The Decision to Euthanize: When is it Time?

Oct 14, 2011 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

This actual scenario played out in my practice today….Chaka, a once stunning Balinese girl was waiting for an exam and blood tests when I arrived at the clinic this morning. Today Chaka looked like a skeleton with matted hair. Her eyes appeared sunken from dehydration and she struggled to breathe.   Her Dad, Steve, has always been receptive to all the medical recommendations I’ve made over the years.  Sweet Chaka has had more than her share of medical problems, many of which were chronic and required ongoing treatment.

Steve was devoted to her nursing care and follow up visits. Her list of maladies included inflammatory bowel disease that years later transformed into lymphoma (cancer),  fatty liver disease treated with a feeding tube, hyperthyroidism and a life-threatening adverse reaction to the drug used to treat the hyperthyroidism. Her last medical crisis happened a year and a half ago. After a blood transfusion and intensive care, we  started chemotherapy and much to our amazement, Chaka responded favorably and rallied once again! Steve and Chaka enjoyed another long stretch of blissful feline-human camaraderie.

Today I discovered a heart murmur and a chest full of fluid on x-rays…I quickly called Steve to discuss Chaka’s condition and asked him to come down to the hospital right away.  Chaka was looking worse by the moment. My assessment led me to conclude that it was time for the discussion with Steve about sparing Chaka from further suffering. I ran over the options in my mind one more time and reaffirmed that none of the procedures and treatments I could offer for Steve’s approval were likely to lead to good quality time for this kitty. Steve was initially resistant to the idea of euthanasia.  He said he wanted Chaka to “go naturally”.  I explained that cats do not leave this earth gracefully; that they stubbornly cling to life and can suffer for days. In my opinion it has become our sacred responsibility to make the choice to let go when there is little or no hope for recovery.  After all, when felines chose to live inside our homes and we agreed to provide them with safety and food, they ceased to be exposed to predators or severe elements that would  have quickly ended their lives when they were sick or weak.

When a terminally ill or aged cat has been under ongoing veterinary care and close monitoring stops eating, chooses to hide in the closet or under your  bed, stops using the litter box or no longer seeks affection from the family, it is time to consider euthanasia.  In short, the unique daily routine you and your cat have shared has become severely altered.  Your veterinarian may still discuss medical procedures and treatments that could prolong kitty’s life.  However, the final decision is up to you, the pet parent.  It’s best to discuss with family members and friends at what point you will choose euthanasia as the time approaches. Your veterinarian will provide support and counsel through the process.  As feline health care givers, we are committed to assisting  you with humane end of life care and decision-making

Dr Elyse Kent

Dr. Elyse Kent graduated from Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1980 and completed an Internship at West Los Angeles Veterinary Medical Group in 1981.

In her early years in practice, Dr. Kent began to see a need for a separate medical facility just for cats, where fear and stress would be reduced for feline patients. In 1985, in a former home in Santa Monica, Dr. Kent opened the only exclusively feline veterinary clinic in Los Angeles, Westside Hospital for Cats (WHFC). Along with other forward-thinking feline practitioners from across North America, Dr. Kent founded the Academy of Feline Medicine in 1991. Through the efforts of these practitioners, feline medicine and surgery became a certifiable species specialty through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP). Dr. Kent became board certified in Feline Practice in the first group to sit for the Feline exam in 1995. She certified for an additional ten (10) years in 2005. There are now 78 feline specialists in the world. Dr. Kent served as the Feline Regent and Officer on the Council of Regents for 9 years. She is currently the immediate Past President of the ABVP, which certifies all species specialists. She also heads up a task force joining certain efforts of the ABVP with The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). She currently serves as a Director on the Executive Board of The American Association of Feline Practitioners.

The present day WHFC facility opened in 2000. It was the fulfillment of a vision for a spacious, delightful, state of the art, full service cat medical center that Dr. Kent had dreamed of and planned for over many years.

Westside Hospital for Cats
2317 Cotner Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Phone: 310-479-2428

Website: http://www.westsidehospitalforcats.com/
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