How Much Does Cat Euthanasia Cost?

Written by: Staff

Cat euthanasia, defined as a painless way to end life, is a planned death, usually by a painless injection.  The goal here is to end the cat’s life as soon as possible without the least amount of pain. Owners may choose this option when they feel the cat has reached the end of the road or medical treatment has become too expensive.

rab microlight jacket + hannibal by michael pollak, on Flickr
rab microlight jacket + hannibal” (CC BY 2.0) by michael pollak

How much does cat euthanasia cost?

The cost cat euthanasia will usually be about $50 to $150 if done at a local veterinarian office.  If the veterinarian has to come to your home, which is very common, the costs can be between $250 to $450.  Keep in mind, however, that some veterinarians prefer to have it done inside their offices since they are able to control the situation. The costs will really depend on the veterinarian, the size of the cat, geographical location, and if they have to travel, how far they need to drive.

The Humane Society of Southern Arizona, for instance, charges $65 for the euthanasia only and the owner will have to take the pet back or it will cost $130 to have it done with a general cremation with no ashes returned.  To have the ashes returned, it can cost $190.

Cat euthanasia overview

There are several options you can take advantage of when putting your cat to sleep.  You can either have the vet take care of the whole process, including the cremation, or you can take the cat and bury it at your home if local laws allow it.  You may also choose to either have it buried at a local pet cemetery or arrange for a vet to come to your home and return the ashes at a later date.

Before injecting the death-inducing drug, the veterinarian may inject a tranquilizer to help relax the cat.  During this time, the cat will become unconscious as the injection, which is injected in the front legs, stops the brain, causing cardiac arrest.  This will all happen in a matter of seconds, making it relatively fast and painless for the cat. A cat owner is either able to have this procedure done at a local office or have them come to your home to administer the injection.  If it’s done at home, the cat can either be transported to a facility for burial or cremation or back to the vet’s office for a proper disposal/cremation.  The whole process will take less than 10 minutes.

Most veterinarians will allow you to stay in the room if you wish, or you may be able to leave the pet alone.  This will be a personal choice, and no matter which option you choose, a professional will always respect your decision.  Some vets may charge more if you’re in the room because they have to insert a catheter due to the cat releasing its bowels when euthanized.

What are the extra costs?

The cost of disposing of the body may be a separate charge, but this will all depend on the vet’s office.

Urns can cost $30 to $100, while burial at a local pet cemetery can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,000.  A cremation can cost about $100 if it were cremated with other animals or up to $300 if it’s done individually.  If you don’t want the ashes returned to you, this will be about $25 to $50 cheaper than having them returned.  The veterinarian office won’t require you take the ashes back, and if you choose this option, your pet will be cremated with other animals, referred to as a communal cremation.  These ashes will then be spread at a local landfill or crematory if they have the room.

Many cat owners remember their pets by purchasing memorial items such as a garden stone, urn, a portrait or a locket holding the cat’s fur.

After hour services and working on holidays can often lead to a surcharge.

When to put your cat to sleep:

Look for unusual movement from your cat; you will generally be able to tell when a cat is in pain.  If in pain, does it go away if he or she takes pain medicine?

If your cat is unable to pick up its head or is unable to support its weight while walking.

If your cat has been diagnosed with a terminal medical condition.

If your vet has clearly stated your cat’s chances of survival are slim.

If the cat doesn’t move and shows no interest in items such as food, treats, and toys.

If the cat can no longer control its bodily functions.

If there are breathing issues or the cat refuses to eat and/or drink.

Tips to know

Home burials will often be prohibited by your local government.  If unsure, check with your local laws first as most will require you either bury your pet in a local cemetery.

Euthanasia will only be used when it’s clear the cat is suffering and it will be too uncomfortable for the cat to continue living.  A vet won’t euthanize a cat that’s healthy or has an ailment that’s curable.  Most will discuss your options before using this procedure as a last resort, and even if you can’t afford it, the vet may be able to work out some options such as finding a family who may be able to adopt your cat and pay for the procedure.  For instance, a cat with lymphoma spreading or even congestive heart failure may be recommended for the procedure, but if the cat were to have a simple leg fracture and was only six months old, then the vet would more than likely want to find other options.

Cats of Australia recommends making your appointment first thing in the morning or as the last appointment in the day so the vet isn’t rushed during the procedure.

Most people do have the concern about where their cat is going when it eventually passes.  Some owners think the vet will experience on the cat, while others believe their beloved feline will be sold for science.  Unless the vet tells you this, which is highly unlikely, your cat will always be handled with gentle care and sent to the appropriate crematory for a proper burial.  If ever in doubt, ask your vet for reassurance.

A common question some cat owners often ask is ” My cat has diabetes.  Can I put her to sleep?”  There can be conflicting answers, but as Dr. Marie stated on Ask a Vet Question, she said if it’s difficult to control and your cat doesn’t respond well to insulin, then it may be time to consider putting your cat to sleep; however, if you feel they are enjoying life and are able to take the insulin and  you can afford it, then it’s okay to carry on with the cat’s life.

How can I save money?

Most vet offices will be able to give you a ballpark estimate over the phone.  Call a few offices in the area to see what they may charge.

If you can’t afford a vet, see if they are able to work out some sort of payment plan or even point you in the right direction for help.  In your area, there may be non-profits or charities that work with those on a limited budget.

Free euthanization for cats can be available; however, if you do go this route, you will often have to donate your cat’s body to a veterinary student training center.

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