I am stuck with a decision of life or euthanasia for my 18 year old cat. Should I leave her be or euthanize her now?

My cat's kidneys are bad, but not shut down yet. My cat still drinks water and eats food. She does not eat as much as she did before. I had my cat at the vet for a 24hr IV. My cat still runs, jumps, purrs, and even rides in my car with me in the morning when I go to get coffee. My cat sits/lies on the passenger seat and if I do not take her, she gets mad (I open the passenger door of my SUV, and she jumps into my car and then onto the seat, with no help from me). The 24hr ER vet and my cat's primary vet wrote her off 3 months ago, saying she will pass before Thanksgiving.

My cat's weight hovers around 5 1/2 - 6lbs, depending on how much she ate. My cat does not hide or hide to sleep. There are places in my house my cat loves to sleep, and my cat still sleeps in those same places. My cat follows me wherever I go.

What has me worried is the amount of food she is eating now, which is less than she used to.

My cat still shows signs of life, by eating on her own, drinking on her own, running, etc.

I do not want her to be in pain. I know and understand it is only a matter of time before the kidney issue takes a serious turn.

I did forget to mention, she only uses the litter box when she needs to go. My cat still comes to me when I am eating and wants some of my food and if I do not give my cat pieces of food, she will meow and pace like crazy.

  • Helpful information and hopefully this info could help anyone or everyone. Things I've started giving my cat. 1. Fish oil - when #2 is hard and cat is constipated, this softens to stool. Get: Natures Bountey from Wal-Mart. 2. Epakitin - the best binder to use for cats or dogs. 3. Azodyl - this is for cats or dogs with renal failure. **This med has to shipped cold and put into the fridge and has to be shipped overnight. FYI - if you live in hit weather climate or it is the summer, please be home on delivery day. Once it is not cold, it destroys the meds. #1 and #2 I ordered from Vet RX.
    – Yankeeownz
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 1:12
  • Just a update for everyone: My cat just finished a 48 hours of a IV. She is doing great! Plan: give my cat subq starting every other day, so my cat stays hydrated. My cat's #2 was dry and hard with no smell and little balls. As soon I got home, my cat took a #2 and it was normal and boy did it stink! LOL I wish that happened at the vet! LOL The IV/hydration was the 100% answer. Thank you everyone that added a comment and gave me advice.
    – Yankeeownz
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 19:29
  • Firstly, I am sorry to hear of this news. Very troubling. As an animal fanatic, I've been in these shoes many, many times. My deciding point is: when does she suffer more than she does not suffer? When that day comes, I brace myself (which doesn't help, to be honest) and call the vet to schedule the time. I can't even say the words to complete the sentence. I hope you understand.
    – Laura
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 21:36

7 Answers 7


I've had two cats who ultimately died because of kidney disease. In both cases, the cats let me know and the final drop-off was pretty fast. Definitely consult your vet, but it sounds like your cat's quality of life is still good.

A 6-pound cat will eat less than a 12-pound cat. There are ways to get more calories into your cat even if she doesn't eat much; your vet can advise you on this. Keeping her hydrated is important. If you're dealing with late-stage kidney disease then you're probably already giving her subcutaneous fluids; ask your vet if you should adjust the amount.

I said my cats let me know when it was time. For the first one (age 18.5), he'd been declining but was still enjoying life -- and then one morning he didn't want to get up, and when I picked him and carried him to the food dish he took a couple steps and fell. I spent the next several hours with him in my lap and intermittently talking with my vet. He didn't seem to be in pain, but he wasn't trying any more.

The other one (at least 16; we didn't know exactly), she started sleeping a lot and found some hiding places, and on that last day she walked very slowly and unsteadily (and didn't want to at all). Again it was clear, especially after the experience of the first one.

Make your cat comfortable, let her enjoy her remaining time, make sure she continues to get nutrients and water, and consult your vet.

  • 1
    After today, I'm a 100% certain it is her teeth.
    – Yankeeownz
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 2:18
  • 1
    I'm a 100% certain it is her teeth. When she eats, she jerks her head backwards. I changed up my primary vet, because he was a insensitive prick, and I'm going to my new vet tomorrow. I had my cat at a 24hr ER vet for IV treatment: the ER vet did 12 hours and primary was suppose to do the next 12 hours. He said I will not do the next 12 hours because she has kidney problems and she is going to die anyway, a waste of time. I was like WTF!!! The vet was reaching for my cats leg to take out the IV catheter. She scratched him twice and bit him. F him!!
    – Yankeeownz
    Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 2:28
  • @Yankeeownz subcutaneous fluids (as mentioned by Monica) is something you can do at home. Ask your vet about it. Commented Dec 28, 2017 at 13:07
  • Just an update: my cat is still alive and doing great!!!
    – Yankeeownz
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 1:03
  • I started with giving her fish oil, and it did wonders! Then I worked in subq's.
    – Yankeeownz
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 1:39

Please take your cat to the vet and express your concerns. Ask the vet directly how your cat feels on a day-to-day basis.

  • Is she in pain?
  • Is she uncomfortable?
  • Is her mental state affected?
  • What should you look for to identify pain and altered mental status?

These answers should help you determine when euthanasia is the right time.

Additionally, there may be things you can do at home to help improve her quality of life while you still have her. Subcutaneous fluids often make a cat with kidney disease more comfortable (a greater volume of fluids can help inefficient kidneys clear toxins better), and acid reducing medications can help bring back appetite. Your vet should be able to help with both of these, and if not, find another vet.

  • Thank you for your comment and I apologize for no reply and a late reply. I did take my cat to the vet and I used your bullet points as my reference. My cat is doing great.
    – Yankeeownz
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 1:43

The best thing to do is see what her quality of life is, and by the sounds of it, it is still good and happy, as long as she is pain free let her have some more time, this way you can prepare for the end as well as letting her have a nice end.

  • Thank you for your reply. My cat still has so much life left. I started giving my cat fish oil, medication for her teeth, fluids, and she is 100% better than what she was 2 or 3 weeks ago.
    – Yankeeownz
    Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 13:35
  • Awww good, wish her all the best
    – user10625
    Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 18:22
  • Update - My cat is doing great. Especially since I first started giving her fish oil. When my cat doesn't eat, I know she is dehydrated and time for me to give her subq. She has been doing great, even I am in shock and amazed.
    – Yankeeownz
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 1:37

This could be a little off-topic, but maybe your cat has still some months to live, so please read my story :)

We've been there two years ago. The cat was on renal veterinary food already, but suddenly began to eat less. We did the blood test and as our vet suspected it was due to the rising levels of creatinine which is the symptom of the kidneys' problems. With high levels of creatinine, besides other problems, the cat stops eating.

You can lower the level using the right food, then the pills and finally the most powerful solution is giving the cat saline infusions, so to "wash out" the creatinine from the blood. Direct infusions into the veins works best, but if you are not a vet, at home you can give the cat underskin saline infusions.

Consult your vet about this. We had prolonged the life of our cat for something like 1,5 years - he started eating more, he felt good - but we had to do the infusions every two days.

One day even the infusions stopped working, the cat refused to eat, walk... and we had to put him down. But since your cat still feels quite OK - fight for it :) Good luck!

  • Sorry to read about your cat and having to put your cat down. My cat has so much spunk left! I can see my cat being around for awhile longer. The ER vet and my previous vet counted my cat out a few months ago and said my cat would be gone before Thanksgiving. My cat hissed and went after the vet today. 18 and still kicking ass! LOL sorry for the cuss word, but it explains my cat 100%.
    – Yankeeownz
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 19:41

This is a hard problem. I have been there several times.

My advice is to let your cat live for as long as it does have a quality life, and I think it is a good thing to be prepared to take the decision of letting your cat go when the time comes.

But for as long as your cat does eat, drink and function normally, it is best to let her live until she starts to have problems.

In the late stages of kidney failure, toxins build up in your cat's organism. This does affect the brain and she might be confused and have other problems.

When this happens, it is best for her to be put down and it is best for you to let her go.

You do not normally need an appointment at the vet for this. Your vet will understand how hard this might be for you.

  • This is why I'm at this point because she shows all of the signs of her brain is starting to disfunction and she loses her balance and all of the other issues when it is kidney failure. The only reason why I haven't done it by now is because she still wants to eat and drink on her own.
    – Yankeeownz
    Commented Dec 25, 2017 at 14:02
  • only you can tell when it is time to let go,for me this is the part of having a cat i like the least having to decide when it is time to end the life even if it is the right thing to do,it still is hard to do this. Commented Dec 25, 2017 at 16:35
  • Very true. My cat has been my road dog for years. People go crazy/surprised when they see my cat rides with me when I go places. My cat does not jump out the window or gets out my truck.
    – Yankeeownz
    Commented Dec 25, 2017 at 18:02
  • my cat electra had to be put down in january 5th 2015 i made a grave on my property she was with me everywhere she was 18yo and got kidney failiure,if you want to talk come to chat as the comment field is not for long talks. Commented Dec 25, 2017 at 19:26
  • When it is time, I will have my cat euthanized at home. I will cremate my cat, and put her ashes in the property of my house. Her spirit will be her and not at some vet hospital. That is my road dog. I got her back 100%.
    – Yankeeownz
    Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 13:40

My cat Susie had thyroid problems, a thyroid tumor, a mammary gland tumor, and Stage 2 kidney disease 2 and 1/2 years ago. I couldn't give her medicine or Sub-Q because she was skittish and I would hurt her trying to give medication. My vet found a compounding pharmacy that could make medicine I could rub in her ears to stimulate her appetite and administer prednisone. She lasted two and a half years with this treatment.


You 'know' if a cat is in pain because it will hide and cry. If you would get fluids from your vet, you could give your cat fluids to ease the strain on the kidneys. Your cat is not eating much because she probably feels nauseated sometimes - this is symptomatic of kidney disease. I have been through this several times with elderly cats, it is a common problem in the aging.

What I did was give my cat/s fluids subcutaneously - you can start with 10ml a couple of times a week, then increase dosage frequency to every other day. Maybe every day, depending on how advanced the kidney disease is. Believe me, it will help your cat a lot.

Oh, and change vets! You need to go to someone who can help you 'manage' your cat's kidney disease, not write it off as if she was a goner.

You can do this, good luck!

  • You don't explicitly answer the question, but do I understand your point of view that you should never euthanize an elderly cat correctly?
    – JAD
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 11:18

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