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.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. (He was very ill, couldn't eat, was very weak, and was no longer responding to any medical treatment just mainly sleeping all the time.) He still recognized us and responded to us and it was very hard to make the decision, but it was a kindness to him to let him go. We had never had to have a pet 'put to sleep' before, but we trusted our vets and we thought that they had explained the procedure pretty thoroughly and we thought we knew what to expect.

(We were so wrong!) They told us there would be an injection, and he would lose consciousness, and shortly after that, he'd be gone. They explained that he might appear to struggle to breathe, but not to be alarmed, as that was reflexive and he wouldn't be conscious or feeling any distress by then. My husband couldn't face seeing it done, but I wanted the last touch and the last voice that our precious kitty heard to be my familiar voice and my loving touch.

Above all, I wanted him to be able to drift away into death very peacefully, feeling loved and secure. The vet said it was fine for me to stay with him. The reality was very different from what I had hoped. When they tried to put the needle into a vein in his leg for the injection, it clearly hurt him a lot and he fought and struggled as they held him down and tried to find a vein. I tried to talk to him and reassure him but he must have felt that I had delivered him into a torture chamber.

They failed to find a vein, and went on to try several other sites in quick succession while he struggled, yowled in pain and fought to get away from them. A second vet came in and made another attempt. At this point, I managed to get myself together, tears flooding down my face, and tell them to stop! I said "Please Please can't you give him some kind of sedation before you try any more to give him the injection." They did stop then, as I had asked, and one of them went out for some kind of 'gas' machine.

The other vet didn't want to use that and he went out and got some other kind of injection that he said would not hurt if he put it into the abdomen, and that is what he did. It seemed to render Merlin unconscious or at least paralyzed and unresponsive. One of the vets stayed with him and me while we waited at least 20 minutes for his dear heart to cease beating. This didn't happen, and eventually, the other vet came back and shaved a place on his leg, found a vein, and administered the fatal injection.

Then, we brought our sweet pet home and made a grave for him in our back yard.
I couldn't sleep last night for thinking how traumatic, painful and frightening Merlin's last moments on this earth were, and how I wasn't able to protect him and give him the loving and peaceful exit that his gentle heart so deserved. Today I cry every time I think about it. I am flooding the keyboard as I type this now.We have taken our two cats to these vets for ten years. Until yesterday, we had trusted them and felt that they were caring people and were doing a good job. I truly feel blindsided by what happened. I am posting this in the hope that if the time ever comes when you are faced with having your cat euthanized, you will learn from our experience. I suggest that you impress upon your vet that you want your cat pre-sedated in some manner to avoid having his/her last moments spent in fear and pain.

I also wish so much that I had had the presence of mind to stop the proceedings the first instant that I saw that it was causing pain and fear. I am devastated by this and as desperately as I wish I could I can't go back and make it better for my dear kitty, but maybe someone here will learn from our experience. Thinking about that possibility may help my heart begin to heal from this. Right now I feel like I failed my best friend when he needed me the most.
Thanks for 'listening.'
AJ
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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.

AJ, I am so sorry this happened to you. On top of the loss of your Merlin, the experience at the vet must be unimaginably painful. I don't know why it happened as it did, I'm just so sorry it did.
Hi My first time posting here, but I need to say something that might prevent others from having the sad ... if the time ever comes when you are faced with having your cat euthanized, you will learn from our experience.

I'm sorry about what you went through w/Merlin. Otoh, I don't think this is a common scenario. I've have 2 cats euthanized so far, & both were calm experiences. And have been on this ng since '98, but very few (none that jump to mind, at any rate) horror stories about euthanasia.

My first cat who was euthanized was very feisty, even when incredibly ill, & knowing this, my vet gave her a pre-euthanasia injection for sedation in the her foreleg, before the fatal injection. Both injections went fine.

My second cat who was euthanized - she received just the fatal injection, & it was over with within a few seconds.
Cathy

"Staccato signals of constant information..."
("The Boy in the Bubble") Paul Simon
I suggest that you impress upon your vet that you want
Thinking about that possibility may help my heart begin to heal from this. Right now I feel like I failed my best friend when he needed me the most. Thanks for 'listening.' AJ

AJ, I am so very sorry for you and your Merlin that you had to go through this experience. Please try not to feel like you failed your baby; you were only doing the best you could, and there was no way you could have known that the experience would be so traumatic. And I firmly believe that, on the other side, they do not blame us.

Most of these experiences go the way you had hoped Merlin's would. Sadly, occasionally, they don't. I have had only one difficult experience (though not as bad as yours), so I do know it happens and do understand how you must feel right now. Please remember that you gave Merlin many years of love, and that is what will be remembered, always.
Blessings,
Ginger-lyn
Thinking about that possibility may help my heart begin to heal from this. Right now I feel like I failed my best friend when he needed me the most. Thanks for 'listening.' AJ

Good Lord... I am so sorry for what you've been through. Don't beat yourself up over it. You did what you thought was best, and that's all we can do. The important thing is that you were with Merlin, and he knows that. Sherry
Thanks for 'listening.' AJ

AJ,
I can sympathize with you and your experience. When I had my cat put to sleep it hurt him when they put the needle in and he cried out. Fortunately, the doctor hit the vein so there was no further struggling, but the way he cried out will haunt me forever and I'll never forget it. I so wish that the time directly before his death could have been a happy one, and it makes me feel so sad when I think about it. Just know that your baby is now in a good place and all pain is gone.
So sorry for your loss,
K.
I am posting this in the hope that if the time ever comes when you are faced with having your cat euthanized, you will learn from our experience.[/nq]Euthanasia is not supposed to be this way at all. I was with my cat as he was allowed to go to sleep mercifully. They shaved his leg and already had an IV in when they brought him into the room wrapped in a colorful blanket. My husband and I sat and pet him, telling him how wonderful he was until he was purring and relaxed. They administered the shot and he was gone in two seconds. His heart had stopped almost instantly. He purred til the very end.

I did tell the doctor ahead of time that I didn't want phenobarbital, I wanted the more expensive less painful injection. A shot of pheno to the abdomen will paralyze the animal but it will be alive for a bit. I personally feel you should write a letter to the owner of that hospital so someone can educate the vets so that horrible experience will never happen to anyone else again. What a horrible event for you, your family and your kitty. At least now he is finally at rest.

My prayers are with you all.
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.
circa Sun, 08 Feb 2004 02:59:29 GMT, in rec.pets.cats.health+behav, Sunflower (Email Removed) said,
Either an intramuscular or interabdominal shot of a small portion of the euthanasia solution would have allowed your cat to ... front of a pet's owner, but it would have been a lot better than many attempts to find a vein.

When I had Alex euthanized in August, the veterinarian and I had a detailed discussion beforehand, and I decided to go the intracardial route. I had explained that due to nearly two years of chemo, Alex's veins were thrombosed to the point of being very, very difficult to use for injections.At that point, the vet told me that we could go one of two ways- in the first method, they'd euthanize Alex with an IV solution, but it would have required them to take him out of the room so that they could run a central line (jugular vein) in which to administer the solution. I had been with Alex before both when he'd had IV chemo administered and when he'd had central lines run, but I didn't want to insist upon them running a central line in my presence as this was actually my first time with these vets (I'd just moved to New York and the veterinarians I had taken the cats to when I'd just gotten here were in West Chelsea, both too far away for this and closed on Sundays).

I also knew that Alex would be more comfortable without a central line, no matter how well the line was run, due to his long history with needles, and I didn't want him to be taken away from me for even a minute during his last hours.
With the intracardial euthanasia, Alex was first given a sedative that rendered him unconscious (with his eyes open, as the vet had warned me would occur). Once he was unconscious, a needle was inserted into his heart and his heart was injected with a drug to stop it from beating. The vet listened to his heart with a stethoscope the entire time, and while he did have a few minutes of fibrillation (basically random electrical impulses) and she did inject more of the drug into his heart to finally stop it, Alex went very, very peacefully. There was no sign whatsoever that he felt anything.
The intracardial method is at least conceptually difficult for both the owner and the veterinarian as it just seems so horrible to be injecting an animal in its heart like that, but I have to say that it was much less scary than I expected it to be when the vet outlined the procedure, and there was no struggle and no pain for Alex. He died as peacefully as I could have hoped for.
I feel for AJ in her ordeal; I hope I never have to experience anything like that. :-( I did want to detail my experience with intracardial euthanasia, however, for anybody who might have to face the decision in the future. If your cat has any kind of vein problems, whether they be due to dehydration, previous medical treatments, or just plain "difficult" veins, I'd recommend discussing it with your vet as an option.
Laura
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