How to Cope With Losing a Pet

In one of the stars...

For those of us who share our lives with animals, it’s inevitable that at some point, we will be dealing with losing these beloved friends.  Over the last ten years, I’ve lost three cats, and I’ve helped many clients through pet loss during the years I worked in veterinary clinics.  As a result, I’m often asked how to cope with losing a pet.

Different things work for different people.  Each situation is unique.  Was the death sudden?  Did it come after a prolonged illness?  Was it the first time the person experienced losing a pet?   I share my own experience of dealing with pet loss and grief in Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher, and maybe my readers will find some commonalities with what I went through.  Even though no two people will deal with pet loss in exactly the same way, I’ve found some common things that can help ease the pain at least a little.  I’ll also share some resources at the end of this article that have helped me when I’ve had to deal with grief and loss.

Acknowledge that losing a pet is a very difficult experience.  Many people, especially people who don’t have pets, don’t realize that losing a pet can often be far more difficult than losing a person.  Many of us view our pets as children, especially if we don’t have children of our own.  For most pet owners, losing a pet is very much like losing a child.    Don’t let anyone tell you that you should “get over it,” “it was only an animal,” or, even worse, “you can always get another one.”  Expect to feel the same emotions you would feel after a person close to you dies.  In Elizabeth Kuebler Ross’ model, the five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and eventually acceptance.  Expect that some of these stages may be magnified after losing a pet.

Mark the pet’s passing with some sort of ritual.  It’s important to acknowledge that your pet is gone.  A ritual can be something as elaborate as a memorial service and burial ceremony, or something as simple as lighting a candle in your pet’s memory each night for a little while.

Find supportive family and friends.  Not everyone in your life will be able to handle your grief.  It’s important that you find people who are comfortable with being supportive, can handle letting you cry, listen while you talk about your pet, or who can just quietly sit with you.  Many people don’t know what to do or say when faced with someone who is grieving, so, afraid of saying the wrong thing, they don’t say anything at all.  This can make you feel even more isolated during a difficult time.  Try not to judge people for their inability to handle your grief, and spend more time with those who can.

Allow yourself time to grieve.  There is no way around grief – the only way to deal with grief is to move through it.  If you try to ignore it, it will catch up with you when you least expect it.  You may need to spend an afternoon or an evening crying.  You may not want to distract yourself all the time.  While it’s not healthy to get stuck in your grief, pretending that nothing is wrong is equally unhealthy.  Try and find a balance.

Find things that comfort you.  Whether it’s a walk, music, a favorite book, looking at photos of your pet, or a perfect cup of tea, find small things that provide comfort for you. 

Getting over the loss of a pet takes time, and it takes being gentle with yourself.  If you find that you simply can’t cope, and that even supportive family members or friends aren’t enough to help you get through this difficult time, consider getting professional help.  And know that even though it seems hard to believe when you’re in the middle of grieving the loss of an animal friend, there is truth to the old adage that time heals all wounds.  It does get a little bit easier as time goes on, and one day, upon waking up in the morning, instead of your first thought being about your pet being gone, you’ll find yourself remembering something wonderful about your departed friend.

Resources:

• http://www.veterinarywisdom.com/ is a wonderful site for anyone looking for information on pet loss. The understand that it’s hard to face the future when you know it won’t include your beloved animal companion, and they offer a plethora of resources to prepare for and cope with pet loss, as well as to celebrate and cherish the pets we love.

• http://www.petloss.com/ provides information on how to cope with pet loss, a bulletin board to exchange messages and gain support from others grieving the loss of a pet, healing and inspirational poetry, and links to other internet pet loss sites.

• BooksFor Every Cat an Angel and For Every Dog an Angel by Christine Davis.  These little books are wonderfully illustrated and celebrate the connection between a human and his or her forever cat or dog.

• Music:  Some people find music plays an important part in the healing process.  One particular cd that I have found very helpful anytime I’ve dealt with loss, whether it was an animal or a person, is Beth Nielsen Chapman’s cd Sand and Water.  The singer/songwriter wrote the songs on this album after the loss of her husband to cancer.  The songs on the album reflect the many stages of grieving and healing, and are just as applicable to pet loss as they are to human loss.

• Private Pet Loss Consultation:   I offer phone consultations to help you navigate through your grief.  Sometimes, talking to someone who has experienced this devastating loss can make a difference.  For more information on consultations, click here.

56 Comments on How to Cope With Losing a Pet

  1. Moris Niknam
    September 16, 2015 at 6:30 am (3 years ago)

    I lost my beloved cat, Marie about a month ago about 26 miles away from our home while visiting our vet office. I have lost cats and dogs before and grieved over the death for a period of time, but missing my little girl created a great depression in me that I vave never experienced before. I’ve done so many things to find her but no results yet. Eventhough I will never stop looking for her and lose my faith, the pain of not having her around is so immense. I find myself crying so eaily now (which is good!) and slide into depression more often now. I MISSED HER SO MUCH.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      September 16, 2015 at 7:58 am (3 years ago)

      Oh Moris, I’m so sorry! I always thought that losing a cat in this way is so much worse than when one dies. Don’t give up hope – miracles do happen. My heart goes out to you.

      Reply
      • Moris
        September 16, 2015 at 6:14 pm (3 years ago)

        Thanks so much for your compassion. I will never give up hope.

        Reply
    • Kayla
      December 19, 2017 at 2:11 am (6 months ago)

      My cat Gary had to be put down at 18 and he was and still is my best friend and I’m still in rough shape over his loss. He is going to be stuffed but I can’t afford to do so right now losing him feels like a part of me has been taken from my heart and everyone tells me to get over it and I don’t think anyone understands the connection I had with Gary.

      Reply
      • Ingrid
        December 19, 2017 at 6:07 am (6 months ago)

        I’m so sorry for your loss, Kayla. We never “get over” these significant losses. My heart goes out to you.

        Reply
  2. Karissa
    November 21, 2014 at 2:11 am (4 years ago)

    I lost my sweet 2 1/2 year old baby boy, Boots, yesterday morning. He was a black & white tuxedo cat with beautiful green eyed. He was such a lover, I could pick him up like a rag doll and carry him around. He loved getting kissed and hugs. I raised him from a kitten. I got him a few months after I lost my first cat. He was also 2 & was hit by a car. So we became really close. He was so special to me. He always will be but it just crushes me that I will never see my beautiful sweet boy again. He loved me so much & brought so much joy into my life. The way he died breaks my heart & I can’t help but feel I could have provented it all. About a month & a half ago I noticed he was not peeing normally. He was still able to go but sometimes would only go small amounts. But then it would always get better. Two weeks after that, I noticed he was not really not doing well. He hid, would growl at me and our other cat, and was obviously in pain. So I took him into the vet & they said he had a UTI with an infection & sent us home with meds and prescription wet food. I noticed that night he would lay really stiff and it seemed to me like he was trying to push something from his urethra. That lasted 15 minutes & he was up & purring & rubbing on my leg. I finished his 10 day medication & kept feeding him wet food but a small amount of dry food was always available throughout the day. Well last Saturday night I got home & Boots went straight for my jacket & peed. At the time I thought he was mad at me or just being a brat. We hung out like normal & I went to bed. The next morning I woke up & I noticed he was laying on his side with his leg held up funny. Then I noticed his facial expression. He let me pet him but I could tell he was on some sort of pain. He stayed low key for the afternoon buy by evening I noticed there was blood/urine coming out of his penis. Even when he was just laying there. It was a Sunday night & I don’t have a lot of savings. He seemed okay, just uncomfortable & I thought the blood was from him passing more crystals and was just a result of the irritation. I couldn’t afford a Sunday emergency vet bill. In fact, my mom ended up spending $800 of her own money trying to help Boots. I slept on the couch with him Sunday night, trying to comfort him. I felt so guilty. So at 8am Monday, I called my vet & told them I needed to get him in. After that phone call I watched him throw up. He was growling & whining. Making noices I never want to hear again in my life. He never showed pain until that day. I had to shove him into the carrier & we were off. The vet had to use a catheter three times but they got a good flow going. They kept him overnight to make sure he was good to go in the morning. But the next morning he was plugged again. Then they couldn’t get the catheter in. So they used a needle. I was told if they couldn’t get the catheter in the next morning that they would preform a surgery that would basically turn him into a girl down there. I went & saw him Tuesday afternoon for 30 minutes. Now I wish I would have stayed longer. I kissed his forehead and told him I loved him & wanted him to feel better. I told him he was so special & when he got better he could come home. I rubbed his tired little head & he weakly rested his chin on my fingers. I’ll always remember that last look he gave me when I shut kennel door. He looked so confused and hurt. I feel so guilty leaving him there. The next morning I got to the vet at 7:30 when they open to see him before they started. The vet brought me into the back operating room & told me something had happened. I saw my sweet boy lying there dead with his eyes open and mouth slightly gaping. I felt my heart break in that moment. The vet told me at 7:05am he checked on Boots and pet him. Between then & 5 minutes before I showed up, he was gone. I just missed him. But part of me thinks he didn’t want me to see him suffer anymore. He was in so much pain. I just wish he didn’t have to die all alone in that kennel. He deserved better then that. I feel guilty though for feeding him dry cat food. I feel I caused his UTI and crystals by feeding him a poor diet. I wish I would have had him looked at right away Sunday. Or figured it out Saturday night. I’m just so heartbroken & can’t believe he is actually gone. He was my best friend and my child. I feel broken inside. I feel like I let him down… I just want to hold him again. I want to give him kisses and cuddle him like he always loved. I feel terrible for the pain he suffered and how afraid he was in the kennel. Part of me thinks he gave up because he thought I left him there. I just feel devested. He was a huge part of my life. He helped me get through bad times & gave me so much joy. My poor sweet angel… Rest In Peace, Boots. <3

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 21, 2014 at 7:17 am (4 years ago)

      Oh Karissa, I’m so sorry. What an awful way to loose a cat, and he was so young, too! My heart goes out to you.

      Reply
  3. Lisa
    May 16, 2014 at 5:34 pm (4 years ago)

    Recently our 3 1/2 year old kitty passed. It was so unexpected that we are in shock and absolutely devastated. She was playing and being her normal happy self. Then a few days ago Saru didn’t have an appetite which was very unlike her. She also did not want to play or have any treats. (Really unlike her). My husband and I made an emergency vet visit for her that afternoon. Her temperature was on the low side…. Blood work came back fine. The vet said her heart and lung sounded ok. The vet thought that Saru had a bladder infection as she had some in the past.

    They kept her overnight to get a urine sample because her bladder was empty. I heard from the vet the next morning that kitty still couldn’t pee was was stable and “bossing them all”. The next time I heard from her was in the afternoon. She said that Saru seemed like she was really stressed and she wanted to do a chest X-ray. We headed over to see her after that. When we got there the vet told us that little Saru’s lungs were filled with fluid. They thought she had either cancer or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. By this time she was having a hard time breathing. Gasping for breath and crying in pain. :-(. We made the decision to euthanize after a few hours when the lasix wasn’t helping and she seemed to be getting worse. She showed no signs of anything before this and had no heart murmurs or anything.

    I just am not sure how to get over the guilt I feel. Like I should have known or could have done more. Now we have our other kitty (tornado) who is feeling the effects of not having her around. They came home together on the same day… Were born a week apart and inseparable. Our family especially Tornado lost our best friend 5/14/14. 🙁

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 16, 2014 at 5:37 pm (4 years ago)

      Oh Lisa, I’m so sorry. Losing a cat is always hard, but losing such a young cat so unexpectedly is devastating. You did nothing wrong. Whatever happened clearly came on so fast, it doesn’t sound like there was anything anyone could have done. My heart goes out to you and your husband. And to have to watch Tornado grieve as well must be so difficult. All my best to you as you go through this hard time. Be gentle with yourself.

      Reply
      • nel
        November 3, 2015 at 3:24 pm (3 years ago)

        I really appreciated reading Lisa’s post and your reply. I made the awful decision to euthanize her my 3 year old calico persian on Friday night. She always had the personality of a kitten – constantly playing and moving. Eight weeks ago she became lethargic, lost some of her appetite, stopped playing, began urinating all over the house. We took her to our vet who could find nothing wrong (xrays, urine, blood all negative) and chopped it up to behavior. Over the last several weeks, she became worse and worse. I consulted with a behaviorist and made all of the reccomended changes. The more things I tried to do to address the “behavioral issue,’ like switching to prescription food and changing litter, just made her more upset and the symptoms became worse. After much deliberation, we decided her quality of life was poor. I grew up loving/losing pets, but she is the first pet I’ve lost who was “mine.” My husband has never had a pet and is even more devastated than I am. I could have submitted her for more tests, more blood, more medicine – but I just knew in my heart she would be miserable and that wouldn’t be any quality of life for her. I feel guilty that I didn’t do more. She went downhill so fast – eight weeks – she must have been sick and in pain. I would have hated to subject her to more testing and misery only to have to euthanize her anyway. It wouldn’t have been fair to her to prolong her suffering. She was so timid a normal visit to the vet’s was traumatic – I can only imagine her terror of going through more testing/treatment. Should we have done more? I don’t know. I go through moments where I know I did the right thing and then moments of panic where I feel like we should have done more.

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          November 4, 2015 at 6:36 am (3 years ago)

          I’m so sorry, Nel. From what you’re describing, it sounds to me like you made the right decision for your kitty.

          Reply
  4. Jeff G
    May 8, 2013 at 2:55 am (5 years ago)

    Today we had to bury our precious Thomas. I still well up with tears every time I say it or type it. When I met my wife 6years ago I hated cats. I thought they were animals that just ignored you and left hair everywhere. Boy was I wrong. My wife found Thomas on her door step one morning with a broken leg and crying for her to help. Needless to say she took him in and the two of them were inseparable. I knew that my wife and Thomas came as a package deal and when I asked her to move in with me my only request was that the cat not be allowed in the bedroom so I wouldnt have hair all over my clothes. What I didnt know was that as soon as I left for work my wife would just let him into the bedroom haha. I came home one morning because I forgot something and there Thomas was in bed with my wife cuddling. Needless to say it only took a couple weeks for Thomas to grow on me and to end up in our bed every night. Over the years I grew closer and closer with Thomas until I finally admitted I loved him. In December of 2012, after over 2 years of trying, we found out my wife was pregnant with twins. We were so excited and kept talking about how awesome it would be for Thomas to meet them. At eight weeks my wife miscarried. A week later we took Thomas in for a routine checkup and found out he was very sick. He tested positive for feline leukemia and we just couldnt believe it. He was filled with fluid and we thought we were going to lose him that night. After a few days at the vets we were thrilled that we could bring him home. We took him for weekly chemo treatments and tried our best to make him as comfortable as possible. He did great for a couple months but last week he took a turn for the worst. When we took him into for a checkup this evening we were told the cancer has stopped reacting to the chemo and has spread throughout his chest and up around his heart. After over $10,000 in treatments and three months of chemo we knew it was time to call it quits. My heart is broken and I just dont know how we are going to get past this. I know time will help but right now I cant help but feel like we let him down. He died in our arms tonight and all I could do was ay I am sorry and tell him how much I love him. He was the best pet a person could ask for. He had his routines like going to bed with us, cuddling against my side as I pet him and fall asleep, and then curling around my wife’s head for the rest of the night. The house feels so empty….the bed feels so empty….and my heart feels so heavy. I love you Thomas and I hope when my time comes you will be there waiting for me. Life with you was just better.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 8, 2013 at 6:53 am (5 years ago)

      I’m so sorry about Thomas, Jeff – my heart goes out to you and your wife. What an awful lot of loss for both of you, so close together. Thomas sounds like he was a wonderful companion. Be gentle with yourselves during this hard time. The void these special cats leave when they go is just simply devastating.

      Reply
  5. Taylor
    December 16, 2012 at 8:46 am (6 years ago)

    Me and my gf who I’ve been with for a very long time adopted two cats 7-8 months ago. They are brothers from the same litter (cheetoh and simba). What made these two so special is that not only are they at each others hip and they mesh together so well but each respectively reflect my gf and I. Cheetoh is a lot like me: random, doesn’t listen, does random things, makes you laugh but at the end of the day he’s always there to be there to comfort you. Simba is like my gf: very intelligent, calm, orderly etc. due to some personal problems me and my gf had to find separate places to live and take a break from our relationship yet we talk everyday because we are all we have for each other. Yesterday her roommate without thinking opened the door without checking and cheetoh ran outside and was instantly killed by a car. I wasn’t there. I haven’t even been able to see him in maybe 3 months. And that’s thAts what hurts the most. Just as me and my girlfriend were gonna move back in I wasn’t able to show him my love or even hold him a last time. We considered him the baby brother Becuase of his lack of maturity. And he was idk just like me. Idk I’m just devastated Bc I always took the idea that I’d see him again for granted. And I regret it
    Immensely.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      December 16, 2012 at 9:41 am (6 years ago)

      Oh Taylor, I’m so sorry about Cheetoh! My heart goes out to you. Sudden loss is devastating. To not have had a chance to even say good bye – it’s just so painful. I hope in time, memories of the much too short time you spent with Cheetoh will replace the pain of this loss for you. Be gentle with yourself during this difficult time.

      Reply
      • Taylor
        December 17, 2012 at 12:28 am (6 years ago)

        I just feel so bad because I wasn’t there for him I wasn’t even there to comfort my girlfriend. He was her protector during these months not me. And I feel so bad for simba who is the quiet one, and he’s been searching and searching and all he does is sleep. I feel so bad for them.

        Reply
        • Taylor
          December 17, 2012 at 12:33 am (6 years ago)

          I work third shift and I’m a college student. So my girlfriend had to bury his body himself. Sorry to just vent on the site but I really have noone to talk to about it because we’re trying to keep it from our families until we at least have realized and accepted the situation. My prayers go out to anyone on this site or anyone who suffers loss.

          Reply
        • Ingrid
          December 17, 2012 at 6:43 am (6 years ago)

          I know it’s painful, Taylor, and watching Simba grieve as well must be devastating. Maybe this article by a feline veterinarian will help you with that aspect of the process: http://consciouscat.net/2011/08/01/do-cats-grieve-for-other-cats/

          Sudden loss is much harder to come to terms with than other losses, and my heart goes out to you as you try to come to grips with this.

          Reply
  6. vcs
    July 22, 2012 at 10:56 pm (6 years ago)

    15 months ago, I rescued a litter of kittens (the mother who looks EXACTLY like the one I kept is still a part of the feral colony that lives on our block) The three girl kittens, I found homes for but the little boy just absolutely captured my heart. He and his sister Dixie (the first two I rescued) were very ill with coccidia when I first found them and I had them back and forth to the vet several times. They nearly died 3 times due to the coccidia and the inability to get them properly hydrated. (they would drink but the coccidia caused hydration issues) Finally they were healthy and Dixie went to live with a friend of mine. Aristotle Bowie (he had one eye that was a bit more amber and one that was a bit more green hence the “Bowie”) used to sneak out of the box I kept on my bed so I could get to him easily in the middle of the night for feedings and I would find him snuggled up next to me. Last Tuesday, Ari just crashed. I am injured and as a result cannot drive my car. My roommate came home and rushed us to the vet. Ari’s protein was low, his white cell count was double what it should be and his red cell count was 12%. It was recommended that Ari get a full and complete blood transfusion. I took him to the only vet hospital (I was told) that was capable of doing the transfusion. They wouldn’t even look at him unless I gave them $120 up front. I am not working currently as I was injured on the job and have been in treatment for the injury for 6 months so my funds are extremely limited. I found a vet on Wednesday that would do the transfusion, take payments AND donations and Ari was every day until Friday (they didn’t have 24 hour care so I would go get him and bring him home at night) He wouldn’t sleep on a heating pad (his body temp was 98 where it should have been 102-ish) choosing instead to sleep in the bath tub where he liked to play with his toys (it was like his own little skate park and I had to take the toys out every time I wanted to shower) so I filled the tub with blankets and pillows and spent the week sleeping in there with him to help keep him warm. (i’m pretty tiny). Friday morning at his vet check he was alert and seemed to be improving. I was told that if I could get enough a/d food into him, he would recover (I should add here that the day he was transfused he threw up a 6 inch blood clot and that we knew he was bleeding internally and that it was collecting in his bowels but we never discovered the cause) At about 230 Ari crashed again. He stopped swallowing the food we were feeding him via syringe, his eyes glazed over and he went limp. Thank god for my friend Karen who was with me. We rushed him back to the vet where they were literally only able to obtain 2 drops of blood from him to see what was going on/ His red cell count had gone down to 6% and he wasn’t producing bone marrow. I held Ari in my arms and told him how much I love him as the vet gave him meds and listened for his heart beat. Ari couldn’t move but his eyes shifted to me and I told him it was ok, I love him and it was ok to go that I would be ok. He took one final breath, moved his paw to touch my cheek and was gone. Ari was the sweetest little guy you would ever come across and I just cannot get it together. The other critters in the house (3 other cats and a dog) are all grieving and I can’t be there for them. My injury has developed into a nerve disorder I may be disabled for the rest of my life. Truly Ari was the only happy thing in my life (My other cat Killyan is a bit anti-social and though she’s grieving she really isn’t the crawl into your lap and love on you type) and I am having such a terrible time dealing. 7 days after he passed, I had surgery and while I was in the hospital (it was outpatient) Karen (again a hero) picked up Ari’s ashes for me. I can’t even bring myself to get out of bed anymore. It was hard enough dealing with the injury/disorder but I was dealing – sort of- because Ari was such a little lovie comedian now, I’m disappointed every day when I open my eyes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT suicidal I just have no quality of life anymore and my little fur baby being gone is just one kick in the face too much. In the listed website, Ari is the kitty being spooned and Dixie is the spooner as it were. Dixie and her sisters are all alive still and healthy.

    To all of you who have lost pets…from the bottom of my heart, I am so sorry for your loss…I don’t know how you’ve made it through because I’m not sure how I will… </3

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 23, 2012 at 6:39 am (6 years ago)

      Oh VCS, my heart hurts for you! I’m so very sorry about your loss. I hope that in time, you can find comfort from your other critters, but I know that right now, all you want is Ari back. Just like all the others who have posted on here, you will make it through even though I know it doesn’t seem like it right now. You’re in my thoughts and prayers.

      Reply
    • kurt
      July 23, 2012 at 9:37 am (6 years ago)

      you can see my post farther up. it does get easier i lost my three boys within two months it got easier once we buried them but it took me awhile to get over them two of them were leukemia cats and one just passed away without any warning at all other then him walking up the hill and not movin to well going up that hill. Once you give him his final resting place it will get easier we buried all three of them together once spring came as they were all close even though two fought constantly. it isn’t easy losing a cat to sickness that i know i hated seeing my two boys crash one i was there for when he stroked out one i didn’t make it to in time for him to go. I felt awful for two months because I missed the brother passing he was calling for me and I wasn’t there for him in time. it will get easier my advice is to focus on your other animals believe it or not they will comfort you more then you think if you let them. The last one to pass he because the leader of the two girls i have inside they wouldn’t eat till after he passed away and when he did finally go and they said their good bye they comforted me a great deal without them and all the happy times i had with the two brothers I would have been a real wreck. I grew very close to my two in the short time we had them. The big brother always liked to swat my two girls on the rump when they were playing around so I just think of him being a little womanizer in heaven now where he can grab all the girls he wants I do miss them dearly though him and his bed hogging his little brother and being insistent on being on my chest whether I wanted him to be there or not. I took photoes of them all i could and I look at them from time to time it does get easier just focus on your other pets and they will help you recover from his lose.

      Reply
      • VCS
        July 27, 2012 at 9:40 pm (6 years ago)

        Thank you both very much…

        My roommates and friends keep telling me (literally) ‘wait 6 weeks and Ari will come back to you’. A few people wanted to give me ‘a new kitten” the same day Ari left! It was cruel but I asked them how they would feel if their kid died and I asked them why they didn’t just have another one?

        Reincarnation…the reincarnation of Ari into my life would be a wonderful blessing but it still wouldn’t be MY Ari you know. I cannot count the number of hours he spent sleeping in my arms and all of the little details about him that I thought were so beautiful and amazing, like the fact that he had 3 ‘freckles’ on each side of his nose forming little pyraminds and that he was a marbled AND stripped tabby and when he slept (always on his back like a human baby) his little fangs would stick out like a little vampire kitty lol…

        Killyan – my antisocial cat (she’s female and I’m told that females are just that way) is not by any means lovie but she’s definitely wanting to be around me more…which I suppose is the only positive in this situation…but I never bottle fed her so the ‘parent/child like’ bond isn’t there but I love her as much as Aristotle.

        I’m hitting that angry stage too…REALLY angry. The other night I went outside and was yelling at the sky FIRST YOU SCREW UP MY BODY AND NOW YOU TAKE MY CAT WTF! Today we drive by the vet place that wanted $1700 before treating them and I cursed them out as we drove past…I can’t seem to help it.

        Ugh, I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy…not on anyone… Thank you for your responses… I have decided to find a way to honor Ari and help other critically ill pets…not sure exactly what I will do or how with the injury I’m dealing with, but eventually, Ari’s loss will help others…and hopefully other people won’t feel the way I do.

        Kurt – my heart goes out to you…If Killy left me now, I don’t think I would even be coherent enough to post on this site. Thank you all…really.

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          July 28, 2012 at 6:14 am (6 years ago)

          I know it’s hard right now, VCS. It sounds like Kyllian is trying to comfort you. I know it’s not the same as having Ari with you, but I’m glad that you have her with you.

          I don’t know if you’ve looked at any of the other articles in the pet loss section on this site, maybe this one will give you some ideas on how to meorialize Ari: http://consciouscat.net/2012/07/18/memorializing-your-cat/

          Reply
          • kurt
            July 28, 2012 at 10:31 am (6 years ago)

            I can tell you right now its not normal for females to be antisocial some cats are some cats aren’t i had a male that was very antisocial since he was part of the colony but he slowly came around i have 2 females one won’t leave me alone when i have my days off from work she insists on being on my lap as much as possible till i get sick of her anyway shes such a pest. Everyone deals with their pets differently I broke down each time one passed away but that was it for me when i found my male dead in the wrong house i broke down and couldn’t bare putting him in a bag myself my dad had to help me with that. When the little brother went he stroked out in my arms and that hit me really hard but I didn’t break down like I did with his brother I just took care of him right away and didn’t sleep that night. With his brother I broke down on the ride home because I wasn’t with him when he passed and he was calling for me. As you can see even we handle each death differently as do the cats. My two females refused to eat while the big brother wasn’t eating he had turned into their leader. They held their own little moment of silence for the male that died outside and for the little brother they watched over him like hawks to make sure he was taken care of till he passed. The fact that your female is comforting you means that is her way of handling the grief is by being there for you. That is what you need to focus on to make this easier is your other cat because she wants to comfort you as did my two.

  7. RLRAFFELAHAV
    July 22, 2012 at 11:36 am (6 years ago)

    I lost my Bengal cat Romy of 7 yeas this past Thursday. He entered our lives unexpectedly. He was light when my wife and I needed him. We named him Romeo the lover. All he ever really wanted to do was lay in bed with me or my wife or find a comfortable place on my lap. I had found him on the side of a road one night as I watced him almost be run over by another car.
    Although he was never 100 percent healthy when we found him(a small mass on his neck and a consistent runny nose) that never stopped him from enjoying life. We had taken him for multiple trips to they vet yet they could not shed light on the cause for his health issues.
    He enjoyed being with us at all times and his desire for love and affection is what I miss most writing this now. The next 6 and half years with him he was ours and we were his.
    However this past wednesay I noticed him breathing with some difficulty. It was late at night and I was unsure whether to bring him to the vet that night. I decided to watch him that evening. He seemed slightly better in the morning and I took him to work with me that day, wanting to make sure his breathing would return to normal. It did not get much by the afternoon and I then took him to the vet. within 15 minutes the vet was telling me that they had him on CPR and whether I wanted to have them resuscitate him. It is now 3 days later and it is a total blur. I am still in shock and feel sadness, loneliness, and guilt.
    I remind myself of all the love and happiness but keep running through my mind could I have done something differently ? He was an older cat when we found him(probably 4 or 5 I was told) . He was always more of a sleeper than jumper so his inactivity did not surprise alarm me as he got older.
    The fact that he left so quickly I feel is what is hurting the most. He spent his last hours with me before the vet and that I am grateful for. But I just feel like he’s gone and I’m not totally sure what he was suffering from. The vet says he may have had cancer or something may have ruptured internally.
    Right now I just so sad. I miss him in the house. I miss seeing him walk around, feeding him, having him on my lap, sitting next to me or walk up to my leg for some affection. I hope as they say time heals all wounds because right now I just feel really wounded. I love you Romy.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 22, 2012 at 12:13 pm (6 years ago)

      I’m so sorry about Romy – my heart goes out to you. Losing a cat so suddenly is devastating, and not knowing what happened only adds to the pain. I wish there was something I could say that would make you feel better right now, but there really isn’t. Even though it seems impossible, the pain will lessen over time. Be gentle with yourself as you mourn Romy. I wish for you that in time, memories of your time together will start replacing the time of missing him.

      Reply
      • RL
        July 22, 2012 at 7:05 pm (6 years ago)

        Thank you and to anyone else reading or posting on this site going through a loss my heart goes out to you.

        Reply
  8. christian
    April 25, 2012 at 11:55 am (6 years ago)

    though the past few years i have lost all of my big dogs and cats. but the one who really got to me was the recent passing of my best friend Quintilius Varus or Quinti for short. that day when our friend called us to let us know that he passed was quite the shock to me and my family. everyday that i think of him and the others i start to cry because they all were my best friends and their passes really got to me as well. they all died of some type of cancer, well the one female (Xandra) that we had passed from bone cancer so suddenly back in 2002 when i was in the third grade.what was a small tiny bump on her hind leg bone later turned into a bigger one. not even three weeks later she collapsed in the back yard twice and that was it next thing i know is that we were heading to the vet clinic to have her out to sleep. i was not as as sad as my mom was cause after all she was my moms girl. then on day i was in school when it really really hit me. i cried my eyes out the whole week and then still to this day i cry about it .i am sorry that i am only talking about two of my many dogs! i am only 17 years old and delt with alot of my animals passing and me crying.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      April 25, 2012 at 1:35 pm (6 years ago)

      I’m so sorry about Quniti, Christian, and about all your other losses. That’s a lot of grief at such a young age – my heart goes out to you.

      Reply
      • christian
        April 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm (6 years ago)

        thank you and my heart goes out to and the others who have posted on here as well

        Reply
  9. Kurt
    February 16, 2012 at 6:03 am (6 years ago)

    I am glad I found this website i just lost my 2 year old cat to feline leukemia last night he died in my arms after what looked like 2 strokes one right before he died and one a couple hours earlier I hate this because I was so close to him I have been medicating him and taking care of him for a little over a week since he was diagnosed he was just to little to pull through. I guess now I have a major case of the “what ifs” wondering if there was something I could have done to get him through it like spending more time with him or wondering if I had noticed earlier that he had quit eating and drinking that maybe he could have made it or maybe I was to rough with his little body and he just couldn’t pull through. I hate feeling like this wondering if there was anything i could have done differently that would have allowed him to pull through the leukemia and live a happy life with his brother.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 16, 2012 at 6:39 am (6 years ago)

      I’m so sorry for your loss, Kurt. It’s inevitable to go through the “what it’s” when we lose a beloved cat; we always think there had to be something more we could have done. It sounds like you did the best you could, even if right now, that doesn’t seem like enough. You were with him when he died, and he knew he was loved in those final moments. I hope in time, you can find comfort in that, and in the memories you have of him.

      Reply
      • Kurt
        April 26, 2012 at 9:47 am (6 years ago)

        I lost his brother 2 weeks after him as well turns out they were to far gone in the leukemia stage to be saved unfortunately I did not make it to the vet in time to be with his brother when he passed and he was calling for me bellowing horribly but was gone when the vet hung up the phone to tell me to come get him. If you have a cat with leukemia and he looks bad my advice is get them to the vet asap and maybe it will help unfourtunately the liquids and iv didn’t help him or I wasn’t able to get him to the vet fast enough he only lasted a week.

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          April 26, 2012 at 11:11 am (6 years ago)

          Oh Kurt, I’m so sorry! What a devastating loss.

          Reply
  10. Elizabeth
    November 3, 2011 at 2:41 pm (7 years ago)

    Hi Ingrid….I just came across your website…while looking for something on the internet for advice on how to deal with a cat that’s gone missing. I feel tremendous guilt right now – as I let my black cat “Willy” stay outside the Friday night before Halloween weekend. I don’t know how I could be so naive…to think that would be ok. I just thought I needed to worry about Halloween day – not the weekend before.

    Anyway….its now Thursday and its almost one week. My heart is in shreds every time I look out on the patio or come home (he would normally greet me at the car) and he’s still not there. I’ve even dreamed about seeing him again. Its extremely painful – as I really don’t know what to tell myself. And – I’m sure my friends are getting sick of hearing me talk about it. I can’t stop crying.

    I did have an ID chip in him but not a collar – as his collars always came off. I just wish I could go back to Friday night of last week and scoop him up and take him into my house…..

    How does anyone ever get past this? 🙁

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      November 3, 2011 at 2:53 pm (7 years ago)

      Oh Elizabeth, I’m so sorry! My heart goes out to you. Not knowing what happened to Willy, in a lot of ways, is a far more difficult loss than having a pet die.

      Don’t give up hope just yet. I’m sure you’ve done everything you can from flyers to calling veterinary clinics and shelters in your area to posting pictures of him on Facebook. He may still come back to you.

      I wish I could tell you how to get past this – but I’m not sure anybody can really get past something like this. I think the best you can hope for is that eventually, you’ll find peace – and that, I believe, will happen in time. Eventually, the pain of missing him will be replaced by memories of your time together, but right now, it just hurts. You’re in my thoughts and prayers.

      Reply
  11. Briana
    March 30, 2011 at 10:42 pm (7 years ago)

    Hey Ingrid, it’s me Briana again. Sadly, my 7 month old kitten Akira has gone missing for about two weeks with no sign of her from anywhere. I’ve been searching for her during the mornings and night but my mom says it’s useless. How am I going to cope with my asthma and my slight depression now? I mean she was the only thing in my life that really kept me going and now she’s gone and I don’t even want to come home afterschool but I do since I still have my 2 dogs to take care of. I’ll still keep looking out for her though. I don’t want to lose my kitty after six whole years without one.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      March 31, 2011 at 6:36 am (7 years ago)

      Oh Briana, I’m so sorry about Akira! My heart goes out to you. When a pet goes missing, the emotions can be the same we feel when a pet has died, and in a lot of ways, not knowing what happened can make the grief worse.

      Don’t give up yet, though. Keep looking for her. Have you posted flyers in your neighborhood with Akira’s photo and information? Did you call your local shelters? Put an ad in your local paper. There is a website where you can post information about a lost pet, the link is http://www.oliveralert.com. If you’re on Facebook, post her photo with a description and ask your friends to share.

      Reply
      • Briana
        April 1, 2011 at 7:38 pm (7 years ago)

        I have called my local animal shelter but they don’t have her. Also, I’ll post her up on FaceBook and see if my friends will be nice enought to help and look. And I’ve been asking around my neighborhood but everyone says no. PPlus, I’ve already sadly seen two dead cats and it’s just saddening me more.

        Reply
  12. Ingrid
    February 9, 2010 at 8:06 am (8 years ago)

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Patrick. I think those sudden, unexpected losses are the worst – it’s such a shock, from one moment to the next, your life has changed irrevocably. Even though noone can feel what you’re feeling – your relationship with Misty was special – there are people who do understand what you’re going through. When we take these wonderful animals into our lives, we unfortunately open ourselves to the pain of eventually losing them.

    I hope that in time, your pain of missing Misty will be replaced with memories of your time together.

    I have some additional articles on my other site that may help you cope with your loss:
    http://ingridking.com/category/pet-loss/

    I’ve also found Christine Davis’ Pet Loss Comfort site helpful:
    http://www.lightheartedpress.com/pet-loss/pet-loss-support.html

    Reply
  13. Patrick
    February 9, 2010 at 4:39 am (8 years ago)

    My 12 year old cat Misty died a little over a month ago. I still feel the hole in my heart over the loss of my little boy. Guilt remains. He died suddenly, I heard him moan from the next room, a sound I never heard before in my life, I didn’t even realize it came from him right away, the sound was unrecognizable. when I got to him he passed. Lifeless on the floor.
    I really expected him to live til 20, I took him for granted, he seemed healthy. I haven’t been dealing with this to well.
    It was me and him against the world, no matter how rotten people were to you in your life, there was always Misty and I together at the end of the day. Now it’s an empty home. I never expected the pain to be this powerful at losing him.
    I don’t want another cat, I want my cat back.
    It feels better to post this with fellow pet owners. TY for reading.

    Reply
  14. Ingrid
    February 1, 2010 at 7:57 am (8 years ago)

    I am so sorry for your loss, Dannielle. The shock of the unexpected and sudden nature of your loss makes this devastating. My heart goes out to you and your partner. Jonsey sounds like she was a delightful, loving, happy cat – and to have her torn from your lives in this way must feel like your heart was ripped out. I wish there were words that can take this pain away. Please know that you’re in my thoughts. Be gentle with yourself during this difficult time.

    Reply
  15. Dannielle
    February 1, 2010 at 5:35 am (8 years ago)

    We lost our little 9 month old cat( Jonsey) yesterday 31/02/10 to a reaction to the annastetic.We wanted to have her spayed/nutere.I just assumed everything would be ok ,we would take her home give here plenty of love and she would recover from her operation I didnt know about this reaction that animals could have to the annastetic .I didnt know this could happen.Jonsey was such an individual very loving and never meowed loved to purrrr.loved attention.My partner will be at home this afternoon reading his paper lounging on the sofa and she wont be there to hop up on to his chest and crumpel
    up his paper wanting pets and her rub.Last night we sat down and had a cry together.We just did not see this coming.

    Reply
  16. karen
    September 26, 2009 at 3:00 pm (9 years ago)

    Hi Ingrid, thank you for this thoughtful and well-written article.

    Reply
  17. Ingrid
    August 10, 2009 at 1:57 pm (9 years ago)

    I’m so sorry about Miss Girl, Tammy. Even knowing that she wouldn’t be able to make the trip and transition, it still must have been so painful to make this decision for her. At the same time, I’m sure knowing that she’s buried near other animals of yours must bring some comfort. I’m glad you and your husband can share memories of Miss Girl as you settle into your new house. Even though her physical energy wasn’t part of the new house, she will become a part of it by living on in your hearts.

    Reply
  18. Tammy
    August 10, 2009 at 1:29 pm (9 years ago)

    My husband and I had to euthanize our little Miss Girl just over two weeks ago. It was a heart-wrenching decision, but we know we did the right thing for her. We moved away from our home in Colorado only a few days after her passing, and the trip and transition would not have gone well for our little Girl.

    We buried her at a farm where I had lived for about 10 years. She is near other animals of mine, and my friends who still live there. On the same day of her euthanasia and burial, their dog, Emma died. (I actually found her. It was a very traumatic day.) Miss Girl and Emma were buried side by side.

    We miss her very much. It seems to help both my husband and I to talk about her quite a bit. Moving away from where we’d lived with her was actually well-timed. All of our memories in that house are gone as we transition to our new place without Miss G.

    Thanks for writing about this very difficult topic with such sensitivity and care!

    Reply
  19. Ingrid
    August 5, 2009 at 7:18 pm (9 years ago)

    I’m sorry about your losses, Debbi. It’s comforting to know that our departed feline friends live on in our hearts, but it still hurts when we miss their physical presence.

    Reply
  20. Debbi Docherty
    August 5, 2009 at 7:12 pm (9 years ago)

    Within the past 6 years, I’ve lost two and they were both, somewhat, unexpected. Both of my cats were very young when they died, one was expected and the other wasn’t, so much and I didn’t have the chance to say good bye to either. I still cry and grieve for them and I re-visit photo albums to remind me of how awesome they were. They both will leave a permanent imprint on my heart. Time does heal and you can’t let other tell you how you should feel or respond to the loss. Those are people who haven’t experienced it and won’t understand. Find people who do. They are comforting. Thanks Ingrid!

    Reply
  21. BrewCityTails
    August 5, 2009 at 4:54 pm (9 years ago)

    This is a very important post. I think it’s so essential that people let themselves grieve over the loss of a pet just as they would over that of another person.

    Another great resource that your readers might consider is reading the book “The Healing Art of Pet Parenthood” by Nadine M. Rosin. It’s a memoir of Nadine’s 19 year journey with her dog Buttons and is really a heartfelt story that every pet parent can relate to, right up to Buttons’ death. You should check it out if you haven’t already.

    Nadine also has a website http://www.thehealingartofpetparenthood.com where you can link to her blog and online vendots where you can buy the book.

    Reply
  22. Ingrid
    August 5, 2009 at 3:45 pm (9 years ago)

    I’m glad you found my post helpful, Corinne. I love how Sal found you. These animals often know better than we do what’s best for us, don’t they?

    Reply
  23. Corinne
    August 5, 2009 at 12:07 pm (9 years ago)

    Thank you for this wonderful post Ingrid. It really offers sound advice to help people get through the loss of a furry member of the family.

    Estee, I am so very sorry for your and your daughter’s loses. It must feel overwhelming at times. Take comfort in the memories of the pets and the purrs and know that you did all you could.

    I think guardian angels must give us a special fur baby whether we think we need or want it at the time. Two weeks after my Brewster passed I thought I just couldn’t have another cat in my life it seemed too painful. And then out of no where Sal showed up at the front door…

    Reply
  24. Ingrid
    August 5, 2009 at 10:59 am (9 years ago)

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Estee. It sounds like you had a very difficult year. Losing Akira the way you did and not being able to say good-bye makes this loss even more difficult. I am glad that KitKat found you – while it will not make the loss of Akira any easier, it must help to have this little one to care for.

    Maybe some of the resources I listed at the bottom of my article can help you. My heart goes out to you.

    Reply
  25. estee
    August 5, 2009 at 10:33 am (9 years ago)

    I lost my beloved cat, Akira. She was only 16mnths old and was diagnosed with Sarcoma, she was tested =ve for feline leukemia soon after I got her from the breeder. Akira infected my other Rex, Shiloh and infact discovered they had feline leukemia when I insisted the vet tested her. I went through a very traumatic time with Shiloh, who now is in remission. Akira was diagnosed mid january 2009, again when I insisted that something was wrong with her, constant coughing as soething was obstructing her airway. Anyway after we tried everything, chemo and what not all, she lost the battle and opted for euthenasia whilst she was under anesthetic(diagnostic tests were done and they discovered tumors in the stomach and everywhere.) I never said goodbye to her, I was at work when the vet called me with the devastating news and I could not say goodbye to her. She died in March and I so much miss her, I feel I let her down, i have read “Don’t weep for me”so many times and find some comfort in it as I know how much babycat suffered. A few weeks ago I found a little kitten, barely 3 weeks old, severely dehydrated in my front garden. As if she was placed there. Kitkat is a reincarnation of Akira, with streetcat manners 🙂 , this is helping as it distracting my mind, but I still have days that I am so emotionally so fragile and it is very difficult to talk about her as people struggle to relate with your pain. Then my daughters Rex died(from the same breeder) a very sudden and unexpected death. we had our year of shedding tears, experiencing so much pain and devastation. It is not easy and it is more difficut to find someone that can relate to your loss.

    Reply

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  1. […] two people will deal with pet loss in exactly the same way. But there are some things that can help ease the pain of loss. Finding ways to memorialize a cat who has passed on can be an important part of the healing […]

  2. […] no two people will deal with pet loss in exactly the same way. But there are some things that can help ease the pain a little. Finding ways to memorialize a cat who has passed on can be an important part of the healing […]

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