end of life care
At 4 Seasons Cat Hospital we believe your cat deserves the same respect and attention to detail in death as they received in our care when they were alive. We also recognize that for pet owners this is an agonizing time and that the more preparation you can make before a pet’s death the better.
We try to schedule euthanasia appointments as the final morning or final evening appointment whenever possible. It is generally easier on our patients and clients to perform this service when the office is quiet. We will see you into an examination room and give you time to visit with your cat. We will place a cozy towel or blanket on the exam table for you to either stand with your cat or place in your lap while you cuddle your cat whichever you prefer. We can bring in a comfortable chair or rocker for you if you choose to sit and hold your cat.
During this time we have you sign any necessary documents. Documents include a release form for us to legally perform the euthanasia and release forms for whatever after care option you choose. Please see below for more detailed body care information. There are fees involved with the euthanasia service and after care options. It is usually easiest to come prepared with a credit card. For established clients checks are also fine and cash is always welcome. You will not be required to leave your cat at any time with exception of dealing with fractious and potentially dangerous cats. All financial transactions can be handled in the room allowing you to spend all of those last precious moments with your cat.
To make the procedure as easy as possible on our patients we pre-medicate them with an injectable anesthetic drug. The medication is delivered quickly in the muscle. They may exhibit a small amount of discomfort when the drug is administered but it subsides in seconds. The medication will take effect in about 5 to 10 minutes. Since ailing pets may have fragile veins and poor circulation this prevents added stress when the final injection is administered intravenously. Some clients choose to leave their cat in our care after the first injection once their cat is fully anesthetized and unaware of their presence while others prefer to stay through the duration of the procedure. The second injection is a barbiturate that will stop the heart. Generally this will occur within a minute or so. Occasionally the nervous system will cause a small twitch or you will hear air being released from the lungs after their heart has stopped. They may also lose control of their bladder and bowels. (This is part of the reason we suggest using our towels so that any blankets that you wish to send with them or retain for the purpose of remembering them will not become soiled.)
We will leave you with your cat and allow you time to say good-bye if you choose. Some clients prefer to leave immediately. Do whatever feels right for you. If you need for us to physically remove your cat from the room so that you can let go please don’t hesitate to ask. We are here to help you through this process.
We do offer home euthanasia whenever possible. We know that a car ride can be stressful for many of our patients and that our clients feel very strongly about avoiding the drive especially for this particular service. Many clients feel more comfortable going through the myriad of emotions involved with this decision in the comfort of their own home. The same procedure described above will be performed. We do recommend that you have one good source of light available even if the rest of the room is dim and quiet. We also do not recommend that young children be present for the actual administration of the euthanasia solution but do encourage their involvement in all other aspects of the process. Following the procedure we will either have a cremation company meet us at your home or you may choose another option that is right for you such as private burial. Home euthanasia can sometimes be accommodated over the lunch hour but are generally scheduled after office hours due to Dr. Moses’ schedule and occasionally on weekends if she is available.
Hospice Care as an Alternative
Though we have not yet established a defined hospice care protocol there are isolated cases in which hospice care can be beneficial for both the patient and the client and we will consider these on an individual basis if a client is interested. Our priority is to insure that the patient is not suffering while death comes naturally or until such time that our client chooses euthanasia. Symptoms such as pain, nausea and fear can be controlled through medications, massage, environmental management and other techniques.
This can be an uncomfortable subject but a necessary one. There are many options available to you in the Charlotte area. In general we will store your cat’s body in a dignified manner until the appropriate party picks up your cat for whichever aftercare option you have chosen. A large percent of our clients opt for either private or communal cremation but other options are available as you will note. For home euthanasia we can arrange for pick-up at the home or we can transport your cat’s body back to our hospital. Your cat’s cremains may be delivered to your home or to our hospital depending on the company. The cremation service generally includes a carved wooden urn. You may choose a more decorative urn at an additional cost. You may also opt to have your cat’s name engraved, a clay paw print and even jewelry with their paw or nose print. If you think you might be interested in some additional services or mementos then please ask and we can refer you to the appropriate information to make you select.
Grieving and Mourning
May we suggest that you surround yourself with your animal loving friends at this difficult time. People who are not pet parents are unlikely to understand the grief you are experiencing and you need support right now. Additional information is available for a professional pet grief support and ideas to help you through your grief.