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Dr. Drew
Dr. Drew, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16844
Experience:  Small Animal Medicine and Surgery
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When is it time to put your cat to sleep My 17-year old orange

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When is it time to put your cat to sleep? My 17-year old orange tabby suffers what we believe is arthritis or joint pain and stiffness. Ambrose can't get down the stairs anymore where his litter box is. About 6 mos. ago he forgot his potty training and urinated all over the house, including random spots on the carpet and concrete floor. Now we moved 1 litter box upstairs next to his hideout. He usually uses that. The odor is overwhelming! Not to mention having to pay for new carpet throughout after Ambrose is gone. No money; can't sell house.

I give Ambrose a Cosequin capsule every day and that seems to help. Anything I can give him for pain? He cries at night. He can distinctly say 3 words, "Mom, mommy, & ow!" He cannot lie flat. His hips are distorted, he's lost weight, & all 4 paws turn outward. Slowing down a lot... he just stands there & cannot support his head too well.

My partner wants to wait for a natural death. But I'm not sure it's in best interest of all. We love him so much (we have 2 other cats) and since a kitten he was great. Used to be a spectacular roof jumper!

Thanks so very much for any info,
Kathy Kopp
Hi, thanks for your question about Ambrose. He certainly sounds like a special Kitty. Unfortunately, arthritis and other skeletal pain is common in older cats, and we have few options for managing this pain very well. Cosequin is helpful, but often not enough in the later stages of illness. Metacam is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory that has shown some benefit, but some cats can develop kidney damage as a result of the use of Metacam. There are no safe over the counter medicines that will relieve pain in cats - cats are very sensitive to the side effects of most human medicines, and a single dose can be deadly for some drugs.

Euthanasia becomes a much more humane choice than natural death, in many cases, when the quality of life has diminished as a result of pain, decreased mobility, decreased self-sufficiency, and other factors. If Ambrose was my patient, i would support a choice of euthanasia, based on what you have told me so far.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Hi Drew, How do I know when "in the later stages of illness" that Cosequin can become inadequate? How long is an average of when the Kitty's illness becomes this bad.

And, with winter coming on in Montana, would Ambrose feel worse in the cold? He was an outdoor cat, but doesn't go outdoors anymore. Do you think this will progress slowly or fast? Thanks for your expert answers, Kathy Kopp

Depending on how severe the arthritis is, we could be talking about weeks to months to years beyond diagnosis. Every cat is different, and without the benefit of an examination or x-rays, it is impossible for me to know where Ambrose falls in to that range of possibilities.

Cold certainly can increase joint stiffness and pain.

I also would suggest having Ambrose's blood pressure checked, as older cats often have high blood pressure, which can cause crying at night, as you've described. Medication for high blood pressure control will often reduce the symptoms.
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