The death of a beloved pet is what every cat owner fears the most. This is one of those experiences that changes our life, regardless of whether the cat died in an accident, was sick, or lived to a very old age. We will always mourn for them.
However, pet euthanasia poses a special burden for owners. How to make such a decision in the first place? How can you be sure of it and simply give up your beloved pet?
I believe that many of you have also asked yourself the following question: Will my cat forgive me for putting her to sleep?
Anxiety and sadness are emotions that will not escape any cat owner in moments like this. It is also understandable that many of you will feel terrible guilt. But you shouldn’t feel this way, since you have, after all, made the only right decision for your beloved kitty.
Will Our Cats Forgive Us?
The first thing to understand here is that cats aren’t aloof and self-sufficient as many people think.
Angelo Quaranta and his associates  conducted a study on emotion recognition in felines. Results showed that cats engage in social behavior and form long-lasting bonds with their owners.
Also, cats in this study were proven to recognize and interpret the emotional signals of their humans.
Furthermore, cats are likely to remember their owners, even if their paths diverge – especially when they make strong bonds with their humans, and when they treat them right.
There isn’t clear scientific evidence that cats are capable of forgiving their owners, but, since they form deep bonds with their humans, I believe they’re also capable of forgiving them for putting them to sleep.
Also, I believe that cats aren’t likely to resent their owners, especially not in the way people resent each other. Felines are simply driven by their instincts, and what they will remember – I’m sure – is the way you treated them.
So, some of them might be able to recognize your feelings while you’re petting them during euthanasia. I’m sure they will feel your best intention and your immense sadness to have to separate from them.
After all, euthanasia is only recommended when there isn’t any other option left. This means that your cat is in a lot of pain, without any chance of recovering, and her quality of life is seriously distorted.
What Does Euthanasia Procedure Look Like?
The term euthanasia is used to describe a quiet and gentle death, a death that occurs without painful convulsions.
Therefore, euthanasia is a calm and painless way for a cat to die.
Professional euthanasia is performed in such a way that the cat isn’t aware of it and doesn’t suffer.
Since your cat is already in great discomfort, the vet will first give it a sedative to calm it down and relieve it of stress. After just a few minutes, the cat will react to the sedative and will be completely relaxed.
After that, the veterinarian will inject anesthetics into the cat’s vein, which will put the cat into a deep sleep. She will become completely unaware of her surroundings.
Finally, the veterinarian will give the cat the necessary amount of a mixture of analgesics and barbiturates to stop her heart and breathing in less than a minute.
Of course, the best way to say goodbye to your pet is to be by her side in these moments, and to pet and comfort her.
How To Cope With The Guilt Feeling After Euthanizing Your Cat?
You have consented to the vet euthanizing your cat and this represents the end of a long period of your life. It is completely normal and expected to feel guilty.
You have spent a certain period with your pet and it has grown into a life companion and a member of your family.
Loss is difficult, and it was even more difficult to make this final decision. Give yourself a few days, even weeks, to process this – however much time you need.
When the first and most difficult period passes, forgive yourself. Although in moments like this, pet owners are primarily ruled by emotions, you should try to look at things from an objective perspective.
The veterinarian must have explained to you nicely that keeping your cat alive is nothing but agony for it.
She was probably no longer able to eat and drink independently, or perform any other activity. She just lay there helplessly, and neither you nor the vets could help her. So, it would be more and more painful for you to see her in pain.
Remember that euthanasia is a dignified way for a critically ill cat to go.
Feeling guilty is normal, but you are also just a human who sometimes has to make a decision that you would rather avoid.
How To Make Through These Hard Times?
It’s difficult to come to a home where you’re no longer greeted by a happy kitty eagerly waiting for you to fill her food bowl.
Many people who don’t have pets will have a hard time understanding this loss, and it may even be incomprehensible to them how long it takes you to get back to normal.
However, not everyone has to understand. It is important that you surround yourself with people with whom you can talk about the loss. These can be your friends and relatives, but also complete strangers that you can meet in support groups.
The Humane Society of the United States explains how the feeling of grief is perfectly normal, and that it’s essential to mourn the relationship you had with your cat.
Cat owners shouldn’t focus on their pets’ last days which were not a realistic presentation of their lives.
Instead, you should remember all the pretty and fun moments you shared with your cat. She is unfortunately gone now, but you’re still here, and you should take care of yourself and your well-being.
So, don’t resent yourself for too long. You should also make some forever memories of your beloved pet, such as a memory box with her favorite toys and other items, or a photo album showing all the nice adventures you two had together.
It is quite demanding to give a concrete answer to the question: Will my cat forgive me for putting her to sleep?
Although cats can sense our emotions, and they have feelings for their owners, they do not speak and we aren’t able to accurately interpret their thoughts.
So forgiveness in cats doesn’t look the same as it does in humans, and you probably won’t notice any particular reaction while your kitty is sedated.
But I’m sure that during her life you did everything that was in her best interest. That’s exactly what you’re doing right now, too – although none of you will be aware of it when you euthanize your pet.
Therefore, your kitty is very likely aware of your good intentions and the fact that you are relieving her of suffering. You can be at peace and forgive yourself, too, because she is going to a place where there is no more pain.
 Quaranta A, d’Ingeo S, Amoruso R, Siniscalchi M. Emotion Recognition in Cats. Animals (Basel). 2020 June 28;10(7):1107. DOI, Retrieved June 26, 2023.