August Dental Special | Full Dental Scale & Polish For Only $449 | T & Cs Apply

Saying Goodbye: What to Expect When Putting a Cat to Sleep 

If you’ve had to make the difficult decision to put your beloved cat to sleep, you may be wondering what the process of euthanasia looks like. In Australia, there are many options available for helping cats pass peacefully and with dignity.

No matter how prepared you think you are, saying goodbye to your beloved cat can never be easy. That said, understanding how euthanasia works can help ease some of the guilt associated with putting your cat down and provide peace of mind knowing that your cat passed away peacefully without experiencing fear or pain.

It’s important for Australian cat owners who are considering euthanasia to speak with their veterinarian about all aspects of the process so that they can make an informed decision about when to put their cat to sleep.

Here’s what you can expect when putting your cat to sleep. 

The Euthanasia Process Explained

Understanding what happens during euthanasia can help make this process less daunting for those owners who do choose this option for their beloved cats. Knowing what to expect during the stages of a cat dying can help owners prepare for this sad but necessary goodbye and provide peace of mind that their cats will be passing peacefully and with dignity.

The Decision To Put Your Cat Down 

Making the decision to put your cat down can be one of the most difficult decisions you’ll ever have to make as a cat owner. Whether it’s due to old age, illness, or injury, it can be difficult to accept that putting your cat down might be best for them and for you. That being said, it’s important to remember that this decision is made out of love and compassion for your cat—not because you don’t care about them anymore. 

Preparations Beforehand 

Before putting your cat down, there are several things you should do beforehand. First and foremost, it’s important to talk with your veterinarian about all of your options so that you can make an informed decision. 

You should also spend some extra time with your cat in their last days so that they know how much they are loved and appreciated. This could mean taking them on one last walk in the park or simply sitting by their side as they rest peacefully in their bed. These small gestures will go a long way towards helping your cat feel comfortable in their final moments with you. 

The Euthanasia Appointment

When a cat owner decides that euthanasia is the best option for their animal companion, they will usually take their cat to a vet clinic or hospital. The veterinarian performing the euthanasia will usually talk through the process with the cat owner and answer any questions they have. During this conversation, the vet will explain that the procedure is relatively painless and that it should only take a few minutes for your cat to pass away. 

Euthanasia typically involves two components—the sedative and the anesthetic. The sedative helps the cat relax prior to euthanasia by inducing feelings of calmness and relaxation. This allows them to remain still and not struggle during the procedure. 

Once the sedative takes effect and both parties are ready, the veterinarian will administer an intravenous injection of sodium pentobarbital, which is a barbiturate-based anaesthetic. This drug works quickly and humanely by causing your cat’s heart and breathing rates to slow down until they eventually stop completely. It is important that cat owners understand that while this process is relatively quick and painless, it may still be emotionally difficult for them to witness. 

After Euthanasia 

Most clinics in Australia offer after care services such as cremation or burial services. These are provided either on site or through a third-party company who specialise in these types of services. Cat owners should ask the clinic about these extra services at the time of making their appointment because some clinics require pre-payment before providing them. 

Cat Euthanasia FAQs: The Difficult Questions

There are many questions we hear from cat owners around euthanasia, and it may give you some comfort to know you’re not alone in asking them. Here are some of the tricky questions we hear and the answers.  

Do Cats Know They Are Being Put To Sleep? 

Most veterinarians believe that cats do not have this knowledge. When given a sedative before euthanasia, cats become relaxed and sleepy, which means they likely don’t understand what is happening around them or why they are being given medication. 

Ultimately, it is impossible to know what a cat may be thinking in its final moments; however, it is reassuring to know that most cats do not experience pain or fear during the process. 

What is the Best Way to Say Goodbye?

When it comes time to say goodbye, try not to focus on the sadness of the moment but rather on the memories you shared over the years. Share stories about funny moments or special trips taken together; reflect on how much joy they brought into your life; and thank them for being such an amazing companion. 

Saying goodbye to a beloved cat is never easy. It can be an emotionally draining experience that leaves you feeling helpless, sad, and guilty all at once. But accepting the fact that it’s time to let go can help alleviate some of the guilt while allowing you to cherish the happy memories with your cat before they pass away. 

My Cat Struggled During Euthanasia – What Does That Mean? 

In some cases, the struggle may simply be a reflexive response to the injection. Regardless of the reason, it is important to remember that the cat is not in any pain or discomfort during euthanasia.While euthanasia is typically peaceful and calm, sometimes cats just appear to struggle during the procedure.

Did I Put My Cat to Sleep Too Soon?

If you feel in your heart that you made the right decision, then chances are you did. Talk to your veterinarian if you have concerns. They will be able to offer guidance and support based on their professional experience. If you find yourself in this situation, remember to trust your instincts. 

Remember that there is no single “right” answer when it comes to end-of-life decisions for cats. The most important thing is that you acted with love and compassion, and in the best interest of your furry friend.


Saying goodbye is never easy—especially when it comes to our beloved cats. Putting a beloved cat like a cat to sleep is always an incredibly difficult choice for owners who have given them years of love and companionship.

But knowing there are steps we can take beforehand can help us cope with the grief afterwards and remember our furry friends fondly long after they’re gone. Taking time to talk openly with our veterinarians about our options, spending quality time together in their last days, and cherishing positive memories during our final moments together are essential in saying goodbye properly while still honouring our cats’ memory after they’re gone forevermore.


This article is published in good faith, for general informational and educational purposes only. Paws and More Vet Centre does not make any warranties about the ongoing completeness and reliability of this information. This article should not be used as a substitute for veterinary advice, including for diagnosis or treatment of a pet’s medical condition. Always consult a veterinary professional before making decisions on your pet’s health.