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El P won't understand. You can give him the basics but he won't really understand yet.

El C will need a chance to understand and say goodbye. If he's going to be present (which I honestly would recommend) your vet should spend some time with him explaining exactly what's going to happen. In my experience, children are remarkably resiliant and understanding. They do well with the basic facts of what is going to occur.

As for the after for El C, he may want to write a letter or story or draw pictures - whatever he likes to memorialize her. There are plenty of great kids books - I can send you specific recommendations if you want.

It's not a betrayal. It's the hardest thing ever to decide, but it's a decision made through love.

You tell her that you love her.

I'm hoping the news is better than you are anticipating. If it can't be, then I'm hoping for a peaceful time for all of you.


Great answers from Christine!

I trust that your cat will be okay, and you will be okay, no matter what the outcome.

with sympathy,


Yes, Christine knows. So I can only add how sorry I am - what a hard thing to have to decide.


I agree with Christine, drawing a picture for El Chico to express himself is a good idea. I remember wring a poem to comemorate Shoo-shoo, my great aunts cat when she was run over.I found her body in the bushes so it was a shock to my ten year old self.

When the time comes for my Willow to go to the vets for the last time which I hope is not for many, many years, I think I would stroke her gently while thanking her for being the most wonderful companion anyone could ask for and that she is loved.

Alison S

Moxie, I'm a vet (British), and I read your blog. Christine's comments are very apt, except that I doubt the vet will take it upon him/herself to talk to your son directly about what's going to happen, unless he/she knows you very well - too many parents have bizarre ideas about children and death for me to feel comfortable to intervene in that way, unless the parent obviously wants me to. I have two children, aged 8 and 11, have (obviously) euthenased hundreds of animals, and have been through dozens of pet deaths with our family, so I have dealt with this issue many, many times, and seen families handle it in many different ways. In my experience, the only wrong way to do it is to lie to the children, or to put your own emotional needs above the cat's welfare, neither of which, I am sure, you would do. I have seen people tell children their pet has gone to live somewhere else, rather than face the truth with them, which seems to me very cruel: why should they trust their parents again in the future, if they can lie about something so important? Children will have to face the death of loved ones many times in their lives: it seems to me that to lose a pet, kindly and compassionately, is a good preparation for dealing with other bereavements in future life, and to learn that we have to deal with bad things as well as good.
I absolutely agree that you don't need to worry about the baby. He's too young to really be affected. With your older son, it's different. You may or may not want him to be present actually during the euthenasia. You would be wise to see what your vet thinks about this, and how he/she plans to do it. With a very old, sick cat, it can sometimes be hard to find a vein to inject into, and so sometimes we need to sedate them first, which means it can take a few minutes for things to happen. The vast majority of euthenasias are peaceful and dignified,but occasionally a cat will struggle or cry out - you know your cat: if she generally is calm and quiet, that's very unlikely, but no vet can 100% guarantee a perfect end for every animal, although we certainly wish we could. So you might want to, say, leave your son in the waiting room with your husband or a member of the staff, and then let him in afterwards to see the body, if you would rather he wasn't there during the euthenasia; or be aware that you may need to explain what's happening to him, if things don't go perfectly. Sometimes an animal will take some deep gasps as the life leaves its body: often they will pass urine and faeces soon after they die: these things can be distressing if you don't know that they can happen, and it's important to understand that the dying animal isn't aware of what's going on, by that stage.
I think one important thing to consider is the words you use, when you explain things to your son. Do not say "going to sleep" or anything similar: young children readily confuse sleep and death, and you don't want him thinking he's going to die in the night too. I have always said, "We need to help *** to die, because she's in pain and we can save her from hurting any more", or words to that effect. I think that "helping something to die" is exactly what euthenasia of a pet is about, and using clear and unambiguous words with a child helps them realise what's happening. Then, afterwards, you can look at the body, maybe cut a lock of hair to keep, if that helps you, and explain that *** isn't there any more, this is just her body, but her spirit has gone - whereever you believe it has gone.
As for the timing of the euthenasia from the cat's point of view, the vet can tell you how sick she is,and whether he/she feels she has any chance of improvement, but ultimately she's your cat, and you have to feel comfortable in your mind that you are doing the best thing for her. This does not sound like an emergency, so if you get to the vet and find that you just can't face doing the deed today, or that you truely can't decide if you are doing the right thing, then go home and think about it for another 24 hours. If you are putting the cat's interests above your own - and I am sure you will be - then you won't make a bad decision - but you need to feel sure in your heart that it's time to say goodbye, or you will question it afterwards, and that doesn't help.
I don't know what arrangements for dealing with the body will apply in NYC, but you may choose to have the ashes returned and scatter them somewhere she liked to go (if she went outside!), or something like that. You can always discuss the options for that sort of thing ahead of time, so your mind is clear before the actual event.
Good luck. It's a horrible thing to have to do. I hope some of this helps, and I'm sorry it's so long.



I told Penny I loved her, would miss her and that I thought I was making the right decision for her.

It's so hard, I'm so sorry.


I'm so sorry, Moxie. It's so hard to face the end of a pet's life, and harder so when you need to prepare children.

For me that hardest part was introducing my 3 year old to the concept of death. I felt like I was bursting a bubble and didn't want to introduce something that might scare her into her young life. But she'd been asking about loved ones who weren't here when we'd talk about them. ("Your Poppy used to say this..." "Where's Poppy now?" That kind of thing.) And it was clear she was looking for an understandable explanation.

Though our cat is still here, the day is coming when we'll put her down. The most matter-of-fact book I found is The Dead Bird, and I also like another called Badger's Gifts. We're lucky to have a vet that does home euthanasia, though when the time comes I don't think I'll let either of my daughters be present. I will let them see our cat after and have them watch us bury her and say goodbye.

Good luck to you, Moxie. I hope you get an answer at the vet that reassures you and gives you peace of mind -- either way. Take care.


You have my sympathy. Shortly after CX was born, we lost our oldest cat to CRF, and I am still not entirely at peace with what we had to do. We had him cremated, and his urn is on my bedside table (he always slept on my head, or tried to).

I could not stay in the room when the vet, who was very understanding and gentle, came in to perform the procedure; I was much, much too upset. Fortunately, we didn't have to explain anything to CX, because he was just under 4 months old at the time.

Good luck. I'll be thinking about you.


I'm so sorry, Moxie. It's such a hard decision to make, even when you know it's the right thing. I had to have my female cat put down 2 days before my second child was born- she had lymphoma and was very very sick. I just held her and stroked her and told her I was sorry and that I loved her so much. She went so peacefully. She let out one gentle sigh and was gone.

I'll be thinking of you.


It sounds like everyone here is pretty spot on in what to say... how to explain it to yourself, that I always had a lot harder time dealing with.

You know and you can see that she has no quality of life anymore. You know that you are doing a merciful thing. You know that by the time the needle is empty, she's waking up by a fireside, able to stretch and groom herself and jump like a kitten, enjoy her food... all the things her body can't do anymore on this earth.

But for me, it was the guilt of being the one to end another life... to someone who had done no harm, could do no harm. That I still can't explain to myself, although my logical mind knows I did the right thing for my dog, now 4 years ago.

Lisa V

Oh Moxie, when we had Dozer put down Apple was 8, Rory 5 and Sunshine 1. We just explained to them how sick and tired she was, and to let her go to sleep was the very nicest thing we could do for her. Apple and I took her. We held her, she closed her eyes, it was completely uneventful. However, I was such a mess, my Dad had to come pick us up because I couldn't drive. I hadn't really thought of my own grief, because I was thinking of the girls.

I'm sorry Moxie.


What Christine and Alison said.

I'm so sorry, Moxie. I know how hard these choices are.

Jen (yup, another one)

Oh, Moxie, I'm so sorry. :(


No advice, but I'm so, so sorry.

Her Bad Mother

I have no advice about how to address this the boys. As to how do you face it - as strongly as you can in front of the boys and your fur friend, knowing that however hard this decision turns out to be, you will do the right thing, the thing that most honours your friend's life. And then, if you have to make the hardest decision, cry a little - with your boys, or boy, if you choose to share this with them, or only with your man. And then cry some more, on your own, if you need to.

Feeling for you, more than you can know.


Hugs Moxie. I'm so very sorry.


I am so sorry. I have two cats that are both 14 years old and I am just waiting to hear that we will need to put them down. I have moved all accross the country with my cats - they came before my husband and kids (and my husband is alergic to cats!)

Big hugs.....

Co-founder, Silicon Valley Moms Blog

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