WWYD-sensitive subject - deciding when to put cat to sleep.
My cat was 17 in April. For the last several years, she has suffered from thyroid disease that is managed by medicine. She takes a pill twice a day.
Years ago, she couldn't get to her litterbox (can't remember why, we must've been having some work done) she peed on our brand new carpet in the landing of our stairs to the 2nd floor after not being able to get to our letterbox. We had the piece removed and replaced, but unfortunately, anytime after that that she got upset, she used that spot to pee. It happened several times. Though I've wanted to replace the entire upstairs carpet now for years, I've been waiting for my cat to pass on rather than risk her peeing on my new carpet again. Occasionally, on a hot day, we can smell it and it drives us all crazy.
In the last six months or so, she has taken to peeing on our mudroom floor right outside her litterbox, mainly when we are out of town. I have someone that comes in and takes care of her and the letterbox, so it's not that her litterbox is unclean. then she will be good for a while, then every so often, will pee in the same exact spot. My husband, who has not really a cat person, has become furious about this.
In the last year, she has started to show her age. Her hygiene is suffering and she is no longer cleaning herself very well. Her fur is getting matted and knotty, despite me brushing her. About six weeks ago, I took her in for a checkup and the vet said she was in fine health aside from the thyroid disease, has not lost weight (although in her old age, she lost about 4-5 lbs over the years). She weighs 8 lbs. When I expressed my frustration with the litterbox problems, she said there was nothing we could do that we haven't already tried (uncovered large box with low sides, etc).
So in the last few weeks, she has had diarrhea a few times on my hardwood floor, and has several times a week been throwing up, sometimes just bile, sometimes hair balls, which she rarely had a problem with in the past. The diarrhea hasn't happened lately but she has not used her letterbox at all - she is pooping in several places around my living room on the hardwood floor and peeing on the mudroom floor. The other day, when cleaning up her poop, I noticed that her must've peed too, b/c there is a stain on my hardwood floor!!!! It's up against the wall, so not very noticeable. I put a rolled up towel there just in case she tried to go there again. So just now, I went to answer the phone and heard what sounded like running water - I went to check and sure enough she was peeing on the towel! I just put her litterbox there for now, but obviously I can't leave it there - it's in plain sight for any guests to see. In any case, I'm worried she will just pee somewhere else on my hardwood floor. Her fur has become even more matted in the last week and she just looks awful from a cleanliness standpoint. OTOH, her disposition hasn't changed. She's never been very sociable but she still easily gets around and will occasionally come join me on the couch.
All that said, I have no idea how much longer she will live on her own, but she's obviously looking more haggard. When I queried my vet at her last appointment, mainly b/c dh is so mad about the litterbox issue and the fact that our house is starting to smell, she said that b/c the cat is in fine health, they will not euthanize.
While I'd rather not have to put her down, the only alternative is keeping her locked up in my kids' bathroom where there is a tile floor. Obviously this is no life for a cat. I think it's time to put her down. I'm fairly sure my vet is not going to be willing to do it.
I have a call in to my good friend who is a vet to ask her opinion, both personally and professionally. She is aware of the past issues.
Am I being cruel and heartless to consider putting down a 17 y/o cat who is obviously not dying, yet is not doing well either? We faced this with our dog and the vet (different one) did not make us feel guilty. They looked at it from a quality of life issue with him - he could still walk but was definitely in some pain, had a hard time getting up and down and was having regular loss of bowel control. He was a nearly 17 y/o lab/shepherd, so amazing he'd lived as long as he did. I feel like this current vet is making me feel awful to consider putting my cat to sleep and has refused to do it (when I was there 6 weeks ago and brought up the possibility).
I guess I'm wondering, at what point is enough is enough? Is forcing my cat to live in a dark bathroom really better than thinking she had a good long life but now maybe it's time to say goodbye?