As pet lovers, we hold all animals near and dear to our hearts. But for me in particular, cat’s reside in a special place, tucked neatly away with childhood memories and times my Grandmother made me laugh. As comfort animals cats are peerless; at the worst of times they’ll simply ignore you, but at the best of times they’ll curl up and snuggle you all night long.
Unfortunately, even these feline companions will eventually go through their nine lives… So how do you keep going when that happens? Today we’ll be going through how to manage grief in the absence of your four-legged friend.
The course that grief will take is unpredictable and can vary from owner to owner. It could be months of sleepless nights, it could be a loss of appetite, it could be wanting to be alone; it could be a range of different feelings, emotions and reactions, but that’s ok too. To grieve is to be human, and no one can help that. From experience, grief must be allowed run its course, otherwise it can become stagnant, festering into a still-bleeding wound… It never leaves us no matter how much time passes, but time will help it feel smaller!
While some choose to take time and reflect during grief, some choose to keep pushing, to keep going despite the loss they’ve suffered. One way to push through grief is to adopt a new kitten or perhaps take on with the life of an older, more mature cat. Many owners report feelings of guilt with moving on so swiftly, but offering your home, time and care to a new pet, whether that be an older queen or a fresh-faced kitten, is one of the most selfless things you can do as an owner. Trust us, your old friend would be glad to see you take on with a fellow feline once again.
Unlike for humans, having a formal ceremony for a pet is seen as outlandish, but any ceremony to remember a pet is a worthwhile one; to remember them for the love they brought into your life, the joy they made you feel and the time you spent together. A ceremony can help you adjust and is the first step towards accepting their death and learning to live without them; to allow grief to run its course is the bravest thing any owner can do — after all, what is grief if not love persevering?
If a ceremony, be it informal or formal, doesn’t suit you, perhaps a smaller gathering of friends and family at a memorial token would suit better? This can be your cat’s ashes, a clay statue dedicated to them, a plaque on a bench in your garden or the enshrinement of one of their favourite toys. Whatever works, whatever helps, whatever eases the pain of their loss; it doesn’t matter so long as it helps you.
To mourn is to remember a pet for the love they brought into your life. It is accepting their death and learning to live without them. We reorganise, we restructure and we keep going, to get out of that torpor and to remember the parts of them that we cherished in life. The loss of a pet is something that you do not have to go through on your own. Family and friends will always be there for you, to support and help you process it.
If someone you know has suffered or is currently suffering the loss of a pet; be there for them, offer them your support or time to talk and make sure they have no regrets with their pet. It can be just as devastating as losing a family member and there is a grieving process just like any other loss.