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Coping With Loss

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June, 2003: I said goodbye to my cat.
    Biccie, a resue, whom I'd raised since he was 10 months old, used to love his home. He loved his garden. He loved the sunshine. He loved the snow. But most of all he loved kisses and cuddles. But when he was 14 years old, he experienced weight loss and I noticed him drinking a lot of water. It turned out he had kidney failure.

I told myself having him put down was not an option, and for the next few months, fed Biccie a special diet and forced the prescribed steroid tablets down his unwilling throat. There came a time when he was skin and bones, his eyes spiritless. I took him to the vet, who said that Biccie was suffering now, and his time had come for euthanasia. I couldn't bear that. So I took Biccie back home for one last night. The next day, I returned to the vet and Biccie received one injection to stop his heart, and then, a minute later, he was dead.

For a week after, my eyes ran like a tap that couldn't be turned off. I could function fine, but as I went about my day, the tears rained down my face.

Wanting my attachment to Biccie and his things to keep him here, I gathered up his squeaky mouse, his collar and his blanket and put them in a cardboard box. I cried as I scrubbed his spilled pet food from the floor. Down on my hands and knees, salty tears flowing, I picked his tiny ginger cat hairs from the stairs. When I was done, I put the fur into a little trinket box with Forget Me Not flowers on the lid, and put it on the shelf next to his photo.

If the day I adopted my cat from the rescue shelter someone had told me that there would be cold space on my sofa and an empty feeling that nothing will ever be the same again - I would still have taken that sweet cat in my arms. Even in those last days of utterly unforseen hell - the saddest moments of my life - I know how lucky I have been. Because fourteen years of being a mum to my cat is maybe more happiness than I could ever have imagined. I am thankful for time, for every minute I got to spend with my darling Biccie. I look back now and think how priveledged I was he shared his life with me.

Letting go:
It's so hard saying goodbye, isn't it? Losing a pet cat is losing a family member. You have to take time to grieve and slowly let go, and while time does ease the pain, it can take years for the memories to become nostalgic.

I hope that you'll think about getting another cat when you're ready. No home is quite complete without them, is it?

Although nothing will ever replace your cat, keep your heart open to the idea of getting another furry friend to fill the void. One day, you may look into the eyes of another cat, and instantly know one more feline friend is looking back at you.

7 Ways to memorialise your cat:
Scatter flower seeds in your garden or other place such as a favourite walk.
Light a candle on significant anniversaries.
Make a book of memories.
Put their photo in a beautiful frame
Make a box of memories: Keep special momentos of your time together - this could include their collar, favourite toy, blanket, photos, or other meaningful items.
Celebrate their life by giving a home to a rescued animal whose future may be otherwise bleak.
If your cat had a favourite place by a plant or tree where she liked to sit, take a flower or leaf from them and press between the pages of a book, for a keepsake.

Language of flowers:
Write a loving letter to your cat telling her how much you valued having her share her life with you. Keep your letter in a special place, or bury it in the garden along with a photo of the animal if desired. Plant symbols of remembrance on top, such as Poppies, Forget-Me-Nots, Rose Loving Memory, Clematis Fond Memories or Rosemary.

Volunteer:
Volunteer to work for a cat charity, there are several ways in which you can help.
Foster an animal until they can be found a new home
Take part in fundraising activities
Sponsor cat pens
Help with cat grooming and socialising

To honour the memory of my cat, I donated some of my time to volunteering in animal fundraising charity shops.


Copyright © Anne Smith paws-on-floors.co.uk

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