Mourning is about how you express those feelings. Mourning can
help you progress along your grief journey. Support is an important part
Grief is agony.
You can't get away from it. As CS Lewis said, "The pain I feel
now is the
happiness I had before.
That's the deal." And when you are in the midst of grief, you may
well feel the price is too high.
Many people find losing a cat is actually harder than losing a human loved
one. This is not as surprising as it might first appear, because we often spend far more
time with our cats than with our human relatives, and our relationships
with our cats are usually far simpler than those with humans, where there
may be some emotional baggage. Cats, however, are always there,
never judging us, always pleased to see us. Sometimes without us even realising it, they are the centre of our home. No wonder we miss them so
when they are gone!
I have now lost
nine cats. I lost four of them in less than a year, two old ladies (both
aged sixteen) and two kittens. I lost one of my old ladies first, very
suddenly and unexpectedly, followed six weeks later by one of the kittens.
Nine months later I lost my other
kitten, followed less than two weeks later by my other old lady. So
believe me, I know loss and I know grief. This page attempts to help you
along this horrible journey.
Part of the
grief process entails finding a new normal. This often
hurts, because you do not want to surrender your old normal; in fact,
you'd like it back right now. Sadly, that is not possible, so you will
have to find your new normal, though you will of course take as long as
you need to do that.
You will not necessarily
experience all of these stages, and grief is not linear so you may experience
them in a different order or find yourself dipping in and out of them; but you will find your own way to get
through. Some people need professional help, and there is no shame in
Notice I said
get through. Grief is not about getting over your loss. Grief is about
finding a way to live without the loved one's physical presence in your
Grief is a rollercoaster and once you have boarded the ride, you cannot
get off, even though you will wish you could. Keep hanging on. The ride
does end eventually.
Loss will change you forever, though not always in bad ways.
If you feel
suicidal, please do seek help. I once saw somebody commit suicide (he
jumped off a bridge) and it still
haunts me to think of the pain he must have been feeling and that I was
unable to help. Please, for my sake, do not be that person, but find the
help you need to get through this. Please contact your medical
professional, the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at
I know it is
hard to believe
that you will get through grief when you are in the middle of it and can
see no end in sight, but you
will. There is no right or wrong way to get through, and how long it takes
is very variable. Take no notice of insensitive people who say things like
"I thought you'd be over this by now." This is your unique experience, and
you take as long as you need.
Do not panic if you are at the beginning of your grief journey and do
not see how you can survive this pain. The pain of grief often comes in
waves, meaning it ebbs and flows, and it does lessen over time for most
people, so do not fear that you will always feel as bad as you do right
now, because that is unlikely. You may have some days that are worse
than others (anniversaries are hard), but although it may not feel like
it to you, you will be making progress on your journey.
When you first lose a beloved cat, you will probably focus a lot on time.
You will think a lot about time markers, such as "this time yesterday/a
week ago/a month ago s/he was still alive."
You may simply wish to rewind the clock so you can be together again, or
you may keep wishing you could turn back the clock so you could do things
You may find that every day you dread reaching the time on the clock when
your cat died. When Tanya died, I found 9.30 p.m. on Sundays very hard for
Time is also agony first thing in the morning. It can be both the best and
worst part of the day when you wake up each day and for a few seconds all
is right with your world until you suddenly remember your loss again.
Grief and loss are a process, and marking time in this way is part of that
process. We all wish desperately that we could turn the clock back, while
knowing that is impossible.
Time is also a strange thing when we look back on our cats' lives. So many
people seem to focus on the last few weeks or days of their cat's illness,
forgetting about the often many happy years that came before. I do this a
When you are grieving, time drags. Days last forever. And every day
you can feel one day further away from your precious cat.
You may not realise it, but you are slowly moving forward on your grief
journey, often imperceptibly. It is a truism, but time is indeed a healer.
Grief and Emotions
Grief is like a
rollercoaster ride, with many emotions being experienced, often very close
together. Although grieving is very individual, some emotions are felt by
many people after a loss.
Here are some of the emotions and experiences which you may face during
the various stages of grief:
after a bereavement, people often feel numb, and their loss does not seem
real. This can be both comforting and alarming, because you expect to feel
like you're living a nightmare, and it doesn't quite feel real because at
the back of your mind you know you will soon wake up and it will all be
gone, which of course sadly doesn't happen.
Numbness is normal,
especially if your loss is sudden and/or unexpected, and is your mind's way of helping you cope. It usually wears off after a
few days, at which point you will probably wish you could go back to
feeling numb again.
Difficulty Functioning Normally
When you are
bereaved, you have had a big and painful change in your life, so it is
natural to feel as if you are wading through mud. You will often find doing normal routine things
is very hard, taking a lot of energy which you do not have. Extreme
fatigue is a normal sign of grief.
Some people are
unable to sleep, but I slept a lot and I welcomed sleep (although I could
not remember any dreams during this time), because it took my mind off my
loss. The downside was it meant that every time I woke up I had to go
through that horrible split second when I hoped it had all been a
nightmare, only to realise it was all too true.
Every time I
have lost a cat, I have also completely lost my appetite for the first few
days afterwards. Everything tastes like cardboard, and I have to force
to eat. Despite doing so, I lose weight (the only positive thing about
grief; thanks, cats). I also feel sick, and sometimes
I actually am sick.
It can be
difficult dealing with practical matters, such as what to do with your cat's
belongings. Some people want to put them away
immediately, others cannot bear to move them even if they don't have any
other cats because it feels like a betrayal to do so. Just do whatever
feels right for you.
All the crying
can give you a headache, so take acetaminophen (paracetamol) if necessary
and appropriate. It may also help with your grief:
Acetaminophen reduces social pain: behavioral and
neural evidence (2010) Dewall CN,
Macdonald G, Webster GD, Masten CL, Baumeister RF, Powell C, Combs D,
Schurtz DR, Stillman TF, Tice DM, Eisenberger NI Psychological Science21(7) pp931-7 found that acetaminophen not only helps with physical
pain but may also help with emotional pain (in the study, the pain of
The stress can
predispose you to illness, so be kind to yourself and only do what you
At the same
time, try to keep to a routine if possible, it will help you to cope and to work
out a way to live without your cat's physical presence around you. Force food in, even if it tastes of
absolutely nothing. Try to get showered and dressed each day as a minimum.
If you normally watch a particular TV programme, watch it.
By all means
take a few days off work if you can (essential in my case, since I cannot
stop crying), but no more than a week. I would simply tell your employer a
close family member has died, you do not need to be more specific than
that is many cases.
When it comes
to things that are optional, such as social events, do whatever feels best
for you. It may take your mind off your loss to go out to dinner with
friends, but if you can't face it, then do not go.
lose a much loved cat, it is inevitable that you will feel a gaping void
in your life. This feeling can be exacerbated when you lose a cat to
CKD, because you were
probably spending a lot of time caring for your cat, and all that time
suddenly becomes available again and can lie heavy on your hands. Your
routine has disappeared and you feel rudderless.
Everything seems grey.
This can be particularly hard if you are a person
who likes to solve problems, which is often true of men. You have been working
hard at helping your
cat, and now not only are you no longer doing that, but you probably blame
yourself for not solving your cat's CKD problem, even though it is not a
need a rest anyway, but if time is lying heavy on your hands, try to do
small things each day that occupy your mind a little,
even if they are still focused on your cat - some people have found it
helpful to make a scrapbook about their cat, for example. See
below for more
tips on this. Alternatively,
do something you couldn't do while your cat was sick, such as going to the
Guilt, Regret and Bargaining
Ah, the biggies. These emotions are an extremely common reaction to bereavement,
so it is highly likely that you will find yourself regretting and blaming
yourself for something you did
or did not do.
This is the
stage when you torture yourself with all the "what ifs." If only I had fed
my cat a different food. If only I'd been more diligent with the
phosphorus binders. I wonder if I acted too quickly. I wonder if I left
things too late.
If only I could have my cat back, I would never do anything bad ever
Close behind this comes the guilt.
Many, many people feel guilty for not noticing their cats' CKD sooner,
even though this is actually normal - you cannot usually detect CKD until
at least 66% of function is gone.
guilty for choosing euthanasia, and for not choosing euthanasia. They feel
guilty for having their cats put to sleep too soon, and for waiting too
long. Whatever decision they made, whatever happened, whether it was
within their control or not, they find something to feel guilty about.
There are many strong contenders for medal places in the Guilt Olympics.
You may also feel guilty if your cat did not manage long after diagnosis -
you may feel cheated or wonder if you made mistakes in caring for your
We are often
brought up to believe that if only we try hard, we can fix everything. The
truth is we cannot. Guilt is one way we refuse to accept that not
everything is within our control.
Although it is
often possible to buy quality time for a CKD cat, the disease IS terminal,
and by the law of averages some cats are not going to manage long after
diagnosis. Please do not beat yourself up if this happens to you, but try
to take comfort in the fact that you did your best with the knowledge you
had at the time. Nobody can ever do more than their best.
change the past, however guilty you feel. After I lost Thomas, I kept
reliving his death and the hours before, even though he didn't seem to be
in pain and his crossing was peaceful. I just felt haunted by it. The only
way I managed to cope was by telling myself "he is at peace now, he is at
peace now." You need to find some peace too. One possible way is to try to
learn from the past and use what you know going forward.
reason for feeling guilty, please remember that
feeling guilty is a natural, integral part of the grieving process. You
were obviously a good guardian to your cat, or you wouldn't be torturing
yourself like this. Only responsible people do it. Try writing a letter to
your cat explaining why you did what you did and asking for forgiveness
for anything you got wrong. It might sound strange, since you can never
send the letter, but some people find it helps them a lot.
threatens to overwhelm you, ask yourself: would you be so
harsh towards a stranger who had cared for their cat as you cared for
yours? I doubt it. I hear from people regularly who have moved heaven and
earth to help their cat, but they still find something to feel guilty
about. The pain and guilt you feel are simply evidence of how
much you loved your cat.
If you feel
guilty about something medical, it can help to talk to your vet to clarify
because you may have the wrong end of the stick.
Beliefnet has some information on coping
people are surprised by it, anger is a common reaction to loss. You may
feel angry with your vet for not saving your cat. You may feel angry at yourself.
You may feel angry at CKD, the disease over which you have only some
degree of control, and perhaps angry with me, because the site raised your
hopes but your cat was not one of the lucky ones (if it's any consolation,
I've never had years with my CKD cats, even though I run this site).
You may be
angry with your family and friends for not understanding your pain. You
may be angry about people enjoying themselves when you are suffering. You may
even be angry with
your cat for leaving you.
feel angry with their other cats for being healthy, comparing them
unfavourably with their deceased cat, particularly if they were
more bonded with the deceased cat. This is also normal, but try to
remember that your surviving cat has no control over the situation; it
simply wasn't his/her time. In fact, feeling somewhat detached from your
other cats is a part of grief, a protective mechanism because you do not
want to be too attached in case you lose them too. As time passes, you may find that you
bond more with the surviving cat, though this does not always happen.
You may also
feel anger if you lose a young cat or a kitten. Although losing a cat of
any age hurts, losing a kitten goes against the natural order of things,
so you may feel cheated and angry about being deprived of many happy years
together. But losing an older cat hurts too, because you have a shared
history. Basically, it just hurts.
All of these
are natural reactions.
Anger and fear are linked, so anger may be a sign, for example, that you
fear you or your vet did not do enough for your cat. If you feel angry
with your vet, you could call and ask for a chat: vets know clients
sometimes feel this way, and will usually be happy to provide information
to reassure you about what happened.
subject is feeling a sense of relief after your cat has died. This is
actually normal when you have been caring for a terminally ill patient. If
you analyse your feelings, you will probably find that you are not feeling
relief that your cat has died; rather, you are feeling relief that the CKD
is gone, that you are able to climb off the emotional rollercoaster. You
are feeling relief from the stress and uncertainty, and there
is no shame in that.
If you do feel this way, try not to feel guilty.
Instead, focus on all the care you gave your cat and remember that your cat
would never reproach you for carrying on with your life after he or she is
gone. You have carried the responsibility for your cat's life daily for
however long, and it is stressful. Harpsie had a lot of health issues
throughout his life, and although I gladly helped him, it wasn't until
lost him and I no longer had to worry about his wellbeing that I realised
how stressful it had been. I certainly missed Harpsie but I didn't miss
time available after a death that was previously given to caring for your
sick cat can lie heavy on your hands at first, you may feel some relief
that you have more time for hobbies and other pleasures, or even just
sleep. Your financial situation will almost certainly improve. Don't feel
bad about this, you will have enough grief on your hands, so do not feel
guilty about the aspects of your loss that reduce your stress levels.
One of the
hardest things to cope with can be a feeling of isolation. Many people are
very uncomfortable with the idea of death and simply do not know what to
say to the bereaved.
people simply do not understand why we grieve for cats. People make
tactless comments which can really hurt, such as "it was only a cat" or
"you can always get another one." I wonder if they would also
say to somebody who had just lost a child or spouse "why don't you get
The comment I
found most hurtful when Tanya died was "well, at least you have another
cat", as if cats are interchangeable. In the end, I used to point out that
although Harpsie certainly was an exceptional cat, he had not mastered the
art of being both himself and Tanya simultaneously.
Try to remember
that these people are well-meaning, if misguided and seek support
elsewhere (see below). If
anybody you don't particularly want to talk to about your loss does ask,
say something simple such as "it's hard for me to talk about at the
moment, but thank you for asking." Always remember that your feelings are perfectly valid and that
there is nothing wrong in feeling your grief. Feeling grief shows that you
are capable of love, hardly something to be ashamed of.
Grief can be particularly hard to cope with during the holiday season.
Being surrounded by people who appear happy and who are in party mood can
make you feel even more isolated.
To anyone grieving this holiday season
(2016) Coriell E Huffington Post has some tips on how to cope at
Worrying About an Afterlife
I am sometimes asked by Christians whether I believe that animals go to
heaven. I'm no theologian, but I believe that if humans do, so do cats. It
wouldn't be much of a heaven for me without my cats!
The traditional Christian view is that human souls survive the death of
the body, but many believe that this is not the case for animals. Some
people believe this is because humans are capable of sin, so they will not
automatically go to heaven, whereas animals are incapable of sin, so there is
no need to mention them going to heaven specifically because they do not
need to cleanse and redeem themselves.
I Will See You
In Heaven (2011) Wintz J Paraclete Press is a book on the subject.
It is available from
People who do not believe in an afterlife may feel that their loss is
harder to bear because they have nothing to look forward to. I believe
that love survives. The physical body may be gone, but the love, the
energy of the cat, lives on. Just because you can no longer see your cat,
does not mean s/he is not present in some way. I have lost count of the
number of people who have told me they have caught a glimpse of their
deceased cat out of the corner of their eye (this has happened to me too).
Albert Einstein said
“Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That
means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the
distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly
Rainbow Bridge is the story of a
place where animals wait for their humans until they are able to enter
It can be
particularly hard watching your children grieve, because nobody
likes to see their children in pain.
Try to be
honest and to use simple, clear language. Be careful
about using the expression "put to sleep" when talking to children,
because they often do not fully understand this concept and it can make
them afraid to go to sleep in case they too never wake up.
to talk and express their fears, and let them see that you are grieving
too and that there is nothing wrong in feeling this way and talking about
it. Making memorials of some kind (see
below) can help children mourn.
has some information on
helping children deal with grief.
Other Feline Family Members
You may also
have to deal with other feline family members who are distressed by the
loss of their companion.
may search for their companion or become subdued.
Owners' perceptions of their animal's behavioural response to the loss of
an animal companion (2016) Walker JK, Waran NK & Phillips CJC
Animals6(68) found that people who had lost a cat or dog
observed behavioural changes in their surviving animals, "including
increased affectionate behaviour, territorial behaviour, and changes in
food consumption and vocalisation." The study concludes that further
studies are necessary "to establish whether these
behavioural changes are indeed a reflection of loss, result from a
reduction in competition for resources or are a consequence of change in
owner behaviour resulting from either their own feelings of grief or
concern that their companion animal is grieving."
think our other cats are grieving in their own way. Harpsie fell
into a deep decline after Tanya died.
Try to keep to
your normal routine for your cats' sake, so feed them at the usual times
and make sure they do eat.
Talk to your surviving cat(s). I always talk to my
cats, and not in baby talk but with an adult tone - after all, they are
adults, just of a different species. Tell them what has
happened and give them lots of love and attention. It can help to comfort
all of you.
Treatments) may help here, particularly Star of Bethlehem, as may
Do cats grieve? Johnson-Bennett Pet
Behavior Associates discusses how to
help a grieving cat and emphasises the need to try to keep the cat's
routine as normal as possible.
Here is one
lady's experience of grief written very shortly after her cat,
Gus, died after 15 years together. I think it is extremely moving.
have peace, but peace does not have a cold nose, a pink tongue, whiskers
or a warm purr. Peace does not use the litterbox, hurl hairballs or
wake me at two in the morning because it got lonely and wanted to crawl
under the covers. The sure knowledge that I did the best I could
does not demand fresh running water in the bathtub, lose its toys under
the living room couch or chase moths. And even that wonderful sense
of love I knew after my kitty-cat crossed, does not meow when I come home
late or interrupt me at the computer with a warm paw on my leg, asking for
a lap and a cuddle. And though a fresh new set of paws will one day
walk into my heart, the here-and-now, day-to-day presence of a creature
who knew me better than I know myself, loved me better than I love myself
(and let me know that on a regular basis, conceited little creature that
he was), is gone. Peace is a wonderful thing, but it doesn't wear
And when I miss that fur so much, when the grief swells and threatens to
consume me, the memory of my bond with my fur-person grounds me. It
tells me to look forward and celebrate the joy that bounded into my life
so many years ago; to pause and ground myself, let the love that was there
surface and know that the love is still there. It's lonelier on this
side, but if I ride out the grief I come full circle back to the peace.
It doesn't wear fur and it doesn't stop tears, but it does bring the
memory of love and changes the tears from those of desperate sorrow to
those of healing and of hope."
about expressing your grief. Mourning includes talking about your loss,
crying, creating photo albums celebrating your cat.
When a human dies, we have the ritual of a
funeral and creating a resting place for the body, which are things we can
also do for our cats if we wish (see
help you progress along your grief journey. These are some ways to mourn:
kind of memorial for your cat can be very comforting and an important part
When I lost
Tanya, I was so upset that I blocked things out. When I think of her, I
tend to think of her in her last few months rather than as she was in the
many years before then. Creating memorials can ensure this does not happen
like to make a donation of some kind in memory of their cat.
They may donate
their unused supplies to a cat in need or to their local shelter. Other
people like to donate to CKD research. You can read more about this
Gratefulness allows you to light a
memorial candle online. The candle stays alight for 48 hours.
Written or Photographic Memorials
find it therapeutic to create a letter, journal or book about their cat. Remember
things that were unique about your cat and write them down.
I created an
memorial page for Tanya and found it did help
You can also
create hardback books and videos online. You can often use text and
photographs, though some people only use photographs. You upload the
photographs from your computer and then play around with the layout until
you are happy with it. Check for online discount codes before you buy.
Mixbook offers this service and has some
tips on how to do it.
Jewellery is a
popular choice. You can either buy an item of jewellery that reminds you
of your cat, or you can even have some of your cat's ashes turned into a
piece of personalised jewellery. If you have a Pandora charm bracelet or
similar, you can often get charms made to fit.
sells a silver cat necklace, which is shipped from the UK. Some members of
Tanya's Loss Support Group have bought this and like it.
is a reconstruction of your cat's nose and face in silver. I bought one of
these when I lost Indie. You can also do these with living cats, in fact
they come out better.
The company was very nice and very professional. I also got a miniaturised
pawprint silver charm from them for my traditional charm bracelet.
offers the same service for US$125. The proceeds apparently support
Felt 2 Rescue
also offers this service, and donates what you pay (apart from
shipping costs) to a shelter of your choosing from their list of possible
beneficiaries. It appear that you have to place your order via facebook.
will create a blanket with photos of your cat. Other products are
You can plant
something in your cat's honour, and sit out near it in the summer. We
planted roses for our cats. The rose for Thomas was called Happy Wanderer,
because having been the local stray, he did enjoy walking around his
choose to have some ashes mixed with tattoo ink and receive a tattoo of
Grief is lonely and very isolating, but support is available.
It is often thought that being able to talk to others about your
loss can help you feel better. I think that depends upon a number
of factors. When I lost Tanya and Thomas, I wanted to talk about
how I felt, but kept getting choked up, so writing was easier, and
I used boards and e-mail for a long time, which helped me a lot.
When I lost Indie though, I did not really want to talk about it
or her at all, in person or online. I've no idea why I felt this
way. All I know is, you must do what feels right to you.
If you want to talk, choose your audience carefully. I would not
talk to people who do not understand how much it hurts to lose a
cat. If you have friends or family who understand, that is
wonderful. Alternatively, there are some resources below,
including my online support group.
If you do not want to talk, that is fine, with one condition: if
you feel suicidal, please seek help. Please. I would hate to think
somebody reading this feels so low without any support. People do
care, so please reach out. Please contact your medical
professional, the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at
This is a free private online group I have set up for all those who have lost a cat
(whether to CKD or some other cause) and
who need some emotional support. In order to join it, you must join my
main support group (just click on the above link and respond to the two
messages you will receive), but you don't have to use or look at the main
You are welcome to post to the group for support, or just read messages
from other members, whatever works best for you.
hours a day, 365 days a year, by phone or e-mail. You do not have to be
suicidal to contact The Samaritans - they are always happy to talk to
anybody who is grieving or distressed. Their service is completely free
sites contain compilations of various grief support resources, though it
is not always easy to tell how old they are.
offers a free
pet bereavement service. Call 0800 096 6606 (free call) between 8.30 a.m.
and 8.30 p.m. any day (there is an answerphone outside these hours) and
you will be given the details of your nearest telephone befriender. This
service is completely free apart from the cost of your call to your
nearest befriender (which is charged at the local rate wherever possible),
and all calls are confidential.
Offers a support hotline, provided by veterinary students trained by
professional grief counsellors, which is available between 6 p.m. and 9
p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The phone number is (607) 253
similar service. The phone number is
1-(217) 552-5371. The service is
Wednesday afternoons 1-5 pm Central Time. they will return calls within 24
hours if you leave a message at other times.
The ASPCA Pet Loss Hotline
Is available at (877) GRIEF-10. I understand that the person who responds
is a retired clinical psychologist who specialises in pet loss. If not
available, they will
call back within 24 hours
is linked to the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.
They offer four free individual, family or couple grief support sessions,
or eight for clients of the college. They also offer an in-house
pet loss support group.
Here are some
resources which you may find helpful. Please see
above for support.
When you are in
the midst of grief, you cannot imagine ever feeling happy again; but keep
going. Breathe in, breathe out.
Complicated grief and posttraumatic stress
disorder in humans' response to the death of pets/animals
Adrian JA, Deliramich AN & Frueh BC Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic73(3) pp176-187 found that around 30% of people in the study
experienced grief for six months or more. Therefore when people hint you should be "over it" by
you will know they are talking nonsense. You take as long as you need.
You are probably horrified at the idea of six months of this pain, but
please don't panic. In my experience (nine losses) and that of others
I've spoken to, the first 2-3 weeks are the most painful. After that,
you don't suddenly wake up and feel happy again, but the pain changes to
a quieter, deeper kind of pain that somehow I found easier to bear. I
can't guarantee that this will happen for you but it is certainly
Just as living
with CKD was a rollercoaster, so is grief. At the beginning, you will
naturally have many more bad days than good ones. Some days you will feel
you are beginning to do a little better, and then the next day you will
feel terrible again.
All this is
normal. Just take each day at a time, savour the better days and try to
keep going through the bad days. Above all, be gentle on yourself.
some people are well along the path of their grief journey they find that
they worry about moving further forward, because they feel disloyal to
their cat in some way, or they fear that as the pain lessens, so will
their memories. Yes, in a weird way they actually miss that horrible acute
pain you may be feeling right now!
I think this is
understandable, but try not to worry, because your love for your cat will
never die. Moving forward does not dishonour your cat in any way. But time
passes, and to an extent it heals, and gradually since you are still
living in this world, you will find your way in it and even find new
happiness in new things. Clinging to your grief does not help your cat in
any way, but it can hurt you. Remember, your cat loved you and would want
you to be happy.
will become used to not having your cat around. This is a sad moment, but
it will happen, though you will still get moments when it hurts. Basically
you want the pain to
end, but it also hurts when it does. It can feel disloyal to your cat to
move on, but clinging to the past does not help your cat, nor does it help
you. Your cat lives on in your heart forever.
One day you
should realise that gradually the balance of good days to bad days has
changed. You will cry less, you will even find things that make you smile.
As time passes, you should eventually notice that your emotions have
changed from 99% pain and 1% happy memories to 1% pain and 99% happy
"What will survive of us is love."
An Arundel Tomb
Should I Get
something that worries many people, both whether to do it, and if so, when
to do it.
Whether to get
another cat is automatic for some people. They always have cats, and if
one dies, they get another. There are also people who are not planning to
get a cat, but somebody asks them to rehome a cat and suddenly they have a
At the other
extreme are people who never get another cat at all because they simply
cannot face the thought of having to go through the pain of bereavement
again at some point in the future. Other people may not get another cat
for practical reasons, e.g. they are shortly moving home, or cannot afford
the basics for a new cat, or they are elderly and concerned that they
might outlive the new cat. Or they are holding out for the cat who feels
When to get
another cat is another consideration. There is no "right time" to go and
get another cat, if indeed you ever do. Some people, often those with no
other cats, cannot bear the emptiness of their home and go and get another
cat quite quickly, within a week of losing their first cat. Others wait
weeks, months. or even years.
important thing is to do what feels right for you personally at a time
when it feels right. If
it does not feel right, then don't do it.
If you feel guilty for contemplating getting another cat, let those
feelings go. A new cat can never "replace" your cat, because they are all
different and unique. However, if you feel fear, or dread, or as if you
"ought to" adopt, then it is probably better to wait for a while.
I am normally
not in a hurry to get another cat following a loss. After Tanya
died, I couldn't bear to add another cat to our family since it meant the pain of
loss would one day follow. However, Harpsie, a very sociable cat who had
never been an only cat, had other ideas: he became so depressed and then
physically ill after
Tanya died that we had to acquire another cat on our vet's advice a
month after we lost Tanya. It did the trick for Harpsie, Indie did indeed
cheer him up; and although it did not happen overnight, I fell in love
with her too. Some people feel that getting another cat is showing
disloyalty to their deceased cat, but although I felt this way myself to
start with, I soon realised that Indie would never take Tanya's place in
my heart (she had her own place), that helping Indie would not hurt Tanya,
and, since Indie was a rescue cat, I was confident that Tanya would in
fact be pleased that we were helping a cat in need in her memory.
When Indie died
very suddenly and unexpectedly many years later, my reaction was very different. I began
looking for another cat the next day. I still have no idea why I felt I
had to do this, but I did, it just felt right this time around. Not only
that, but having not adopted a kitten for over twenty years, I suddenly
felt I had to have kittens.
If you do get
another cat, in my experience it can often help with the grieving
experience. I could not bring Indie back, but I had to smile when I
watched my kittens play. I say that even though one of the kittens who
succeeded Indie died less than a year later.
be prepared for a period of uncertainty at first, when you find yourself
comparing your new cat to your deceased cat and find the new cat wanting.
You may subconsciously have hoped that your new cat would be a clone of
your deceased cat, only to be disappointed. Be patient, both with the new
cat and yourself. This is a new relationship, and you need to give it time
to grow. If you do that, you should gradually learn to appreciate your new
cat's quirks and unique personality. You may also be anxious about your
new cat, panicking at every possible sign of ill health. This is normal
after a loss, but should improve with time.
is infinite. Loving a new cat does not mean you have less love for your
deceased cat; rather, your heart will grow as you learn to love your new
If you are not
100% sure, but want to help cats, you could consider either volunteering
at your local shelter, or fostering rather than adoption. This way, you
can help a cat in need but without a permanent commitment.
you already have another cat who is older and
you decide to get another cat, I would think twice
about getting a kitten. It can be hard for elderly people to cope with
young babies and toddlers, and the same goes for cats, especially if a
young kitten keeps trying to play with the older cat. I would consider
getting a cat who is a bit older and beyond the manic youngster stage. If
you do decide to go for a kitten, get two: that way they can play
together, and the older cat can watch their antics but not be worn out by
being asked to play all the time. This is what I did after Indie died. I
still had Karma, who was sixteen, so in fairness to her I eventually
adopted two kittens, so they could entertain Karma by playing together,
but leave her in peace. Karma had severe arthritis and was not very mobile
but she was very interested in the kittens and I feel watching them did
give her pleasure.
If you already
have a surviving cat and you decide to get another cat, please introduce
them carefully. Imagine how your existing cat feels when suddenly faced
with a newcomer. "Where is my
friend, and why is this stranger here?" will no doubt be going through your
cat's mind. A careful introduction can make the entire process much easier
and less stressful for everyone.
Harpsie's site explains how to introduce
a new cat.
Perhaps. For love there is also a season; its seeds must be resown. But a
family cat is not replaceable like a worn out coat or a set of tyres. Each
new kitten becomes its own cat, and none is repeated. I am four cats old,
measuring out my life in friends that have succeeded but not replaced one
light you loved.
I shall sleep
alone and, stirring, touch an empty place.
I shall write
Would that your
gentle paw could stir my moving
pen just once
I shall see
beauty, but none to match
I shall hear
music, but none so sweet as the
with which you loved me.
I shall fill my
days, but I shall not, can not, forget.
TREATING YOUR CAT WITHOUT VETERINARY ADVICE CAN BE
tried very hard to ensure that the information provided in this website is
accurate, but I am NOT a vet, just an ordinary person who has lived
through CKD with three cats. This website is for educational purposes
only, and is not intended to be used to diagnose or treat any cat. Before
trying any of the treatments described herein, you MUST consult a
qualified veterinarian and obtain professional advice on the correct
regimen for your cat and his or her particular requirements; and you
should only use any treatments described here with the full knowledge and
approval of your vet. No responsibility can be accepted.
If your cat
appears to be in pain or distress, do not waste time on the internet,
contact your vet immediately.
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created using Microsoft software, and therefore it is best viewed in
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browsers, but I'm not an IT expert so I'm afraid I don't know how to
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is on making the information available. When I get time, I'll try to
improve how it displays in other browsers.
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one copy to give to your vet, but this site may not otherwise be
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