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Thread: Departure of a beloved pet

  1. #1

    Default Departure of a beloved pet

    Well, this is a new one for me--dealing with this so directly. My childhood cat and dog both passed away while I was off in college. I felt some sadness, no doubt, but it was never anything like this. Now, the color just seems to have drained from my world, and I'm challenged to see value in my daily routine. Logically, I know this is a silly way to be, but...

    I'm hoping it's just a matter of time.

    Late Friday night, our 19-year-old female tuxedo kitty passed away, literally while we sat petting her. We'd noticed Thursday evening that she'd almost stopped eating, and had made a vet appointment for Saturday morning. She couldn't wait. By Friday afternoon, she was lying in strange positions and in secluded locations around the house, and her breathing was apparently very labored. We live on a small island with no after-hours animal emergency services, and could only watch and wait--and hope that she'd survive until morning. Shortly before 10:30pm, she summoned us with a long, low meow. My wife and I found her lying on her side, barely breathing, and immediately sat down beside her. Less than a minute later, as we sat stroking her side, she convulsed twice and then went still--gone. We kissed her little furry head and cried on each other's shoulders for what seemed like an hour. It was pretty devastating.

    My wife and I adopted our kitty from a shelter only weeks after we were married, and for more than five years she was like our only child. She was a real people-lover, and was very talkative, always eager to give meow lessons to anybody who was willing to try. Our human children, now ages 8 and 11, had not known a day without her before waking up Saturday morning to find her gone. She was two years old when we adopted her, and was ours for seventeen more. And, yesterday afternoon, those seventeen years of fond memories were what kept me going, with blistered and bleeding hands, as I pickaxed a grave for her in the clay-like soil of our back yard. She was laid to rest in her favorite bed, surrounded by her favorite toys, all the catnip we had left in the cupboards, and a tear-streaked card that the kids had made for her. The site is temporarily topped with paver stones and a vase of flowers while the cement gravestone we all made today finishes curing.

    I'm spent. I can't remember the last time I was this sad about a thing. I don't think there is a last time, actually; this is a new record. Every remotely meow-like sound I hear has me straining to hear her approaching footsteps, or even readying to meow back--before I catch myself. I'm not sure I'll do well without a kitty, and yet the thought of getting another anytime soon is almost repulsive to me, not simply because it feels like an offense to our deceased kitty's memory, but also because I know I'd be judging any new pet by an unfair standard. Nothing can reasonably be expected to substitute for 17 years of familiarity.

    So what to do? I assume that this must simply pass in time, and that there's no real remedy, per se.

    Writing about it is sort of therapeutic, though. I apologize if reading about it is quite the opposite!
    Last edited by Cottontail; 06-Jun-2016 at 06:13.

  2. #2

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    Having always grown up around animals, the death of pets is something I've experienced multiple times. It was especially hard when my mother made the sudden decision to euthanize our 14-year-old poodle. Despite picking him out myself when I was four years old, I had grown rather detached, but the whole process was still very traumatic. My mother forced to me to go with her to the vet's office, and made me be in the room when it happened. Over four years later, I still refuse to step foot in that particular clinic.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by KimbaStarshine View Post
    Having always grown up around animals, the death of pets is something I've experienced multiple times. It was especially hard when my mother made the sudden decision to euthanize our 14-year-old poodle. Despite picking him out myself when I was four years old, I had grown rather detached, but the whole process was still very traumatic. My mother forced to me to go with her to the vet's office, and made me be in the room when it happened. Over four years later, I still refuse to step foot in that particular clinic.
    I think we all secretly deny mortality until we're faced with it. If I'd been present for the departures of my childhood cat and dog, I expect I'd have been similarly emotional. Instead, I was hundreds of miles away at school, and hadn't lived around them for years, except on holidays. Their losses were severely blunted by all that distance and time away. If I'd just happened to be home when one of them died or was euthanized, though, I'd probably be feeling like you. My wife had that happen to her, actually. She'd just graduated from college and moved home to search for work, when the family cocker spaniel was diagnosed with cancer. Her father being away on business and her siblings having all moved out, my wife was left to help her mom deal with the final vet appointment and subsequent burial of her childhood dog. That was very hard for her, particularly because, like you, she'd helped to pick out the dog when she was much younger.

    That experience may be why she's able to cope with this latest loss in a more rational way that I am. Or so she says. I've never come so close to seeing a cat's or dog's whole life-cycle play out before my eyes, though. So much of it was glorious. I just wish I could forget that last little piece--not a memory I want.

  4. #4

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    It sounds like your family is like mine, our pets are not just pets, but family members. That makes it all so much harder to lose them, I am so sorry for your loss.

    I know it doesn't feel right to replace your kitty, and you really will never be able to, but I would recommend volunteering at a shelter (no-kill is my preference for this) if you can, maybe not right away, but eventually. I am sure there is one out there that will choose you to take it home. Sometimes we find a cat we just can't not adopt! It might not heal the pain of your loss, but having a furry family member around is always comforting!

  5. #5

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    I'm so sorry to hear, back in March my family had to put down my dog who we've had for the 12 and a half years, I was there at the vets when she was put down, I was so emotional, when pets are in your life for that long they are part of the family and it's like when an actual relative it's that devastating. Stay strong.

  6. #6

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    Sad to hear your kitty died

    I lost my kitty Tommy back in November 2007 he got out of the house never returned I printed like 50 signs put them up all over never found him and I looked all over town for months
    I still sometimes think of him wonder if he might be alive somewhere

    I have new Kitty now my mom got him for my birthday in may 2008 I got him from the humane society he was found all alone only a few days old his mommy was killed by a car and he was hand raised I named him Tigger hes my baby love him so much

    In time you will feel better its hard but it gets better

    maybe in time you can adopt a new friend

    here's a picture of tigger with his pooky
    Click image for larger version. 

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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cottontail View Post
    So what to do? I assume that this must simply pass in time, and that there's no real remedy, per se.

    Writing about it is sort of therapeutic, though. I apologize if reading about it is quite the opposite!
    I'm sorry to hear it Cottontail. Losing a pet that's been with you for so long is going to be difficult and there's no way around that. I think time does heal all wounds, but it does it in different stages. Right now, you might need to just let time pass and accept that you'll feel bad for a while as your brain sorts through all the memories you've got and you get accustomed to not having your kitty around. But over time, you can't just sit and feel bad. You need to face it and work through it, in whatever way is best for you. It varies a lot by the person. It might be posting more about it here or writing down your memories. Might be going out for a good run, might be starting a new project in memory of your kitty, or even getting a new pet when you're ready.

  8. #8

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    I'm very sorry to hear about your loss, Cottontail. I lost my own cat a couple years back. We'd just moved to a new house, and she was an outdoors cat so we let her go outside to look around. She disappeared. We looked and looked, but there was no sign of her for days. And then one morning we found her on the road right outside our neighborhood, hit by a car. Odds are she heard us calling for her and ran across the street. I think she was only about ten feet away from safety.

    The grief hits you all at once. I'm sure it's different for everyone, but I cried on and off for days, maybe even weeks. It sounds like you know the feeling, that hallow, aching emptiness. I wish I could offer you some advice, but unfortunately there really isn't much to do. Grieving is a process, and it sucks, but given time you'll work your way through it. Spending time with your family will probably help, and if you ever need anything we are all here as well.

  9. #9

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    Big hugs to you Cottontail, what a sad way to spend the weekend. Nice to hear your family was so supportive of each other, that helps a lot.

  10. #10

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    There's no doubt losing a beloved pet is one of the hardest things we can go through. They have such joy and love of life. I think what makes it so hard is that pets give us such UNCONDITIONAL love, expecting nothing in return (except maybe a few kitty treats). They are truly an important part of our families

    Our family cat lived to be eighteen years old, which is a pretty long time in cat years, so it sounds like your cat also had a long, and I hope, healthy life. With all those years, there will be a lot of fond memories that will ease the pain in time. Our family cat was very demanding of us, meowing incessantly when she wanted to go outside, and then coming back in five minutes demanding to be let back in. When she was hungry, she'd sit by the fridge and get irritated with us if we didn't feed her right away. There's truth to that old saying: "Dogs have owners, cats have staff." Yet, in spite of her irritability we loved her, and she loved me in particular, always jumping up on my lap to have a nap while purring louder than a jackhammer. She lived a good life and she brought a lot of energy and entertainment to our household.

    When I moved out on my own, I got a little orange tabby who I loved dearly. I would go to pet stores and spend tons of money buying him expensive kitty toys. He would always give them some attention, but he really had more fun playing in a discarded box or engaging in that old cat chestnut to drive owners crazy; Unravelling the roll of toilet paper so you come home and find the new roll all over the bathroom floor. I was living on the second floor in an apartment building when I had him, and I remember coming home at the end of each workday and I'd see him waiting for me on the windowsill. He'd see me coming up the walkway and by the time I got up to my apartment he was already at the doorway waiting to greet me. How can we not love them or feel the loss?

    In later years, I developed a case of pneumonia and my health experienced side effects afterwards, including allergies and sensitivities. For some reason, I am now more sensitive to cat dander than I was in the past, so having a cat is no longer an option, but I'd give anything to have another one.

    There's too much sorrow going on right now to even think about getting another cat, Cottontail, and now is not the time to make that kind of decision. Wait until the pain subsides a bit, and it will, and allow yourself to remember your pet fondly. Having years of good memories may motivate you to want to get another pet down the road when you're feeling less pain. You'll know when the time is right to make that decision.
    Last edited by Starrunner; 06-Jun-2016 at 13:31.

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