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Saying Goodbye: How to Cope With the Death of Your Beloved Cat

11 Oct 2022.

The death of a beloved cat is one of the most difficult experiences any fur parent can go through. Your furry friend is a part of your family and, regardless of whether they pass on from illness, old age, or an accident, it’s never easy to cope with a cat’s death. It becomes even more difficult when a fur parent must make the decision to put their kitty to sleep. Below, Cat in a Flat explains a few ways to help you cope with the death of a beloved cat. 

How to know if I should put my cat to sleep

If you have a seriously sick cat the question of whether you need to put your kitty to sleep may come up. This is truly an excruciating question for a fur parent to face. You know your fur friend better than anyone else and are familiar with how your cat communicates, so unfortunately you are the best equipped to make this sad decision. However, you should always speak at length to friends and family who know and love your feline, as well as your fur friend’s vet. They can help you decide what’s the best choice for your beloved cat. 

The welfare of your cat is crucial and, if possible, you need to put your feelings aside when making this decision. Staying objective is hard, but ultimately this will help your feline. 

Since cats don’t always express their pain, it’s possible for a kitty be sick for a long time before their fur parents are aware something is wrong. You may feel guilt or trepidation about putting your feline to sleep too soon or too late. This is a normal part of the grieving process, and you’re not alone in feeling this way. Here are a few signs your kitty is in pain and may no longer have good quality of life: 

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Is suddenly withdrawn and avoids physical contact
  • Reacts aggressively when you touch them
  • Excessive shaking
  • Crying, acting disorientated or confused
  • Change in toilet habits 
  • Not eating or drinking for long periods of time
put my cat to sleep

What is putting a cat to sleep like?

Just because your cat is showing some of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean they need to be put down. Your vet can help you to understand what may be causing Mr Whiskers to feel ill. If possible, you can find a solution together. Some illnesses such as feline diabetes are manageable, and your cat can still live a long, happy life.  

If you do consult your veterinary and learn that your kitty is severely ill with no chance of recovery, you may need to consider euthanasia. Ask your vet to explain to you in detail your kitty’s illness. This includes assessing their quality of life. You’ll also need to discuss whether putting them to sleep is the better option for the cat. 

How should I prepare to put my cat to sleep?

If you and your vet agree that your kitty needs to be put to sleep, you will have to book another appointment for the euthanasia. Make an appointment towards the end of the day so it’s quiet and you have privacy. Some vets do make home visits to preform euthanasia and if this option is available, you should take it. It will be much less stressful for Mr Whiskers to pass away comfortably at home. 

Should I stay with my cat during euthanasia?

Whether or not you choose to stay with your cat during euthanasia is up to you. However, it is often comforting to pet parents to know that they were with their kitty at the end. Having you there with them can also be comforting for Mr Whiskers. After all, the two of you share a strong, life-long bond.

If you do decide to stay, try to avoid crying or getting worked up. This will help your kitty to stay calm and relaxed in their final moments. Rest assured that your fur friend won’t be in pain while the vet performs the euthanasia. It’ll be like falling asleep and your cat won’t feel a thing. 

What if I can’t stay?

If you find you’re unable to stay with your cat while the vet is performing the euthanasia, don’t feel guilty. Your feline can sense your emotions, and if you become panicked or upset it will only make your cat anxious too. If you don’t feel like you can stay calm, it’s okay to leave the room. The veterinary and nurses are trained professionals and will make sure your kitty is comfortable during those final moments.

Should I show my surviving cat the body of my deceased cat?

If there’s no risk of infection and you feel comfortable doing so, it’s okay to show your kitty the body of your dead cat. However, be aware that your deceased fur friend will smell different and this can cause your other cat to become upset or experience a negative reaction. Don’t get upset at your kitty if this happens. Your cat can’t process the meaning of your other fur friend’s death the same way you can.

How to deal with the death of my cat

Regardless of whether your cat dies in an accident, from old age, or has to be euthanized, processing their death will be difficult. There’s no one way to mourn the death of a cat—every fur parent is different. Remember that your kitty was a constant presence in your daily life and it will take time to adjust to their absence. Be patient and give yourself the time and space to grieve. You will never stop missing Mr Whiskers, but over time you will feel less emotional about their absence. 

You will most likely experience some or all of the 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages don’t necessarily occur in that order, but if you experience any of them know that they are a normal part of grieving the death of your cat. 

Here are a few other ways to cope with the death of your kitty: 

  • Surround yourself with friends and family who knew and loved your cat. Don’t be afraid to express anger and sadness. It can help to collectively grieve the loss of a beloved pet. 
  • If you have a multi-cat household, spend time with your other fur friends. Pets grieve too, and your other kitties may be feeling upset or disorientated by their furry friend’s death. Spending time cuddling, brushing, and napping with your other kitties can be comforting and good for your mental health
  • Spend time looking at photos of Mr Whiskers and remembering the good times you had together. Making a photo album can help you to process your cat’s death. 
  • After the death of your cat, it might take you some time to feel ready for a new kitty. That’s perfectly okay. If you miss spending time with your fur friend, you may consider cat sitting in the meantime. As a cat sitter, you’ll get to meet other kitties and spend time bonding with them while not feeling like you’ve ‘replaced’ your beloved cat. Over time, you may even feel ready to foster a kitty to see how it feels to have a new fur friend in your home. 
  • If you feel that you are still unable to cope with the loss of your cat, seek out therapy. It can help to talk to a professional, and there are many therapists who specialize in grief processing. There is never any shame in seeking out help when you’re going through a difficult situation. 

Once you’re ready, you may consider getting a new cat. Check out these tips to help a new kitten make friends with your cat and how to prepare your living space for a new cat.

  • #catinaflat
  • #catsitting
  • #pet care
  • Cat Care
  • death of a cat
  • grieving a cat
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