You are here:

Ask the Veterinarian/Senior Cat Health


I have a 17 yr old cat. He has steadily lost weight for the last couple of years. So much that you can see his bones. His hind legs give out sometimes when he walks.  He's blind and hard of hearing.
I have taken him to the vet and they've done blood work. Dr. has not found anything wrong in the blood work.
Lately, he is disoriented and walks around in circles.

He throws up a lot and sometimes pink.

I know he is coming to the end of his life. I just would like to know if he is suffering or is in any pain right now. If he is, I would want to put him down.

Your guidance would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

You're right Margie, he is at the end of his sweet life. Oh this is just so hard!
Honestly I shed tears for every post I get like this.

Since the vet didn't find anything wrong in his blood work, such as kidney failure (very common) or liver failure, I would have to say that he most LIKELY is not suffering from pain. So if he isn't being poisoned by kidney failure, and isn't dehydrated at all, then no, he probably isn't in any pain.

However, it's his quality of life that becomes an issue at that point. So the questions you need to ask yourself are these:

This is from a Quality of Life Chart I got from a Hospice page:

"HUNGER - Is the pet eating enough? If the pet is refusing food then it's telling you that it is time. Force feeding will not change this.

HYDRATION - Is the patient dehydrated? For patients not drinking enough, use subcutaneous fluids once or twice daily to supplement fluid intake.

HYGIENE - The patient should be brushed and cleaned, particularly after elmination. Avoid pressure scores and keep all wounds clean.

HAPPINESS - Does the pet express joy and interest? Is the pet responsive to things around him or her (family, toys, etc.)? Is the pet depressed, lonely, anxious, bored or afraid? Can the pet's bed be close to the family activities and not be isolated?

MOBILITY - Can the patient get up without assistance? Does the pet need human or mechanical help (e.g. a cart)? Does the pet feel like going for a walk?  Is the pet having seizures or stumbling?  (Some caregivers feel euthanasia is preferable to amputation, yet an animal who has limited mobility but is still alert and responsive can have a good quality of life as long as caregivers are committed to helping the pet.)

MORE BAD DAYS THAN GOOD - When bad days outnumber good days, quality of life might be compromised. When a healthy human-animal bond is no longer possible, the caregiver must be made aware the end is near. The decision needs to be made if the pet is suffering. If death comes peacefully and painlessly, that is okay."

These are tough questions but they really can make things crystal clear when we are so fuzzy headed from our emotions over this.

I had a cat that lived to be 19 yrs old. One month after he turned 19 he went into kidney failure. He was fine for 4 weeks then one night I came home from work and found that his tear ducts had stopped working. I knew how painful that was, so I had him put down the next morning.

The point is that sometimes it's not so clear to us so we need an objective list to look at. Once I knew Floyd's quality of life was gone I let him go.

If your kitty is still sitting in your lap, purring, and he eats every day, then it's not time. If he stops eating for even one day- then he is telling you it's time.

Really that's the best gauge of all. They will tell you when they are ready. Note the last line in the chart. If death comes peacefully and painlessly, that is okay. It's okay for them to die in their sleep or on their own, as long as they are not suffering before hand.

I hope this helps and my heart goes out to you both.  

Ask the Veterinarian

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 42 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love. I also Teach Veterinary Technology to working technicians who are studying to take their California Tests to become Licensed Technicians. They have to take both the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Exam) and the California boards.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.


Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 1500 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

Awards and Honors
Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

©2017 All rights reserved.