Siamese cat coco- rainbow bridge remembrance day
Cats,  Holistic cat care

All About Feline Euthanasia: The Gentle Good-bye

If you love cats, sharing makes us purrrr :-)
The image is of Angel Coco, our dear Merlin’s sister who died three years ago.
Coco cat-pet death euthanasia

The word “euthanasia” is from the Greek — “eu”, goodly or well + “thanatos”, death = the good death. There is never a good time to die but having the option to relieve suffering of a beloved cat can be the best solution. Our guest post is by Georgia Barbush and it gives her perspective as a vet tech.

Euthanasia: What happens when it’s time to say goodbye.

The decision to euthanize a beloved animal is a difficult one, but it can also be one of the kindest decisions we make for our pets. When done properly, euthanasia allows an animal to cross the Rainbow Bridge peacefully and without pain.
Knowing the “Right Time”
This is something we all struggle with. We want to give our pets every possible moment of life and happiness, while never crossing that threshold into unnecessary suffering. Ultimately, you know your pet better than anyone else. Let this guide your choice. Also, a good veterinarian will not hesitate to spend time discussing your pet’s quality of life and answering any questions or concerns you may have. It is particularly beneficial if you have a long term veterinarian who knows your pet well.
When the Time Comes
If at all possible, contact your veterinarian ahead of time to schedule an appointment for the euthanasia. A good clinic will know to schedule a quiet part of the day to avoid time in the waiting room, interruptions, or being rushed out for other appointments, but you may want to request this just in case. Some clinics have a “Rainbow Room,” which is designated specifically for euthanasia. These rooms are designed to feel more like a cozy living room than a cold exam room and they can help make the experience less traumatic for pets and their people.You also may want to consider in home euthanasia. This provides the most stress-free experience possible for your pet. Some of the veterinarians I have worked for will do this for pets who particularly dislike visiting the clinic; it never hurts to ask.
What to Expect

  • When it comes to the actual process of euthanasia, each veterinarian has their own preferences and each patient has different needs.
  • If your pet is anxious or in pain, a sedative or tranquilizer might be administered right away. Some veterinarians will always use some form of these drugs, while others make this decision on a case by case basis.
  • In most cases, the veterinarian or vet tech will place an IV catheter to ensure that the euthanasia solution can be administered smoothly and without complications. The solution is quite viscous and the catheter helps to prevent any damage to vein. The catheter causes very little discomfort when placed and does not look scary, but if it makes you uncomfortable you can ask that it be placed in a hind limb where it will be less visible.
  • Many clinics will take your pet in the back treatment area to place the catheter, but some hospitals will do this in the room with you if you prefer.
  • Once the IV catheter is placed the veterinarian should allow you to spend time alone with your pet if you wish. You may choose to stay or leave when the euthanasia solution is administered. I believe our pets find solace in our presence, but they may also find distress in our sorrow. Only you can know what is right for you and your pet.
  • If you decide to stay with your pet you will see the veterinarian inject the euthanasia solution into the IV catheter and within seconds your pet will release any muscle tension and begin to pass. The euthanasia solution causes a state of anesthesia before it causes the heart, lungs, central nervous system to shut down, so your pet feels no pain or fear in this process. Once your pet has passed away, you may continue to spend time with him or her for as long as you need.

The euthanasia solution can cause some effects that may be upsetting if you are not prepared for them. First, your pet’s eyes will not close. Second, after your pet has passed away you may see several agonal breaths, or deep gasping breaths. These agonal breaths are caused by residual nerve and muscle activity after your pet is no longer conscious or aware. Lastly, some pets may make noises during the process, but this is rare and does not indicate pain or suffering.
What Now?

In addition to determining when you and your pet are ready to say goodbye, you will also want to think about what you would like to do with your pet’s remains. Saying goodbye can be so difficult, it is best to make this decision beforehand if possible Cremation is the most common choice in many places. You can opt for private cremation, in which your pet’s ashes will be returned to you, or group cremation.

  • In most cases, your veterinary clinic will arrange the cremation for you. They should also be able to provide you with the name and contact information for the crematorium, in case you have any questions about the process.
  • Depending on the laws in your area, pet burial may be another option.
  • And if you are looking for a particularly special way to memorialize your pets, you can have their fur or ashes cultivated into man-made diamonds.

Leaving the clinic without your pet can be an overwhelmingly painful experience. Each time we welcome a new animal into our families, we welcome the inevitable heartbreak as well. But we can find comfort in the knowledge that we have provided our pets with a rich life full of love and that we have helped them to pass tranquilly from this life onto wherever we believe they may go next.

Georgia Barbush a registered vet tech from California. She and her husband, Mike, are also the owners of Peach Industries. Their Kitty Lounger cat hammocks and other eco-friendly pet products can be found at


  • Michael

    I remember her eyes before she closes it and didn’t breathe anymore, Cat Euthanasia on her is peaceful and i know she’s in heaven now. I want to cuddle her for one more time but i know i can’t do it anymore, i made a memorial for her how grumpy she was but she’s kinda sweet.

  • Pat Allgood

    I am so glad you shared that sometimes there are reactions to the meds so if it does happen, the owners can be prepared. This happened with my little dog, J.J., and it was horrible. My daughter and I were crying and the veterinarian was extremely detached. I wouldn’t want anyone else to be taken unaware as we were. I belong to a forum called where I have put up memorials for my pets and share my feelings with all the other people who have had to say goodbye to a loved pet. I lost a dog, unexpectedly, in 2009 and the friends I made there saved my life. Pat

  • Judy & C.A.T.S

    Thank you for this information. This is a very difficult decision for pet parents. I could not be in the room when my dear Ginger went to the bridge but my husband stayed with her the whole time. I was glad that he was able to stay and that she saw him before she went to sleep.

  • Karen Jo

    Thank you for an informative post, though it was hard to read. I have never had to euthanize a cat, as the FeLV+ usually just makes them slip away. I am glad to know what to expect if I ever have to make this decision.

  • Skeeter and Izzy

    This is one of the hardest things to do in this life. It is agonizing and heart breaking and so painful but when it stops their pain and suffering then it is a wonderful thing. I have held many of my own babies as well as many of those that belonged to others when I worked at the Vets and I cried for every one but I have never doubted in a single case that it was the right thing to do.
    Thank you Layla and thank you Georgia.
    Luvs Skeeter and Izzy and the Feral Gang + Twig and Peanut and Romeo >^..^<

  • Oui Oui

    I’m sure this is a post most people will find difficult to read because it brings to mind all the pets we’ve helped to cross over (I even had to blow my nose). I think warning people that there may be a reaction is really important, because the vet might not think to warn you while you are “in the moment”. This happened with my Lumpy, and it was particularly distressing. I had to euthansize other kitties and thought I knew what would happen, so I was unprepared and aghast when it occured, thinking that Lumpy was suffering. I’ve also found it upsetting to sit in the waiting room with other people and pets, knowing they would be going home with their loved one while I would not.

    This post must have been difficult for you, Layla, and it shows what a strong, caring person you are. Purrs & hugs.

  • Ann

    Time to switch vets for us I believe. Ours does the sedative, but they still do the heart stick. I have requested the cath…but they don’t listen.

  • Angel Abby

    Speaking for myself and from experience it is better to know beforehand what your options are for any final farewells. I know too firsthand it is not easy to talk to your Vet about these things but it will be blessing in disguise. I know this was not a easy topic to have a discussion on because none of us likes to think of being in this situation, even though many of us will be one way or another. This was well written with great sensitivity.

  • Coccolino

    This is interesting and hard to read as we’ve had to put several pets down. It’s the hardest thing in the world and the memories will never go away of those few devastating minutes as they passed on. Excellent post with great information.

  • da tabbies o trout towne

    we canna lie…thiz bee a hard post ta reed guys….guess de food serviss gal has knot troo lee gotten over sauce just yet….

  • Alana

    Such a difficult topic, but I think many people will find this really helpful, especially people dealing with pets that are ill. Thank you so much, Layla, for this well-written piece. I’m sure many people will find it useful and comforting. It’s never a topic we want to have to think of, but I know many of us do.

  • Deb n Cats

    Thank you, Layla, for this column. I’ve had to do this for several beloved cats and I just couldn’t be there when it was done. I said my goodbye in a quiet room and left the clinic alone. It’s so helpful to have gone to the same vet for years, decades in my case. They know me and my cats and that compassion helped make the right decision easier to bear.

  • Kathryn

    Aww, brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful, informative post on a very important topic.

    Thank you, Layla and Georgia and Coco. And all other kitties who once were here but now are elsewhere.

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