Quality of Life and Death for Pets

By Cathy M. Rosenthal | January 10th, 2023

A cat refuses his meds, a vet shows no empathy, and Top 10 pet names

sad yellow cat. image by Addingwater. When an ill cat refuses to take his meds, is it OK? Pet advisor Cathy Rosenthal looks at quality of life for pets and the quality of death.

When a chronically ill cat suddenly refuses to take his medication, is it OK to let him stop? In this edition of “My Pet World,” pet advisor Cathy M. Rosenthal looks at quality of life for pets and then addresses a second reader’s story of the poor quality of death at a vet’s hands. She also shares the Top 10 pet names for 2022.

Dear Cathy,

I am writing about our beloved 15½-year-old cat who was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in 2015. Over the past seven years, we have given him ¼ of an atenolol pill twice a day and an aspirin every third day, hiding the meds in his treats.

Unfortunately, he has been giving us a tough time about the aspirin for the past few months. He sniffs the treats and refuses to take them, even going so far as to turn up his nose up at the treats containing the atenolol. This situation has stressed him and us out, so we decided a couple of weeks ago to stop giving him the aspirin.

Is that a terrible decision? Does he really need it? He seems much happier now. He takes the other medication without any problem, so I wonder if the aspirin might have been upsetting his stomach. We also don’t want to alienate him in his senior years. It seems to me to be an issue of quality of life for pets. We would be grateful for your perspective.

Stacy, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Dear Stacy,

I am not a veterinarian, so I couldn’t tell you the health risks of his not taking the aspirin. But the quality of life for pets, as for your 15-year-old cat, is certainly something to consider. When people are in hospice, they don’t receive medication for their illnesses anymore. It’s just palliative care. Certainly, you could do that if you felt your cat was at the end of his life.

I would take him to your vet, though, to get checked out. Whenever there are behavior changes, it could indicate a new health problem. The vet may recommend another medication or, at the very least, tell you what could happen to your cat as a result of discontinuing the aspirin. Then you can make an informed decision about how to care for your beloved kitty.

Quality of life for pets – and of death

Dear Cathy,

Thank you for the article on sedation before euthanasia. I had the same experience as L.L., Riverdale in New York. My 20-year-old cat had gotten so weak that he would topple over and then look at me pleadingly for help getting back on his feet. I decided it was time for euthanasia. I called my vet’s office only to be told my regular vet had left the practice for a new location.

Still, they had been lucky to get “a wonderful vet out of retirement” to take over. I made the appointment trusting that they had found a caring vet who would follow the same procedure I expected from my regular vet. I was shocked when the vet came into the treatment room with his assistant, who grabbed my cat as the vet quickly did the injection. Ginger (my cat) screamed as I watched helplessly. Then the vet joked about how Ginger still had had a lot of fight left in him. I couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed, and I still (after several years) relive that horrible moment.

Carol, Tucson, Arizona

Dear Carol,

I received many letters about the end-of-life experience for pets. It’s surprising how many people have had an experience similar to yours – and mine. I have had two bad euthanasia experiences with my pets and now always make sure I have this discussion with my vets long before I need these services to make sure we are on the same wavelength.

My hope is by sharing these letters other pet owners will begin having that same conversation. A vet should be able to explain how they handle euthanasia in their office and accommodate a pet owner’s thoughts and wishes. If they can’t accommodate a pet owner, then this gives the pet owner time to find a new vet.

I believe most vets are sensitive to a pet owner’s grief and will do whatever they can to make the procedure easier on the pet and his or her owner. But, it’s essential pet owners ask those questions now while their pets are still healthy.

She feels guilty and bereaved after her pet’s death. See what Ask Amy says.

Top 10 dog and cat names for 2022

Fun fact: What are the most popular dog and cat names for 2022? The list varies, depending on the company surveying pet owners. But Trupanion, a pet health insurance company, scanned their database of 800,000 pets, and discovered the most popular pet names for 2022.

The top 10 dog names are Luna, Charlie, Bella, Daisy, Milo, Lucy, Cooper, Bailey, Teddy, and Max. Max has been in the top 10 list and number one on most lists for many years.

The top 10 cat names are Luna, Oliver, Loki, Milo, Leo, Bella, Charlie, Mochi, Lily, and Willow.

Three of the top 10 names – Luna, Charlie, Bella – are on both lists.

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist, and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. She addresses reader questions as diverse as outdoor cat safety to bizarre dog behavior. Send your pet questions, stories, and tips to cathy@petpundit.com. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.

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