Feline Hospice Offers a Fear Free Path To a Life’s End

Cats these days can make the most of their nine lives, thanks to advances in veterinary care, nutrition and just love from their people. The day comes, though, when nothing more can be done to save their lives, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that euthanasia is an immediate next step. Pet hospice programs can help ease a cat’s journey to the end of life and give family members extra time to give him love and say their goodbyes.

“Pawspice,” as it’s called by veterinary oncologist Alice Villalobos, helps to increase a cat’s survival time while maintaining quality of life and relieving pain. It’s also a path toward recognizing when it’s time to say goodbye.

“Pawspice is not abandoning the disease,” Dr. Villalobos says. “It’s palliative medicine that involves treating the disease.”

Palliative care includes preventing or managing pain, infection control, nutritional support, and complementary therapies, such as acupuncture or massage. An important part of pet hospice care is evaluating quality of life. Your veterinarian can help you learn to recognize signs of pain or organ failure and suggest ways to make your cat’s life easier.

For instance, you can learn how to administer fluids for cats with kidney disease. Cats who find it difficult to eat may do well with esophageal feeding tubes. Cats who enjoy interacting with family members will appreciate being able to stay close to them in the family room or kitchen, while cats who like a quieter environment may prefer a sunny, isolated spot where they can watch from afar. Depending on the cat’s condition, physiotherapy techniques or therapeutic laser treatments may promote comfort and mobility. Cats with oral cancers or arthritis may find it difficult to clean themselves, so thorough but gentle grooming is important.

A good hospice program provides comfort for cats and support for their humans. The purpose of hospice isn’t to keep cats alive no matter what. When a cat’s condition is unmanageable, gentle euthanasia is the final gift you can give your BFF: best feline friend.

This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.