When Is it Time?


We don’t ever forget the animals we’ve lost


This is a very difficult and delicate post to write, and one that brings a lump to my throat just considering: The question of when a pet’s time has come, and whether to consider euthanasia, is easily the most difficult part of animal ownership. Ending needless suffering is a responsible thing to do. It’s difficult because no one wants to do it too soon – or ever.

I have had many pets in my lifetime. For most, there came a time when putting them to sleep was a kinder option than allowing them to live and suffer for my sake.

If you are reaching a time in your parrot’s life when you may need to consider this, just ask yourself: ‘What is my bird’s quality of life like right now? Is he suffering and not ever going to improve? Am I keeping him here because I’m not ready?’


Fife Canary “Charlie”


That’s what I’ve had to ask myself in the past. In many circumstances, medication can give a pet a wonderful quality of life for a number of weeks or months — and then that tends to wear off. As heart-breaking as it is, you have to know your pet, and know when he is no longer able to lead a good life.

Growing up, my family was owned by a beautiful and loving applehead Siamese cat, ‘Ming.’ She the cat who did everything with the family, including follow us around, sleep at our feet, and generally act like a dog. A typical Siamese, Ming led a long and wonderful life, but due to her polydactylism (28 toes!), she had joint deformities that caused her a lot of pain in her old life.

Medication only worked for so long. As her health began to fail her, compounding with even more issues, we were all left agonising over when was the right time? Too soon, and it feels like you’ll rob them of precious days. Too late, and you may cause them pain that you wouldn’t let them feel at all, if possible. But when is right?


Moluccan Cockatoo, ‘Friday,’ a very special cockatoo who recently passed away


I know Hospice nurses who say that a palliative patient often has one absolutely great day before it’s their time, a final burst of life. This applies to most pets, too, I’ve found. We knew when Ming suddenly had a good day where she jumped and played and snuggled as if all was normal again. It was a gift, a beautiful moment to say goodbye.

The day after, as Ming showed us it was time, my family made the best but most painful decision. Two things gave us comfort: She was surrounded by her people at the end — which, if you can stand it, please do this for your fur and feather babies — and she had led a long and happy life. I have endless happy memories of my pets’ time with us. That’s what counts.

If your parrot can lead a good quality of life, if he seems happy and not in pain for the majority of the time and is able to play and interact with the world, then yes, this is not the time. If your bird is suffering, absolutely unable to do the things it needs and wants to do despite your best efforts, however, you may have to do the brave and heart-breaking thing.



Kat Wykoff

Obviously, this is a timely post for many. While I have not lost one of my parrots yet, I have buried many cats over the years. I would love to say that I felt I made the right choice when I picked their day to die, but it never sits well with me to take a life, no matter what the reason. I can say that with each being I share my life with, I do all that I know how to do to make our time together as happy and healthy as possible. Many of the companions I have now have only known me as their ‘MOM’, while others have been passed around more times than I can count! I do my best to acquaint my companions with other people, so that they can make an easier transition should I be the one to go before they do – especially my parrots, no matter what their background. In the end, I have to surrender the whole situation to a higher power, and trust that all of us are in capable hands. I also have to trust that I will be guided to heal where healing is possible, and assist in passing where that is necessary. It always breaks my heart to say ‘good-bye’, but it breaks wide open so there is room to love again. My companions are all rescues from dire straights, and their are always more in need. We love each other while we are together, and when it is time to part, I hold them in my arms until they pass, and then I hold them in my heart.

Kat Wykoff
Carol Lindenmuth

My “hardest decision” was almost a year ago when I euthanized my 2 1/2 year old Camalot Macaw. She was physically challenged to the point that arthritis was taking her leg/ hip joints and was in extreme pain. I had made many accommodations to house her, etc.—my vet was amazed at some of my ideas for her. My vets and I tried all meds we could try and she was going downhill. Refusing to eat, very aggressive (from the pain) and refusing to take meds without a constant struggle. The last morning she was with me we talked. I told her if it was time just let me know. We went to the vet to discuss issues. The three of us talked for a while and she just relaxed in my lap. I think she actually made the decision. After a lifetime with animals, I still believe it is the single best-last decision we can make for them—even if it breaks our heart.

Carol Lindenmuth
Daphne Bjorgo

As I sit here reading these posts, I am reminded of how heartbreaking it is to lose ones pet. My mother passed away a year ago and our cockatiel, Ellie, passed away on the day that would’ve been my moms birthday. It was simply horrible because to our knowledge, she wasn’t sick. My daughter found Ellie on the bottom of her cage; lifeless. It couldn’t have happened on a worse day. But, with all that grief, we were able to hold a funeral for her and she was buried with flowers from my moms service. It gives me comfort to know that Ellie and my mom are together watching over us.

Daphne Bjorgo

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published