How to cope with the death of your cat

How to cope with the death of your cat

After years of living together, of happiness, of shared moments, and of games, how can we overcome this milestone? How to digest the news of the death of your feline friend? Who can we confide in and express our emotions? Would it be a good idea to adopt another one?

Knowing that this type of event can lead to depression, not only in the owner but also in other pets in the family, it is important to find the strength to go up the slope.

Here are 5 tips to help you overcome the loss of your cat, should you ever have to go through this painful experience.

1. Express your emotions

How to cope with the death of your cat

The worst thing to do when you go through a difficult time is to suppress your emotions. This is a bad reflex which should be avoided even more when it comes to the loss of a loved one.

It is vital to express and externalize feelings as strong as anger, shock, and grief, which are associated with the death of your cat.

The best is therefore to confide in cat owners, especially those who have been there. They are in a good position to understand you and usually have no shortage of great advice to help you deal with the situation.

2. Turn to the vet

As we have seen before, it is important to find someone who can be trusted with your distress. The vet is one of those people you can trust and who, moreover, know exactly what you are talking to them about.

3. Keep only the bare minimum of what belonged to the cat

How to cope with the death of your cat

Perhaps it would be more reasonable to continue to detain only a few of them. Only the ones that are most valuable to you.

First, because the memory of the cat goes far beyond this material aspect. Then these accessories can be useful for other cats if they are in good condition. You can donate it to a local shelter, for example.

4. Offer him a burial

Accompanying your deceased cat to its final resting place or performing any form of the funeral rite can help you cope with its disappearance.

5. Adopt another cat?

You might think that adopting another cat can make it easier to get through the ordeal of loss. In fact, it depends on many aspects, such as the time spent with the deceased animal and the circumstances of its disappearance. What is certain is that you must first grieve before taking this step.

4 Solutions To Prevent Your Cat From Eating Plants

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Cat Advice

The problem is that some of these plants are dangerous for them, as explained in our article where you will find a non-exhaustive list of toxic plant species.

In addition, this bad habit is also annoying for you who would prefer that your beautiful plants remain in good condition.

So what can be done to end it? Here are 4 solutions to prevent your cat from eating plants …

1. Divert the cat’s attention to something other than plants

One of the reasons that your cat may spoil your plants while eating them is boredom. When lacking activity and stimulation, pets may want to let off steam on anything that is within their reach.

This includes furniture, decorative items, but also plants. He will not hesitate to manhandle them, to scratch the soil where they are planted, and to chew on the leaves and stems.

2. Use a repellent

To protect your plants and prevent your cat from eating them, you can try to keep them at bay by using natural repellents. These are odor-emitting substances that cats do not like. Which will dissuade them from approaching it.

Pepper is one of those natural repellents to be placed around plants, just like citrus fruits. It is especially the skins or rinds of these fruits (lemon, orange, tangerine…) that you can use. Place a few directly in your plant pots; there is a good chance that your cat will not dare to touch it again.

3. Bet on catnip

As we saw in the introduction, your cat draws on the grass it finds outside, fiber and various other nutrients it needs to balance its diet. The feline also uses it to induce regurgitation of elements causing discomfort in its digestive tract.

This is particularly the case with hairballs, which form in his stomach when he licks himself to wash. If there is no way out, your cat may turn to the plants that are available to him, plants grown at home in this case.

4. Make the plant inaccessible to cats

If, despite everything, your cat continues to eat your plants, you will have no choice but to make them inaccessible to him. Protect them by putting a fence around them, for example. You can also place your plant pots high up, so that your cat cannot reach them. Arrange them on shelves high enough or hang them from the ceiling or any support. Make sure that nothing nearby can act as a stepping stone to these pots.

How to cope with the death of your cat

After years of living together, of happiness, of shared moments, and of games, how can we overcome this milestone? How to digest the news of the death of your feline friend? Who can we confide in and express our emotions? Would it be a good idea to adopt another one?

Knowing that this type of event can lead to depression, not only in the owner but also in other pets in the family, it is important to find the strength to go up the slope.

Here are 5 tips to help you overcome the loss of your cat, should you ever have to go through this painful experience.

1. Express your emotions

How to cope with the death of your cat

The worst thing to do when you go through a difficult time is to suppress your emotions. This is a bad reflex which should be avoided even more when it comes to the loss of a loved one.

It is vital to express and externalize feelings as strong as anger, shock, and grief, which are associated with the death of your cat.

The best is therefore to confide in cat owners, especially those who have been there. They are in a good position to understand you and usually have no shortage of great advice to help you deal with the situation.

2. Turn to the vet

As we have seen before, it is important to find someone who can be trusted with your distress. The vet is one of those people you can trust and who, moreover, know exactly what you are talking to them about.

3. Keep only the bare minimum of what belonged to the cat

How to cope with the death of your cat

Perhaps it would be more reasonable to continue to detain only a few of them. Only the ones that are most valuable to you.

First, because the memory of the cat goes far beyond this material aspect. Then these accessories can be useful for other cats if they are in good condition. You can donate it to a local shelter, for example.

4. Offer him a burial

Accompanying your deceased cat to its final resting place or performing any form of the funeral rite can help you cope with its disappearance.

5. Adopt another cat?

You might think that adopting another cat can make it easier to get through the ordeal of loss. In fact, it depends on many aspects, such as the time spent with the deceased animal and the circumstances of its disappearance. What is certain is that you must first grieve before taking this step.

4 Solutions To Prevent Your Cat From Eating Plants

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Cat Advice

The problem is that some of these plants are dangerous for them, as explained in our article where you will find a non-exhaustive list of toxic plant species.

In addition, this bad habit is also annoying for you who would prefer that your beautiful plants remain in good condition.

So what can be done to end it? Here are 4 solutions to prevent your cat from eating plants …

1. Divert the cat’s attention to something other than plants

One of the reasons that your cat may spoil your plants while eating them is boredom. When lacking activity and stimulation, pets may want to let off steam on anything that is within their reach.

This includes furniture, decorative items, but also plants. He will not hesitate to manhandle them, to scratch the soil where they are planted, and to chew on the leaves and stems.

2. Use a repellent

To protect your plants and prevent your cat from eating them, you can try to keep them at bay by using natural repellents. These are odor-emitting substances that cats do not like. Which will dissuade them from approaching it.

Pepper is one of those natural repellents to be placed around plants, just like citrus fruits. It is especially the skins or rinds of these fruits (lemon, orange, tangerine…) that you can use. Place a few directly in your plant pots; there is a good chance that your cat will not dare to touch it again.

3. Bet on catnip

As we saw in the introduction, your cat draws on the grass it finds outside, fiber and various other nutrients it needs to balance its diet. The feline also uses it to induce regurgitation of elements causing discomfort in its digestive tract.

This is particularly the case with hairballs, which form in his stomach when he licks himself to wash. If there is no way out, your cat may turn to the plants that are available to him, plants grown at home in this case.

4. Make the plant inaccessible to cats

If, despite everything, your cat continues to eat your plants, you will have no choice but to make them inaccessible to him. Protect them by putting a fence around them, for example. You can also place your plant pots high up, so that your cat cannot reach them. Arrange them on shelves high enough or hang them from the ceiling or any support. Make sure that nothing nearby can act as a stepping stone to these pots.

How to cope with the death of your cat

Nobody likes thinking about the death of their cat in the future. It can be extremely difficult to cope with such a tragic event and dealing with the gaping loss of an animal that had come to be like a member of the family is never easy. However, there are a number of practical issues that need to be dealt with, particularly regarding your cat’s remains. By reading up on the matter now, when your cat is in perfect health, you may feel a little less overwhelmed when the time comes to say goodbye to your cat.

  • Dealing with practical issues upon the death of your cat
  • Burial or cremation: what you need to know
  • Grieving your pet
  • How to cope with the death of your cat

Dealing with practical issues upon the death of your cat

In the unfortunate event of the death of your cat, you may need to take several administrative steps. If you have subscribed health insurance for your pet, for example, you will need to request a death certificate from your vet. If your cat is microchipped or tattooed, you will also need to inform the national pet register of their death. But first and foremost, you will need to decide how to deal with your cat’s remains.

In France, there are three options for pets weighing less than 40 kilos. You can bury your pet in your garden or on land you own, you can bury them in a pet cemetery or you can have your pet’s body cremated.

Burial or cremation: what you need to know

If you decide to bury your cat at home, you must follow some specific rules. The body must be buried at least 1 metre underground and at least 35 metres from any dwellings or water sources. You can wrap the body in a cloth, place it in a wooden or cardboard box, or place it directly in the ground. It is also advisable to cover the body with quicklime.

If you do not have enough outdoor space, you can entrust the body of your cat to a vet or a specialised company in order for it to be cremated. Note that if you opt for collective cremation, your cat’s remains will be cremated with those of other pets and you will not be able to recover your pet’s ashes. Individual cremation costs more but you will be able to recover your pet’s ashes and you may be allowed to attend the cremation.

Grieving your pet

The death of a cat is often very traumatic and can take more or less time to get over depending on your personality and the circumstances surrounding your pet’s death. It’s not unusual to feel as much grief as if you had lost someone close, as our pets tend to play a very important role in our lives. Everyone deals with grief differently. Certain rituals (involving flowers, poems, toys, etc.) carried out at the time of the burial or cremation or during the period that follows may help ease the pain.

Don’t hesitate to contact people who can understand what you are going through and discuss it with them. Some people decide to adopt another cat, but it is a very personal decision. In any event, it’s better to wait until you have finished grieving and to avoid adopting a “replacement cat” that looks just like your deceased pet. Your previous cat was unique thanks to their personality and traits. With your new cat, you are embarking on a new chapter and will create beautiful memories that will be added to, rather than erase, those of your former cat.

Like most cat-owners, you probably see your feline friend as a member of your family. So, when they finally pass away, you’ll experience a very real sense of grief. Allow yourself to feel this pain, which is absolutely normal, but also remember that time is a great healer.

Letting yourself say goodbye

If your cat is being put to sleep by your vet, you will probably be able to stay with them throughout the procedure. For some people, it’s important to be able to say goodbye to their pet in this way. But even if you can’t be in the room, you’ll be able to spend some time with them first, and say your final goodbyes afterwards.

Allowing yourself to grieve

After your cat has passed away, you’ll probably feel a variety of emotions. These might include shock, disbelief, pain, anger, guilt, depression and anxiety. Don’t suppress any of these feelings – they’re quite natural. Going through this grieving process will help you to come to terms with the death. In time, previously painful memories will remind you of your cat in a positive light, and you’ll find yourself smiling instead of crying.

Help and support

Everyone grieves differently. You might prefer to grieve alone, perhaps writing down your feelings and thoughts in a diary, or in poetry. You might look to your family and friends for support. Or you might feel more comfortable talking to strangers, in which case your vet will be able to tell you about local support groups.

Most important of all, never feel embarrassed about grieving over “just a cat” – the emotions you’re feeling are real, and you need to deal with them in whatever way suits you best.

Helping your children deal with death

Most children under the age of five don’t understand the concept of death. They may understand that death isn’t very nice, but they won’t really understand that your cat won’t be coming back. Even so, they may be deeply distressed by the fact that their furry friend just isn’t around any more. So make sure you give them lots of love and support.

Between the ages of five and nine, children become aware that death is final. They may even believe in an afterlife. Let them talk about what’s happened, and never dismiss your children as being “too young to understand”.

Older children will fully understand the concepts of death and grief. So they’ll experience the same range of emotions as adults following the death of your cat. Grieving children can occasionally develop behaviour problems, such as becoming clingy, wetting the bed, having nightmares or being unable to concentrate in school.

You can help by talking to your children about how they feel, and by being honest about what’s happened. If it’s necessary to have your cat put to sleep, include them in that decision-making process, so that their feelings are acknowledged early on. And while as an adult you’re probably more comfortable with the phrase “putting to sleep”, make sure you tell your children that your cat is going to die. While it may seem harsh, it’s more important that they understand exactly what’s going on.

Cat memorials

You may not have considered what you want to do with your pet’s body. It’s a good idea to talk this through with your family and vet while they’re still alive. There are four basic options – your vet will be able to advise you on all of them:

• Burial at home
• Burial in a pet cemetery
• Individual cremation – your pet’s ashes are returned to you
• Communal cremation

Your decision might be guided by all sorts of things – emotional, financial and practical. If you choose burial at home, contact your local council first to find out about any guidelines you should follow. And whatever you decide, make sure that everyone who was close to your cat is comfortable with the plan.

How to cope with the death of your cat

Losing a cat is horrible and heartbreaking and it can be difficult when helping your child cope with the loss of a pet as well. You might be asking how do I tell my child that he’s no longer with us? Or, how do I help my child through this grieving process? You must first understand that the death of a loved one to a child is a different experience than what we experience as adults. But there are many things you can do to help your child process the death of your cat.

Dr. Michael Santiago, DVM, suggests “Honesty is important and parents/ guardian should tell the child the truth about the pet passing. Support and reassurance from loved ones helps with the grieving process. Allowing children to be active in the process, saying good bye and finding some activity for closure permits the child to move on in their own time.”

Be Honest

This brings out a good point in being honest about everything. Our first reaction as a parent is to shield our child from this awfulness, but you have to be honest. Lying, hiding, or candy coating anything is only going to backfire. Help your child grieve the loss by telling the truth.

Involve Your Child in the Death

It’s best to take your cat home to bury her out back so you can have a ceremony. This helps your child by allowing her to see your cat one more time. Children will often fantasize about a loved one still being alive. This can halt the grieving process. Being able to see the cat gone will get rid of any fantasies and allow the child to try to understand that death is part of life. Ask your child to take part in the ceremony by asking what your child would like to do. She might want to make a headstone, put your cat’s favorite toy with his body, write a letter saying goodbye, say a prayer, or help with the burial.

Being Present

Keith Rode, DVM, advises, “I think it is important to prepare a child for the death (if possible, since some cats die suddenly) by openly talking about it, tailoring the message to the age of the child. For those parents who believe in or feel comfortable talking about heaven, it can be a comforting thought to a child that their cat’s spirit will continue to live on where there is no suffering. Children who are old enough and mature enough should be allowed to be present for a euthanasia if they want to be; otherwise, there might be resentment at the lack of being included.”

You might think leaving your child out during the euthanasia process will be best for them, but they will likely resent you. Allow your child to be present during it. Explain honestly what is going to happen and why. Let your child ask questions and answer them honestly.

Expressing Feelings

Kelly Meister, author of Crazy Critter Lady, says, “Be sure to spend time talking with your child about their feelings, and what it means to lose someone they love.”

Allow your child to express her feelings about losing your cat. She’ll go through all of the emotions you will – denial, anger, sadness, and eventually, acceptance. Your child must be given plenty of opportunities to express her feelings to get through all of the stages of grief. Make some family time to talk about your late cat. Write letters, draw pictures, look at photos, and cry together.

Heather Loenser, veterinarian and parent, provides her story about the recent loss of their 17-year-old cat:

With my own 5 year old daughter, I worried about what would happen when her best friend, Thea, a grey tabby cat, passed away after a 3 year battle with kidney failure. Would she be devastated? Scared? Lonely? I wanted to involve her in the process as much as possible, since I hear stories from adults, recounting how their parents shielded them from the process when they were children, and how they wished they could have said good-bye.

I prepared her for months that Thea was fragile and that the outcome from many illness. She saw this since she received a fair amount of medications on a regular basis. We are a Christian family, so we talked a lot about life after death, imaging what heaven would be for a cat. I found a great book, “Cat Heaven” by Cynthia Ryland, which we had been reading for years.

When it was clear to me that Thea had only days to live, I asked my daughter how she would like to celebrate Thea’s life before she died. She wanted to throw a “We Love Our Cat” party. So… we did. We got dressed up, took pictures with her, decorated a basket for her to sleep in and drew pictures of her. Thea died not long afterwards.

I struggled initially with what to do with her body as Clara was near her when she died. Should I just whisk her away and then announce later that day that she is in heaven? Should she see her, lying there lifeless but peaceful? I opted to show her Thea’s body, as she lay curled up in her newly decorated basket. Then I followed Clara’s lead. She cried for a while and then I followed her lead. She wanted to draw more pictures and hang them up around the house. Then she wanted all of her friends to know. She wanted Thea’s passing to be known and have it have a lasting impact on our home. Finally, she wanted a burial. Surprisingly, she wanted to place the dirt over her little cardboard box coffin.

We talk about Thea every day. She wants to remember her, how she felt, what her purr sounded like, how she comforted Clara when she was sad. I don’t blame her. I do too.

In short, what Clara and Thea taught me is:

1) Children deserve an honest experience with death.

2) Ceremony is important to them, as it is for adults.

3) It is important to have that pet’s impact on the world be known through art, pictures and letters to loved ones.

4) Shielding our children from this natural part of life is taking part of the magic of life away from them.

Thank you for sharing your story with our readers, Heather.

I would like to offer my condolences to our readers here if you are either going to lose your cat or have already lost your cat. They aren’t just our pets; they’re a family member. I hope this information helps you and your child when your cat dies.

Losing a cat is excruciating. In fact, I’m going through it and grieving as I write this. I think the loss of a pet and the grief process that follows is one of the hardest, most intense experiences we have to get through.

It’s not easy to prepare for grief, as each end-of-life journey is different. That being said, I’ve been through this a few times and have discovered that I do certain things to help me cope with losing a cat. Hopefully, some of these suggestions can help you navigate the grief process after the loss of a pet.

1. I celebrate the cat’s (whole) life

At the end of life, whether it’s prolonged or sudden, it’s easy to get caught up in the sadness and intensity of that current moment. Sometimes, when I’ve found myself in this place, I realize I’m not honoring the rest of the cat’s life. What about the amazing years or months I had with the cat? What about the funny things my cat did? Or the loving bond we had? What about the wonderful memories and stories of the cat? I try to focus on the life I’ve shared with the cat, even though it’s very easy to want to focus totally on the end of life.

How to cope with the death of your cat

2. I find people who understand what losing a cat is like

Whether your cat has passed on or is likely to pass on soon, obviously you’ll want to be around people who understand. Now is not the time to take comments like “it’s only a cat” to heart. If you do run across someone who says something like this, try to breathe and let it go. You need your energy to get through grieving, not to get mad about ill-placed comments.

Instead, find people who understand and are respectful of your loss of a pet and the grief process, whether they love cats or not. A compassionate person and friend will give you the space and respect your need to grieve.

How to cope with the death of your cat

3. I take time to be alone, if I need it

Some of us like to share; others are intensely vulnerable when going through grief. I’m a little of both. Know yourself. If you need to be alone, honor that. It’s OK.

4. I understand that loss of a pet and grief is a powerful process

Sometimes, grief reminds me of the waves of an ocean. You’re feeling fine and then WHAM, some piece of grief hits you and you’re down, or crying, or both. I’m not sure why it is, but just knowing that this happens has made me prepared for when it happens again. I try to flow with it. Everyone grieves differently. We all grieve in our own time, and in our own way. Let it happen the way it needs to happen for you.

5. I breathe (deeply)

This is a yoga tool, but it’s also a relaxation technique, which anyone can do. When you’re exhausted from stress or grieving, breathing deeply through your nose can really help relax you and restore your mind and body to a state of calmness. Even a minute or two of this has great benefits. I do this all the time during periods of stress, or if I’m grieiving the loss of a pet. From a physiological standpoint, this activates your parasympathetic nervous system (which induces relaxation) rather than your sympathetic nervous system (which is all about fight or flight). Try breathing deeply in any stressful situation or any time you find yourself holding your breath.

6. I’m good to myself and my body

I’m no good to my cats if I’m a mess. So even though it’s hard (grief is exhausting), I try to remember to be good to my body. I try to remember to eat good stuff (not junk), get outside, exercise, breathe — all good things for me. Find the good things for you and remember to do them.

7. I honor the immensity of grief

It’s a big deal, and we all get to go through it. The sadness in grief is huge, but strangely, so is the joy. Celebrate these wonderful creatures we love, whether we’re going through life with them or whether we’re letting them go.

Read more about losing a cat and handling grief:

Little attention is paid to the subject of grieving in cats, largely because they are often seen as independent animals that retain much of their ‘wild’ nature. But cats do exhibit behavioral changes after the loss of another cat and sometimes these can be difficult to understand.

When animals are closely bonded they are more likely to be upset by the loss of their companion. Even cats that constantly fight can grieve the loss of a feuding partner. While no-one will ever know if a cat understands death, they certainly know that a fellow housemate is missing and that something has changed in the house. The owner’s distress at the loss of a pet may also be communicated to the cat, adding to the confusion it may be feeling.

Signs of grief

There is really no way to predict how a cat is likely to behave when a companion is lost. Some cats seem completely unaffected and, indeed, a few may even seem to be positively happy when their housemate disappears. Others may stop eating and lose interest in their surroundings, simply sitting and staring; they seem to become depressed. A few cats undergo personality or behavioral changes when a companion is lost.

While there has been no major research on the subject of feline bereavement, a survey by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals found that cats ate less, slept more and became more vocal after the death of a companion cat. But encouragingly, in the 160 households surveyed, all pets that lost a companion were behaving normally within six months.

How can we help?

There are a number of things you can do to help a grieving cat to overcome the loss. Minimizing change gives the cat time to come to terms with the loss of a companion cat. Keep the cat ‘s routine the same. Changes in feeding times or even simply moving furniture around can cause further stress. A grieving cat may go off its food. A cat that goes off its food for several days is in danger of a potentially fatal liver disease called hepatic lipidosis. Encourage eating by warming food slightly or putting water or meat juice or it. Sit with your cat during meal times to provide reassurance. Don’t be tempted to change diets to stimulate appetite as this may cause digestive upsets. If the cat does not eat for three days seek veterinary advice.

Quality time

Spend more time with the cat grooming, stroking and playing. This will give a positive feel to any changes in the house that the cat senses. Don’t attempt to replace a lost cat immediately. While your remaining cat may be missing a long term companion, she is unlikely to welcome a stranger when she is still unsettled about the loss. A new cat at this time simply provides an extra source of stress. Like many species, time spent sniffing and nuzzling the dead body of their companion may be a necessary part of the grieving process. It can therefore be helpful to bring the body of a euthanized cat home rather than have it cremated at the vet’s. Whenever dramatic changes in behavior occur, the cat should always be checked by a vet for any underlying physical problem. Unresolved behavioral problems can be referred onto animal behaviorists.

How to cope with the death of your cat

Losing a cat is horrible and heartbreaking and it can be difficult when helping your child cope with the loss of a pet as well. You might be asking how do I tell my child that he’s no longer with us? Or, how do I help my child through this grieving process? You must first understand that the death of a loved one to a child is a different experience than what we experience as adults. But there are many things you can do to help your child process the death of your cat.

Dr. Michael Santiago, DVM, suggests “Honesty is important and parents/ guardian should tell the child the truth about the pet passing. Support and reassurance from loved ones helps with the grieving process. Allowing children to be active in the process, saying good bye and finding some activity for closure permits the child to move on in their own time.”

Be Honest

This brings out a good point in being honest about everything. Our first reaction as a parent is to shield our child from this awfulness, but you have to be honest. Lying, hiding, or candy coating anything is only going to backfire. Help your child grieve the loss by telling the truth.

Involve Your Child in the Death

It’s best to take your cat home to bury her out back so you can have a ceremony. This helps your child by allowing her to see your cat one more time. Children will often fantasize about a loved one still being alive. This can halt the grieving process. Being able to see the cat gone will get rid of any fantasies and allow the child to try to understand that death is part of life. Ask your child to take part in the ceremony by asking what your child would like to do. She might want to make a headstone, put your cat’s favorite toy with his body, write a letter saying goodbye, say a prayer, or help with the burial.

Being Present

Keith Rode, DVM, advises, “I think it is important to prepare a child for the death (if possible, since some cats die suddenly) by openly talking about it, tailoring the message to the age of the child. For those parents who believe in or feel comfortable talking about heaven, it can be a comforting thought to a child that their cat’s spirit will continue to live on where there is no suffering. Children who are old enough and mature enough should be allowed to be present for a euthanasia if they want to be; otherwise, there might be resentment at the lack of being included.”

You might think leaving your child out during the euthanasia process will be best for them, but they will likely resent you. Allow your child to be present during it. Explain honestly what is going to happen and why. Let your child ask questions and answer them honestly.

Expressing Feelings

Kelly Meister, author of Crazy Critter Lady, says, “Be sure to spend time talking with your child about their feelings, and what it means to lose someone they love.”

Allow your child to express her feelings about losing your cat. She’ll go through all of the emotions you will – denial, anger, sadness, and eventually, acceptance. Your child must be given plenty of opportunities to express her feelings to get through all of the stages of grief. Make some family time to talk about your late cat. Write letters, draw pictures, look at photos, and cry together.

Heather Loenser, veterinarian and parent, provides her story about the recent loss of their 17-year-old cat:

With my own 5 year old daughter, I worried about what would happen when her best friend, Thea, a grey tabby cat, passed away after a 3 year battle with kidney failure. Would she be devastated? Scared? Lonely? I wanted to involve her in the process as much as possible, since I hear stories from adults, recounting how their parents shielded them from the process when they were children, and how they wished they could have said good-bye.

I prepared her for months that Thea was fragile and that the outcome from many illness. She saw this since she received a fair amount of medications on a regular basis. We are a Christian family, so we talked a lot about life after death, imaging what heaven would be for a cat. I found a great book, “Cat Heaven” by Cynthia Ryland, which we had been reading for years.

When it was clear to me that Thea had only days to live, I asked my daughter how she would like to celebrate Thea’s life before she died. She wanted to throw a “We Love Our Cat” party. So… we did. We got dressed up, took pictures with her, decorated a basket for her to sleep in and drew pictures of her. Thea died not long afterwards.

I struggled initially with what to do with her body as Clara was near her when she died. Should I just whisk her away and then announce later that day that she is in heaven? Should she see her, lying there lifeless but peaceful? I opted to show her Thea’s body, as she lay curled up in her newly decorated basket. Then I followed Clara’s lead. She cried for a while and then I followed her lead. She wanted to draw more pictures and hang them up around the house. Then she wanted all of her friends to know. She wanted Thea’s passing to be known and have it have a lasting impact on our home. Finally, she wanted a burial. Surprisingly, she wanted to place the dirt over her little cardboard box coffin.

We talk about Thea every day. She wants to remember her, how she felt, what her purr sounded like, how she comforted Clara when she was sad. I don’t blame her. I do too.

In short, what Clara and Thea taught me is:

1) Children deserve an honest experience with death.

2) Ceremony is important to them, as it is for adults.

3) It is important to have that pet’s impact on the world be known through art, pictures and letters to loved ones.

4) Shielding our children from this natural part of life is taking part of the magic of life away from them.

Thank you for sharing your story with our readers, Heather.

I would like to offer my condolences to our readers here if you are either going to lose your cat or have already lost your cat. They aren’t just our pets; they’re a family member. I hope this information helps you and your child when your cat dies.