Pet Loss

Euthanasia Guilt: How to Deal With Your Feelings

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Guest post by Sarah Chauncey

For several days after the vet gently stopped my 20-year-old cat Hedda’s heart, I couldn’t get past the feeling that Hedda didn’t want to die, or at least, she wanted it to happen in her own time, naturally.Continue Reading

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In Home Euthanasia: A Better End of Life Experience

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Making a decision about whether it’s time to let a beloved pet go is one of the hardest things anyone loving a cat will have to go through. What can compound the difficulty of the decision is that most cats don’t like going to the vet’s. Having the euthanasia performed in the comfort of your home, perhaps even in one of your cat’s favorite spots, can help make saying goodbye a more peaceful experience for both cat and human.Continue Reading

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Saying Goodbye to My Cat: A Tribute to Hedda

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Written by Sarah Chauncey

Sarah Chauncey is the author of a book for adults grieving the loss of their cat. This post comes in 3 parts. Click to jump to the different parts, or read the story in its entirety.

  1. Part One: Facing the Possibility of Euthanasia
  2. Part Two: Making the Euthanasia Decision
  3. Part Three: Creating an End-of-Life Ritual

Part One: Facing the Possibility of Euthanasia

In the wee hours of a winter Friday morning in 2016, I had a nightmare: My 20-year-old black cat, Hedda, was having a seizure. Diarrhea was flying everywhere. Her green eyes stared at me, terrified, as her body convulsed. I was powerless to help her.

I was awakened by the usual 6am swat to the mouth that indicated Hedda wanted her medicine and breakfast. I rubbed a dose of transdermal painkillers on the inside of her ears, got up to put out fresh food and water, then went back to bed.Continue Reading

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A Tribute to Velouria

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Earlier this week, Jackson Galaxy had to say goodbye to his beloved Velouria. Velouria was a part of Jackson’s life for 25 years. She was there when Jackson first started working with cats, and she was a part of Jackson’s cat journey for all those years.

“For almost half my life, we have been a team,” wrote Jackson on his Facebook page. “She has been with me literally from the beginning of my cat journey; it can even be said that she was the beginning.”

In a 2012 interview with Jackson, he told me about how this beautiful tabby girl came into his life. Jackson had just started working at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley. He had recently lost his beloved boy Grolsch, who was rescued from a barn in Iowa in the middle of a blizzard, to FIP. One day, someone left a box with two kittens outside the shelter’s door. One of the kittens looked just like Grolsch.

“No way,” Jackson told me during that interview. “I didn’t want to adopt a kitten. That’s just not a cool thing to do when you work at a shelter, and there are all these older cats looking for homes.” But Velouria reminded him so much of Grolsch that he realized that resistance was futile. When he adopted her, he thought she was a kitten, but she was actually somewhere between one and three years old. She was a tiny cat all her life, weighing in at barely six pounds.

“The first time I touched this cat, the softness of her coat had me singing her name, Velouria, from one of my favorite bands, The Pixies,” wrote Jackson on his tribute to Velouria on Facebook.

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Photo by Susan Weingartner

During that same 2012 interview, I asked Jackson to tell me one favorite thing about each of his fur kids. This is what he said about Velouria:  “Her resilience. She’s shown me how to teach others that a cat can change and go from victim to being an amazing, confident cat.”

Velouria will live on in Jackson’s work, and, in light of the above quote, it seems more fitting than ever that she was chosen to be on the cover of Jackson’s newest book, Total Cat Mojo.

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My heart goes out to Jackson. It’s always hard to lose a cat, but losing a “soul cat” like Velouria is devastating. When a cat shared your life for as long as Velouria was a part of Jackson’s, it takes time to find one’s bearings again. And while 25 years may seem like a long life for a cat, we all know that no amount of time is ever long enough for that kind of love.

Rest easy, sweet Velouria.

Photo at top of post by Kate Benjamin

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Review: Staying Strong for Smokey

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This post contains affiliate links*

Losing a beloved cat is often a child’s first experience with the death of a family member. Depending on a child’s age, death and euthanasia can be difficult concepts to grasp, and parents may find themselves at a loss as to how to help their grieving child. Staying Strong for Smokey, written by veterinarian Corey Gut, DVM, with guidance from an elementary school counselor and child therapist, addresses this difficult topic.Continue Reading

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Coping With the Pain of Losing a Cat: A Round Up of Resources That Can Provide Comfort

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Even if our cats live into their late teens and sometimes early twenties, it’s just not long enough. The price we pay for sharing our lives with these wonderful companions is that sooner or later, we will experience the pain of loss, and it can be as devastating. Joelle Nielsen, a veterinary social worker at the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, says she often compares the loss of a pet to the loss of a child or a close family member. Nielsen says the big difference between losing a pet, compared to losing a human, is that “much of society is not aware of the strength of the human-animal bond, so pet loss is often seen as ‘disenfranchised loss,’ meaning it is not socially recognized.”Continue Reading

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Grow a Loving Memory with The Living Urn™

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This post is sponsored by The Living Urn™

Losing a beloved cat is devastating, no matter what the circumstances. Grief is a very individual experience, and no two cat guardians will grieve in exactly the same way. Rituals can play an important role in the healing process. There is something about acknowledging grief through a tangible action that can help soothe raw emotions.

Rituals can take many different forms. The best ritual is the one that has the most meaning for you. To me, one of the most beautiful rituals to honor the memory of a beloved cat is to plant a tree in her memory. Continue Reading

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Coping with Pet Loss: Rituals Can Help

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Losing a beloved cat is devastating, no matter what the circumstances. Grief is a very individual experience, and no two cat guardians will grieve in exactly the same way. Rituals can play an important role in the healing process. There is something about acknowledging grief through a tangible action that can help soothe raw emotions.

Rituals can take many different forms. The best ritual is the one that has the most meaning for you. Find something that resonates with you, and add your own personal expression to it.Continue Reading

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Euthanasia: A Vet’s Perspective

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Guest post by Elizabeth Colleran, DVM

The software we use in my practices will color code appointments by “reason for visit.” The one for euthanasia is, as one would expect, a very dark color. A few weeks ago, I came to work. As usual, I looked at the schedule before rounds to see any issues that needed to be covered before we convened. My heart sank. The first two appointments of the day were euthanasias.

While in many respects, I think of euthanasia as a privilege to perform when suffering is the alternative, nevertheless, Continue Reading

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Euthanasia: When is the Right Time to Say Goodbye?

Making a decision about whether or when the time is right for euthanasia is one of the hardest things someone loving a pet will ever go through. Unlike human medicine, veterinary medicine is fortunate to be able to legally offer the option of gently ending suffering when there seems to be no hope for recovery. It is a difficult decision to make at best, and it can be nearly impossible for some pet owners. There are so many factors that play into it. The term that is used the most in this context is “quality of life.” But what does that really mean? Are there hard and fast rules as to what constitutes good quality of life? Of course not. Quality of life means something different for every person, and for every animal.

There are some fairly obvious markers. Pain is one of them. No pet owner wants to see a beloved pet suffer. Animals, especially cats, are masters at masking pain, so this can be difficult to detect. Another marker is appetite. For most pet owners, the first indication that something is wrong is usually when a pet stops eating. A third important marker is dignity. Is the pet still able to relieve herself on her own, or does she need assistance with urination and defecation?

But even these three markers are not always helpful when trying to make a decision. Pain can be managed with medication. Some pets stop eating or eat very little but are still happy and are enjoying life. And who is to say that the dog that needs assistance with being carried outside to urinate or the cat who needs help to get into the litter box and needs to be cleaned off afterwards does not appreciate this level of care from his loving human and is otherwise happy and content?  Each pet is different, and each relationship between human and animal is unique.  There is no one right answer.

It is often said that making the decision to euthanize a pet is the final gift of love we can give our animals. I wholeheartedly believe that, but it still does not make the decision process any easier. Love and denial can be intricately linked, and it can sometimes be difficult to separate one from the other.

It is often said that we will just “know” when the time is right.  And I believe that when we do connect with the essence of our animals and manage to set aside worry and fear for even just a few moments at a time, we will know.  It takes courage to set aside our fears, and to tune in to the animal and really “hear”  them.  Ultimately, the only way any of us can make this decision is by listening to our animal friends with our hearts, not with our heads. It becomes a decision of love, not something to be reasoned out on an analytical and intellectual level.

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Euthanasia: Should You Stay With Your Cat, or Not?

sick cat

Making a decision about whether or when the time is right for euthanasia is one of the hardest things cat guardians will ever go through. I’ve previously written about what can help a cat guardian make this difficult decision. But once you have made the decision, there are still more things to consider.

One is location. I am a firm advocate of in home euthanasia. I’m always surprised when I hear from my readers that, until they read Buckley’s Story, they had no idea that having a pet euthanized at home was even an option. There are few veterinarians who offer home euthanasia. Those that do generally don’t advertise the fact, but some will come to your home when asked. Housecall veterinarians can be a good option for in home euthanasias. The In Home Pet Euthanasia Directory can help you locate a veterinarian who performs in home euthanasia in your area.

Another decision you will need to make is whether you want to be with your cat during the euthanasia, Continue Reading

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