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Dealing with Pet Loss

KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
edited November 2020 in Help / Advice Forum
Last week I had to put down my cat of 12 years. Poor dude had cancer and at it was at the point where emergency work was something I could not afford/there was no guarantee how much it would expand his life.

Since then, I keep waffling between guilt of not having done more, acceptance that he is no longer suffering and that it was his time and sadness when I briefly forget he's no longer with me. If I come back from my run I expect him to pop his head into the hallway to greet me, or find myself glancing at his favorite spot in my bed when I walk by my bedroom.

Worse yet the apartment feels empty. I know I want to get a new cat eventually, but part of me almost wants to get one now to fill that void, which can't be healthy.

I know there's no fix it all advice...guess maybe just looking for how people dealt with their loss?

Edit: This was Buddy. He was a lazy, cuddly boy. He got so used to my routine that at night when I turned off the living room lights and TV he would race me to my bed and jump to his sleeping spot.

Kyougu on


  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited November 2020
    Loss is loss, you have to give it time. You can't be afraid that you will stop being sad if you get a new cat as though it's somehow betraying the pet you lost.

    You want a cat? Get a cat.*

    I've never stopped missing any of my pets.

    *contingent on you not having other pets that need time to adjust or need to sort out arrangements for having a kitten inside again - be responsible, but go get a cat if you want one.

    Thanks for paying the tax. Buddy looks like a wonderful content little guy. I'm sorry you have to go through your days missing him. I seriously respect your ability to do the best thing for him when it got hard, even if it didn't feel like the best thing for you. Great friends should be missed, that's how you know they are great friends.

    dispatch.o on
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  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    I agree with dispatch.o. Unlike new pet owners, you have relative experience and infrastructure in place to get another animal. I dont think the transition from pet to pet has to be very long. Assuming you dont have other animals or people who need time to adjust, you can do what you need to do.

    If you dont feel ready, though, I get that too. We get in routine with our individual pets after a long relationship like that, and you dont want to get another cat and just continually compare it to your old one. But if your a patient pet owner, that probably will fade with a little time and distraction.

    I think about my old dog all the time, honestly. I dont think it really goes away. Living in an apartment during a pandemic though, you dont have to tough it out on principal if you think giving a loving home to an animal is good for your mental health too.

    Thanks for sticking with your old guy till the very end, and making the hard choice to relive him of his suffering. 12 years is a pretty good cat life, I'm sure he was rad.

    Feel free to post pictures if it feels good to share. we will appreciate his majesty in memoriam.

    dispatch.oMidniteJaysonFourHefflingceresL Ron HowardDeadfallHahnsoo1ShadowfireJazzBouwsT
  • MidniteMidnite Like no other You can't be replacedRegistered User regular
    First off, I'm sorry for your loss. Nothing can really heal the pain from losing someone close except for time. Take things a day at a time, memorialize your friend, and above all else don't be afraid to speak with someone if you're having a particularly rough go of it. A close friend with animals will always be a sympathetic ear, and there are several groups online that are there for people to express their feelings.

    There's no timetable for how long you should grieve. Eventually you'll reach a healthier place. You're a good person and when you feel like you're ready to bring another cat into your life you shouldn't feel guilty or ashamed.

    My suggestion for when you are over the immediate pain would have been to look up an animal shelter that could use a volunteer, but that's a dicey proposition at the moment. Still, volunteering to help other animals who are often abused or abandoned, is both a wonderful way to honor your cat's memory and a good way to help fill the emptiness you're feeling.

    Even if that seems impossible right now, there are also other options. Go to the park and feed the squirrels, buy some nice treats for the strays and lay them out, go on a nature walk and take photos of the critters you see along the way.

    I wish you the best during this time.

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  • DeadfallDeadfall I don't think you realize just how rich he is. In fact, I should put on a monocle.Registered User regular
    It gets better but it never goes away.

    Our buddy dog went away in our arms this spring. I've experienced grandparents and family and friends pass away but this was the most devastating thing we'd ever experienced.

    Your pet was part of your daily routine. You don't just lose a friend, you lose nicknames and rituals and daily comfort.

    We found writing about him helped. Whenever he "visits" us in dreams we write it down on a shared note taking app. We also write down special memories and nicknames and just silly stories. We put his box of ashes on his bed and we leave it out just in case he wants to "stop by" and see us.

    Getting a new pet is of course okay. We're waiting because we know if we did it now we'd just be trying to find one just like him and it wouldn't be the same.

    We sought out pet loss support groups online but hated them. Everyone talked about how their pet was the best in the world and we were like "but we had the best pet in the world." Which tells you how special they are but it didn't help us at all. So be careful.

    I'm so sorry buddy. You'll think about him every day first thing. But know that you gave him an awesome home and an awesome life. If you want to share some memories my inbox, and probably most of us here, is open.

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  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    It helps me to keep something of theirs with me or very visible in the part of my living area where I spend the most time, like a collar, a blanket, or something they loved to play with. I know some people don't like the reminder, but I find it both helps me remember playing with them and reminds me that they won't be around the corner.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • OrogogusOrogogus San DiegoRegistered User regular
    Sorry for your loss.

    When my cat passed away, it helped me to go to the shelter and look at the adoptables. My friend was gone and I still miss him, but all these other cats still had their lives ahead of them waiting to be lived. I don't think there's anything wrong with adopting a new one right away if you're up to it.

  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    I think maybe the danger with getting a new one right away is that you might project the relationship you had with your old cat onto your new cat, and your new cat is going to be different with a unique personality at a different stage of its life. You need to be ready for an entirely new and different companion that doesn't know you. If you aren't ready it may make things worse for a bit, except now you also have a new cat that needs care.

    If you really want another cat and you think you can avoid that pitfall I don't see why you shouldn't go for it if just having the companionship itself without expectation would make you feel better.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
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  • SteevLSteevL What can I do for you? Registered User regular
    I've had a lot of cats in my life, and each loss has been different. One of them that hit me particularly hard was a cat my family got who ended up really bonding with me. After 11 years, we noticed she was having trouble jumping onto things, and she'd sort of gotten distended. A quick visit to the vet revealed she had a huge mass inside of her, and after a sorrowful month we brought her back to say goodbye. I thought I was doing OK a week later, but then I went to the vet to pick up her ashes and broke down crying in the parking lot when I got back to my car. I'm tearing up as I'm typing this right now, and it happened about 8 years ago, so yeah...the grief never really goes away. I've got her ashes in a wooden container and my phone's lock screen is a picture of her.

    My wife went through the loss of her first cat about 5 years ago. That one was pretty rough too. We already had a second cat, though, and felt the need to get him a new companion. I think we started visiting the local shelter 3 days after her passing; it took a few visits, but we took home a sweet 5-year old cat a week and a half later.

    Anyway, I am very sorry for your loss. Take your time and look into getting a new cat whenever it feels right.

  • SiskaSiska Shorty Registered User regular
    You can ease into it and see if there is a need for cat fosters in your area.

  • KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    Thank you all.

    I started looking at cat pics from nearby places and one thing lead to another.


    I know he'll never replace Buddy but I'm looking forward to spending time with him.

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  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa look at that little baby kitty

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
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  • MulletudeMulletude Registered User regular
    edited November 2020
    I had to have my sweet old cat put down after 2 surgeries to remove cancer didn't help her.

    It's not going to be easy OP. I still feel guilt that I didn't do some thing or another. It was really rough for weeks.

    The important thing to remember is that you gave love to your sweet kitty when he was with you and that you didn't let him suffer needlessly towards the end.

    It's going to take time. Don't feel bad for having your feelings or like you should be on a timetable. You do things as you need to, ok?

    I'm sorry you had to go through that. Our pets are our family too.

    And when the time comes to bring another fur friend into the house, you'll know. About a year later now, my wife found a sweet little fuzz ball, dirty and hungry on the literal street, and brought him home. Little Edward is our newest addition and it felt like the right time. He won't replace anybody but he helps the healing.

    Edit, didn't read the whole thread, congrats on that adorable baby!

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  • HappylilElfHappylilElf Registered User regular
    nope can't do it, too adorable, pulling the cord

  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited November 2020
    I'm sorry for your loss, and I know how it feels - I had to say goodbye to my own cat Rose this past week as well. And yeah, even though I know it was the right thing to do, and she's not suffering anymore - it still hurts, and I still feel like I should have done more for her.

    Edit: Here she is, in happier times:

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