In my many years as a veterinarian and especially now that I work exclusively with elderly pets, there are three phrases, and one, two or all three of them enter into nearly every conversation I have involving end of life. I finally realized that pet caretakers, as well as veterinarians, use these phrases to give themselves permission to end an animal’s life.
In general terms, the geriatric period for dogs starts around 7 to 9 years of age, and for cats at around 10 years, but these parameters vary depending on species and size. The time frames listed here are certainly not exact and are only used as reference points for discussion.
Feline Injection Site Sarcomas (FISS) are extremely aggressive cancers that may be related to an injection or vaccination. The specific cause is unknown. They can develop from 3 months to 4 years post vaccination, or injection, and some don’t show up for five or more years.
Check-ups are important as the dog or cat ages and signs of heart disease can often be diagnosed or suggested when the veterinarian listens to the heart via a stethoscope. If a murmur or heart beat arrhythmia is auscultated (heard), the doctor may recommend a visit to a veterinary cardiologist for a more detailed and complete diagnosis to see if treatment is necessary.
Litter boxes are not made for cats, they are made to make things easier for people. The same is true of litters. In most situations, the younger cat will adapt to both the litter used as well as the box, but the older, or elderly, cat may have problems that can result in them soiling outside the box.
It’s also a truism that the general consensus on the internet is that it’s “not humane” to allow a pet to die naturally. This is frustrating to me because it’s based on incorrect information.
Different studies have shown that a large percentage, (90% by age 12 in one study) of cats have some degree of degenerative joint disease or arthritis. A significant percentage (45%) of these cats show clinical signs. Arthritis can be seen in cats as young as 2 years and the percentage goes up above 90% when cats reach the elderly stage (17 years and over).
List compiled by Belinda McLeod for Cake Blog
Some of these books offer suggestions on how to grieve the loss of a pet. Others are stories that celebrate animals. Choose the book carefully, especially if you are using it as a gift. You don’t want to open old wounds in your attempt to offer solace.
Even if you are purchasing a book for adults, it is encouraged that you check out the second part of the list. Children’s books can be more accessible, and easier to manage, in a difficult period.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease is relatively common in older cats, but can be seen in younger cats, as well. It is characterized by frequent vomiting and/or diarrhea, although frequent vomiting seems to be more common. Vomiting cats can also have intestinal lymphoma, and IBD, along with intestinal lymphoma, account for around 90% of cases with chronic vomiting and/or diarrhea as the main presenting symptom.
I receive many phone calls in regard to pet “suffering” and “quality of life” issues. In my opinion, these specific terms are related to our “human” viewpoint and not the pet’s.