wags her tail, and hobbles along on occasional walks. So use your gut instinct to guide you.

God Bless Fellow Animal Lover~~


#5

[quote=Irish Melkite]Tovlo,

The kindest thing that you can do is take your beloved friend to a vet to be put to sleep. I have had cats all my life and it is definitely a sad moment, one over which I have shed tears, but is really the only humane thing to do. What you describe is massive system failure, not a time of disability, but the beginning of the end of his or her life, and likely a period of suffering as well, if you don’t intercede. Even if you had the money to take extraordinary measures, the vet would likely recommend against them if, as you said, the cat is elderly and, therefore, unlikely to benefit or even survive surgical intervention.

[/quote]

I have to agree… my cat of 18 years was having serious kidney problems and we kept him alive by hydrating him w/ lactaid ringers twice a day for 4 months. It got pretty pathetic…we knew in our hearts that he was just holding on for us as the Vet suggested…we were doing the poor little kitty a favor by having him put to sleep… Annunciata


#6

OK. Everyone seems to be suggesting that it is time to put him to sleep. There is a part of me that agrees. I just need to reconcile the words people use when they talk about putting an animal to sleep. We talk about “stopping his suffering” and “putting him out of his misery”. I truly do understand that animals are not human and different rules apply, but these are the same words we as Catholics recoil at when someone talks about killing a human going through suffering in a difficult medical condition. I have an 11 year old son that I need to be very careful with. I’m very uncomfortable with moving forward with putting our kitty to sleep with this kind of language without having a real good explanation of why it’s different from when we say we CANNOT do this with a human being. I do know it’s different, but can someone explain to me well why. So that I can be very careful about how we talk about it with our children so as not to lead them into error in their thinking about death and about our power to end it. Thanks.


#7

[quote=sparkle]Since your little fellow is in misery, not merely OLD, it is best to bring him to the vet. What a hard thing!

I’m facing a similar instance with a crippled old little dog who can barely walk and poops everywhere if she’s inside for longer than 1 minute. I keep her outside so at least she doesn’t ruin my house, but haven’t dared to put her to sleep yet because she has lots of spunk left still and isn’t in too much pain per say, just old and crippled. But she still loves to eat, wags her tail, and hobbles along on occasional walks. So use your gut instinct to guide you.

God Bless Fellow Animal Lover~~
[/quote]

Get your dog doggie diapers.


#8

[quote=tovlo4801]OK. Everyone seems to be suggesting that it is time to put him to sleep. There is a part of me that agrees. I just need to reconcile the words people use when they talk about putting an animal to sleep. We talk about “stopping his suffering” and “putting him out of his misery”. I truly do understand that animals are not human and different rules apply, but these are the same words we as Catholics recoil at when someone talks about killing a human going through suffering in a difficult medical condition. I have an 11 year old son that I need to be very careful with. I’m very uncomfortable with moving forward with putting our kitty to sleep with this kind of language without having a real good explanation of why it’s different from when we say we CANNOT do this with a human being. I do know it’s different, but can someone explain to me well why. So that I can be very careful about how we talk about it with our children so as not to lead them into error in their thinking about death and about our power to end it. Thanks.
[/quote]

You don’t see the difference between a cat and a human being?


#9

I agree with your father’s advice.


#10

[quote=mercygate]You don’t see the difference between a cat and a human being?
[/quote]

I think she said she does know the difference but is worried about how to explain that difference to her child in a way that will make sense without sounding cold and callous.

If this is a senior cat your child has probably not known life without the beloved pet… so the best thing to do is make your choices out of LOVE. I do not like the thought of putting an animal to sleep…

but we just had to make that choice in July. Our cat was 17 and suffering from diabetes related organ failure. Maybe with megabucks we could have done something to prolong her life…

It seemed the most humane and compassionate thing to do was help her end the suffering…and she was most definitely suffering.

I think a good way to explain it to your child (re: the difference between humans and pets) is to tell them that God has the ultimate say in our lives. So only He can decide when it is time for us to go home. But that God put us in charge of all of the animals and trusts our judgement when it comes time to do what is best for them.

Also, even though animals do not have the type of soul that we do… you may not want to say that your pet will not go to heaven. I read another post somewhere that deals with the issue of children losing their pets… to steal their idea, tell the child that God will provide everything we need in heaven and if He sees that we need our pet He will provide.

It is a very personal decision so nobody can tell you what or when to do it. But my advice would be to try and find a way to pay for a vet diagnosis. It will be much easier to explain to your child that putting the cat to sleep was the only option if you can support it with facts and that the vet recommended it.

If your child sees that the decision was made out of love and was your responsibilty to your pet, it will make more sense as they get older. Also, it is important to allow the child (as well as yourself) to properly grieve. It will be a terrible loss for your family. So include your child in making some happy memories…maybe make a collage of photos. Have a “funeral service” where you can say your final good byes…whatever you feel would best help your family find closure.

Please don’t allow your child to be part of the actual process of putting the pet to sleep though. I was there and I am 28. I still think about it.

I hope this was of some help to you. Feel free to PM me if you’d like to talk privately. I hope you can come to a decision that works for your family and your pet.

Finella


#11

buffalo http://forums.catholic.com/images/statusicon_cad/user_offline.gif vbmenu_register(“postmenu_207828”, true);
Senior Member
Join Date: June 7, 2004
Posts: 998

http://forums.catholic.com/images/icons/icon1.gif Re: moral obligation to sick cat
Imagine what those same $$$$ could do for charity.

There sure seems to be a serious prejudice on this board against pets and the people who love them. The last few weeks any time someone mentions an animal suffering somebody else always seems to belittle the notion of that suffering and brings up stuff like suffering humans, abortion, or other issues that have nothing to do with animal suffering. We are not made more righteous by exalting the relief of one kind of suffering and demeaning the relief of another.


#12

I’m so sorry for the decision you have to make. I know that it seems as thought our pets will always be there with us. Sadly it’s not that way, and they leave us.

This is a poem I found on a pet board a while back. I hope it helps.

The Last Battle

If it should be that I grow frail and weak,
And pain should keep me from my sleep,
Then will you do what must be done?
For this…the last battle…can’t be won.
You will be sad I understand,
But don’t let grief then stay your hand,
For on this day, more than the rest,
Your love and friendship must stand the test.

We have had so many happy years,
You wouldn’t want me to suffer so,
When the time comes…please let me go.
Take me to where my needs they’ll tend,
Only…stay with me until the end.
And hold me firm and speak to me,
Until my eyes no longer see.

I know in time you will agree,
It is a kindness you do for me.
Although my tail its last has waved,
From pain and suffering I have been saved.
Don’t grieve that it must be you,
Who has decided this thing to do,
We’ve been so close…we two…these years,
Don’t let your heart hold any tears.

God bless.


#13

[quote=tovlo4801]OK. Everyone seems to be suggesting that it is time to put him to sleep. There is a part of me that agrees. I just need to reconcile the words people use when they talk about putting an animal to sleep. We talk about “stopping his suffering” and “putting him out of his misery”. I truly do understand that animals are not human and different rules apply, but these are the same words we as Catholics recoil at when someone talks about killing a human going through suffering in a difficult medical condition. I have an 11 year old son that I need to be very careful with. I’m very uncomfortable with moving forward with putting our kitty to sleep with this kind of language without having a real good explanation of why it’s different from when we say we CANNOT do this with a human being. I do know it’s different, but can someone explain to me well why. So that I can be very careful about how we talk about it with our children so as not to lead them into error in their thinking about death and about our power to end it. Thanks.
[/quote]

Some animals we raise and kill for food and for other reasons. Some we nurture and care for as pets. God gave man dominion over animals, and it is man’s responsibility to “play God” over those animals. We do have an obligation to be humane to animals, I believe. We do not have a responsibility to keep them alive with expensive treatments when they are almost at the end of their life anyway. By the way, that applies even to humans – we have no moral obligation to do everything possible no matter what the cost to extend a life, so withholding treatment is definitely not a problem for the cat. The difference is, one cannot euthanize another human being because we do not have dominion over their lives and existence like we do animals.

I hope that helps.

Alan


#14

Does anybody remember the movie “Old Yeller”. Great movie. That was a great dog, battling a bear and stuff. But they had to shoot the dog at the end of the movie. The family was sad but they did what they had to do without having a moral crisis.

Where does this end? My pet earthworm was attacked by a stray snail. I tried to stop it but everything happened so fast! Now he/she has a broken gullet. What sould I do?


#15

[quote=chrisg93]Does anybody remember the movie “Old Yeller”. Great movie. That was a great dog, battling a bear and stuff. But they had to shoot the dog at the end of the movie. The family was sad but they did what they had to do without having a moral crisis.

Where does this end? My pet earthworm was attacked by a stray snail. I tried to stop it but everything happened so fast! Now he/she has a broken gullet. What sould I do?
[/quote]

This is a truly in inappropriate comment, and I don’t appreciate your callousness. A legitamate question was asked, and you ridiculed it- not charitable at all.:mad:


#16

this will be tough, but can you separate your own emotional attachment to the cat, and simply consider the cat’s health, comfort and suffering? Is the money, time and resources required to treat it taking away from other family needs, will it in fact improve and extend its life, is it appropriate compared with expense for the health of humans in a similar situation. Remember, a cat has an animal soul that ends when its life ends, not a human soul, and our treatment should be consistent with an animal’s place in creation. It is idolatry to put an animal on par with a human., but it certainly does not sound if that is your attitude to your beloved pet. Take the advice of the vet on what is best for the pet. It is about the cat, not about its owner. Be sure to thank God for the joy this pet has brought you for so long.


#17

Here’s a somewhat ignorant question–how does a cat get put to sleep? We’re going to have to put ours to sleep soon, and I’m not quite sure how it works. Do I just give her a pill to sedate her, stick her in her cage, drop her off at the vet’s door, and let them deal with the rest?


#18

[quote=Almeria]Here’s a somewhat ignorant question–how does a cat get put to sleep? We’re going to have to put ours to sleep soon, and I’m not quite sure how it works. Do I just give her a pill to sedate her, stick her in her cage, drop her off at the vet’s door, and let them deal with the rest?
[/quote]

When we finally made the decision we went to the Vet. We got an after hour appt. There was a special room with soft music and I sat in a rocker and held him as the Vet injected him in the leg and it was over very quickly. No suffering…he just went to sleep… I was able to stay and hold him for as long as I wanted to…this is a very sad time…but a good memory because I was with him holding, talking softly and rocking him … And, he didn’t suffer… Annunciata:)


#19

[quote=AlanFromWichita]Some animals we raise and kill for food and for other reasons. Some we nurture and care for as pets. God gave man dominion over animals, and it is man’s responsibility to “play God” over those animals. We do have an obligation to be humane to animals, I believe. We do not have a responsibility to keep them alive with expensive treatments when they are almost at the end of their life anyway. By the way, that applies even to humans – we have no moral obligation to do everything possible no matter what the cost to extend a life, so withholding treatment is definitely not a problem for the cat. The difference is, one cannot euthanize another human being because we do not have dominion over their lives and existence like we do animals.

I hope that helps.

Alan
[/quote]

Alan,

That helped a lot! That is the most concise verbalizing of what I believed. It’s just that we keep being bombarded with either extreme in opinions. Either approaching us as if our pet is our best friend (and human) and therefore should be treated as we would treat a human. Or the other extreme (which I think we’ve seen a little of on this board) which is animals deserve no thought at all. We care very much for our pet, but also recognize that we have been given dominion over him by God. And unlike in the case of another human, who we have no dominion over, we may make ultimate life decisions for him. However, I don’t believe that this responsibility should be taken lightly. I guess that the question then becomes trying to determine best how to act like God in respect to this life that we have been given dominion over. Is it treating our responsibility well to end his suffering, or is it better to let his life play out as it was intended? I have to admit I have a tendency toward letting life play out as God intends it. But this is different because it is not a human life and in this case God has given us dominion over this life. I should let you know that we are parents to a little saint in heaven who was diagnosed in the womb with a genetic disorder that was determined incompatible with life. Our husband and I were forced to really examine some of these issues in regard to human life. We of course determined to carry our baby as long as our babies life lasted. But we also determined that we would be thwarting God’s will for her life to do anything extraordinary to extend her life. She was born full-term and lived for a day. We are very satisfied that we were willing vehicles for God’s will in her life to be done. So I have to admit that the conclusions that we came to concerning our daughter’s life do play into how we think about intervening in our cat’s life. Just to fend off the accusations, I do understand the difference between an animal and a human. And maybe that is what this all boils down to. As human souls we have the potential for everlasting life with God. And so one of the reason’s it’s wrong to take a human life before God will’s that it is time is that we as human’s have taken away another human’s chance at eternal life with God. An animal’s soul has no such potential. Then the question of ending their suffering is just about love and mercy and is not clouded by thwarting God’s will or robbing someone of eternal life. Just thinking out loud. Does this make sense to everyone? I know that I overthink everything, but again we have an 11 year old boy that I want to make sure knows the reasons behind the difference in killing a human to end suffering and killing an animal to end suffering.


#20

chrisg93 http://forums.catholic.com/images/statusicon_cad/user_offline.gif vbmenu_register(“postmenu_209040”, true);
Regular Member
Join Date: May 24, 2004
Location: Charlotte NC
Posts: 214

http://forums.catholic.com/images/icons/icon1.gif Re: moral obligation to sick cat
Does anybody remember the movie “Old Yeller”. Great movie. That was a great dog, battling a bear and stuff. But they had to shoot the dog at the end of the movie. The family was sad but they did what they had to do without having a moral crisis.

Where does this end? My pet earthworm was attacked by a stray snail. I tried to stop it but everything happened so fast! Now he/she has a broken gullet. What sould I do?

Chris,

What is your hang-up with animals? Were you bitten by a dog or scratched by a cat when you were a kid? Why do you seem to go out of your way to find people on this board who are fond of animals and then say rude, thoughtless, and uncharitable things to them? Does that make you feel like a better Christian when you do that?

I will pray for you to learn the love of all God’s creation.


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