Peaceful Home Euthanasia for Cats ("Putting Your Cat to Sleep")
What to Expect
When you have made the compassionate decision to peacefully euthanize your pet at home, you will have questions which we hope to answer here. Please be assured that you and your cat will always be treated with compassion and respect. As each pet is an individual and each home is unique, please feel free to ask any questions or bring up any considerations that are not answered here.
Time: Dr. Susan will spend approximately an hour in your home; below is the general procedure.
What to prepare ahead of time:
1) Where: While your cat may be "ok" on the couch or bed, during normal times, most cats will sense immediately if they are being asked to stay in one place, and this will cause unrest. So we need to start instead where a cat can walk around and feel autonomous, unrestrained in between the sedative injections, yet where Dr. Susan can reasonably reach your pet.
Therefore, initially Dr. Susan will usually finds it most calming to begin in a small, secure room, such as a bathroom, or laundry room, unless your cat is unusually quiet due to their health. Cats tend to readily accept this smaller space and the lesser restraint it allows, much better than being in a larger space and the subsequent need to keep an hand on a cat (unlike dogs who happily stay put and can be more entertained with treats). Please think of a suitable small place where your cat can be free to move around, without going to an unreachable place such as under a bed, behind a couch or in a closet. Often the bathroom is very practical and creates a calm secure place we need to start.
Once your cat is very relaxed from the 1st or 2nd sedation steps (5-10 min), we can then move to any other room, or on the couch or the bed - wherever is your cats favorite spot or a place you feel is best. At that point, we can move to an area that will comfortably fit you and your pet, any friends or family who are present, and where we will have room for Dr. Susan to move around your cat. For example, you may choose to be sitting on your couch with your cat in your lap, or just a nice sunny spot, or by the fire, etc.
2) Music: You may find it comforting to have a special piece of music playing gently in the background.
When Dr. Susan Arrives:
1) Upon Dr. Susan’s arrival, the 1st thing that is done is the paperwork. There is a legal form that allows Dr. Susan to proceed, confirms of your aftercare wishes, and processes the payment (Cash, Visa or MasterCard). By completing the paperwork first, we can then make your cat the focus of our attention for the entire time.
2) Sedation: Dr. Susan’s sedation process is gentle and distinctive in that she will give your cat 3 separate sedation injections, taking a total of 10 – 15 minutes. This 3 step sedation process does not take significantly longer than waiting for the effect of a one step sedation more traditionally used, or placing a catheter. However, it allows for greater alleviation of pain, anxiety and nausea, and avoids an initial intramuscular injection, or placing of a catheter.This also allows your pet to first go into a peaceful anesthetic sleep. The initial tiny injections are given under the skin to avoid placing a catheter in a vein. We use this sedation process because it is very gentle and allows your pet to go into an actual aneasthetic sleep before the last euthanasia injection.
"Fractious" or unpredictable cats are handled gently but safely. It is a fact of life that cats "always rule" and some cats will still want to be very much "in charge." If a cat is known to be highly fractious, testy, or unpredictable, at a clinic or at home, Dr. Susan needs to know this ahead of time. We can discuss whether to arrange a sedative pill for your cat to give before Dr. Susan arrives. Alternatively, we need to accept that sometimes a cat may still start off being testy, and we need to use some safety measures. Dr. Susan will use the gentle but safe technique of placing a big thick towel over your cat, while on the floor, to give the first and possibly second injection as gently as possible.
3) Euthanasia: Once your cat is sleeping deeply, Dr. Susan will give the euthanasia injection. This stops all reflexes in the brain, which then turns off the heart and breathing. Most commonly, a small area of the back leg will be shaved for this step, as this injection ideally goes into a vein, and Dr. susan can stay more out of the way using this area.This step is very quick and painless. Due to the distinctive 3 step sedation, your pet will already be in a deep, peaceful sleep, allowing your cat to be completely free of anxiety and pain.
4) Afterward: You may choose to have some private moments with your cat or not. Dr. Susan will respect the time that you prefer.
The after care of your cat is a very personal decision. Before Dr. Susan’s arrival, you will need to decide if you would like to have your pet cremated with no ashes returned ( “General Cremation”), or a “private cremation”, where your pet’s own ashes are returned to you in an urn. For cremation services we use the pet memorial company, Until We Meet Again www.untilwemeetagain.com, as they meet and exceed the highest standards of pet memorial and cremation services.
Most pet owners appreciate the additional comfort of having Dr. Susan respectfully take their cat’s “afterself” with her and take care of arranging for the cremation. Some people may wish to bring their cat personally to Until We Meet Again in North Vancouver.
Home burials should be in accordance with the local bylaws. If this is chosen, then you will simply sign to be responsible for these arrangements.
5) Paw Print Keepsake: One final option is to have a keepsake, ceramic glazed & fired, paw print impression by “Spawts”. This is optional and is done at the time of cremation. An overview of the paw print information is available on this website, with a form to fill out before Dr. Susan arrives.
Please let us know if you have further questions or considerations to discuss, or, if you would like to arrange an appointment. Also, please include if you would prefer a reply by email or phone.
While Dr. Susan can sometimes come on short notice or the same day, appointments usually need to be made in advance, typically a few days or week, especially regarding evening and Saturday appointments.
With respect & compassion,
Dr. Susan Hetherington & Assistants at
Creature Comforts Veterinary Home Services Ltd.