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I suggest that you impress upon your vet that you want your cat pre-sedated in some manner to avoid having ... to heal from this. Right now I feel like I failed my best friend when he needed me the most.

You didn't fail your best friend. Sometimes these things happen and we have no control. Hindsight is always 20/20, but even then it's possible that what we think we shoukld have done wouldn't have made a difference either. I'm sorry you're in so much pain, but please don't feel guilty for a situation you could not control.
On December 1 I had my vet come to my house to euthanize my Sadie, who had been battling a serous illness for 9 months. I thought that since she had always been a sweet and mellow cat that things would go smoothly, but it was not to be. She had started to develop fluid on her chest and was starting to have trouble breathing. When they tried to put a catheter in she got stressed and made it impossible to get the catheter in. I tried to calm her, but her breathing trouble stressed her more and it became a vicious circle. The vet then gave her a sedative and it had an adverse reaction and just made things worse.
At this point we had to move fast so my last memory of my beautiful, lovely girl was not one of me looking into her eyes and saying goodbye while she drifted away, but instead one of me scruffing her tightly and keeping her from struggling long enough so that the vet could quickly find a vein and inject her. All I could do was apologize through my tears and hope it went quickly. It was not pleasant, but the circumstances were such that it was unavoidable.

Sometimes this is just the way it goes and we don't get the peaceful ending we'd hoped for. I have lost 7 cats in the last few years and some of the euthanasias have been very calm and peaceful, and sometimes they have not. (Check the Google archive for "What Happened To Benjamin" to see my horror story.)

There are also times when we don't get to really say goodbye, either. Last week I brought my cat Natasha in for surgery to remove and biopsy a tumor I discovered in the back of her mouth. The vet called me while she was on the table and said it was really bad, so I told her to keep her under and I would be there right away.When I got there she showed me what was going on and there were cancerous masses all the way down the back of her throat. There was nothing to be done and I had no choice but to euthanize. I would have loved for Natasha to see me and hear me one last time, but was it fair to wake her up from that just for my satisfaction? No, of course not, so I sat with her and talked to her and hoped that some small part of her would know I was there and hear me tell her how much I loved her.

She slipped away peacefully, but it was still devastating because I so wanted her to know I was right there by her side until the very end no matter what, but I'll never know if she knew I was there.

Whether we have had good or bad experiences with euthanasia the facts are that as long as we choose to have cats in our lives, we will most times have to face this sort of decision again and again. I think most times things will go well, but there are always going to be other factors we have no control over and sometimes that means that it will not go the way we hope it will.
You can't beat yourself up over this. Yes, it's a tough memory to have to live with, but that memory is just a blip on the screen compared to the lifetime of good memories you have in your heart and mind, and those are what you must hold on to and cherish.
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
-Edmund Burke
Learn The TRUTH About Declawing
Zuzu's Cats Photo Album:
"Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way."
- W.H. Murray
This is very beautiful, Megan.
I don't want to think about the day it may be my lot, but your post should be read and memorized by all of us, for further use - to strengthen our spirits.
Thank you.
My heartfelt thanks to all of you who responded to my story with such kindness, compassion and empathy. You can't know how much it helps. I don't know exactly what led me to post to this group, but I am very thankful to have done so and I am so grateful to every person who has taken time to reach out to me.Thank you Sunflower, for the in depth explanation. I feel reassured that our little guy was unconscious at the very last. And with your information, I will be a little better prepared to face this if it is necessary again someday. And Kelly, Special thanks for telling me your experience. You truly know...and I share your pain too. And, yes, I have decided to write these vets a letter.

I hope I can suggest to them how they could be so much kinder without just putting them on the defensive. It is going to be a hard letter to write but I think it will help with my healing whether it makes any difference with them or not. Depending on their response or maybe regardless of it we are also going to be looking for another vet for our remaining sweet kitty.
Again, thanks to all of you.
You can't beat yourself up over this. Yes, it's a tough memory to have to live with, but that memory ... memories you have in your heart and mind, and those are what you must hold on to and cherish. Megan

Your message is beautiful. You have put thoughts into words that will help a great many people. You have a true understanding of what it means to care for our cats and do what is best for them (no matter how painful it may be for us), and your love shows loud and clear in this message. Thank you for posting it.

My husband and I took our beloved 18 year old Merlin to our vet

yesterday to be euthanized because his body had just finally given out. I couldn't sleep last night for thinking how ... Right now I feel like I failed my best friend when he needed me the most. Thanks for 'listening.' AJ

Please do not think that you failed. You didn't! Everything you did was in Merlin's best interests. Sometimes we can't have the blessing of a peaceful goodbye, but you should find solace in knowing that what you did prevented what could have been a long, painful death for your beloved Merlin. Please carefully read the message that Megan posted this morning. I just read it, and she has beautifully expressed the thoughts that many of us have had but she has found the words that escape most of us.

Merlin had a wonderful life with you, and you did everything you could for him when it was obvious that the time had come to let go. You could not have done more.
Dear Megan,Your post contains so much wisdom and all of it has been hard won through experience, I can see. It also contains much truth, and I am taking it to heart. Reading it, (and all the other messages here), I can see that even with the most well meaning and compassionate vet (not mine), things are just going to go badly sometimes, and we just have to move on and not dwell on our regret and pain instead, we have to remember all the love and good times. That is true for the loss of any loved one not just the four-legged kind.

At my age I should know this. I am going to try to put it into practice. I did also search out and read about your dear Benjamin and I cried the whole time I was reading it. I am so sorry that you and Benjamin experienced such an atrocity. But I also was inspired and drew strength from the very clear and strong letter that you wrote to the clinic that served you both so badly. You took back your power and used it for the good of people who came after you.

Thank you for writing.
Hi My first time posting here, but I need to say something that might prevent others from having the sad experience I had yesterday regarding our wonderful cat, Merlin.

Sorry for your experiences, AJ. What I can tell you from my experiences working as a vet tech is that many vets presedate kitties before administring the euthanasia solution. I'm sorry your vet didn't do this. Based on my experiences, what you went through is unusual. Please know you did the right thing. Your Merlin is in no pain now, and I'm sure he knows you loved him dearly.

Take care,
Hi My first time posting here, but I need to say something that might prevent others from having the sad experience I had yesterday regarding our wonderful cat, Merlin. Snip painful story[/nq]AJ, what you went through was very traumatic and I'm sorry. You had the bad luck of being one of the few that expereience a problem with euthanasia. What sounds like happened is that your cat was dehydrated somewhat from his illness. Dehydrated animals are very hard to find veins on. Unfortunately, not enough education goes on in vet schools about exactly what to do in a problem situation involving euthanasia, and I'll bet this was the first time your vet has been confronted with it himself, despite having been in practice for a while.

Or, maybe he was reluctant to go to the abdominal method immediately, because that sometimes causes the owners more stress than the cat. Either an intramuscular or interabdominal shot of a small portion of the euthanasia solution would have allowed your cat to become unconscious. (Cats have their eyes open when sedated, so don't fear that the animal wasn't "asleep" when he finally passed.) Then, as your animal was difficult to get a vein on, the vet should have explained to you than an intracardial stick now that the animal was sedated would be the quickest and most peaceful route for your animal to go.

The direct shot to the heart is not something vets really enjoy doing, much less in front of a pet's owner, but it would have been a lot better than many attempts to find a vein. Again, your experience is atypical. But, that doesn't resolve your vet of the responsibility of communication with you and he should have talked with you and reassessed the situation after the second attempt to find a vein. As I said, euthanasia doesn't receive much coverage in vet school, and sometimes vets need additional training in their people skills and communication as well.
Do rest assured that your animal was asleep when the fatal dose was administered. He was probably dreaming of the good times with you.

I had a similar thought about difficulty finding a good vein.

Like others have already said, don't beat yourself up over this. You did what you thought was best. Sometimes they just don't go easily but I believe this to be the exception not the rule.My Ralf would have had it easier if I had never taken him to the vet at all. He was quietly near death when he got there. They had to start an IV which I'm sure wasn't easy as he was extremely dehydrated. When that kicked in he started having hallucinations and throwing himself around the cage. Then he started having breathing problems. When we finally put him down they didn't have a problem getting a vein as he already had that set up from the IV but he didn't go quietly.

He cried. I don't know if he knew I was there with him or not. I just have to believe that wherever our beloved pets go they get a peek back to know that we were there for them at the end and were only doing the best we could.
Hi My first time posting here, but I need to say something that might prevent others from having the sad experience I had yesterday regarding our wonderful cat, Merlin.

I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I've had several cats euthanized, and none of them ever went through that. That must have been so very hard. Know that he is in a good place now with no more pain and that he knows you loved him. You didn't fail him - it's not like you knew this was going to happen. He knows you did what you thought was best. He's romping over at Rainbow Bridge, playing with the other kitties and waiting for you.

A plateau is a high form of flattery.
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