I Just Put My Cat to Sleep and I feel an Incredible Sense of Betrayal

Pumpkin’s driving force was paranoia. From the day my wife rescued the near-feral kitty from under a bridge in Long Beach, CA 17 years ago, she had a sixth sense about how to stay alive. Don’t get too close to anyone.

She kept her distance from everything, even us. We used to jokingly say “we’re going to murder you Pumpkin” as she ran away from us when we entered the room. It was funny at the time — not so much today. Because today it’s true.

The cat who knew how to stay alive couldn’t outrun the people she loved and trusted most. And I feel like crap about it.

Was it time for her to go? Probably. She lost the use of her back legs last week which meant she stopped pooping and she laid in her own urine. And it’s not always easy to know how much pain an animal is in because they hide it so well.

What I really wanted was a sign. Anything to let me know it’s time for her to go. Painful wailing, seizures, loss of appetite. But none were forthcoming. When we gave her food she ate. When we petted her she meowed. She still had some life left in her.

I had no problem with Pumpkin dying. I just didn’t want to play a role in it. It would have been perfect if we had just woken up one morning to see her resting peacefully in heaven’s domain. I would have known she lived every minute she was supposed to live. That is the cycle of life. What’s not the cycle of life is an overdose injected into an animal’s back leg.

The vet was no help. For future reference, asking a vet if we’re doing the right thing is like asking a robber it they’d like the money. They do it so often they’re immune to the guilt the pet owner feels by artificially shortening their pet’s life.

I’m trying to comfort myself by believing we did the right thing — that she’s no longer in pain. But I’m having a hard time dealing with the sense of betrayal I feel knowing she still had a little left in the tank. One more tasty meal. One more meow. One more love session.

Time will move on. We’ll adjust to our new reality. And maybe even someday far in the future consider a Pumpkin II. But for now, I wrestle with the guilt and the idea that we betrayed a family member who loved us and trusted us and still had some life left, no matter how little.

I don’t care what anybody tells you, putting a pet to sleep sucks. It’s a tough decision. One whose repercussions last long after their gone.

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