there's no clever title for a pet loss question.
May 3, 2010 3:52 PM   Subscribe

Pet loss: how did you handle it? how did your pets?

I have seen some of the other pet loss related posts here, but none seemed to answer what I am looking for entirely. Maybe my search has fallen short.

At any rate, my question:
I lost one of my cats yesterday afternoon. He was in chronic renal failure for at least the past couple of months and had started to deteriorate quickly. He was 19, so we knew he wouldn't be around for much longer, but this is still a shock to the system. His story is a very long one (he made it through a lot in his many years, including a car accident where he lost part of his jaw) and now that it's over I don't entirely know what to do with myself. While I do not feel entirely guilty about having to make the decision to euthanize him, I am also not entirely settled about it.

I know that this is only Day One. I have read some things online and some things from the vet's office, but I am curious as to how you best dealt with the loss of your pet. I knew him since I was nine and have had him living with me for the last six years. My other cat, who is six now, was barely six months old, I think, before my older cat came to live with us. I am worried about his reaction both to the loss and to the possibility of another cat at some point.

I think I am being long-winded.

a) what helped you cope with the loss of a pet?
b) how did you deal with having to decide to euthanize your pet?
c) what helped your other pet cope with the loss of his/her companion?
d) how/when did you know you were ready for another pet?
posted by itsacover to Pets & Animals (24 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
This December, my old man Fizgig (17) suffered from renal failure and he went down very, very fast. I tried my best to keep him at home and allow him to leave at his own pace, but it became very obvious that he was dying and miserable. I took him to be put down and he yelled and fought me the whole way, at the vet, he seemed still very upset that he was there and seemed like he had a good bit of life left in him, but the vet and the vet techs all agreed that it was a front. It hurt like hell, but I could rationalize that it really was for the best and he didn't suffer.
I left the house for the weekend after he passed. It helped a whole lot. Not being in the house and seeing his absence really helped. It's still difficult and I miss him a ton, but you slowly progress. About a month ago, I was hit with a wave of grief/guilt that I could barely manage. Talking with friends that are cat lovers and my boyfriend who understands was very helpful, it's still slow going.
Now to the other cat, my young man, Buckley (7) has never lived alone and he had some hard time adjusting. He's always been an affectionate kitty but now he's quite the insane, needy little guy. I've been inviting people over to play with him so he gets more love than just I can provide. I make every effort to love on him or play with him whenever I get the chance. Luckily, I'll be moving in with my boyfriend soon and Buckley will have a puppy to play with.
Long answer shorter, a) my friends, talking, not being home for day one and two; b) not well, I'm still working through that grief, but after almost 6 months I can rationalize it better; c)lots of love, playing and getting sole custody of the heated kitty bed; and d)I haven't and I'm not sure I will anytime soon.
Good luck.
posted by teleri025 at 4:06 PM on May 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

I don't know if you ever really get over it. I lost my first cat in August, and it's still hard to talk about. Things that helped: rearranging furniture, cleaning things, going through all my stuff and purging large chunks of it. I don't know why this helped, but it did.

I'm told it's harder to lose an animal when you only have the one, so you're one up there.

My vet fought me on euthanizing. She felt the best result was for my cat to die of a heart attack or suffocation at home. (He had congestive heart failure.) It took about an hour of arguing. I still feel terrible about the whole thing, because they are under the impression that I did it to avoid paying for further treatment. I did it because he hadn't eaten in over a week, wasn't peeing or pooping, and had taken to hiding. He had said his goodbyes, and I didn't want him to suffer any more.

My mother always managed these things when I was a kid. She would go to the vet with an animal, and come home without one. It always seemed like the right, humane decision when she did it. But no matter how much I can explain why I feel it was the right decision for my boy, I still doubt myself. My mother is convinced I made the right decision; I mostly trust in her interpretation of it rather than my own.

Two weeks after, I catsat my parents' cat, who I know very well. Within a day she did something my boy would never have done, and I just burst into tears. Two weeks was far too soon to have another cat around.

I got a new cat (well, she's 9, but she's new to me) 8 months later. 8 months was reasonable. I still miss my Horatio, but Sheila's a good girl.
posted by Hildegarde at 4:06 PM on May 3, 2010

Every time it has happened to me, my mother-in-law has handed me a tissue and said, "You have to reinvest in love. Your cat has died, but love must continue. I'll go with you to the adopt-a-thon when you're ready."

And you know what? It works.

I am so sorry for your loss. What you gave him--love--over those many years was no small thing.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:07 PM on May 3, 2010 [10 favorites]

We lost a beloved dog to renal failure too, I'm so sorry for your loss.

a) what helped you cope with the loss of a pet?
Time. I went from multiple crying fits throughout the day to the occasional bout. Coming home to an empty house was the worst part, followed by driving past the dog park and seeing her friends. It just gradually got easier.

b) how did you deal with having to decide to euthanize your pet?
I read somewhere that it's the last gift you can give your pet. I found it very difficult to get my head round the fact that I had to be the one to make the decision but she was in so much discomfort, stopped eating even her most favourite of foods and had to be carefully lifted on to the sofa for cuddles. When the day came that even the lifting caused her pain, I knew it was time.

c) what helped your other pet cope with the loss of his/her companion?
She was an only dog but we humans adopted two rescue dogs shortly after. Helped enormously in the healing process.

d) how/when did you know you were ready for another pet?
You'll know when the time is right. Start browsing pet adoption websites, read the stories and smile at the pictures. One day your new companion will be there waiting for you.
posted by ceri richard at 4:27 PM on May 3, 2010

OK, deleted lots of stuff I realized that if I don't want to revisit, so no reason to visit it upon you. It's not easy to deal with, the euthanasia, and there's no one way to handle it. Like many losses, it will get better eventually.

Your other cat may notice; somehow, they know. My present cat sat by the grave of the deceased cat every day for two weeks after I buried him, but they are cats, so who knows what they'll do.
posted by digitalprimate at 4:28 PM on May 3, 2010

Best answer:
The answers in this thread really helped me. I still go back to it once in a while and it still makes me cry.
posted by Pennyblack at 4:37 PM on May 3, 2010

a) what helped you cope with the loss of a pet?

The sympathy, understanding, and gestures of friends and family. My now XBF, whom she despised (I should've paid attention to that!) sent deeply caring emails and ecards.

b) how did you deal with having to decide to euthanize your pet?

I waited too long, selfishly, due to losing someone on 9/11/01. I finally sent her to her reward 7/02. At the time, she sat in my lap, elegant and composed. She was ready and willing.

c) what helped your other pet cope with the loss of his/her companion?

N/A, but now I've got 2 11-year-olds, so the day is coming. Girl would be fine, perhaps even ... not unrelieved, shall we say? Boy would have a rougher time.

d) how/when did you know you were ready for another pet?

Cat-sitting a few months afterward, and seeing cats or pics of kitties and feeling warmth, not sadness and anger with myself for what I did and didn't do.

It's rough when you are single, and people may not understand, and even the ones who do ... well ...

There are online support forums and there may be support groups your vet can steer you to.

My deepest sympathies to you. MeMail anytime.
posted by jgirl at 4:39 PM on May 3, 2010

Oh, I am so sorry. I have been thinking a lot lately about a cat who died nearly two years ago, just because he loved this time of year, having windows open to sniff the outside air. It never really goes away - but now I think happily about how funny he was, I am not just sad all the time. It does get better.

I can't answer the euthanasia question - mine died unexpectedly while I was out of town, which was awful in a whole different way. But to offer a take on some of your other questions:

1) Loss of pet - this was mostly just time, and allowing myself to cry and be sad when I want. But one thing that has helped is a tradition I got from my mother - planting a particular plant in the yard in honor of my pet. In my case, he was a big fat comically round cat, so I have planted him a hydrangea, with the biggest, roundest, silliest-looking puffball flowers I could find, so I think of him and smile every time I see that plant blooming.

2) Pets coping - again, this was a little weird, in that I wasn't there so I don't know how they acted at the time. I got home a couple of days later and they seemed basically fine, a little skittish but no more so than any other time I've been out of town and then come home. But I think that's partly about having multiple pets. I remember when I had just one cat, and lived with a friend who also had a cat, my cat freaked the hell out when she and her cat moved away. Like, day and night roaming the hall howling. I had intended to wait a while before getting a second cat, but he was so miserable alone that waiting was just not a possibility. But our third cat, who was my partner's cat first, was really happiest as an only cat and would be overjoyed if the other two dropped dead tomorrow. It's very individual, but if your cat is really freaked out or unhappy, he will probably act out and you'll know it.

3) getting a new cat - I was probably ready about six months later. For me it was a very clear feeling, I just knew suddenly that I would be ready to have another cat, whereas until then I'd just had a weepy sort of "but another cat wouldn't be MY cat" feeling. My partner has sensibly held the line at three (our two each were reasonable when we lived apart, four got crazy when we moved in together), but a fourth cat would emotionally be fine for me now.
posted by Stacey at 5:02 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry about your loss. I had a cat who lived to be 18, and she had many of the same symptoms as your cat. I also had to make the choice to have her euthanized.

The thing that mainly helped me cope was to think about the fact that she no longer had to live in pain. It was obvious that she was no longer enjoying life, despite our best efforts, and that was difficult to watch.

The decision to euthanize her (I'm tearing up now, dammit) came one morning before my mother and I both headed off to work. Even in the days previous, my kitty would still lap up some tuna juice or some wet food- this particular morning, she didn't acknowledge the food and wasn't moving much. There was visible pain in her eyes. My mom and I looked at each other and I told her to stay with kitty while I looked up local veterinarians. A lot of my strength came from knowing that I had to be there to comfort my mother, who would take the loss harder. Before we left for the vet, we sat outside in the sunshine with my kitty for a few minutes, enjoying our last time with her. The decision was actually rather easy to make, just difficult to go through with.

My mother spoke extensively about not getting another cat after, because she didn't want to have to go through the grief again. She got a cat about three months later from the local shelter, proving that she is ultimately a cat lover despite the pain associated with losing a pet.
posted by rachaelfaith at 5:04 PM on May 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

I've been through this twice as an adult. It's a special kind of awful to make the decision to end a pet's life.

A. In one instance, my wife and I went on a road trip for about 5 days, which helped get our minds off the situation.
B. The decision was obvious—to have shirked the responsibility would have been, well, irresponsible. Both the cats that we've had euthanized were clearly at the end of long lives, and had declined very quickly over a few days.
C. One of the two cats we euthanized had a best buddy a few years younger. He was bereft (as bereft as a cat can be, anyhow). Eventually we wound up getting two kittens, and it's been good for us and for him.
D. Dunno.
posted by adamrice at 5:07 PM on May 3, 2010

I lost my sweet dog this past winter. Benign tumors that covered his hips stopped being benign and metastasized to his brain. The tumors pressed on his inner ear, causing constant seasickness. The agony of deciding to euthanize him was somewhat ameliorated by the fact that I had done absolutely everything I could to help him, and the fact that he had been refusing to eat, losing ten pounds in his last month, and in the last two days biting me if I tried to push anti-nausea meds down his throat. I think he had decided that he was ready to go, and my action prevented him from starving to death.

I keep his ashes on a high shelf for now. This summer I'm going to take them to a bird sanctuary that he loved, so that next spring he can fly away with the cranes and geese.
posted by Sara Anne at 5:25 PM on May 3, 2010

In November 2009, one of my two cats just suddenly died. He was eight years old, in fact he died on his birthday from heart failure. My other cat is his mother. My wife and I were both pretty sad about it, in part because he was born right at the start of our relationship, and he'd pretty much always been in our lives, and also because it was such a shock to find him dead in the hallway.

I'm not sure what to say about how to get over the loss of a pet. We just kind of went on with our lives, and had occasional talks about how we missed our cat. Meanwhile the other cat's behavior changed. For the first few days she wandered around the house (especially at night) meowing, as if she was looking for him. She became very affectionate and needy, and we figured it was because she was lonely (call it projection or anthropomorphism, whatever). She also started doing something she never did before. She started "hunting" the kids' toys and then presenting them to us for approval.

Anyway, we started looking at craigslist and other classified sites for cats to adopt in March, and we found a kitten that looked eerily like our old cat and took it as kind of a sign, and we added him to our family. He and our old cat are slowly getting comfortable with each other but it was definitely a bit tense to start with. It's great to have a new cat in the house and kind of weird (but also comforting) that he looks so similar to our old cat. I think you'll just know when you're ready for another pet. Our other cat stopped hunting the kids' toys when the new cat showed up (except when the new guy was away overnight to get fixed).
posted by wabbittwax at 6:35 PM on May 3, 2010

a) what helped you cope with the loss of a pet?
Time and snuggling with my remaining cat.

b) how did you deal with having to decide to euthanize your pet?
It was awful, but she was in constant pain so it was the only thing to do.

c) what helped your other pet cope with the loss of his/her companion?
My remaining cat actually loved being the only cat (she was the bottom cat before) and stopped hiding so much and became more social.

d) how/when did you know you were ready for another pet?
I was ready, but my remaining cat wasn't and we have struggled since getting a kitten. Things are getting better slowly now, but is retrospect I'd probably not have got another one and waited her lifespan out and then got a pair of kittens.
posted by meepmeow at 6:38 PM on May 3, 2010

There are no easy answers to your questions. Just yesterday I found myself thinking about a beloved cat that I had euthanized 12 years ago. He had been hit by a car and it severed his spine in half. He somehow dragged himself home, with his back legs being pulled along behind him. His brother helped him get home - he let Midnight lean against him as he pulled himself to our door.

I still find myself wondering if I should have gotten one of those wheel cart things so he could still be mobile instead of putting him down (I shouldn't have, but I miss that cat so much I can't help wondering about it). His brother never really got over it and spent the next 6 years of his life mostly sleeping and staying inside - vastly different from his previous behavior.

I think the best thing you can do is just feel the full weight of your pain. Pets are family members - never think that just because they aren't human they are somehow worth less to your life and your home. Losing a family member stings deeply. The only thing that helps is time. I do find that it helps me to read poetry about losing a pet. Also, I do everything within my power to give the pets that I have no the best lives I can possibly give them. When it's time for them to leave I'll know that and take comfort in it.
posted by sickinthehead at 6:41 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

a) My 12 year old Great Dane/German Shepherd mix passed in September. I'd been with him his whole life, and if I could have somehow magically shaved years off the end of my life to extend his until we met in the middle, I would have been happy. But since that wasn't possible, I cared for him to the absolute best of my ability. Knowing that I did everything I could to keep his quality of life as excellent as possible for as long as possible is what helped me deal with it. I'm coping in the broadest sense of the term, but just typing this out is making me cry.

b) I did for him what I hope someone will one day be able to do for me if I need it. He was suffering, and there was no chance he was going to get better so I did the kindest thing I could do.

c) We have seven cats who were mostly unmoved, but our other dog was depressed for a few weeks.

d) One day I looked at our surviving dog and thought, you know, we should get another dog. One day I wasn't ready and then one day I was.

I'm so sorry for your loss.
posted by crankylex at 6:48 PM on May 3, 2010

I'm very sorry for your loss. Please know that the best care you could have given him, you did.

Something that helped me cope was having a good friend put everything associated with my dog in a box - toys, collar, tags, etc - and put it away in a closet. Not having to randomly encounter reminders as I stumbled through the day helped. Later, the box itself was a huge comfort - stuff to remember her by. My other dog seemed a little confused and unusually cuddly for a week or so, but otherwise unaffected. He did look for her in the yard when I let him out the next morning, which just about broke my heart.

You'll know when it's time for a new pet, just like you probably know you couldn't face getting one right now.
posted by donnagirl at 7:29 PM on May 3, 2010

Best answer: When I lost my beloved cat Huey (nicknamed Biscotti, hence my username here), I wrote a lot in my journal. It helped a lot. Especially when I read it now, many years later, and remember things I'd forgotten. Be brave and write all the painful, glurgey, weepy stuff now, get it out.

Euthanasia in a case like your cat's is a gift. Animals do not care about anything except quality of life, when they lose that and have no reasonable prospect of regaining it, the only right thing to do for them is to be brave enough to make that decision. People should be so lucky. You did right by your cat. Sometimes it is all we can do, and you should not feel guilty about making the right decision for him. I have sadly had to euthanize many beloved pets, and I have always viewed it as a direct continuation of the love and care I gave them in every other part of their lives. Giving a pet a good death when the time comes is just as much a part of responsible pet ownership as food, love and shelter.

Help your other pets by being patient (sometimes strange and annoying behaviors will surface when stresses like this happen), loving and doing something they like with them.

You'll know when it's time for another pet when the day comes. Really. You will wake up one day and need to go to the shelter to find one, or the right one will come along out of nowhere and you'll think you're not ready but then it will give you that look and you will just know. It will happen. Sometimes sooner (or later) than you think.

You obviously love your pets very much. Another pet deserves to have a great home with you, all you have to do is let that pet in when he or she comes along.
posted by biscotti at 7:34 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't think you ever "get over" the loss of anyone...but you get to the point where you can accept it and move past it and continue your life. I feel like "get over" is a misnomer. My family's Shih Tzu died three years ago, and I am tearing up right now thinking about him. I was devastated when he died - and I hadn't even lived with him full-time for a number of years. I'll never be "over it." However, I got to the point where I could think of the good things about him and how awesome he was, and now I can look back on the positive memories.

I think that there is some idea in our society that it's not a big deal when we lose a pet. BULLSHIT. Our pets are our constant companions, friends, confidants, and children. I have only had my Sunshine for a year but I can not imagine life without her. Every day she makes me smile.

In terms of the effects on the other animals, remember that animals are quite sensitive and they understand a lot more than we give them credit for. Obviously they can't grasp the concept of euthanasia, but Buckley knows that his friend was sick and in pain. He may be mopey for a little bit, but animals are ridiculously resilient. Think of all the stories that you've heard of animals who have gone through extremely adverse situations and have persevered. (If you need inspiration, there is a pony near me that has a prosthetic leg!)

One thing that can be helpful is to do something to memorialize your lost friend, such as a donation to a shelter or other animal organization. When I was little and our dog died, my dad helped me make a little plaque that said "I love you Honey." It was very therapeutic.
posted by radioamy at 7:52 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm so sorry for your loss. Losing a loved pet is absolutely gut-wrenching.

a) what helped you cope with the loss of a pet?

Nothing but time. I let myself grieve as hard as I needed to. I called sick out of work for a few days (I had a good boss), I looked through photos, I went through their toys. I wept 'til I could weep no more. I didn't allow people to tell me that it was just a pet. I read other peoples' accounts of loss (like you're doing now) and I just let it run its course. In time, the sadness turns to bittersweet which turns to melancholy and finally settles as fond memories with a few "choked up" moments per year.

b) how did you deal with having to decide to euthanize your pet?

My cat, Noelle, died at 7. She was already being hospitalized for renal failure/newly found diabetes and she began to have seizures. The vet called and said we need to do this for the cat. So that decision wasn't really mine to make.

My dog, Mickey, died at 13 from heart failure. He was also diabetic and nearly blind. He was in an oxygen cage, sleeping sitting up because he was having trouble breathing. They sedated him because he kept gasping. That was poor dog couldn't lie to sleep. Tests were coming back inconclusive to everything. He was simply dying. So I made the decision for it to be done the next day, when my (then) husband and mom could be with him too. The next day, they took him off the sedation so he could "say goodbye." To my shock and absolute horror, he was happy and wagging his tail when he saw me. I felt like an executioner. (I'm choking up now, darn dog.) I stammered and kept putting it off five more minutes, 10 more minutes. Then Mickey started to gasp and wheeze and lose his energy in my arms. The nurse gently told me it was adrenaline that had him acting so healthy when he first saw me. I knew it was the right decision, but that one tortured me for a long long time.

c) what helped your other pet cope with the loss of his/her companion?

I've always had 3 (or more) animals so after one would pass, the remaining ones would seem to grow closer together for a look for each other more.

d) how/when did you know you were ready for another pet?

I adopted a dog 3 months after Mickey died. I still missed him so much, but I felt like I could give part of myself to a dog again. It was a sudden feeling - I literally woke up with the idea, like a flipped switch. I've had Max for 7 years now. He's nothing like Mickey and I love all his stupid eccentricities and his fangy smile just like I loved Mickey's.
posted by ladygypsy at 7:54 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

I didn't want to let my Sniffy go, but last year he started losing weight rapidly. When I took him to the vet, the excellent and experienced doctor thought it was time. I decided to take him home so that my husband could say goodbye, and scheduled a euthanasia for the next afternoon.

That night, he was in such pain, I took him in to the vet the very first thing the next day. As I drove, I would glance into his eyes which were wide and round, and I could only promise that it would all be over soon. To this day, I only regret that I did not do it sooner.

It used to be that he would comb my hair with his claws when he snuggled in my lap. My long hair is now gone.
posted by pickypicky at 8:07 PM on May 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

I've had dogs and cats my entire life. Millie and Gus were the last pets of my childhood, the last that I had any say in bringing home. They were English bulldogs - we got them two years apart, but they were less than a month apart age-wise. They were best friends, did everything together, and like all of my pets, I loved them dearly. They were often the best part of coming home from school. Gus got sick first, probably of pancreatic cancer. It was a rapid decline, and awful. Millie, who had always had some minor health problems, probably fell ill while Gus started to go downhill, but didn't really show symptoms until it was compounded by her grieving for her buddy. They died within weeks of each other, and it was really hard on the whole family.

a) what helped you cope with the loss of a pet?

Different things at different times, depending on what felt right. When I was younger, we had memorial services. We still always watch "All Dogs Go To Heaven." Taking time to feel the way you feel, getting over the shock of not having them in your everyday life.

b) how did you deal with having to decide to euthanize your pet?

By knowing that you did the compassionate thing by not forcing your pet to suffer through an illness he didn't understand, or subjecting him to treatment that would only prolong his suffering. You did it out of love.

c) what helped your other pet cope with the loss of his/her companion?

Your cat will grieve. He/She will look around for him for awhile. Maybe won't eat very much. It depends on the cat, the relationship between pets, and how worried your pet is about your behavior. Just be extra-perceptive and be on the lookout for abnormal behavior - prolonged periods of not touching food or drinking water, or strange behaviors that don't remit. Be extra-cuddly if your pet wants the attention.

d) how/when did you know you were ready for another pet?

It depends on the situation, our family, and how other animals were coping with their loss. While growing up, as a family, we took ample time to grieve and waited a decently long time to get another pet. We got Millie after three months because Gus was unbearably lonely after our other dog died. When Millie and Gus died, it was the first time that there wasn't a dog in the house - also no kids (we're both away from home now). The hole felt a lot bigger. My parents got new dogs in less than a month.
posted by honeybee413 at 8:55 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

a) what helped you cope with the loss of a pet?
I took some sick days off work and school. I grieved it like a person (it actually felt worse). I had my dog cremated and I keep his ashes.
We had to remove all reminders of him around the house because simply seeing his toy basket or treat can made everyone in the house cry. We actually were in a bit of disbelief for a week or so and would keep looking because we would think we saw him out of the corner of our eye begging at teh table or running across the yard or jumping on the couch or running to attack the tv when animals came on.

b) how did you deal with having to decide to euthanize your pet?
We had been doing vet visits for about a month trying to figure out why Buttons was acting strange. At first we thought he was lashing out because he started peeing and pooping around the house despite never having done so. Then he stopped pooping, then he stopped eating, then he was like a living ghost. He had many overnight vet stays with IVs and all that, but wasn't getting better. Our last option was that they could do investigative abdominal surgery, but he was in such bad condition that he probably wouldn't have survived teh investigative surgery, let alone whatever they would have found that was causing his problems. We decided not to do the surgery and took Buttons home. That night he was crying, it really sounded like a woman wailing and his legs were stiff and his eyes were watering, he was clearly in great pain and discomfort. It was apparent to us that it would be inhumane to keep him in such pain and further pain that could have come before he would have died on his own. I was in the hospital in an isolation room where all the rooms surrounding me had people dying in them. After seeing Buttons in pain then in peace, I can only wish that if I were in a similar situation I could be granted the same fast exit.

c) what helped your other pet cope with the loss of his/her companion?
He was an only pet. But in the immediate grieving days the whole family paid more attention to one another (at the time it was mom, dad, me at 17, and my brother at 9) and if there was another pet, they would have gotten increased attention too.

d) how/when did you know you were ready for another pet?
When life without my dog started seeming more boring and sterile and a little lonely than sad and tragic. I think it took us a few months. Having a new dog and all the work it entails felt exciting and was filling this huge void that was there. Buttons was our first so we never realized exactly how much time we all spent with him sitting around, feeding, grooming, playing outside, after he died and the tears subsided, things just seemed so dull. Our new dog, Muffin brought new excitement and life to teh house and we ended up also getting Rocky 2 months after Muffin!
posted by WeekendJen at 12:30 PM on May 4, 2010

I'm sorry.

a) I had my cat euthanized in January. I lost my dog just a few months earlier. Time makes it easier. The first few days were the worst. The house was so quiet without them. I never realized how much my daily routines revolved around them and their schedules. Getting out of the house helped, going for walks, movies, etc, anything to take my mind off of them. I did compile some pictures of both of them in an album, and wrote down a few memories of them, that helped a little. For me, the distraction of getting new pets helped as well (see d below).

b) There was no question it was time for my cat to go. He had a brain tumor, and was having worsening seizures. I should have had him put down when they started getting worse, but I spent a few days trying new medications to see if they would help. I regret that I didn't put him down sooner, his last 2 days were pretty bad.

c) can't help you here, as my dog and cat did not get along and mostly avoided each other their whole lives. The dog's death did not have any affect on my cat.

d) As sad as I was about my dog's death, I was ready to get another one within a few weeks. My boyfriend was much more attached to the dog than I was, and it took a while longer for him. A few days after we lost the cat, I went to some local shelters just to see what was available. I left them thinking I wasn't ready to adopt yet, but I hated going home to an empty house. That night we got a phone call from a friend who had found 2 abandoned kittens and was looking for someone to give them a home. We took them. It definitely felt a little strange at first, but I got over it quickly. It maybe would have been nice to have a little more time between kitties. I have no regrets though. The excitement of two kittens in the house has provided a lot of distraction for us, and I just adore the little guys :)

We got our puppy a month later (about 3 months had gone by since we lost our dog) and now our little family feels complete again.
posted by missanissa at 2:06 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: thank you, everyone, so much for sharing. it is tremendously healing to hear other experiences.
posted by itsacover at 5:36 PM on June 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

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