I have had to put two of my cats to sleep during the course of the past 10 years. Both of these decisions were terribly difficult and painful. In one case, I felt I let my cat Orange Kitty live too long and she suffered too much. My heart still aches remembering her walking a few steps, collapsing and urinating all over herself. She was such a dignified cat. I can't imagine that was how she would have wanted to die. In the other case, I still sometimes worry that I put my cat Ebony to sleep too soon. He wasn't eating and was moving very slowly, especially attempting to lay down and get back up. The vet told me he was in renal failure and he would not take to having fluids infused subcutaneously, as my previous cat had. For fear he would progress to the condition that Orange Kitty had, I had him euthanized as soon as I knew he was terminal. There are now so many more resources available for people who are grappling with this painfully difficult decision.
I just came upon a great site today, Animal Hospice that offers a FAQ section to help you make this decision. To quote, "We suggest sitting with the ailing animal and be very quiet. From this place of quiet and peace, share with the animal that the illness or old age is irreversible and that you are open to hearing or feeling what the animal's wishes are about the future." What a beautiful idea. As someone who meditates regularly, this seems like excellent advice.
And sadly, a final resource, In Home Pet Euthanasia offers a listing of providers throughout the United States and Canada who will perform pet euthanasia in the comfort of your own home. If like I did, you feel that is the best option for an ailing animal companion, this site may be able to provide you with a referral to a provider in your area.
May all of our beloved animal companions live long, healthy lives!