I didn't mean to insinuate that cats are less lovable than dogs; but they are less dependent. I wouldn't think twice about leaving a cat alone overnight with her (clean) box and food, and, in fact, I don't think my kitties even missed me. My cats were perfectly happy with a visit from friends a few times a day. My dogs, on the other hand, needed to have people around all the time. AND it had to be people they knew. Yeah, they were spoiled rotten.
The other day a few friends asked me if we held Keiki in her last hours. Of course we did. One friend asked me how I did it. Huh? When you take a pet it is an agreement between you, the animal, and, dare I say it, God. You are taking on a lifetime of the animal, and yes, that means standing there to the very end. So both she and her mother went to meet their maker with their heads on my hand, and both of us petting her. My husband actually grew up pet-less, so these two deaths really hit him hard. But, I will say that he agreed with me when it came to be the time. Our vet asked if we wanted "heroic efforts" to keep her alive. Ijust responded that I didn't want heroic efforts to keep ME alive when the time comes, we just want it as pleasant as it can possibly be.
My friends also want to know how I knew it was time. Maybe it is just my little Jack Russell mutts, but there was no doubt. At all. White Fang was given a few months to live, but lived for 18 months after that, a happy life. When she was going, there was no doubt at all. My husband had a hard time with it at first, he's never had to "play god", and she was his very first pet. But when it was obvious that she only had days of true pain and misery ahead of her, he agreed with me. So when her daughter, Keiki, was ready to meet her Mommie, husband knew it immediately, and we touched and petted her to the very end.
I have several friends who have told me they couldn't do what we did. They can put their animals down, but they can't sit with them. I would never want my pets to die alone.
I have on occaision given my cats to others who wanted them and asked me for them (you have to realize that Hawaii is a different universe). So I've never had to put a cat down; I always had a home for the few kitties I've had the pleasure of sharing a home with.