PAUL Throssell's family knew that Coco's end was near and had started to prepare for her death.
With a mouth cancer eating away at her jaw, the family had plans for their pet cat of 13 years to be euthanised at home among loved ones and buried in his backyard in West Launceston with lifelong cat companion Atara.
Mr Throssell said Coco had lived an interesting life.
He said his father had adopted her as a stray - described as a scrap of flesh and bones - from the Karoola area more than 10 years ago.
Mr Throssell said the family never got the chance of a proper farewell after Coco went missing on Wednesday.
He said calls over two days to the RSPCA's Mowbray shelter - met by automated messages - ended with the discovery that Coco had been received by the shelter, euthanised and her body destroyed.
"I never thought that the RSPCA would make a decision to kill and dispose of a pet so quickly," Mr Throssell said.
"It would have been clear that this was somebody's loved pet.
"We were preparing to have Coco euthanised with her family around her - not in a cold and sterile environment.
"She may not have had a long life to live but she deserved a better ending to her life than that."
Shelter manager Lorraine Hamilton said the cat was not wearing identification and was not microchipped when it arrived at the shelter.
She said a Mowbray vet had determined that the cat be euthanised on humanitarian grounds, owing to its emaciated state and jaw injuries.
"It was the vet's decision to make, not ours," Ms Hamilton said.
She said if the cat had been microchipped, shelter staff would have been able to contact the Throssell family within five minutes of Coco coming to the shelter.