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Although we can no longer accept new questions you can search the question archive by pet type or keyword by following the link below. Advice has to be of a general nature because the animal is not present.

MOST IMPORTANTLY if your pet is ill you must seek attention from your veterinary surgeon. This is not an emergency service.

Did I do the wrong thing?

Looking for peace of mind that my cat wasn't in pain before she died.

My cat appeared to have trouble eating; I thought she might have bad teeth causing her pain so I took her to the vet.  Vet said she did have a bad tooth but it was unlikely to cause her so much pain that she would have trouble eating and was more concerned that her bladder was full.  Was told to keep an eye on her at home and check whether she was urinating. 

At home she was still using her litter try but I never saw any urine.  It was hard to tell if she was urinating because she spent time in the garden.   Then a few days later she looked like she was finding it hard to get comfortable.  Usually she would curl up and sleep on my lap for hours but she started stretching out on the floor and sleeping there.

 I took her back to the vets who examined her bladder and abdomen.  The cat then appeared to go into shock, started breathing rapidly, urinating and defecating.  Vet said the way she was breathing was not good, she was in pain and injected her with Vetergesic for pain relief and antibiotics (to rule out infection).  She said it wasn't looking good and it would be best for her to leave her to be x-rayed and collect her later.

She called me later at home to say the x-ray had shown an internal mass that may be pressing on organs and the kindest thing would be to put her down.  She also said something may have popped when she was being examined.

I said I would like to see her before making the decision to put her down.  They said that she was sleeping from the sedation given for the x-ray.  I feel awful as they gave her a reversal sedative so she would wake up and I would be able to say goodbye.  I feel extremely guilty that when she woke up she may have been in pain and the shock of everything caused her to pass away.

They were not sure what caused her to pass away but said it would be likely if I have left her at home she would have died from the internal mass.

My main questions is - is it likely that the x-ray sedative and reversal would have counteracted the Vetergesic, meaning she would have been in pain when she woke?

Looking back the kindest thing would have been to leave her to sleep rather than me getting them to wake her up.  But I wasn't thinking straight at all at the time, all I wanted to do was collect her and take her home to make the hard decision overnight.

Sarah Buck

I’m so sad to hear your story, Sarah. I think firstly the most important thing you should know is that you did nothing wrong. It’s completely understandable the way you reacted and it’s a really negative thing for you to dwell on. The reversal agent which is used after these kinds of sedatives would not have had any effect on the action of the Vetergesic your cat had and she still would have had the full pain relief from that. Also the reversal agent only acts on one of a cocktail of drugs she was probably given so the others may also have had pain-killing properties too. Many abdominal growths are not painful at all and it is one of the reasons that they often go unnoticed until they are very advanced or relatively large for the animal. I suspect what happened is that the tumour ruptured, which is also unlikely to have been painful, and she slipped away as her circulation failed. Your vet is probably right in that she almost certainly would have succumbed at home had you left it. You may be able to argue it would have been fairer not to wake her at all but many owners do what you did and it is completely understandable. Please remember that waking her up did not cause her pain and probably didn’t change the outcome. No matter how hard it is, try to remember the good things about your time with her and the fact that it sounds like she was lucky to have you as an owner. You did everything you could have.


Is it time for euthanasia?

My little dumbo rat Fluffy is now nearly 3 years old. He is very slow and very skinny even though he eats a lot of good food. There are no lumps on his body. I am just wondering if it might be time to have him euthanized. The reason for this is that his back legs do not work anymore. It seems like he is paralyzed and his back feet are all curled up and he doesn't walk any more but crawls. What is your suggestion?

Lisen Hazelgrove

I think most importantly you need to take him to see your vet. If he’s lost the use of his back legs he could be in a lot of discomfort or at the very least is at risk of damaging the skin and soft tissues of his rear end, legs and abdomen through dragging. Your vet will be able to see the extent of the injury and will tell you if euthanasia is the fairest thing for him. Sadly, it does sound like that is probably going to be the outcome but the sooner you find out the better for you and Fluffy.