Posts Tagged ‘death of a pet’

Heaven Cats: Kids Dealing with Grief

As parents we do what we can to protect our kids, steering them clear of sadness, hiding them from cruelty. It’s true they are vulnerable, more so than us, and we want to preserve their innocence, hold off on tainting them with skepticism, doubt, and fear that we as adult seem to know all too well.

But some things you cannot hide from your kids, like the death of a pet. One of our family cats became very ill within the last few days. We had lost two other cats recently to the same illness but that doesn’t make this loss any easier. It was obvious to even the kids that Tick (our cat) was not well and really struggled with her disease near the end. We all tried our best to make her comfortable and pay her extra attention but her condition quickly worsened.
We were hoping Tick would make it past Monday since it was my oldest daughter’s ninth birthday and having one of your favourite animals, a member of the family, die on your birthday isn’t something you would wish on even an enemy. But all hope and prayer aside, it would have been very unfair to Tick to prolong her discomfort and sadness. We hated seeing her in a constant state of depression, unable to walk or even stand on her own, so my husband and I decided to ease her suffering at the vet’s office.

I don’t believe in lying to kids. Some truths are painful and have to be faced but the degree of truth can be adjusted. We told the kids that Tick has passed away in her sleep during the afternoon, when they were at school, so they wouldn’t feel as though they missed saying goodbye to her. I did make sure they all visited her in the morning before heading out but I didn’t see the need to send them to school heartbroken and distraught. Some might disagree with what I did but I can live with my decision.

Of course my kids were devastated, especially my oldest. I think she was also angry that Tick has died on her birthday. Of course she wished Tick had held out a little longer but my daughter also knew that Tick was in pain and really, any day is not a good day for a friend to die.

I don’t know what tore my insides up more, the fact that Tick was gone or that my daughter was so upset over her passing. And although it should have been me, the mother, who offered the reassuring voice, the person to bring comfort to a difficult situation, it was my daughter. It was her and her Heaven Cats.

Heaven Cats is an imaginary world involving, you guessed it, cat spirits. It use to just be made up cats, living wonderful lives free of want and suffering, but with the passing of three of our five cats, Heaven Cats took on a whole new meaning. The cats were no longer imaginary but rather the spirits of our cats. They lived their days enjoying anything and everything they wanted. Sometimes they would visit us, walk with the kids to school, hang out and listen to a story, sleep on a pile of pillows in my daughter’s room.

My daughter was indeed update by Tick’s passing, but somehow knowing that Tick wasn’t gone, that her spirit lingered or could be called on when comfort was needed, was reassuring to my kids (and to me). I don’t think this avoids the fact that our cat had died – my kids knew Tick was gone – but it made thinking about her passing easier. This was especially important since Tick seemed to be in so much pain near the end, not able to do the things she use to do. Now as a Heaven Cat she was hanging out in a jacuzzi tub, eating ice cream, chasing butterflies and visiting the kids for a walk home from school.

I guess sometimes kids are more resilient than we give them credit for.

We’ll always be sad and miss Tick but it’s nice to know she’s out there, hanging around, keeping an eye on us (between milk baths and back rubs of course).

Losing a Pet: Guilt, Grief and Stories

If you have a pet you know how they are more than just a pet, they become part of your family. Pets are like children really, they look to us to feed them and care for them because they can’t, usually. And in return they give you love and companionship.

Maybe that’s what makes loosing a pet so hard, at least for me. Yesterday we had to put one of our cats down. She was in the final stages of renal failure and was in pain. She wasn’t eating or drinking and walking seemed very difficult. It was sad to watch her in this state, especially since it seemed to happen so quickly, like in a matter of days.

Of course I’m sad but I have this overwhelming sense of guilt weighing me down. I feel somewhat responsible for my cats declining health. No I didn’t mistreat her; she was well-loved, but being an indoor cat I probably didn’t take her to the vet for regular check-ups, didn’t take great care of her teeth, brushed her occasionally. I realize she was old, over 15 years, but how can I not sit her and feel that something I have done and didn’t do lead to this. If I had taken her to the vet regularly could her condition have been caught sooner and dealt with? I couldn’t even bring myself to ask the vet for fear of what her answer would be.

I remember when our cat was born (she was 1 of 6 kittens born in our tiny one-bedroom closet). It was just my husband and I, no house, no kids. The mother cat, who still lives with us by the way, became sick after the kittens were born so my husband and I had to take care of them like we were their mother. We had to bottle feed them and keep them extra warm and teach them to go to the bathroom. I use to get up at 3:30 in the morning and come home on my lunch hour to feed them; it was just like having kids I thought in my limited kid world. I didn’t begrudge the role but it certainly confirmed to me in my newly married state that I wasn’t ready for kids of my own.

Our cat’s passing also affected our kids, well my 8-year old. It’s not that my 3 and 6-year old don’t care, they just don’t seem to comprehend what’s happened and that’s fine too. My 8-year old was crushed. Before our cat became sick my daughter had created a blanket bed in her room. She didn’t create it for our cat but that’s where she spend all her time when she was unwell. It’s like there was a connection between my daughter and our cat. The same thing happened when the kittens arrived. They didn’t arrive until we created a space on our closet floor, like we knew this was something needed. My 8-year old went to bed with our cat sitting there and woke up to greet her.

We had to put down our older cat almost 4-years ago, weeks after our youngest daughter was born. My kids always talk to Limburger, our older cat. They like to imagine he’s walking with them to school or playing a game in the backyard. I told my kids that now Limburger had a buddy, someone to hangout with and Munch would have someone to show her around. Now instead of Limburger visiting, both cats might pop by. I think this helped my oldest daughter deal with our cat’s death. I’m not saying the cat isn’t dead, I don’t believe in making up stories, but having her spirit around is fine. Lots of people believe this when it comes to the passing of family so why should a pet be any different.

After our visit to the vet to say our goodbye (my husband was brave enough to stay with Munch as she was euthanized so she wouldn’t be on her own), we order in chinese food, my 8-year old daughter’s comfort food. We talked about the crazy things Munch did when she was here and the bond she had with Limburger our older cat. We laughed at the stories and remembered her in her fun, active state.

I think loosing a pet is hard, harder than I expected, but as long as we don’t forget our pets they’re never really gone and I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Missing a friend

Today’s Writer’s Digest poetry prompt is about something that is missing (either physically or metaphorically). Thoughts of our old cat Limburger popped into my head, even without much thought. He came into my life almost the same time my husband did. He was a birthday gift from my sister. She told me she had a gift and need to give it to me that night for fear it would go bad. I joked about her giving me Limburger cheese, thus his name.

He became quite ill and we made the very hard decision to put him down in December 2006 (the same time my youngest was born). My son was close to Limburger since he was the only male cat. He thought the boys needed to stick together and look out for each other. Even though Limburger is gone, I still feel him in the house, sometimes seeing him out of the corner of my eye. That’s what prompted my poem submission for today:


I sit in the living room
reading a book.
Was that you
walking just out of view in the hall?

I work in the office
finishing some paperwork.
Was that you
playing with the rolling pencil on the floor?

I cook in the kitchen
getting dinner ready.
Was that you
asking for a piece of cheese?

I lay in bed
trying to fall asleep.
Was that you
warming the bottom of the bed with your fur as you purr?

I know you’re gone
but you’ll always be here.

I love you.


The boys just hanging out

The boys just hanging out

From the mouths of babes

We received some sad news recently about a family pet. My husband’s parents were watching a family member’s pet dog when it escaped into traffic. It unfortunately died.  When our kids heard the news they were upset about Scooby of course, but more by the fact that people they knew were upset. The kids made pictures to try give to Nana and Gramps to make them feel better. But my favourite part was my youngest’s plan

I’m  going to go over and fix the dog, all by myself and Nana and Gramps will be happy again!

This whole episode also brought out a new ability in my son. He told me on the way to school that he can see from Earth to Heaven so he’ll be able to keep a watch on Scooby for everyone.

I love the way kids think. It’s too bad that as we age and grow in wisdom we also loose our sense of wonder.