Dana, Luke, and Cairo

by Nancy Tannenbaum
(San Antonio, Texas)

I had my three beloved cats, Dana, Luke, and Cairo, euthanized September 6, 2012. Dana was 17 years old; Luke, 16, was her son; and Cairo, 15, was her daughter. I could no longer provide a stable home for my precious cats. They had been dragged out to New Mexico from Texas to live in my daughter's garage (she is allergic to cats, as am I, but her allergies/asthma are much worse). When I couldn't get on my feet, I came back to Texas, dragging the cats back with me to live with a "friend" who turned out to be a genuine nut with mental problems, in her garage; and finally into another friend's old horse barn for their final four days, in heat and dirt, with mosquitoes. I can only afford to move into a tiny senior apartment and knew the cats could no longer be put through the stress I was putting them through with one move after another and with no certainty that I could live with them in such small quarters; I need to return to New Mexico to be near my newborn grandson; they would have faced yet another ordeal driving back to New Mexico. I decided to put them to sleep. I feel such tremendous guilt over this. My life is chaotic and uncertain. Luke was on a special diet and Cairo had a history of ocular herpes. None of them had ever been separated from each other; I tried to re-home them into stable surroundings but no one wants elderly cats. My only comfort is that they are spared the ravages of whatever would ultimately have killed them - diabetes, or cancer, or heart problems.

But, oh, the broken heart and the loneliness of going on without them! I think I am going to die. Dana was my best friend. Luke was my dear companion. And Cairo? She was an intelligent, precious cat. I think I am dying of a broken heart. The euthanasia was very, very peaceful. They died together, and in my arms. I buried them in the Hill Country beneath a grove of trees. I know they are in heaven. I hope they will forgive me and know that I did this because I loved them. Love. Only love.

Comments for Dana, Luke, and Cairo

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Sep 06, 2013
One-year anniversary
by: Nancy

One year ago today, I had my three beloved cats, Dana, Luke, and Cairo, peacefully euthanized. They were elderly cats....my situation forced me to make this terrible decision as the instability in which I was living was, in my view, hurting my cats. Just a few days following their deaths, I found this site and told my story. The responses I received overwhelmed me with their kindness, empathy, and encouragement. Many, many times I have re-read these comments. I want all of you to know how much I appreciate and value you and the very kind things you said. I will never "get over" Dana, Luke, and Cairo....but your kindness to me has soothed my broken heart. Thank you - Nancy

Sep 12, 2012
Thank you, Pearl....
by: Nancy

I am so sorry you went through what you did with your precious dog....it is so true that no one understands why gently putting a beloved animal companion to sleep is the kindest option, the most loving choice....I have a friend who couldn't bring herself to euthanize her sweet little old dog and thus condemned him to suffer for three years blind, deaf, crippled, incontinent, most of his teeth gone, and whimpering and crying out in pain because he could no longer walk on his own. It seems honorable to champion life at any and all cost over death, but too often we fail to realize that there are things much, much worse than death. My cats' mental and emotional well-being was being compromised and I truly could see no other way. Putting them into a shelter, even a no-kill shelter, was not a good choice. I have worked for a no-kill shelter in New Mexico and now work at a wildlife rescue/rehab facility in San Antonio with a cattery filled with old and hard-to-place cats. These cats spend their days creeping around each other with no territory to call their own as they fight for dominance and a higher place in the feline pecking order. I would NEVER have put my cats in such a situation, even though to many people it seems preferable to being euthanized. I know my cats - your little dog - and all beloved animals and pets are safe in heaven and truly we will see them again.

You are a wonderful person for having made that heartrending choice for your dog. Your kind and supportive words are a comfort for my broken heart. God bless you - Nancy

Sep 11, 2012
because you loved them
by: Pearl

Nancy, Please find peace. Your cats had a good long life. I understand your posting as I have been in your shoes. I had a lovely dog of 13 years. He was struggling to swallow and it was very hard on him to want to eat and not be able to keep it down. I knew surgery would be very risky and would only prolong the inevitable. He was still alert and wagging his tail.....but he was slowly going to starve to death as his throat was closing. I'll spare you the details of what caused this to happen....but it could have been avoided had a young vet known what she was doing. I struggled with intense guilt for a long time because I brought him to an inexperienced Vet and I put him down before he was gravely ill. I could not watch him suffer. In the past, I always waited till there was nothing more to do....and in some cases probably waited too long. I loved this dog so much. He was always full of himself and very bold. To know that his future was only going to be down hill was mentally hard on me and I know he couldn't understand why he couldn't eat but wanted to so much. I made the decision to let him go. He wasn't sick the day I brought him in....and I finally accepted that I did this out of LOVE....just as you did for your cats. Your cats knew how much you loved them....you took them with you for as long as you could. You are right that cats, especially older cats, do not handle stress and moving well at all. I know it must be hard. You lost your companions. But you also chose their well being over yours. I have often said I would rather feel the pain then have my animals feel it. You will come to a point where you remember the happier times. Do NOT beat yourself up. They are at peace now...no more uncertainty. Cats (and dogs) don't live as long as humans. I wish you peace. You have a good heart.

Sep 11, 2012
Thank you, Doreen
by: Nancy

Your kind, understanding comments make my decision easier to accept...no one understands this unless they themselves have been forced to make the decision to give their beloved companions back to God when they have come to the end of the road. We who love our companions whose lives are even more fragile and temporary than our own risk the broken heart as we live out our love for them. And we would have it no other way. Love, Nancy

Sep 11, 2012
Thank you, Wanda
by: Nancy

I wept when I read your comments. You know exactly how I feel. I work for a wildlife rescue/rehabilitation organization. Out back, there is a very nice cattery which contains 9 cats who jockey continually for dominance with each other. These cats are miserable. Most are old and no one wants them. I could never have put Dana, Luke, and Cairo into those circumstances...my heart is truly broken because I miss them so terribly. My family has had numerous tragedies, as most families do, which included the deaths of my daughter in law and unborn grandson in a car wreck. But I will tell you that grief is grief, and the grief I feel for my cats is every bit as real, although different...I kept weighing up the odds for my cats, what their futures with me would be, but because of my circumstances, I simply couldn't force them to continue on. Thank you for validating what I knew - that cats do not adjust well to change and that the older they are, the more difficult it is for them. We tend to humanize our animal companions and I keep thinking that as long as they were somehow with me, they would be all right - but I knew I was being selfish to keep dragging them around. So they died together, as they lived - sometimes Luke still tried to nurse Dana, as old as he was. He knew she was his mother...I pray that in heaven, they will forgive me and will understand that I did this not because I didn't want them, but because I love them.

Your words have soothed my broken heart and guilt. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


Sep 11, 2012
Dana, Luke, and Cairo
by: Doreen U.K.

Nancy I am sorry for your loss. Often it is a greater part of love in giving up what we can't keep for the benefit of another. You did what you thought was the best decision for YOu and the cats. You made this decision out of Love. It HURTS. Don't beat yourself up with GUILT. I loved all my 9 cockatiels. I had to keep them in a cage because I didn't have an aviary and couldn't now build one because my husband who was a carpenter died of cancer 4 months ago. I had to give up the birds for their benefit and happiness of living in an aviary which is a better living space for them and their wellbeing. It hurts having to give my birds another home but this was done for the right reasons. That is all we can do. Be at Peace. I hope you recover from your loss and broken heart.

Sep 11, 2012
Thank you
by: Nancy

Your comments are so comforting to my broken heart. Thank you for your kind and gentle words and for your encouragement and understanding. I loved my cats and wanted only the best for them. Your compassion for my decision is uplifting. Bless you always -

Sep 11, 2012
I know the pain you are going through
by: Wanda

Since creating a Facebook account several years ago most of my friends have ended up being animal rescue organizations. These are people who dedicate their free time.. working very hard to save animals that have ended up in the animal shelter for various reasons.

So many of these animals are owner surrenders.. and a lot of the time these poor animals are being thrown away because their owners don't want the work and responsibility of taking care of them any more. Many times they are older animals like your 3 babies were. Their chances of being adopted are slim because of their age.. so.. they're moved very quickly to the euthanasia list... and the method a lot of the time is they are put in a gas chamber and killed in a horrific way.

I cannot imagine how anyone could abandon an animal who has loved them unconditionally for 15 years and when they start requiring additional care because of their age.. they throw them away at a animal shelter... and never look back.. They leave the work, tears, and emotional meltdowns to the volunteers who work so hard to find another home for these poor babies.

You made this very difficult decision because you loved them enough to protect them from goodness knows what. You did what everyone should do. You took care of them and loved them with all of your heart... and in the end..your love for them went beyond your own emotions of not wanting to give them up.. You made sure they went peacefully wrapped in the arms of their human who they had loved since they were kittens.

The guilty feelings are normal because of how much you loved them and you feel like you have failed them. Failing them would have been if you had discarded them like old clothes bagged up and brought to Goodwill. But you didn't do that... you were there for them till the very end.

Cats cannot endure stress easily. I am sure the moving around.. changing their environment constantly.. and their having to stay outside away from you..was taking a toll on them.

I just want you to know that by making the decision you made...you gave them the gift of leaving this earth just like they had lived their lives... they have always known love and peace.. and that's what they knew when they were taking their last breath... you held them in your arms.. just like you'd done their entire life.

You are a hero to me.. because I know when the time comes that we have to make that horrible decision..having your heart ripped out of your chest would hurt less.

You wanted to protect them.. so.. you took all the pain yourself.. so they would not have to go through pain themselves. Wow.. how fortunate they were to have you.

You are pretty incredible in my book.

You'll be in my prayers

Sep 10, 2012
Your kind comments are such a blessing
by: Nancy

I am struggling with guilt over Dana, Luke, and Cairo. Everything I read about euthanizing cats involves the cat's being ill or suffering physically. My cats were not suffering physically, but I was always concerned about their mental and emotional health as well, and I felt I couldn't force them through any more adjustments and uprooting and the stress of trying to adjust to yet another change....thank you again for your kind words. They help more than you will ever know. - Nancy -

Sep 10, 2012
For Nancy
by: Jaqueline.M

Nancy, I'm so sorry to hear what's been happening for you. That must've been the hardest decision in the world to make. Dana,Luke and Cairo sound like the most amazing unique blessings and you were lucky to have had each for even a fraction of the time you were all together. It's awful that you're without them now but what will not change is the times you've all had together. You're part of their history as they're part of yours. I hope you'll come to terms with what's happened, it seems like you know you had no better option for them and yourself.
I wish you all the best, and for good things to flow into your future to show you that life and the world keep moving.

Sep 10, 2012
Thoughts and prayers for you and your darling cats
by: Linn

Sometimes in life we have to make choices that will bring us pain, no matter which way we go. I know that you must have loved your cats and could not see their suffering any longer, and sometimes that is the best decision. When other are critical of our choices, well they really have no ideal what they would have done in the same situation, because they are not in the middle of the problem. Comfort yourself in thoughts of the things you did for your little cats while they were alive and remember the times when you petted them and showed them kindness and know that they will never be in pain again. Guilt is so debilitating and it keeps the joy out of our life. I pray that time will heal your deep wounds and help you have peace again. I pray the best for you and may God bless you.

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