Pet Loss

A Tribute to Velouria

velouria-jackson-galaxy

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.

Jackson_Galaxy
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.

Total-Cat-Mojo-Jackson-Galaxy

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

Review: Staying Strong for Smokey

staying-strong-for-smokey

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

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

pet-loss

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

Grow a Loving Memory with The Living Urn™

living-urn-tree

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

When a Client’s Cat Dies: A Tribute to Belle

Belle

As a Reiki Practitioner, I rarely work with young, healthy animals. Most of my feline (and canine) clients suffer from degenerative diseases. Some are terminally ill. Reiki can help bring healing and balance to these animals by reducing stress, providing pain relief, alleviating side effects of conventional treatments, and strengthening the immune system.

Unfortunately, working with older animals also makes it inevitable that eventually, I’m going to lose these clients. Continue Reading

Coping with Pet Loss: Rituals Can Help

cat_collage

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

Euthanasia: A Vet’s Perspective

cat_euthanasia

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

Euthanasia: Knowing When to Say Goodbye

euthanasia-when-to-say-goodbye

Making a decision about whether or when the time is right for euthanasia is one of the hardest things a cat guardian 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. However, making this decision for a beloved cat can be agonizing.

A number of guidelines can help with the decision process.

Quality of life

There are several markers that can be used to determine whether your cat still has good quality of life. Pain is usually the first one cat guardians consider. No cat guardian wants to see a beloved cat suffer. Cats are masters at masking pain, so this can be difficult to detect. Adequate pain control is one of the most important concerns in a terminally ill cat. Another marker is appetite. Is the cat still eating enough? Can she eat on her own, or does she need assistance, such as a feeding tube? Another important marker is dignity. Is the pet still able to relieve herself on her own, or does she need assistance with urination and defecation?

A terminally ill cat will have good days and bad days. Do the good days still outweigh the bad? Does the cat still express joy and interest in her surroundings? Does she respond to family members?

Work closely with your cat’s veterinarian

Your cat’s veterinarian will be one of your most valuable resources when it comes to making this difficult decision. He or she can advise you on what your medical options are for your terminally ill cat, and how to provide hospice and palliative care. Few veterinarians will come right out and tell you when it’s time to euthanize, but they will be able to help you assess quality of life and guide you through the decision process.

Emotional aspects of the euthanasia decision

Fear of losing a beloved cat, and not being able to imagine life without her, can influence the decision. A cat guardian’s prior experience with illness and death, be it of a pet or a human, will be a factor. Difficult as it may be, the euthanasia decision should not be based on our own discomfort with the dying process. Religious beliefs may also impact the decision.

Denial can play a significant role in the decision process. Denial is a defense mechanism that initially saves the person from anxiety or pain, but it can become paralyzing. When it comes to dealing with a terminally ill pet, love and denial can be intricately linked, and it can sometimes be difficult to separate one from the other.

“You will just know”

Cat guardians are often told that “they will just know” when the time is right. When cat guardian and human are closely bonded, this may be true. However, it requires setting aside fear and worry and really tune in to the cat’s essence, and this can be very difficult when faced with imminent loss.

Making the euthanasia decision is a very personal and individual process, and the sad reality is that there is probably no way for cat guardians to ever be completely at peace with it.

This article was previously published on Answers.com and is republished with permission.

Euthanasia: To Be With Your Cat, or Not?

Buckley in front of the maple tree

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

Animal Sympathy Cards from Portraits of Animals

animal_sympathy_cards

“Each time I’ve lost a cat, I’ve gained something in my life—made decisions about my career, begun working in a new medium or style, found new friends. Perhaps the trauma of the loss caused me to see things from a new perspective, or it was a gift of gratitude from the cat I’d lost,” says animal artist and writer Bernadette E. Kazmarski.

She had determined years ago to design animal sympathy cards as most of the cards she’d received for her losses were not animal-specific, but wanted to make sure she had enough experience and perspective so she wouldn’t design something she’d later feel was incomplete or immature. One cat’s passing in 2009 gave her the space to follow through. As a fine artist as well as a commercial artist designing these cards was second nature. Continue Reading

Review: Soul Comfort for Cat Lovers by Liz Eastwood

Soul_Comfort_for_Cat_Lovers

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 all of us who considers our cats family members or best friends will sooner or later experience the pain of loss, and it can be as devastating as the loss of any loved one.

There are any number of books on pet loss on the market, but until now, there wasn’t a book that addresses the issue of pet loss specifically from a cat guardian’s perspective. In Soul Comfort for Cat Lovers: Coping Wisdom for Heart and Soul After the Loss of a Beloved Feline, Liz Eastwood provides a roadmap for the journey through grief.

Liz weaves her own experience with grief together with expert advice from grief counselors and stories from other cat lovers.Continue Reading