I have a cat, named Christmas Eve, who for the past four years has been in renal failure. Three times a week, I give her a subcutaneous infusion of liquid to assist her kidneys, a process that involves slipping a large needle under her skin [not apparently a painful procedure] and waiting while 100 cc's of the fluid flow into the space between her skin and her flesh [on that spot at the nape of the neck where mother cats pick up their kittens in their teeth]. This process has kept her alive for these four years, a source of great joy to both myself and my wife, Susie. We are devoted to her, and even cut short our Paris visits so as not to be away from her too long. Christmas Eve, of course, has no understanding of why I do this to her periodically, and although she accepts the treatment docilely, she clearly does not like it.
Now the question: Since Christmas has no understanding of death, and no ability to anticipate her demise, or to grasp that she is being kept alive by this process, am I right to inflict it on her, as opposed to having her quietly and painlessly "put to sleep" [as we pet lovers squeamishly describe euthanasia]? There is no question that keeping her alive gives great pleasure to Susie and me, but ought that to count?
I am aware that there are two absolutely non-overlapping groups of people in the world: those who recognize this as a pressing, important question, and those who think I am insane even to think this way. So be it.