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Elderly Cat Advice

Posted: Fri Sep 11, 2015 2:18 am
by ashaley
Hi all,

Lately I've been struggling with whether or not to put my elderly cat down. She has lived a VERY long life (17 1/2 years to be exact) but lately she's been slowing down a lot. She rarely jumps up on the couch to sit next to me like she used to and doesn't jump on the bed anymore unless it's bed time whereas she used to always sleep on the bed during the day. She's still using the litter box but frequently I'll see a little poop right outside the box. She is eating and drinking, especially her twice daily wet treats but she doesn't eat very much of the dry food. She is very thin but has always been a thin cat and the last several vet checks he has assured me she is thin but not too thin. She is on several medications which is making me hesitate to take her back to the vet and have her diagnosed with yet ANOTHER ailment which would require meds. She is currently on Azodyl and special dry food for kidneys (she didn't like the wet), on eye drops for glaucoma, on Methimazole for hyperthyroid and on Lasix for a touch of fluid on her lungs. She has also lately been sitting in weird spots and she does take on a weird pose occasionally which I need an opinion on.. I've read a lot about pain in cats and how they mask it and I've heard that they can take a hunched pose when in pain. A picture is attached.

My questions: Do you think she is in pain? Do you think it's time to put her down? My family has been begging me to put her down for years for other reasons (had behavioral issues with peeing outside the litter box which has for the most part gone away and yes she got checked out many times for that) so it's hard to ask their opinion. I've had her most of my life so this decision is really hard for me, but I don't want her to be suffering either.

Any advice would be helpful. Sorry for the long post. Thanks!

Re: Elderly Cat Advice

Posted: Fri Sep 11, 2015 9:42 am
by Lilith
Hi Ashaley and welcome to the forum.

A lot of elderly or sick cats can reach a 'plateau', where they just aren't any better - but no worse either. Your girl is coping, but clearly not going to get better - but if she's doddering about and content with life, she might, despite the slowing-down, go on like this for quite some time.

I understand your dilemma as I had an elderly boy who hung on like this for years. I never knew his age; he came to me as a feral tom and moved in after neutering; like you I had to retrain him out of weeing everywhere for a while. In his later years he became arthritic and like your girl didn't jump up on things as much, and messed outside his tray as squatting for any length of time can be uncomfortable (though he was on metacam) so often he'd straighten up and leave the tray - and it would happen. He was easy to dose though - I hid the metacam in a spoonful of tuna and every morning he'd present himself in the kitchen - where's me tuna then?

It might be a good idea to get her checked out by the vet, just to keep her condition monitored. It's hard to tell from a photograph - she might be hunched in pain; she might just be doddery old cat dozing. When they get to this stage they don't do an awful lot, bless them.

There's obviously a lot of doubt in your mind and I know this is a vague answer, but I feel that when the time comes to let her go, you'll know. It may be soon, it may be a while yet. If she's just mooching about, chilling and still having quality of life in her own way, you're justified in hanging on to her for a while longer (and please don't let your family tell you otherwise; I too have known members of my so-called 'family' try to dictate about my animals; know how it is, grr!) When the day does come to let her go, that's your decision and you're doing the last thing you can to care for her.

It is an awful decision to have to make especially after she's been part of your life for so long. All the very best to you and her x

Re: Elderly Cat Advice

Posted: Fri Sep 11, 2015 10:03 am
by Kay
I think it shows in their eyes when they've had enough, rather than their behaviour - my 8 year old for instance regularly adopts that pose in your photograph, but he is full of life

when my boy was still apparently coping well with a rapidly growing sarcoma, I dithered over when to make that final phone call - but a photo taken of him head on showed me a cat who was suffering - and then it was easy

Re: Elderly Cat Advice

Posted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 9:35 am
by greenkitty
It doesn't sound like a cat in pain but just an elderly cat slowing down, they don't eat as much when they're older and it maybe she's not physically able to jump up on the bed and sofa now, perhaps she would welcome some steps up to sofa and bed so she can still join you but doesn't have to jump. Elderly cats often miss the litter tray because they're back end just becomes too stiff to squat down. If the vet thinks she's doing ok, then trust his judgment.

Re: Elderly Cat Advice

Posted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 10:21 am
by jillyvillyvoo
I personally think, unless the vet tells you he is in a lot of pain that can't be controlled then just love him old age is a natural part of life. My sonny is only 13 but stopped being able to get up on our bed etc years ago due to a spine problem which we treat with acupuncture which helps. Occasionally metacalm. He has slowed down a lot over the years but he is otherwise healthy and we love him so much. He is a content big soul. Until we are told he is suffering we will continue to love him And care for him. I know (oother cat) litter tray problems can be hard to cope with but it's a small price for the joy they bring. We have put steps at bed etc so he can get up without hurting himself and makes life a little easier. Does your vet do acupuncture? I was amazed the difference it made. It's a hArd thing to decide I know I had to have cher pts in April but her kidneys failed and vet quite simply told me she was dying, so decision was made for me really. Just think long and hard as there is no going back . Hope it works out for you both x

Re: Elderly Cat Advice

Posted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 10:53 am
by Jacks
Some lovely replies, and I don't have any experience of elderly cats, but I can tell you that the pose your little cat is in is adopted even by my youngsters from time to time, and that I agree that you can see in their eyes if they're struggling. The other thing is that when cats are in pain they tend to find a corner or hide away somewhere - not just sit in the middle of the floor.

We had a little dog years ago who got to 17, even with a heart condition in her later years. She also had a touch of doggy dementia, and would wander outside, forget why she'd gone, turn round and walk back inside with her little poops falling behind her. She looked so confused. But she also had good times and loved fuss and care. It was not until her heart took a turn for the worst and we found her, on a hot day, lying on her side gasping for breath that we knew her time had come. At the vets he said it was due to fluid in her lungs, because of her heart. She went very quickly and peacefully, surrounded by those who loved her, although when she so obediently tried to jump up onto the vet's table we felt like hearts were breaking.

You will know when it's time; don't let your family tell you otherwise. You are the person who has to live with your decision, and be thankful too that we can end the suffering of these precious creatures with whom we share so much love, when he time comes ...

Re: Elderly Cat Advice

Posted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 11:02 am
by Dilcia
I have had lots of elderly cats even over 20 years. Currently my friend has a cat aged 19 1/2 and she has 'on her last legs' for 2 years! She needs a stool or something to help her get onto the bed and sofa. My last cat I knew when she stopped eating. You will know when it is time and yes the eyes tell you a lot.

Re: Elderly Cat Advice

Posted: Sun Sep 13, 2015 6:05 pm
by ashaley
Thank you so much for all of your responses!

I do think her eyes are telling me its time, but I wanted a little more advice and some justification. This stuff is hard!

She has been lying in very weird spots lately that she normally doesn't go, and she seems uninterested for the most part. She also seems to be getting even thinner to me. I don't want to have to get to the point of force feeding her or giving her subq fluids, so I am going to take another day to think about it but I really appreciate all the advice and expertise. You guys are awesome.

Re: Elderly Cat Advice

Posted: Mon Sep 14, 2015 12:38 am
by Lilith
Hi Ashaley, and hugs. Thinking about you and her x

Re: Elderly Cat Advice

Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 11:58 am
by elastu
17½ is not really old, nowadays so many little ones live until sometime in their 20's, the oldest cat Cats Protection homed was 32 and no I have not got the figures the wrong way round. :) I would say in view of this please don't make the decision just in view of the little one's age. If the little one belonged to me I would most certainly see the vet perhaps have bloods taken etc and see if there was anything could be done to ensure the little one had a quality of life. If not then I know it is very difficult to make the decision for your final act of kindness you can give the little one but the right decision.

Re: Elderly Cat Advice

Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 12:26 pm
by Janey
Hi and welcome. I agree with Ela, and would let the vet see your cat again before making a decision. We've adopted many old cats and 17 isn't that old to us, one we adopted at 17 who was deaf and blind who lived to 22 and another at 22 who lived to 26. Also when I do think the time is right I always ask my vet what they would do if it were their cat and consider their opinion. It sounds like she is on quite a few meds already and special food. I was just wondering how much she likes the food? with my oldies I've found that they can get miserable if they don't really enjoy the food and they like lots of tasty treats as they get older as like humans they don't taste things as well as they age. If she only has the biscuits would it be possible to give her some things she really likes occasionally even if it's just bits of what you have e.g. chicken or fish etc as that can perk them up no end. Hugs to your girl and let us know how things go.