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Our cat suddenly got Feline Aortic Thromboembolism in the middle of the night and we rushed her to an emergency vet as it looked like she was in a lot of pain.

At the vet she was given the heaviest painkillers. On their advice, we opted to euthanize her as this condition is extremely painful and operation often makes things worse.

The vet first administered 2 full syringes into her I.V. which should have killed her in about a minute. But several minutes later was still breathing. The vet then administered another 2 full injections into her I.V. and again she was still breathing and even looking around a bit several minutes later. The vet said that it was taking so long because her heart wasn't pumping properly.

The vet then administered a syringe directly into her kidney and we waited and she had to do it again. The whole process took I believe at least 30 minutes for a total of 6 injections before she died.

I believed the vet's explanation that it was because her heart wasn't working properly, but my father now thinks we made a bad decision because he perceives it that it took so much to kill her because she must have been in such good health and doesn't trust what the vet says.

I've tried Googling for cases of where a lot more injections are required to euthanize a pet with heart problems but I can't find anything.

Does anyone know if this kind of things happens with pets with heart problems?

  • Why into her kidney? – Just Do It Jun 27 '16 at 20:12
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    "because she must have been in such good health" that seems highly illogical. A lethal euthanasia dosage should be lethal whether or not the animal is in good or poor health. – Insane Jun 27 '16 at 20:51
  • @JustDoIt The vet said she did that because her heart was having trouble pumping the chemicals. – dlofrodloh Jun 27 '16 at 21:13
  • @Insane, yes I agree which is why I'm looking for some evidence to convince my dad. – dlofrodloh Jun 27 '16 at 21:13
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    Do you know what drug was given? Do you know how many CCs were given in each injection? There are a lot of variables, more information is required to given a good answer – James Jenkins Jun 27 '16 at 21:34
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I'm not aware of anything in particular about a cat with a heart condition that would make it more difficult to euthanize them.

Generally, when the two injection method is used, the first injection should be sedation. If the pet is not sedated, the second injection should not be used until profound sedation occurs (usually they'll try to give more of the sedation medication, or if the pet is not suffering they'll wait a longer period).

Additionally, since the initial 4 injections were given in an IV, I would suspect that something had happened with the IV, but the correct response is not an injection into the kidney! Petfinder provides a statement from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) with the following guidelines:

The following euthanasia injection routes are not acceptable: subcutaneous (under the skin), intramuscular (within the muscle), intrapulmonary (within the lung), intrarenal (within the kidney), intrasplenic (within the spleen), intrathecal (within the membranes of the spinal cord), intrathoracic (within the chest cavity), and any other nonvascular injection routes.

Many sedation medications can be given intramuscularly (into a muscle), and that should have been the route the vet tried before intrarenal (into the kidney).

My experience

I had a cat with restrictive cardiomyopathy (his heart wasn't relaxing enough because the walls had stiffened). We were warned about the possibility of Aortic Thromboembolism, so when he suddenly appeared to be in extreme pain we rushed him to the vet and had him euthanized. It did not take any extra medication, but he had stopped breathing twice before the euthanasia, so he was in pretty bad shape.

  • My assumption is that the cat was very well sedated before intrarenal injection was done. If this is the case then there may be no need to give further IM sedation as you suggest should have been done. Intrarenal euthanasia is acceptable in unconscious patients according to the latest AVMA Guidelines (2013), although it is a relatively new technique. Intrarenal may have been a good decision. Without knowing the full story of what injections were given where and when, please be careful impugning the decisions of the veterinarian. – Harry V. Jun 29 '16 at 3:17
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    @HarryV. we are told that the cat was looking around after the 4th injection (and the 5th was intrarenal). That does not sound like sedation to me. – Zaralynda Jun 29 '16 at 21:23

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