How I Coped With My Cat’s Death
By Trisha Miller
About 10 years ago my cat Loki passed away. Sadly, he ingested some antifreeze and was poisoned. We are still unsure as to how exactly he got into the product, but there was nothing that could be done.
I raised Loki from kittenhood two years prior to the incident. He was a very kind, but independent, cat. He loved to play and hunt outside most days, but would snuggle up to me at a moment’s notice.
One night I noticed that Loki was howling in a strange manner. It sounded like he was calling for me, but not out of pain, more out of confusion or panic. When I found him he was walking jaggedly down the hall, almost as if he was drunk. I comforted him and tried to give him some food and water, which he refused to take.
I stayed up all night doing research online trying to determine exactly what was happening to him. After hours of searching the web I was fairly certain that his symptoms resembled antifreeze poisoning.
The next day I took him to the vet and was devastated by the news I received. The vet explained that there were tests that she could perform, but it was too late at this point. His body was already flooded with the poison and he would either flush it out in a few days or unfortunately he would pass away. She said that even with testing they might not be able to truly ascertain for certain what he had gotten into, which makes any kind of treatment very risky. In the end, she gave Loki a painkiller in hopes that he could remain calm and comfortable in order to hopefully rid himself of the toxin.
A full week later Loki passed away. His body deteriorated due to his inability to eat or drink and tragically he lost his battle with the poison.
I now know that I did the best that I could to comfort him and ease his pain before the eventually passed. However, my recovery and ultimate decision to adopt again took time. The guilt that I felt for years stuck with me and kept me from loving any other animal.
Grieving the loss of a cat or dog is a very difficult thing for any animal lover to go through. Feelings of guilt, loneliness, and desperation are common for anyone experiencing loss.
Your Feelings Are Valid
Just because your feelings of grief are associated with a cat or dog instead of a human, doesn’t mean they are any less real. Many of us see our animals as tiny humans, brothers, sisters, and babies that help us live life to the fullest each day. The bond a furry friend and owner share is truly indescribable and unbreakable.
Don’t ever let yourself feel ashamed for feeling legitimate sadness and loss over your loved one. Whether you’ve had your animal for a short period of time or years, it makes no difference. Animals are there for us in ways that humans just cannot fulfill. It’s okay to feel a little emptiness after they’re gone.
It’s Not Your Fault
It’s very easy to be hard on ourselves when a beloved animal develops an illness or sustains an injury. Unfortunately, these types of scenarios are quite common in most animals. Almost every breed of dog and cat has their own set of genetic characteristics, some of which come with potentially fatal attributes. Often times, there is nothing that you as the owner can do to stop this type of situation from happening.
In addition, animals are inherently curious, sometimes to a lethal fault. As was the case with Loki, there was nothing that could be done. Not to say that you shouldn’t always keep an eye on your animals, but this was a freak accident that no one could have predicted or controlled. These types of things happen and it is absolutely heartbreaking to have to go through. However, no one is to blame for an accident like this. Remember to give yourself some slack. You’re doing the best that you can for yourself and your animal.
Healing Takes Time
It is perfectly normal to feel the loss of your friend for some time. Personally, it took me about 3 years to feel at peace with Loki’s death. Don’t feel the need to rush yourself into accepting the loss until you are ready. It’s okay to go through every step of the grieving process during your time of healing.
What’s more, recovering from an animal’s passing does not also equate to forgetting them altogether. Memorialize your cat or dog in whatever way feels good to you. Some owners choose to keep photos, others may create a small memorial, and some do none of the above. Everyone mourns in a separate way.
Thinking About Future Adoptions
When/if you do feel ready to bring another animal into your life, there are some areas to consider. I strongly suggest doing as much research as possible on the breed and gender you are considering in conjunction with your living situation. For example, some breeds work better in apartments with a large family and others only do well in homes with very little distraction. Finding an animal that fits your lifestyle is essential to ensuring that they will live a happy and healthy life to its fullest.
I would also strongly recommend animal adoption over purchasing a newborn. There are so many lovely cats and dogs out there that still need a forever home. Of course, you should still do research on eat individual animal to assure a blissful transition, but adult and young animals are guaranteed to give you just as much love as a newborn for the rest of their lives.
Trisha is a writer from Boise, Idaho. She is a dedicated vegan who promotes an all-around healthy lifestyle. You can find her on twitter @thatdangvegan or read her blog: http://www.thatdangvegan.com/