Euthanasia for pets – is it right to put your pet to sleep?

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I have one particular favorite kitty. She’s a mean, black street cat – full of energy, zesty and fun. She’s about 3 years old, has a hernia and is dying. Although I can afford the surgery, I’ve decided to let nature take it’s course. Partly because I feel paying so much to ‘defeat nature’ is hypocritical, especially for me. Partly because I like to hoard my wealth, so I can use it on better things (using your money to preserve your pet companion rather than, for example, feed starving children – is that not an unhealthy egoism or selfishness?)

At any right, I’ve decided not to pay for the very expensive surgery my cat needs. However, now I’m stuck at home with a very miserable cat. She doesn’t seem to be in too much pain, but she’s weak and slow – certainly at this point aware that something is wrong with her. Friends are saying I need to put her to sleep so that she doesn’t suffer.

I’m inclined to disagree with them, however. Why is it that we ‘put down’ our pets, put them to sleep, make the call that their life is over; we would never do this to humans. In fact it is almost universally illegal. Humans always choose to suffer, to have another sunrise, another sip of coffee, another sniff of flowers. Humans fight to survive as long as possible, and that is their right. It is also the natural way; the way I DESIGNED the universe. The biological imperative to survive. Why do humans who accept pets as their own (property) have power over their life and death?

Is it my responsibility to take my cat in to get put to sleep, because I don’t want to pay for the surgery? What’s wrong with letting her die in peace, at home, loved, surrounded by familiars – her favorite spot by the window, her favorite pillow? Is that less humane than a trip to a strange, busy, frightening vet’s office and getting a shot on a steel table? If I can’t bring myself to strangle my cat, or put poison in her food, how can I take her to the vet’s and put her down?

On the other hand, is my respect for my cat and sentimentality getting in the way of making the best decision for her comfort?