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Recently lost a beloved pet, anyone go through this, and can offer advice?


Lead Head
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Hey CoH Homecoming Community,

 

Recently we lost our beloved pet of 9 years, due to complications stemming from cancer. After nearly three weeks of back and forth travel, overnight stays, and invasive procedures, our cat finally went under after a long hard fight. Unfortunately, while under anesthesia, she had regurgitated and liquid entered her lungs. We were told they did everything possible to remove it, but were unable to collect it all, which lead her to have breathing difficulties while she was recovering. They eventually recommended we move her onto a ventilator, while they plan to attempt another process to remove that liquid in her lungs, but unfortunately when they wanted to move her from the oxygen kennel over to that ventilation system, she went under and never recovered despite them performing life saving measures. We're deeply devastated right now, and because of COVID protocols still in place at the facility we went to, we couldn't be with her. We're having her cremated and plan on spreading her ashes once that process is ready. We don't go out much or have much company, so I'm just reaching out to see if anyone can share their experiences, and offer up some advice/insight on the road to recovery ahead. 

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We had 3 cats for years and lost them in 6 months.

 

Aly was very old and got thin and did not drink water.  We kept her alive for a few months by giving her water injections.  She spent all of that time just hiding in our closet.  We finally realized we should stop keeping her alive and took her to the vet to be put down.  We regret keeping her alive for so long when she had no quality of life left.

 

Felicity was about 2 years younger than Aly.  A few months after Aly died, Felicity was diagnosed with cancer.   We had her put down.

 

Zhivago was much  younger.  He had developed weird sores every year or so that needed surgery to fix.  It was some chronic disease.  A few months after Felicity died, Zhivago disappeared.  He could go outdoors and just went out and did not return.  We looked for him for weeks.  We believe his disease just got bad and he went off to die.

 

I miss Aly the most.  She was my cat.  She slept on my pillow with her forehead pressed against my forehead. 

 

My daughter misses Zhivago the most.  He was her cat. 

 

The biggest pain is not knowing what happened to Zhivago.  Being with Aly and Felicity at the end meant a lot.  We had no closure with Zhivago.

 

As a weird thing, we have a Wii we used.  In one Wii exercise game we had created the cats as characters who could show up in the neighborhood.  So we would see the cats sometimes on the Wii.

 

I have no good advice except that closure really helped.  Saying goodbye really helped.  But it took a long time to stop thinking I was going to see Aly when I went into a room.

 

 

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I lost Ivan, my white Maine Coon, ten years ago.  I loved him more than I loved anything else, including my own self.  He was, and in so many ways still is, the center of my universe.  So I understand where you're at.  I would rather have had my other lung collapse than lose him, and in all honesty, a collapsed lung was less painful to endure and long term effects less traumatic than living without Ivan.  I still can't speak about him without tearing up and struggling to keep myself together.  So here's my advice -

 

Grieve.  Just let it come.  There's no point trying to push it down, it's going to roll over you like a tsunami, so embrace it.  Grieve.

 

While you're grieving, remember the love she gave to you, and you to her.  Remember the good times.  Remember every moment of laughter and joy, and every shithead antic she ever pulled.  It hurts so much, and it feels like betrayal because something inside of you says you should be sobbing, not chuckling or smiling, but those memories... those are all she is now, and you have to hold on to that and remember what she was, not that she's gone.  She loved you.  Don't push it into a box in your mind and cut your heart off from it, hold onto it.  You'll want to try to pretend she never existed, to excise out that part of you that hurts so much, but don't.  Remembering her, remembering everything good about her, will make it hurt less in the long run.

 

Get another cat.  Don't wait.  Don't worry about whether it's an older cat or a kitten.  Just find another cat.  Part of what's tearing you up inside is the absence, the void left behind.  Another cat won't completely fill that void, nor should it, but it will help.  It's not dishonoring her memory, it's not too soon and it's not the wrong time.  It will be different, and that difference is what will help.  Making new memories with a new friend takes more of the edge off of the grief... and having a new cat to comfort you when you're overwhelmed will also make a world of difference.

 

Nothing will help with the grief right now.  It never really goes away... it just rears its head less frequently over time.  Remembering her, all of the good she brought into your life, and making new memories with a new cat, are the only things that will really help.  The sooner you do them, the easier it becomes to deal with the grief you're feeling and the less it will affect you over time.

 

You have my deepest sympathy.

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Get busy living... or get busy dying.  That's goddamn right.

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Posted (edited)

Thank you both for sharing your stories, of the life you lived with your pets. I can tell from both of your responses, you obviously cared and loved them deeply, and in many ways still do. I know we are feeling that way right now, and are processing this loss as best as we can. It helps a lot to connect with others and their experiences. I cannot tell you how genuinely thankful I am to you both for sharing those experiences with us. You've given us a lot to think about, in a good way, and we will be taking some of your suggestions under much more serious consideration than we have/did before. I feel like all I can say is thank you, and I wouldn't hesitate to hug you both if I could. Sorry if this is coming off a bit short, I'm just letting your replies and their overall impact sink in.

Edited by Lead Head
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As I have cat allergies, it is dogs for me.  The latest died a couple of years ago, and it was quite hard, but I've lost many over decades, and recovery happens faster now.  It still aches at times, especially because my current circumstances do not permit another dog.  Hopefully that will change soon.

 

Perhaps the best thing to suggest from my angle is what my sister does.  She keeps 3 cats at all times (that's not what I'm suggesting), but after the previous trio had all passed on, she ventured to contact a cat rescue society and volunteer one night a week with them.  Helping other cats, and helping folks find a cat for them eased her pain.  She's got another three cats now, but continues to volunteer once a week.

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Thank you for that suggestion, and for sharing your experiences and loss with me. It certainly helps put things in perspective and as the days move along it gets a little less painful. I realize it's something that's going to always be a part of living for us, and reading the different stories of you all and ideas shared for coping has been truly helpful. Thank you, all of you for that matter. We are most grateful to be apart of such a great online community, especially in times like these.

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I have been working in cat rescue for 20+ years and am currently on the medical committee for our rescue.

I've been involved many times with having to make the decision to let a cat cross, and it never gets easier.  You recognize the pain, but it always hurts.

 

I'm very sorry for your loss.

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I'm really sorry for your loss.  I work in my local veterinary clinic, but that doesn't make it any easier for me in situations like this.  

 

 

Here's some resources we have posted on our website for situations like this.  I'm not sure how well these resources are currently staffed given covid, but here they are:

 

The Pet Loss Support Hotline: Michigan State University, College of Veterinary Medicine, 517-432-2696, Tues~Wed~Thurs, 6:30pm-9:30pm EST. Callers are encouraged to leave a message and your call will be returned during our next regular hotline hours. Calls are returned with a calling card and may appear as unlisted on caller-id.

 

Tufts University Pet Loss Hotline: 508-839-7966, staffed by Tufts University veterinary students: Monday through Friday, 6:00pm to 9:00pm EST: voice-mail messages will be returned daily (by collect call outside of Massachusetts).

 

University of Illinois Care Hotline: 217-244-2273 or 877-394-2273 (CARE); staffed by University of Illinois veterinary students; Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, 7:00pm to 9:00pm Central time.

 

I see this every day at work, and there's nothing I can say that will make it better.  I've lost pets of my own, and I have paw print memorials and ashes as well.  Some time after I've lost each of my cats, the universe has placed one in my path or on my doorstep, and that's how I know it is time to love again.  I have cared for a diabetic, and currently an epileptic, and sometimes I think that the universe puts them here for me knowing I will take care of them.

 

Thank you for taking care of your pet.  I see a lot of people that don't.  I see you and respect that you put up the fight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • 5 weeks later

My sympathy for your loss.

 

I still remember every pet I had and their loss.

 

Pets are a member of our household, our family.  You will grieve for them as much as it is for a parent, sibling, or child.  Grieving is a bit different for everyone.  Close to the loss, it can be strong or it can be dulled, especially if you're helping someone else.  It will go away but will likely return.  Often when you're alone or just with those close to you.  And then you will be thinking and crying.  Or something different.

 

Sometimes you have to put it a bit aside because of something important.  But don't always do that.  Grief is a path that you will go down in your own way, but you really do need to go down it.

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  • 1 month later

I’m sorry for your loss.

 

I lost my cat last year due to congestive heart failure. Cried for days. My daughter made me a little picture thing that I keep in the living room so I can remember what she looked like.

 

I thought about getting another cat, but it wouldn’t be the same. Maybe someday I will but I’m not ready to replace the irreplaceable yet.

 

It’s not easy. Thank you for sharing your pain with us.

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  • 4 weeks later

Recently lost our beloved black cat (at age 19: we'd had him for 10 years of that. To give you an idea of how awesome he was, we didn't adopt him: he broke in through my back window, strutted up to my sofa, and basically informed me that I had a cat now.)

 

It's the first time my partner's gone through losing a pet, and took it hard.

After a burial and memorial service, we talked about it later on in the day. While I wasn't wholly sure H decided to enact the plan we'd made ahead of time... adopt some new ones. An older bonded pair would take a while to find - and if we put our names down now, we'd have time to grieve before someone found us some suitable new friends.

 

Or so we thought. Because when we got home from a consolatory Sunday lunch, H had six missed calls.

 

About 15 miles away, two cats were getting increasingly distressed at being shuttled between fosters. They'd lost their elderly human parents (one to longterm COVID complications, and the other had to go into a home).

 

So. As I write this, I now have two new (to me) enormous 11-year-old chonky nutters exploring my house, squeaking, purring, nuzzling me, being scared of the rain and occasionally scrapping.

 

I wouldn't necessarily recommend doing it that fast, but don't turn down an opportunity to offer someone the love they need. Rescues always rescue you back.

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WAKE UP YA MISCREANTS AND MEDIOCRITIES!

Look out for me as: Miss Dream Weaver (Psi/Emp), Ranger Emily (AR/Devices), Dr Amy Weaver MD (DP/Emp), Dr Regan Sprungler (Beam/Ninja), Agatha Heterodyne (Robots/Devices)

 

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  • 4 weeks later

I’m very sorry for your loss Lead Head. I know this is now months later, but we also lost our fur baby around the same time you did. Mara stopped eating and using the bathroom, we burned through our savings in a week on treatments and started to rack up a hefty tab we only just now finished paying off. They wanted to admit her into a larger animal hospital to force feed her (which we could never have afforded) but by the time we decided to put her to sleep she was already going into liver failure. We had to say goodbye and it was the absolute worst, because we felt guilty for doing it. We only had her for a year, we had to take her after my mother passed in 2020 of Covid and she was very loving, she slept with us at night and sat with us during the day. She was a great friend and comfort. When my dad took his own life the February after we lost my mom, it’s like she knew and she was there for me.

 

Again, I know I’m late to the party, but the only thing I can think of is an old teacher who described losing his mom. “You don’t get over losing a loved one, you just live with it.” And tbh that’s what I’ve been doing. Living with it. I hope things get better.

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You pay to play, having fun is ok, kill Skuls or kill Crey, hunt at night or in the day, black or white or shades of gray, play it your way, we have no say.

 

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