Help me prepare for this vet appointment
June 18, 2018 12:19 PM   Subscribe

What happens after a pet is put to sleep?

One of our cats is sick, possibly to the point where euthanasia will be an option. She has been vomiting repeatedly, moved from her usual spot on Kid Ruki's bed to behind the couch in the living room, and her personality has changed (she's started vocalizing loudly where before she'd only do a squeaky meow; she's no longer intimidated by the dog). Because there's another cat in the house, I can't tell if she's still using the (self-cleaning) litter box or eating the dry food, but she will eat wet food. She's lost over a pound, which seems significant as she only weighed 11 pounds to being with.

I am having major surgery next week and had asked my husband to deal with this last Friday, because I am not emotionally equipped to handle this right now. Due to a misunderstanding/disbelief on his part that the cat is really that sick, I'll be the one taking her to the vet appointment tomorrow. This is the first time I've had to deal with the potential loss of a mammalian pet as an adult, I am already dealing with a lot of anxiety, and I need to be as mentally prepared as possible for the appointment.

So what happens after a pet is put to sleep? ELI5. Do you just get up, pay for the visit, and leave? What do I do if she passes at home? Please be kind.
posted by Ruki to Pets & Animals (41 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
My sympathies. This just happened to us a few weeks ago.

My biggest suggestion: Calling the vet in advance and telling them that this is most likely not a checkup, but rather a euthanasia. They were prepared for us when we got there, which made a huge difference. We didn't spend any time in the waiting room, they took us immediately into an exam room, where they had a blanket out ready for us. The vet came in and confirmed our suspicions, and then the vet tech took her to put an IV in her front arm/paw. During that time a different tech came in and took our credit card, she brought it back with a receipt, after briefly discussing our cremation options (for appropriate charges). When they brought her back, the vet came in and explained the medications and what would happen, and we were there with her when it happened. I was able to hold her the entire time.

My emotional issue was that we were leaving for a trip the week after the vet visit and was not emotionally prepared to go away and have something happen while we were gone, but also didn't want judged for the "ease" of it happening before we left. So the vet also assuaged my guilt there - we did make the right decision. After I pulled myself together we were able to leave through a side door so that no one saw my ugly crying. And then when we came back from our trip we picked up her ashes, which we had previously agreed upon.

I'm so sorry. This is so hard for any of us. And I'm sorry about your surgery as well. You'll be in my thoughts. <3
posted by librarianamy at 12:25 PM on June 18, 2018 [20 favorites]

It's been a long time since I had to be there for our last dog being put to sleep, but I think we made the arrangements ahead of time so that I could just sit alone with her for a while then leave straight away. I don't think I could handle any businessy things immediately after.

I remember that we were in the exam room and she was given something to make her sleepy first, then the other meds. I really wish I hadn't had to be there on my own so I would strongly recommend that you see if someone else can go with you. Lots of supportive vibes to you - this is always so, so hard.
posted by brilliantine at 12:25 PM on June 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

First things first: the actual event was MUCH easier than the stress and decision leading up to it. You're going to feel more at peace than you think.

Go to the right vet. Ours did everything they could to make it easy.

My vet gave us as much time as I needed with our animal. Then they brought her back in a little box and gave us as much time as we needed with that. Then we paid and took her home and put her under a weeping cherry in the back yard.

When we got out of the car I made the mistake of picking up the box by the bottom, and it was still fucking warm. That caused me to lose my shit a little and I'm losing my shit a little now thinking about it. YMMV.
posted by ftm at 12:27 PM on June 18, 2018 [4 favorites]

I'm so sorry.

It might be worth calling ahead so they can be prepared if euthanasia is needed.

They will likely ask you if you would like the remains (ashes) and/or if you would like a tuft of her hair. We have always done both and then gone back to the office a week or so later to pick up a little box with the ashes and the hair. You can pay beforehand if you wish or if it's a vet you have a relationship with they might just send you a bill so you don't have to deal with it right then.

You can either be in the room or not, totally your choice. I promise you they will not judge either way. The vet will come in and give her a sedative so it will be relaxed and comfortable. If you choose to be in the room they may leave for a few minutes to allow you to say goodbye. They'll then give it a shot and it will peacefully pass. They will likely again leave the room to give you a few minutes after to grieve with her. Don't be afraid to cry in public; I'm tearing up just thinking about it. Take what time you need, they understand that it's an emotional experience. When you're done simply get up and leave. The vet/vet tech will take care of things from there.

All the best to you and kitty.
posted by bowmaniac at 12:34 PM on June 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

We had a couple of cats cremated after being euthanized at the vets office. They handled the details (in each case the cremation was handled by a third party) and we picked up the remains later in a small decorative box. For one we had the option of a plaster cast paw print. 😿 You have my sympathies.
posted by exogenous at 12:36 PM on June 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

I'm sorry, this is hard at the best of times.

If she passes at home before the vet appointment, call your vet (you can actually call and ask today when you heads-up them that this is possibly a euthanasia appointment) for your options. Most vets contract with a cremation service, and you can either arrange for a group cremation (you won't get ashes back) or individual (ashes returned to you), and they often offer something like a pawprint in plaster as a keepsake. A friend who just lost a cat a month ago was given a little lock of fur, which neither she nor I thought was great. We do like the pawprints, I have one for every animal I've lost as an adult. The vet will let you know how to bring her body in, but generally they'll take whatever box/towel/container you bring.

You could also check your area (I find Yelp best for this, actually) for a mobile vet. Given all the stress you're under, having them come to your home and do an exam and do the euthanasia there, if that's the decision, would be a lot less stressful. Usually they then arrange the cremation and take them in for you, if you're doing cremation. Most of them are not wildly more expensive than traditional vets, just maybe slightly higher which would be worth it for me. You might be able to get someone to come today or first thing in the morning.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:37 PM on June 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

If she passes at home, you still call the vet. They'll have you bring her in, confirm that she's passed (I was a bit offended by this when it happened to me, but I get it) and do whatever cremation or whatever you decide you want. It sucks, though. I felt awful. I thought there was more time, and when there wasn't, I felt really guilty. Next time the vet recommends euthanization, I'm going to do it, even though it will be sad.
posted by Weeping_angel at 12:38 PM on June 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yes, you can just get up, pay the bill (they usually ask you to pay before the procedure) and go, if you want. You can also stay with your pet, generally, as long as you want to. A good vet's office, if they have the space, will let you stay in a private place with your pet before and after the procedure is done. If you want to arrange for what happens to the remains, they will ask you about it beforehand, and if you want them to take care of it without anything further, they do that too.

I'm very sorry about your pet.
posted by xingcat at 12:39 PM on June 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

Oh, Ruki, I'm so sorry. I know this is hard. I've had pets pass at home, and in both cases, I had them cremated. Here's what happened:

When my rabbit died at home, on Christmas morning no less, I called the vet and they told me to bring him in, that someone would be waiting at the office. So I wrapped him in a towel I could give away and placed him in a box, and I carried the box to the vet's office. They were very sweet and kind to me, and so gentle with the box. I was able to pick up the ashes a few days later, and I paid then.

When my dog died at home in another state, we called the vet to inquire about cremation services and the vet referred us to a local service that does this. We went directly to the service and they were beyond compassionate, and within a day, they placed her ashes in a beautiful wooden box for us.

Both circumstances, they could not have made it easier or been more kind.

I know it's hard, but you are doing the best thing for your kitty friend.
posted by mochapickle at 12:39 PM on June 18, 2018 [5 favorites]

A lot depends on the vet. Our current vet, a lovely man who only treats cats and whom we trust immensely, spent a couple of quiet minutes with me and the cat before he administered the sedative and then the euthanasia med. He simply stood up and said "Take all the time you need" and left the room. I had spent the day before just sitting with my dying cat in a comfy chair and had made my peace with everything, so I did not stay long, but I appreciated his gesture. A couple of weeks later, we got the ashes and a very nice card, which I have kept. However, with other cats and other vets, it was much more matter-of-fact.
posted by briank at 12:40 PM on June 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm so sorry about your cat. I have lost pets at the vet's office and at home. We chose to bury an animal on our property once. It was an unexpected loss and digging the hole was cathartic for my husband. But we won't do that again. We're also not sentimental about remains, so since then we'e elected to have the vet take care of them. We choose mass cremation. If you want to keep your pet's ashes, you can also choose individual cremation. Even with our pets that died in our home, we wrapped them in an old blanket and brought them to the vet. It's technically legal in many places to dispose of your pet in the trash but even our non-sentimental-about-remains selves didn't feel like that was the right end for our beloved family members.

When we've had euthanize pets, our vet has given us all the time we've needed pre- and post- process. After we were done, we paid and were on our way. For us, it feels TERRIBLE to pay afterwards. The next time I'm in that situation, I will ask to pay before the procedure so we can quietly slip away when we're ready.

One more bit of anecdote to hopefully help your family with this decision. We lost our kitty, Booger, about 3 years ago. But it should have been 4. He was getting progressively more and more and more sick, but everything became the new normal. At the end, I was scooping wet food into his mouth while I held him like a baby. He was scrawny and unable to care for himself and not living any kind of good life. But having had to put down a dog a few years prior, we kept thinking that he would peacefully go on his own and we wouldn't have to deal with the trauma of the vet for either him or us. In retrospect, it wasn't fair to him and it made his passing harder for us, too. We made the promise to any future pets to be much gentler to them when their time had come - even if we weren't ready to say goodbye ourselves.

OK, crying now thinking of the cat and three dogs we've loved and lost. Thinking of you and your family. xoxoxo
posted by ferociouskitty at 12:41 PM on June 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm so sorry you've got all this on your plate.

To answer your question based on having been there for a number of similar cat euthanasias, the vet will thoroughly and gently check your cat all over, while taking a verbal history from you of what has happened, when, for how long. They will explain what will happen, will shave a small patch off a front leg, give you the time you need to fuss your pet and say goodbye and then will quickly inject them with the appropriate drug. The cat will literally relax and grow heavy if you're holding them and you may see their tongue pop out and experience their bladder relaxing as well (there will be towels on the table). It is very quick and gentle.

We decided not to take our cats home with us to bury, so paid for the vets to arrange disposal of the corpses. That bit wasn't as bad as you might think - the essence of the individual was gone and the burial I think we would have found too hard (that's just us, other people will take great comfort in knowing their pet is close by).

So sorry again that you are having to deal with this.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 12:42 PM on June 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

I went through this a few months ago. It's so hard. I'm sorry.

Nthing a mobile vet if you can find one in your area. My cat died in her favorite chair and the vet worked with a service that came to the house to take her away for cremation. The vet I had walked me through everything that would happen. One thing to just be prepared for that I don't see mentioned here is that they don't close their eyes when they pass.

You never know how you'll react in the moment. Just remember that whatever you end up doing is OK. I sobbed and sobbed. The vet was really wonderful.
posted by FencingGal at 12:48 PM on June 18, 2018 [4 favorites]

Aw, neighbor, I'm so sorry. :7(
posted by wenestvedt at 12:56 PM on June 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

I'm sorry you're going through this, most vets now a days understand how the owners are feeling & do the best they can to help both pet & owner through the difficult time.

Let the vet know before hand that you aren't sure but you think it might be a euthanasia. Let them know if you want to be there for it. If you wish to hold your cat while she passes they will usually insert an iv tube so that they won't disturb you. They will try to explain what is going to happen. Ask to pay for everything before hand and I highly recommend it, also if you want to organise if you want to cremate the remains or bury them you can also organize this before hand & pay for it then too. I'm an organizer & actually had that side of things sorted out before I went which made everything run more smoothly.

The vet can also dispose of the remains if that's something you'd prefer, not everyone wants to keep them & that's fine too. If you want to sit with her for a while after she's passed, let them know. I collapsed in a sobbing heap when I had to have my dog put down, the vets where amazingly supportive. If your vets have been kind & thoughtful during their time treating your pet I feel it would be safe to say they will be the same at a time like this so feel free to ask them any questions you have or to make any requests you might have. Talking to them before hand will also give you an idea if they will be a good match for what you would require.

A cremation will take a little while as it's done off site. I know several people that have had it done & which ever companies they've used have always handled the ashes with care & returned them in some thoughtful way. I didn't buy a fancy box at the time but had one that meant a lot to me at home I put the ashes in, they were done by a private company & returned in a pretty cardboard box with a lovely card.
posted by wwax at 1:00 PM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

N'thing the folks who've already said that the vet will give you lots of time before and after, and they will handle details of cremation and getting a paw print if you wish. I would handle paying ahead of time, and they may allow you to pay when you pick up ashes.

One of our cats suffered FIP recently, and we had to have him euthanized. We were given lots of space to grieve and sit with him before and after. The vet or technician who administered the drugs could not have been kinder or more sympathetic. A few people in the office with their own pets caught on and also offered condolences.

You might want to have a friend pick up the ashes, I handled that as my SO didn't want to face the emergency vet office again so soon after. ("Luckily" this happened suddenly on a weekend and we used an emergency vet rather than her usual vet.)

Also N'thing mobile vet. We have a regular mobile vet who could have performed this service, but she was out of town when we realized the kitty had FIP and was not going to recover.

I hope it turns out your kitty will be OK, but my deepest sympathies if not.
posted by jzb at 1:16 PM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

So sorry this is happening to you.

My vet had a couple of different options. They could do everything in the back room and let me know when it was done. They could also administer the first dose in the back and then bring the cat through for the final dose. He would be unconscious by that point, but I'd be there when he passed. Or they could administer all the doses in my presence so that I could "be there".

All these options are their own kind of hard. Pick what works for you and don't second guess yourself. If you know that emotionally you can't be there, you can't be there. Don't beat yourself up over it. If you are there and collapse into a puddle of weepy goo - the vets see this all the time. You aren't embarrassing yourself. I've done all three options and was there during the last one and, honestly, he didn't know.

The timing is very hard and you have to accept that you can't know when the right time is. My feeling is that a little too early is better than a little too late. Your cat doesn't have to suffer and you can ensure that she doesn't.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 1:41 PM on June 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Awww, I'm sorry. Our sweet pet died at home, and we buried her soon after in the back yard.

As FencingGal mentioned, your kitty's eyes will remain partly open, and tongue poking slightly out. Her jaw will be a little slack, showing her canines, as if to remind the world that "here lies a true predator, even though I was cute."

Be prepared to hear and see your cat everywhere in the house afterwards. For months after, my husband and I swore we could hear the jingle of collar-bell and tag, and see her shadow just around corners. In this way, you won't lose her spirit; "only" her corporeal self.
posted by BostonTerrier at 1:46 PM on June 18, 2018 [5 favorites]

I haven't read every answer, but you can get a lot of this out of the way over the phone, so it's not weirder than it already will be when you're in the office. It's payment and disposition of remains - if you call them and tell them it may be a euthanasia appointment, you can tee up payment over the phone (at least our vet does) and answer the question "do you want to bury your pet, or do you want your pet cremated, or do you want us to deal with the remains" - our vet also offers "group cremation or individual" -it's weird and gloomy, but there is a different price if your pet is cremated with other pets, or by him- or herself. Just deal with that over the phone if you can.
posted by ersatzkat at 1:58 PM on June 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Call the vet right now, tell them it's a potential euthanasia, and see if they'll do an in-home visit. A lot of vets are willing to handle euthanasia that way, and it's usually much less stressful for the animal. If you can bring yourself to stay with her until she's unconscious - it's hard, but you'll also know later on that you gave her as much comfort at the end as you could.
posted by waffleriot at 1:59 PM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

You should also know that the drug they use works REALLY fast - I was shocked at how fast.
posted by ersatzkat at 2:03 PM on June 18, 2018 [5 favorites]

We had to make the difficult decision to put our pet to sleep while we were away, so our experience was a little different, but I do think it is illustrative of how the process goes.

While we were travelling our pup became gravely gravely ill. We started to plan to come home but in the middle of the night the vet called us and said that his condition was deteriorating and he likely would not survive until we got home. We made the decision to put him to sleep, so the vet transferred us to a tech while she personally did the procedure. Payment-wise, they had our payment information and a deposit which covered the cost of euthanasia. On top of that the vet tech gave us a variety of options. The first is that they could hold his body us and we could take him home and bury him (or whatever else we wanted to do) - we would only pay the cost of the euthanasia. The second was that he could be cremated on his own and we would receive the ashes in a few weeks - this was the most expensive option. The third option was that he would be cremated and his remains would be disposed of with other deceased pets - this was a middle-price option. In any case, the vet techs took a paw print in clay and cut a lock of his hair and gave them to us along with his collar/tags - my understanding is that if we were present, we could have participated in this or not depending on our comfort level.
posted by muddgirl at 2:18 PM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

I had to have two 20+ year-old sibling cats euthanized within a year of each other not too long ago. I was able to stay with each as long as I wished and decided to stay until they were gone. One thing I haven't seen mentioned here - the first went quickly, but the second kept taking breaths, increasingly shallow and (much) further apart for at least 15 minutes before stopping completely. The vet later said that it occasionally happens, but is just the automatic part of the brain continuing on a bit after death (depending on your definition of death I suppose). He would have given a supplemental dose if I'd known to ask.
posted by ClingClang at 2:53 PM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

I went through this in March and I'm too emotional to read the other answers. Please take someone with you that you trust enough that you can sob in their arms without judgment. Even if you're not the emotional type. I saw my ex husband cry twice in our time together and once was when we put the dog to sleep a few years ago.

Anyway, I knew my cat was very sick when I arrived at the vet but I didn't know if anything could be done (it was a rapid decline). After some tests the vet laid out my options and putting him to sleep was the best decision. The vet gave him some sedative and left me alone with him to say goodbye. I knocked on the door when I was ready for her to return. She gave the final injections while I pet him. It was indeed peaceful and looked like he went to sleep. She would have let me stay as long as I wanted but I asked her to take him soon after.

While I was still in the room, a tech? receptionist? came in and asked if I wanted to pay the bill now so I didn't have to stop at the front desk. I chose to do that, signed some papers, and that was it. My friend drove me home because I was too emotional. She distracted me with food and Netflix until I was ready to sleep.

It was a tough few weeks but I have two other furry friends that got a lot of snuggles. If this is your only pet, I would prepare to get another one soon. It may sound ludicrous to "replace" a cat immediately, but an empty house is nearly unbearable.

I'm very sorry you're going through this. Best to you and to your cat.
posted by AFABulous at 2:55 PM on June 18, 2018 [4 favorites]

My parents never let me come with them when our beloved pets had to go. They told me to wait at home, light candles, and cry. Each time they somehow managed to remember to bring a special blanket so that when they returned they could tell me that the vet wrapped our darling pets with the blanket using the utmost love and care so that when they passed, they were comfortable. From what I understand, the injection (s) take effect almost immediately, and (damn it I am crying at work) that made it easier for my parents whose primary concern was to relieve our pet of any pain they may be feeling first. That's all I know. But it's what we have always done, and we have had many pets, wnr saying goodbye is a terrible thing. Sending so much love to you and your family, Ruki.
posted by Hermione Granger at 3:14 PM on June 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am so appreciative of the advice, commiseration, and good thoughts. I've had the talk with Kid Ruki, who had already mentally prepared herself, and my husband, who still doesn't believe the cat is that sick. I'll be going alone, but the vet is a) within walking distance of my house, b) across the street from a park, and c) next door to my favorite ice cream joint, so I'll have several options if I find it too intense.

If this is your only pet, I would prepare to get another one soon.

We have a dog and another cat, who is this cat's littermate. I am worried how this will affect Other Cat. She's always had her sister's companionship, but I don't think she or the dog would accept a new cat into the household.
posted by Ruki at 4:02 PM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

There are some excellent answers here. I am so sorry about your cat. I hope you can take some comfort in knowing that you are trying to do the last thing you can do for your cat, you are making the hardest decision when she needs you to.

I manage a veterinary hospital and this is how we handle this (this may be more detail than you want but....):

- you call us to say you feel it is time for your cat to be put to sleep, and schedule an appointment (your vet's office may be able to suggest someone who can come to your home to do it if that would be preferable for you)
- they should be ready for you when you arrive, barring unforeseen emergencies, and they should take you right into a room (at our hospital we have subdued lighting, a special extra-cushy bed for the pet, and soft music playing, we also have a candle we light at the front desk with a note that states that someone is saying goodbye to a pet and asking our other clients to please be respectful)
- there will be a discussion about your wishes for your pet's remains (you may have this conversation on the phone ahead of time if you like, the receptionists should be very well-versed in handling this with tact), remember that what you decide in this regard is a very personal decision, there is no right or wrong. Some people want a private cremation with the ashes returned, some prefer a group burial (which is less expensive), some opt for an actual funeral, some prefer to take the pet's body home for burial. Again, this is personal. This part is about you, and says nothing about how you feel about your pet while she is alive. Costs will be discussed, an invoice will be created, and your payment will be taken. As delicate as this subject can be, remember that your vet's office is incurring a cost here that they must pass along to you.
- at our hospital I (or another trained staff member) come into the room and explain the procedure and ask if you have any questions or special wishes for how we handle it (i.e. do you wish to be present for the whole procedure, if children are involved I explain it to them also and ask their personal wishes about being present, etc.)
- we usually suggest you say your goodbyes at this point because the next step is a sedative which may make your pet relatively unresponsive
- we administer an injection of a sedative to your pet, this is exactly the same as we give before anesthetic procedures, it makes the pet very sleepy and comfortable and removes any anxiety. This is as much for you as for the pet, it is easier for all concerned if the pet is relaxed and calm. Please be aware that in a very debilitated pet, this injection may be enough to actually euthanize the pet, and you should not be concerned if this happens. Your pet will be unaware of what is happening.
- we place an IV catheter in the pet's leg (this may be done with you present or the pet may be moved to another room and then brought back to you). Please be aware that there have been some articles in trade magazines recently that indicate that in very debilitated pets (especially cats), injecting the euthanasia solution directly into the kidney or other organs may be preferable to trying to place an IV catheter. As long as the pet is sedated, they won't know or care. We have done this a couple of times and it worked very well and peacefully.
- you will be allowed to spend as much time as you need to with your pet (as I said above, I usually tell people that they should do most of their goodbyes before the sedative is administered)
- when you are ready, a series of injections will be given through the IV catheter. The first is an anesthetic agent (we usually use Propofol), this will cause complete unconsciousness. Then the euthanasia solution will be given and the pet will stop breathing and the heart will stop beating. Some pets may move or take a couple of deep breaths at this point (rare, but it does happen), if this should happen remember that the pet is anesthetized and is unaware of this. The vet or veterinary technician will listen to the pet's chest with a stethoscope to confirm death has taken place.
- we will leave you alone to say your final goodbyes
- when you are ready to leave, we usually escort you out a side or back door and walk you to your car.
- we will usually make a clay paw print of your pet's foot, and an ink on paper print if you request one
- we always call you the next day to ask how you are managing and see if there is anything we can do to help you through the grieving process (grieving for a pet can be as profound as for a person, and in many cases, even more so)


- once you have left, we gently and respectfully (and this is true, we have all lost pets, and even though we deal with this every day, we have been there and respect what your pet meant to you) place the pet and anything you wanted cremated with the pet into a cadaver bag (this is a thick plastic bag).
- the bag is labeled with your pet's information and what type of aftercare is desired
- the pet is stored, usually in a freezer, until the company which handles our cremations picks it up
- the desired aftercare is performed, and ashes to be returned are brought back a week or two later for you to pick up when you are ready
posted by biscotti at 4:19 PM on June 18, 2018 [18 favorites]

The actual thing is quiet and the animal just seems to go to sleep and let go. My vet office was very kind.
posted by theora55 at 4:30 PM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

We have a yard and have always been allowed to bring our cats home, uncremated, to bury ourselves. (Euthanasia chemicals are toxic and I don't know if it would be allowed with a bigger animal.)

I have been grateful to be able to bury them myself.
posted by small_ruminant at 6:27 PM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

My sister worked at a vet that had one exam room with a separate exterior exit, to avoid any embarrassment at having to traverse a crowded waiting room while overcome with emotion. Definitely call ahead; they will have a plan built from experience to give you the best possible time on that terrible day.
posted by Sunburnt at 7:56 PM on June 18, 2018

The excellent procedure that biscotti outlines matches up pretty closely with the procedures I've had at the several vet hospitals I have worked in (I have never heard of the candle idea, but it is a very good one). The primary things I would echo is to be prepared for the decision about remains. If finances are an issue, you might want to know ahead of time that the cost for having a private cremation with the ashes returned to you can be quite a bit more expensive than other options. I believe it was $175 (compared to $65 for group cremation) at my last hospital. You will also probably have to pay for a full exam, even if there are no diagnostics or treatments being done, as that is a requirement for a vet to perform an ethical euthanasia. Finally, if they don't mention it ahead of time, you might ask what they provide as far as a memorial (some offer locks of hair and/or clay paw prints) to see if it is something you would rather not bring home with you.

Take care of yourself.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:10 AM on June 19, 2018

UPDATE: I just got back from the vet. Wait, no, that’s wrong. My cat and I just got back from the vet. She has pancreatitis. Thanks to you lot, I was able to keep my cool and have a calm discussion with the vet about treatment options while we waited for the pancreatitis test results. Based on the X-ray and blood work, the vet was thinking lymphoma if the pancreatitis test was negative and I didn’t want aggressive treatment for that. If I had been panicky, I don’t think I would have had the voice to say it.

I’m about to head out to get some supplies to make her isolation stay in the home office as pleasant as possible (needed so the other animals don’t eat her special food and we can monitor her water intake and litter output). Thank you all again so much!
posted by Ruki at 10:05 AM on June 19, 2018 [22 favorites]

Best result, good news!
All good thoughts for your surgery next week.
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 9:33 PM on June 19, 2018

Thanks so much for the update, that's wonderful news.
posted by bowmaniac at 8:37 AM on June 20, 2018

New update: The Gatsby cat was doing wonderful until yesterday. She’s vomited nine times since. I’m waiting for my mom to get here so we can go to the Tufts Vet ER. The mister has gone from not believing she was really sick to “I just freed up a large chunk of money if it’s in the cat’s best interest.” So if this is something that can be helped by some time in the hospital, we’re ready for that. If not, we’re ready for that, too.
posted by Ruki at 10:15 AM on June 25, 2018

Update, please?
posted by small_ruminant at 3:06 PM on June 26, 2018

She was admitted to the hospital. She had an ultrasound today and it was clear. Her fever is down to 102.7 and she hasn’t vomited since she’s been admitted. She’s on IV fluids, anti-nausea meds, painkillers, and an appetite stimulant. They upped her meds after the ultrasound because her fever hasn’t gone down anymore (it was 103.7 when she was admitted but has stayed at 102.7 since this morning) and she’s not eating, so they’ve been syringe feeding her. If the fever stays and she still doesn’t eat, they’ll do a nasal tube and keep her until Thursday. They’re optimistic about recovery, though, and think she just needs a little extra time to heal. She’s absolutely terrified, and I wasn’t able to visit today because I had to spend the day getting ready for my own hospital stay, so that stress isn’t helping. The mister and Kid Ruki might be able to visit her tomorrow while I’m in surgery though.
posted by Ruki at 9:49 PM on June 26, 2018

I'm glad to hear it sounds like she'll end up okay at least. Thanks for the update.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:11 PM on June 28, 2018

Final update: The Gatsby cat passed away in my arms, at home, earlier this morning. She took a very sudden turn for the worse during the night, and before we could make it to the vet, had a stroke and left us.
posted by Ruki at 9:49 AM on August 16, 2018

So sorry Ruki. She was so well-loved and very well cared-for. I wish you strength, warm memories and a peaceful heart.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:34 AM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Lots of ❤ to you, Ruki.
posted by mochapickle at 10:44 AM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

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