When is it time to have a pet be put to sleep?


My husband’s cat is 16 years old, has bad arthritis, very bad teeth, and we just noticed she has an infection of some sort on her face. I’m going to call the vet tomorrow to see what they suggest, but my husband and I are leaning towards having our kitty be put to sleep. My question for those of you who have gone through this is when did you know it was time? I had a cat growing up, but she died naturally when she was about 12, so I’ve never had to make this decision. I know our kitty is in pain right now and I don’t think treating the infection is going to solve her inability to eat much and her obvious discomfort. Do you think the humane thing to do is to have her be put down?

Thanks for the input.



**What a sad time for your family! :frowning:

I don’t really think arthritis and a small skin infection are necessarily reasons to put an animal to sleep. Yes, the animal might be in pain, even daily, but I think its probably overall happier living with mild to moderate pain than not living at all. Now if it worsens to the point the cat can’t move on his/her own, stops eating, doesn’t want you around, hisses at you when you come near, etc. This might be a sign that the pain is worse than the joy and happiness the kitty would receive from living.

Usually you put a pet to sleep when it has an illness that is serious and they will die from eventually (like cancer, heart disease, serious infection, etc.) But, there are always exceptions to the rule. Your vet (if he/she is any good) will be open and honest about the pain your pet may or may not be experiencing, and help you make the most loving, humane choice for your beloved pet.

At this point your pet could probably benefit from a couple of simple prescriptions. Probably a pain killer and antibiotic. Check with your vet.



When the pet is suffering from untreatable, long lasting pain, can no longer eat, or is in untreatable depression.
Also when the family can no longer properly care medically for said pet, and a proper home cannot be found, or in unfeasable.
When the stress of caring for such a creature is becoming detrimental to the family, it may be time as well.

I am so sorry you and DH are going through this.
Prayers for you, pet and all.


This is a terrible decision to have to make. We’ve had to go through it and know how hard it is. Our little terrier, Susie, was 17 years old when we had her put down. She had arthritis so bad that she couldn’t even move. Wherever she was put, she stayed until someone moved her. We hated to put her down but the vet said it was for the best and everyone in our family cried. I took pictures of her on her last day. I bought a collage frame and put pictures of her when she was a puppy, when she was in the playpen with our little girl, when she was sleeping with my husband, etc. We have those pictures hanging in our living room. Susie has been gone for 13 years but she’ll never be forgotten.
Listen to what your vet tells you but always remember your sweet pet with love. Good luck with whatever you decide is best.


You’ll know when you know.

(Interesting timing on this post–please say a prayer for me–I will be bringing my 14 year old dog to be euthanized tomorrow night. :()

I can see Convert’s side, but I think I respectfully come down on the other side…Pain is terribly confusing & distressing to animals, and showing pain is a sign of weakness. Pack animals like dogs, when in the wild, will try to hide their pain b/c to show it means they’ll get ostracized, picked on & kicked out of the pack.

16 years is a pretty good run for a cat.


We’ve always made those sorts of decisions in conjunction with our vet. I’ve never had to decide for one of my cats because they’ve all died of natural conditions (or sadly, as the result of cars–even though they were supposedly indoor cats.)

But we’ve had to put several of our dogs down. They were to the point where they couldn’t walk or find the door when it was time to go outside. The vet always agreed with us when we thought it was time. (We’ve had our vets try some heroic actions at other times if they though there was something to live for.)

My guess is that the vet will check out the kitty and if he/she thinks antibiotics and a special diet will make a difference you’ll be told. If not, you’ll be advised that it is time to let the kitty go.


I have no idea how long cats generally live. Our kitty, Snowball, had his 17th birthday in August and he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. He jumps on the kitchen table, on the counters and even gets on top of the refrigerator. If I leave any meat sitting on the counter, he’ll jump up and grab it and try to hide with it!
Your 16 year old kitty sounds as though he is suffering. I’m sure it’s no fun for him to not be able to be the kitty he used to be. Our poor animals don’t understand when they are sick or in pain. They can’t tell us and we really can’t do much.
Maybe your vet can give you something to make his life easier so you can keep him with you a while longer. Good luck.


When they can no longer enjoy life it is time. They should not suffer.

Also, we had one cat and one dog who suffered incontinence due to old age. They were on their way to losing our affection; so it was time to go.


When? If you ask me and it’s cats, I’d say soon, real soon.

We’ve got three cats (free cats - ha) for the farm. My wife and vet. have now actually solved cat AIDS - just $3,000; a should have been deadly encounter with a raccoon - just $2,000; other assorted illnesses - just $1,500.

I’m not in favor of killing cats, but I’m not in favor of being at the forefront of cat health care, either.

These cats seem indifferent to people, and I couldn’t care less about them either.

Who needs them?

I like dogs.


We had our kitty 19 years. She had high blood pressure, which was treatable. I think if your cat is in pain, it is time. But I think your vet is the best person to consult with. This is their specialty and they won`t want to see your pet suffer anymore than you would.

I have two cats now who are only 1 and I hope they have long healthy lives just as my childhood cat did. I wouldnt want them to ever suffer because I wasnt ready to let them go though. We are never ready. Even if they were peeing all over the place, I would still love them and take care of them. But if they were suffering, I would go with what the vet says.

I will keep you in my prayers. Losing a pet is so difficult. My Mom always joked that all of us kids grew up and moved away, but our cat was the only one that stayed. After 19 years, she was a true member of our family!




I put my 150 lb. newfoundland dog down in June. I knew it would come to this. He was 9 yrs. old. He had arthritis and I had him on drugs for that, but eventually, they didn’t work. I thought his legs would give out, but it didn’t happen. In fact, he had a seizure and when it was over, he got himself in the car and I drove him to the vet. We all agreed it was time. He was really going down hill and I think it was the most humane thing to do.

You will know the right thing to do with your kitty. I am not a fan of keeping a pet alive as long as possible. When the quality of life for the pet and the family is going down, it’s time to assess the situation. Also, finances are a big concern.

I wish you the best. I know this is hard.


I would look into antibiotic and painkillers.

My last cat, Snowy died in may at about 18 or 19. I miss him a lot. You will know when to put them down. I sure know it and I’m not the one who made the decision.

I really miss having cats and have been trying to convince my mom to get another, everyday of my life till Snowy’s death we had a cat.:frowning:


This is a really tough question. My first experience was with my childhood pet a long haired persian mix cat she lived 14 years without any health problems then developed heart condition and slowly lost control of her bladder. We kept her in the basement the last year because of the bladder issue but she started having seizures the last six months of her life but just a few. The vet said she wasn’t in pain and we had her on meds but when she started having trouble breathing I decided it was time to let her go it was at that point she slid away real fast and due to her age we had her put to sleep. We all cried like we had lost a child but she had become like family so it was a big loss but she was 16 and lived a good life. I had another cat last year that had to be put down. I came home and found her comotose. She looked fine that morning but she was near death by the time I saw her again. She was only 1 year old. My 9 year old has been sick off and on the last year we finally got it narrowed down to a condition that can be controled with meds but he’s not suffering in any way except I can’t give him popcorn or cheese anymore. LOL He has has so many tests done that I know his organs are all in good shape he is just prone to a certain problem that has to be monitored with diet and meds. Right now I am researching diets to see if I can put him on one that will eventually let me take him off the meds but as long as he’s not suffering, is happy and I can afford it I’ll do my best for him. I think a lot of this decision is how much of a priority the pet is and what you can afford. Be realistic. Vets bill can be enormous but if you’re willing to give up a few of the latest gagets or a vacation you can work them in. I would say that if the animal is suffering or in pain they should be released from that. It’s the kinder thing to do. SYou can also pray to St. Frances…for guidence.


Thanks everyone for the input. I dropped our cat off at the vet’s this morning and just got off the phone with our vet. Basically our kitty has pneumonia and a very bad mouth infection. The vet felt that since the kitty has had a long life, is obviously in pain so much that she is refusing to eat, and because the chances of her thriving after prolonged antibiotics and dental work is small, that the best decision is to put her to sleep. We’ll be taking her home tonight and will bring her in tomorrow for the euthanasia. Thankfully they’ll be able to put her on painkiller and hydrate her today.

Again thanks for all the input. I know we’re doing the right thing.


Awww, this is so hard.

I’ll be thinking of you tomorrow.

Hang in there.


Aww! :console: So sorry to hear. May St. Francis be with you and kitty during this difficult time. Glad you spoke to the vet, as difficult as it was, know you made the right choice. :slight_smile:


I hate to hijack a perfectly adorable kitten thread, but reading through this thread made me wonder the obvious.

Everyone here makes a perfectly logical case for pet-euthanasia, yet I know that if the same sensible logic and reasoning were applied to human beings, there would be a storm of outrage. Either euthanasia is universally bad or universally acceptable as a means of mercy-killing. Otherwise, it doesn’t make sense to allow Foo-Foo to be put out of her misery while allowing a man dying of incredibly painful cancer to go on suffering – all due to the idea that you are murdering such a man.

At least on the surface, it seems hypocritical, double-standarded, and plain illogical, and because of this, I’d like an answer (even if this is a pet-thread).

(Oh yes, and please don’t go on with an answer about humans not being animals: both them and us suffer chronic illnesses unto death which aren’t exactly fun)

Thank You.


Opinion from a long time Cat daddy who has had to do this several times. If you even have to ask the question, it’s time. Just do it. God will understand. Ask St. Francis for help in the grieving process.

Try to obtain a copy of the book THE LOSS OF A PET by William Sife.


Everyone here makes a perfectly logical case for pet-euthanasia, yet I know that if the same sensible logic and reasoning were applied to human beings, there would be a storm of outrage. Either euthanasia is universally bad or universally acceptable as a means of mercy-killing. Otherwise, it doesn’t make sense to allow Foo-Foo to be put out of her misery while allowing a man dying of incredibly painful cancer to go on suffering – all due to the idea that you are murdering such a man.

(Oh yes, and please don’t go on with an answer about humans not being animals: both them and us suffer chronic illnesses unto death which aren’t exactly fun)

You have, in part, answered your own question. It **does matter **that we are not animals because unlike even our most beloved pets, we humans are made in God’s image (however tarnished!) and He died to save us for Heaven. So, yes, chronic illnesses “aren’t exactly fun,” but we can and should unite them with Christ’s suffering. This offering assists in our own salvation and that of others! What an awesome thing!

Also, unlike our pets, we can and should have access to hospice care, which offers both pain relief and emotional assistance to the dying and their families. There is usually no reason to be in unbearable pain if proper palliative care is provided. If we have pain beyond relief, then we also have a rather large splinter of Christ’s cross to carry with Him and He will not leave us!

Of course, this is not an easy teaching, but I pray that God will help us all to see His Perfect Wisdom in the teaching of Mother Church.



I agree to listen to the advice of the vet. Usually they need to be put to sleep if they are suffering severely and it can’t be relieved. God bless you…it’s a terribly hard decision.

Here is an excellent site for those suffering from the loss of a pet.


and for all of you pet lovers be sure to read della’s story.


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