My great aunt was living in an assisted living facility in El Paso several years ago. My folks and I were on a vacation when we received a phone call that she was gravely ill and only had a weeks, if not days to live. We promptly packed up our luggage, got in the car, and drove about 600 miles overnight to El Paso to assist her.
We arrived at the hospital, and she did indeed look to be on her last days. She was sunken, her pupils were dialated, and she was hardly coherent. It wsa very sad, and I thought that she could go at any minute.
One topic of conversation that came up in the hallways was what to do with her beloved cat, Tatters. Tatters was at home, and my great aunt was in no condition to give instructions on what to do with the cat. The topic of the cat soon was forgotton as we attended to my aunt.
My aunt passed away a few days later. I had to leave town as I had some work commitments to attend to, and came back the next week for the funeral. I asked someone what happened to Tatters. I learned that she too was put to sleep.
I wondered why this action was taken. I am a cat lover, and would have happily taken Tatters if I had been asked to. Maybe I should have volunteered to take her in the first place.
What is the best course of action when a pet is involved with a singular caretaker that is facing imminent death? Is it better for the animal to be put to sleep, as it may suffer more with the loss of it’s owner? Is it better to take it to the pound?
I don’t know the answers to these questions. I do know that cats and dogs have successfully been handed to new owners at all stages of their lives, and that a lot of love and reassurance is what is needed.
I just wish that someone would have asked me.