Anticipatory grief is grief that arises before a death—when you know it’s coming, but your cat is still alive. On one end of the spectrum, anticipatory grief can cast a shadow over the time you have left with a sick or senior cat. But this “grief in advance” can also be a gift, if we can recognize it and work with it.Continue Reading
As painful as it is, grief is a universal human experience. There isn’t a person on the planet who has not, or will not, experience the loss of a beloved family member. Our culture ranks humans above animals, and therefore, grieving the loss of an animal friend is often not recognized for the painful experience it is. This disenfranchisement can leave people feeling isolated and misunderstood—which compounds the grief.Continue Reading
The loss of a cat is heartbreaking for any guardian, but many are blindsided by the depth and intensity of grief they feel. You’re grieving not only a being, but also a relationship that was unique to you. In addition, cats often with people through entire chapters of their lives. The cat’s death marks the end of an era in the human’s life.Continue Reading
After the death of a beloved cat, it can be hard to believe we could ever open our hearts and homes to another. While it’s true that each cat (and our bond with them) is unique, keeping our hearts closed to future felines means we can wind up dwelling on the loss, rather than exploring new bonds.Continue Reading
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
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
Euthanasia is one of the most excruciating decisions a cat guardian will ever have to make. Part of what makes it so difficult is that our culture has no rituals to mark this transition, nor to grieve the end of a relationship that holds a unique place in our hearts and lives.
In my experience, creating a ritual to say goodbye before euthanasia made a significant difference in my ability to process grief.Continue Reading
This is the second post in a three-part series. Sarah Chauncey is the author of an upcoming book for adults grieving the loss of their cat. We featured part one, Facing the Possibility of Euthanasia, last week. We will feature part three, Creating an End of Life Ritual, next week.
Over the years, I’d been told to “prepare myself” more times than I could count. On two occasions in the previous four years, different vets had given Hedda “weeks to months.” Secretly, I’d started believing that maybe she was immortal.Continue Reading
This is the first post in a three-part series. Sarah Chauncey is the author of an upcoming book for adults grieving the loss of their cat. We will feature part two, Making the Euthanasia Decision, next week, and part three, Creating an End of Life Ritual, the following week.
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
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.
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.
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.
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