When is it Time to Let Go?

Mona snuggles in to sleep and covers her face.

This is the blog post I planned to write two days ago, before … well, before I wrote what I wrote.

Our old lady cat Mona is getting really old. I adopted her in 1999, and at the time they said they thought she was 4-5 years old. That should make her about 17-18 years old now.

Within the past year, she has dropped a lot of weight and she is now bone thin. She still eats and drinks lots of water, but she is super, super skinny. You can see her rib cage & her hips. She has a hard time walking when she first stands up. She is slow moving. I’m finding nodules under her skin. (Just discovered them and still need to go to the vet to see what they are.) She mews at us in this sad, angry way. It sounds like she is yelling at us. She is just so frail.

Last year she stopped going to the bathroom at one point and we immediately took her in to the vet. They ran all sorts of tests, and nothing was conclusively wrong with her other than being really dehydrated. She spent the night there with an IV of fluids and came home when everything was back to normal.

I’ve never had a cat live this long. When Murphy was dying, it was obvious. We took him to the vet, there was nothing they could do for him.

But what about poor Mona? When is it time? Is there a time? She seems like she is in such pain. Do we have her put to sleep? Do we let her just ride it out until one day she doesn’t wake up? What am I supposed to do?

This is part rhetorical question, and part looking for advice. It breaks my heart, and I want to do right by her. She has been such a good cat, and we’ve been through so much.

By Christine

Christine is an Avenger of Sexiness. Her Superpower is helping Hot Mamas grow their Confidence by rediscovering their Beauty. She lives in the Heights in Houston, Texas, works as a boudoir photographer, and writes about running a Business of Awesome. In her spare time, she loves to knit, especially when she travels. She & her husband Mike have a food blog at Spoon & Knife.

18 replies on “When is it Time to Let Go?”

Christine, we were in the same exact place with Ginger. We let her go when the vet suspected she might have pneumonia. We felt horribly guilty for not even getting xrays done to confirm the pneumonia. We just felt in our hearts that whether or not she did, it was time to say good-bye. And you know how frail Ginger was the last couple of years of her life. Same as Mona, we’d take Ginger to the vet and they could not find anything definitely wrong except that she was just getting old. You’ll know in your heart. {hugs}

We’ve always had our pets put to sleep at the vet in an effort to prevent suffering. It’s so hard to let beloved pets go, but I believe that you’ll know when it’s time. For me, I draw the line when it’s obvious the animal’s quality of life has declined greatly and/or they are in severe pain that can’t be remedied otherwise.

My best friend recently had to say goodbye to her 20 year old cat. The cat had stopped eating and drinking, and while thyroid medication helped some, it got to the point where she wouldn’t move and they knew it was time.

I am not looking forward to the day I have to make that decision about my dog 🙁 My heart goes out to you!

It is such a hard decision, my friend. I think the best you can do (so long as it is not bankrupting you and Mike) is ask yourself “is she actually living or just suffering?” Because just suffering is not life but rather prolonged death.

That doesn’t make it any easier. We love you both no matter what.

I dread this day for my own cat and I know it is getting closer. I believe, as others have said, that you will know when the time is right. At least I hope that with all my heart for myself as well.

I will suggest that you take her to the vet. Hopefully it is someone you trust and get their advice. I almost always feel better after talking to a doctor and getting the facts laid out to me. Good luck Christine.

Oh sweetie, I’m so sorry. Trixie has started the angry, plaintive yowling, too. We suspect it might be thyroid, so we’re schedule a vet visit to have her checked.

Maybe Mona’s thyroid is acting up, too? (And I say this with the deep-seated, heart-wrenching hope that accompanies the sincere desire NOT to lose a pet.)


A couple of years ago, I had to put my best-beloved cat to sleep. He had a heart condition and while we could have re-stabilized him, it just wasn’t fair to him in the long run. It was one of the hardest things that I have ever had to decide to do and it was absolutely the right thing to do.

You’ll know when it’s time.

Its probably time. If you feel she is meowing at you in an angry sad way you’re probably right
My beast, Katy, is going on 16-17 years and I’ve spent thousands of $$$ at the vet with her hyperthyroidism.
Even yesterday after 3 days of not eating and throwing up I took her to have them lance one of those nodules to see if they could get a sample to test. Only to find out it was liquid filled. Bleck.
I keep telling my vet I’m ready to put her down but he’s assured me that she seems to be alive and kicking.
I know that if she meowed at me in a sad way I’d make the appointment and let her go peacefully.
Good luck.

This is one of the hardest dilemmas that we as pet owners face. I truly believe that as long as your wee one (Mona) is having a quality life then you are doing the right thing by prolonging her life.

The hardest part is detaching your own feelings from those of what is best for her. There are so many things that your vet can do to make Mona’s life be less painful and longer, but is she gaining in any way? Our little Patois suffered from pancreatitis and stayed with us longer than nature would probably have intended. Her last days (also at age 18) seemed to bring her happiness. In the end though, she went suddenly.

I think that your vet can help you make the important decisions. He/she can advise better than anyone. Knowing that you did the right thing is a huge consolation. You will know when it’s time.

So sorry that you are going through this. Big hugs to Mona and to you and Mike.


I forgot to add – her thyroid has been checked since she started dropping so much weight – and it was fine. The doctor was actually a bit surprised by that.

It is just so hard — my gut is telling me it is time. My heart just doesn’t want to accept it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your advice – and I hope it helps others too.

If you have a good relationship with your vet, I would talk with him/her. My experience has been that a good vet will talk with you about these decisions with both compassion and logic.

It will probably come down to quality of life. Are there reasonable and sane measures you can take to keep Mona comfortable and happy? If there are, consider them, but there may not be. Your vet can help you come up with some benchmarks of when it’s time to make The Horrible Decision.

Just remember this: it’s easy to be a good kittymom to a kitten, or a young cat. It is infinitely harder to be a good kittymom for an older, companion cat you’ve shared your life with for years. Owning a pet is about being willing to do the right and caring thing, even when the right and caring thing is to let go and say goodbye.

I say that while looking at my 12-year-old littermates, knowing someday I’ll be facing this decision too, and I’ll be just as ripped up about it.

I’m sitting here tonight struggling with the very same thing for my sweet, shaggy, smelly pup, Daisy. As sad as it is, it’s comforting to know that somewhere out there, someone else is giving a lot of thought and heartache into making the right choice, too, whatever that is. A year and a half ago I said goodbye to my sweet grey tabby, Jewels, who I’d had since I was a little girl. She was almost 22, but was struggling to breathe and clearly suffering. I made the decision very swiftly that it was time to take her in to ease her pain, and she died in my arms in the vet’s waiting room, wrapped in my childhood blanket–the same blanket I’d used to “swaddle” her in and push her around in my Cabbage Patch Stroller when I was 9 years old. As sad as I was, it wasn’t a tortured decision to take her to the vet that day, and the universe aligned to show me that I had made the right choice. With Daisy, with Mona, it’s kind of hard to know, isn’t it? I hope your sweet Mona either rebounds in a gallant fight or gives you all the signs you need to be at peace with a difficult choice. No matter what, you’ve loved her and she’s felt it and knows it with her kitty wisdom and feline heart. I’m sure of it.

Broke my heart to read this about poor Mona. She really was such a sweet, loving cat even though I haven’t seen her in some time. Guess she stays in her room when company is around. A sad time…

We just had to put Bobby McGee down in Dec. It was a really hard decision but she was falling over, couldn’t get up the stairs, unable to hold her urine, partially deaf and blind. We considered it a quality of life issue. Her quality of life was not what it should be, she deserved to be comfortable. It really sucked. It was hard to say good bye to someone who’s been with me for so long. In fact, it’s brings up those emotions now as I type this. I didn’t even write about it or tell anyone. It’s just too painful. But I do feel I did Ms. McGee a justice. Why torture an animal just to keep them with you. Let them go in peace. Just my opinion, others may disagree.

I also have a 17 year old cat. I bought her for my daughter but she has become mine over the years. So I can appreciate your struggles with this decision.

I personal feel, you will know with out a doubt when it’s time. Since your still wondering, that lends me to beleive the time is right to let her go.

Who, being loved, is poor?

If you love her and she knows it, it’s worth more time.

Its a hard call, I know, I have been in a similar situation and its totally your call but if it were me I would let it ride out. Its sad and its hard time but I enjoyed the last few days I spent with my cat Verso.

It broke my heart and i’m so sorry that you are going through this situation. For me i will let her just ride it out until one day she doesn’t wake up. Because we don’t have the right to take others lives. Just be strong and keep your faith Christine.

They’ll tell you when.

Nardo was indecisive with his behavior, a bit of hiding, but coming back out and being slightly social, but obviously weary.

Monday was a wobbly, confused and quiet day. Tuesday morning was an obvious “Yeah, tomorrow is the day” but he went on his own with my wife at home.

The baby panthers said their goodbyes to him, which I think was important.

I suppose that is also a factor… how will the others react if they suddenly vanish instead of knowing their playmate/catmate is dead for certain?

(Bruwyn’s been a bit mopey while I’m home, resting in Nardo’s carrier, but going out to hunt/play with Myst when Gina gets home and lets them out.)


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