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Pet Euthanasia

When To Euthanize a Cat With End-Stage Lymphoma

If end-stage lymphoma is causing your cat to suffer, then euthanasia may be on the table. Consider this when deciding when to euthanize a cat with lymphoma.

Dr. Gary Hsia

January 02, 2023

Taking care of an aging or sick cat is never easy, but it can be especially challenging when your best friend has an ongoing illness Cats can develop many terminal illnesses, including a common form of cancer known as feline lymphoma. Most pet parents struggle to know if and when to euthanize a cat with lymphoma. You may be anxious about letting your best friend go at the wrong time or feel uncertain about how euthanasia works.

Understanding cat lymphoma and how it can affect your pet’s quality of life can help you when making hard choices for your feline friend.

What Is Lymphoma in Cats?

Cats develop feline lymphoma when cancer grows in their lymphatic system. This system is made up of a vast network of organs, tissues, and vessels that carry the fluid lymph throughout the body.

The most common lymphoma in cats is gastrointestinal lymphoma. However, cancerous cells can develop in many parts of the lymphatic system, like the lymph nodes or a lymph associated organ. For example, the disease could be found in a cat’s chest cavity, eyes, kidneys, liver, nasal cavity, etc.

Cat lymphoma signs vary depending on the cancer’s location, severity, and cell type. Common clinical signs include:

  • Behavior changes
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Reduced appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

Cat lymphoma prognosis depends on several factors, including the type of lymphoma, location, and how far it has spread. Depending on your cat’s circumstances, your veterinarian may recommend treatments like chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or a combination of these. In addition to identifying which treatments are possible, your veterinarian will be able to advise you as to whether the treatments are likely to put the cancer into remission or to extend the quality of life remaining.

When You Might Make the Difficult Decision To Euthanize Your Cat

Your cat may not respond to treatment for lymphoma, or you may decide to choose to provide hospice care at home instead of pursuing chemotherapy. If your cat’s cancer seems to be causing them suffering, you may wonder if it’s time to say goodbye.

The decision to euthanize a pet is never easy, but it can be especially difficult for cat parents. Cats can be remarkably stoic, so you may fear that your cat is hiding severe pain or weakness. Here are three signs that can help you know when you should consider humanely euthanizing your best friend.

A Deteriorating Quality of Life

A quality of life assessment can help you objectively measure how your pet is doing. This questionnaire asks you questions about different aspects of your pet’s overall well-being, including:

  • Ability to play
  • Appetite
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Emotional state
  • Mobility

You can take the questionnaire several times over the course of a day or a few days to track if your cat’s condition is improving or worsening.

Little to No Appetite

A decreased or nonexistent appetite is a common sign that your cat is experiencing chronic or severe pain. If your cat doesn’t want to eat their normal food, you can try to tempt them with more enticing, vet-approved meals, like canned cat food, certain human foods, or cat treats..

If your cat is still unable or unwilling to eat even when presented with savory meals, it may be a sign that they’re suffering.

A Poor Prognosis

Your veterinarian can give you an honest assessment of your cat’s condition and prognosis. Some cats experience brief remissions after receiving treatment like chemotherapy or radiation. However, even successful procedures may only lengthen your cat’s life for a handful of weeks or months. Your cat may also receive a poor prognosis if their cancer is particularly aggressive or if you decide not to pursue intensive treatments.

If your veterinarian has determined that your cat’s lymphoma is terminal and that they will only survive for a short period regardless of treatment, euthanizing your furry friend when their quality of life deteriorates may be the kindest choice.

Helping Your Cat Find Peace With In-Home Euthanasia

Many pet parents feel nervous or stressed when thinking about euthanasia, but this process doesn’t have to be scary for you or your cat. The goal of euthanasia is to alleviate your best friend’s suffering by giving them the gift of a painless and peaceful death.

You can make this transition easier by arranging for in-home euthanasia. A compassionate and skilled veterinarian will travel to your home to perform the procedure, allowing you to say goodbye to your cat in the comfort and privacy of your home. During euthanasia, the veterinarian will administer a sedative to put your pet into a deep sleep. Next, your cat will receive an injection of anesthesia that allows the brain and finally the heart to stop.

Coda Pet can provide your cat with a caring and stress-free in-home euthanasia. If it’s time to say goodbye to your cat with feline lymphoma, you can contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Dr. Gary Hsia

Fresno, CA


Dr. Gary graduated from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in 2010. After graduation, he moved west. Dr. Gary spent a year at a mixed animal practice in Oregon before moving to Fresno where he worked at All Creatures Veterinary Clinic from 2011-2021.  Read More

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