I don't know if I did the right thing.
Although...I guess it doesn't matter any more really. What's done is done. I guess I just want to know in case something like this (I hope is NEVER NEVER does) happens again :/
I work on a ranch, where we have all kinds of animals including cats and dogs. The cats are for the most part tame, but because we have woods we get a lot of feral cats who will live in the woods and come up to the barn for the food and water we give our barn cats. Unlike our barn cats who are spayed/neutered, vaccinated, wormed, etc., these cats are on their own so they're essentially wild. We just leave them alone usually.
Well, we also have dogs who come out to the farm every day, and they happen to be blood hounds with a huge hunting drive. I'm not even sure why they're out there since they often kill chickens and stuff. As you can imagine, a feral cat...and even more, a feral kitten, seems like great prey to them.
Long story short, one of the dogs treed a TINY kitten who was probably 10-12 weeks old. The dog started baying so one of the guys went to see what the dog had found, and discovered the kitten. I don't know why he did this, but he knocked it out of the tree and the dog got it. As you can imagine...it was NOT good. I guess he realized the dogs were playing with it after a second, picked the kitten up, shoved in a cage back up front, and left it.
I discovered the kitten a few hours later, around 1 pm, in the cage on it's side, panting very hard with its mouth gaping open, completely limp and its eyes glazed. I asked about it and got the story of what happened to the cat, but when I asked what they were going to do with it they said 'if it dies, we'll throw it out. If it lives, good for it.' They weren't going to try to save it, but they weren't going to try to put it out of its misery either. I told them it was almost dead and I was ordered to dump it out of the cage in the woods and let 'nature take care of it.'
I've been told to just suck it up and realize suffering is part of life, but I'm soft hearted. In their opinion, I'm weak. But I couldn't just dump that kitten out. I've worked with shadowing vets enough to know an animal beyond help, and this kitten was one of them. Its legs were bloody and wet with dog slobber, its ear was torn, and it had a very, very obviously broken rib if not more than one rib. Every time it panted I could see the rib moving in and out. With the way the cat was breathing (very, very labored and it had to tilt its head to get air) and the placement of the rib, I'm 99% sure it punctured a lung or possibly even its heart. I took it out of the cage and laid it on a blanket carefully and made some phone calls. I was hoping to take it to a vet to be humanely euthanized. I called all of our local vets though, and only one was open. They said to call an ER. So I called an ER.
The ER wanted $160 to euthanize the cat, and more to dispose of it, even though I didn't own it. Maybe I should have just sucked it up and borrowed some money from my parents (I'm only 17 :/) to euthanize it, but both they and I are on VERY tight budgets and I didn't have that kind of money. They probably don't either. So to me, that option was out.
I couldn't just LEAVE it there though. I figured if it hadn't died in 2-3 hours it probably wouldn't die quickly on its own, which meant a lot of suffering. It was humid, (90% humidity) and 99 degrees today, and to make matters worse it was about to rain... And at that point the kitten kept wringing its tail and making this horrible pitiful screaming sound when it had to move to thrash its head into a position so it could breat, so I KNEW it had to be in a lot of pain. I didn't know what to do :/ I decided to give it 10 more minutes, and if it didn't die on its own, I would kill it myself.
But I'm a city girl. I don't know how to kill an animal. I never WANTED to know how to kill an animal. I had no gun, or I would have just shot it in the head. My other idea was to break its neck, but I had these horrible images of not doing it fast enough or right and it being mostly dead, screaming in pain...and I just couldn't do it. So I filled a bucket of water, picked the kitten up...by this time it was actually trying with its last strength to self mutilate itself, I guess to end the pain...by biting into its own paw...and I drowned it.
It was the worst thing I've ever done in my entire life. KNOWING I killed something myself. On purpose. It looked so...horrified as I dunked it into the water and I had to hold it down to make it die faster. And I know it suffered while I did it. I've never seen an animal look so scared in my life, and I watched as it inhaled water. I didn't know what else to do. It probably took it over a minute to die, but I buried it after it did die, with an apology for having to take it's life. It didn't do anything wrong...it was just a baby.
What else could I have done? Should I have seen if it was savable? I just couldn't bear to see it hurting.
I cried the entire way home, and I feel like an idiot for doing so. I'm the one that chose to do it. But it hurts to know I did that. That poor animal.... and yet I know if it had been someone else on the farm they would have just killed it (or let it die on its own) and not thought twice. But I still feel sick. I threw up after I killed it.
And worse... the kitten bit me in a last ditch effort to protect itself from me. It bit HARD and didn't let go as it was drowning. I didn't want to hurt it more by trying to get it off, so I shoved my other finger in and pried its mouth open. I went to urgent care per my mom's demand since the kitten was feral and looked sick, so I have antibiotics...but now I have holes in my finger to remind me that I killed that cat. I don't even want to look at my hand now.
What would you have done? What should I have done? I just have no idea :/