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Coping with Pet Loss: What No One Tells You

When you adopt a cat or kitten, there’s a lot they don’t tell you. Sure, everyone has an opinion on what kind of food to get, what kind of litter to use, whether to declaw or not, indoor only or outdoor adventure time.

But they don’t tell you what REALLY matters. They don’t tell you what will happen when you lose your cat. Because losing a pet is unspeakably hard.

10 Truths No One Tells You About Losing a Pet- If you or someone you know lost a pet recently and is trying to figure out how to cope, send them this article. Grieving is a very personal experience, but there are things no one will tell you that you need to know about the death of a pet.

No one wants to think about it, no one wants to talk about it. They can’t imagine life without Mr. Whiskers and why should they? He’s just fine thank you very much. But someone oughta tell the truth about what happens to you when your cat dies. So today, I’m gonna be that person.

10 Truths No One Tells You About Losing a Pet

I write this post through stinging, blinding tears. The wounds in my heart are still raw and oozing. The grief is palpable.

We lost our beloved Loki only three days ago. It feels like an eternity has passed without him, yet it feels like he should still be here.

I adopted him when he was just 8 weeks old, and he spent 13 not-long-enough years being my closest companion. I’m simultaneously a rookie and an expert on grief.

I choke back sobs as I look for photos of him to use in this post. I pull the first few I can find, because I can’t bear to look for better ones.

Here’s what they don’t tell you about coping with pet loss and the guilt that comes with it:

They don’t tell you that after losing a pet, you’ll cry. All the time. A lot. You’ll be wracked with sobs then wracked with guilt.

Guilt for “letting” your pet die, guilt for putting him down, guilt for every time you left him at home when you went to work, guilt for shooing him off the bed the night before he left you forever…then guilt for feeling like your world is torn apart over a cat.

Then you’ll cry more. You’ll remember bringing him home for the first time, when he climbed up onto your shoulder and wailed for his mommy. Then you became his mommy. And now you’re the one wailing.

They don’t tell you that even though you hated cats, that somehow this little bugger will weasel his way into your very soul with his big eyes.

10 Truths No One Tells You About Losing a Pet
The evidence of his paper shredding habit is dangling right there from his lip. No shame at all.

They don’t tell you that even if you think cats are assholes (and let’s not canonize the dead…Loki could be a grade-A jerkface at times) one day you will miss the creature that shredded all your important papers.

The one who tracked cat litter onto your desk.

The one who sat on your keyboard while you were working. The one who bit your toes and pawed your face at 3am because he wanted to play.

You’ll miss all the douchey things. Every single one of them.

10 Truths No One Tells You About Losing a Pet
Yes that’s my to-do list. I ain’t even mad.

They don’t tell you that one day your cat will die, and you will go to throw away his litter box and somehow that poop receptacle will make you break down into uncontrollable sobs, to the point where your neighbors might actually call the cops for fear that you are being stabbed. But the only thing that’s stabbing you is heartache.

Then you realize that you’re crying over a shit box. You cry harder.

They don’t tell you that after losing a pet that there won’t be words for your anguish, that you’ll feel powerless to explain how you really feel, and likely a swath of guilt. So instead of trying to articulate the knot in your stomach, you tell everyone you’re “fine”.

They don’t tell you that after losing a pet, even when you *know* you made the right decision whether to put him down or not, you’ll question everything. You’ll agonize over every decision you’ve made in his life. Did you take him off the kitten chow formula too soon? Was he maybe allergic to that cat litter?

Did he feel the same soul-crushing love for you as you did for him? Did he know that you had soul-crushing love for him? What if you didn’t show him how much you loved him?

10 Truths No One Tells You About Losing a Pet

They don’t tell you that after losing a pet, you’ll wish you spent more time with him. Maybe you wish you could have taken a leave of absence from work to soak up all the love you could before it was all ripped away from you. Maybe you know that’s crazy, but right now you don’t care.

They don’t tell you that after losing a pet his memory will haunt you. You’ll think you see and hear him. You’ll panic for a moment you forgot to feed him. Or wonder where he is. You will remember he’s gone and then you’ll die a little inside all over again.

They don’t tell you that after losing a cat, your dog will look at you like you’re out of your mind every time you start to sob for no reason. He knows something is up, but mostly he’s excited that he gets all the attention. They don’t tell you that secretly, you’ll resent him and his blissful ignorance because secretly the cat was your favorite as he was your first pet.

Then you’ll feel guilty about that too.

What they DO tell you about losing a pet is that in time, the wounds heal and life goes on. And they are right about that.

In time, we will heal. The wounds will scab over, and the pain will subside. Eventually scars will form, never fully returning to “normal” but to a new normal. But every day, I’ll miss that little rascal who earned the name Loki with his mischievous antics. And I will never forget the 13 years of love and shredded paper he gave us.

There is no wrong way to grieve, so long as the grief is a flowing river, not a stagnant pond. Don’t unpack and live in your grief. Let it flow at whatever speed you choose, but don’t let it get the best of you. <3

If you’ve recently lost a pet, I’m holding space for you in my heart, and sending all my love and condolences and I hope this post helps you heal in whatever way possible.

What have you learned from the loss of a beloved pet?

Mish

Friday 24th of May 2024

Thank you for sharing this. I just lost my baby Miffy, my beautiful 11 year old boy. And I don’t know how to cope with this loss. I’m so lost and alone without him.

Heather

Tuesday 7th of May 2024

My little buddy died three days ago. He was hit by a car. We live in the quietest, safest neighbourhood and somehow a car managed to find my little guy. I’m so mad and it’s so unfair. I feel guilty for letting him go outside even though there was no way this cat wasn’t going out. He was made to go outside. He was 1000% an outdoor cat. He was so happy outside. We gardened and he played with the kids. He moused. He made cat friends. He made people friends. The entire neighbourhood knew and loved him. The tiny orange cat with a stub tail and beautiful green eyes. It was so sudden and I miss so much. I just want one more cuddle, one more boop, one more 3:00am wake up so he can make biscuits out of my arm before his 5:00am demand to go outside. I miss him so much.

Sunday 5th of May 2024

I lost my Chester three years ago.I had him for 11 years . I had him since he was a kitten.He likes the outdoors and was a super smuggler. I was so in love with this kittie. I had various names for him all containing his regular name. Cheddar Bear,Chet Chet,Chester von snoozle etc. I believe he fell victim to a fox. It broke my heart . I had never had such a loving cat as he was. I had often thought if he was to perish so would I. Without him I didn’t have much to live for, he was my son. About a month after I had lost him I had an opportunity to get another kitten. I named him Deano after my late father. He was a feisty kitten a continued to be into his adulthood. He was in no way as much of a lover as Chester was though. He gave affection sparingly but I knew he loved me. He would often follow me around outside . He was quite curious. He had many hiding places here where I live. He liked the outdoors needed to go out a lot. To a point he had me trained to let him out at around 4:30 every morning. I have had him for two and a half years and have grown very fond of him. Yesterday I had to go away for the night and had let him out as he would come and go through out the day if I was home. It was about 4 in the afternoon when I had last seen him. I could not tangle him to put him inside the house, he would bound off whenever I tried to pick him up. So he spent the night out side. When retuning this morning at

Tuesday 23rd of April 2024

I miss my Cookie so much. He died 2 days ago. The past 2 days without him is like 2 years. I can't stop my tear...

Tracey

Sunday 21st of April 2024

Thank you for this. I my 17 year old fluff ball just passes over the rainbow bridge.