What happens when a beloved cat dies? Preparing yourself for the worst

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pawPrintsCat1-e1314938529814Sadly, cats don’t live as long as humans do (cats can live between 12-20 years, with many living beyond their twenties) and the time will come when your cat dies, or sadly has to be put to sleep.

Having to make the decision to put your lifelong companion to sleep will probably be one of the hardest decisions you will ever make.

It is also the most important decision you will make: If your cat is in pain with no hope of recovery, then his quality of life is being compromised and your vet may give you her professional opinion to put him to sleep.

rainbow_bridgeWhat happens during euthanasia?

The vet will inject a certain amount of barbiturates into the cat’s vein. The barbiturates will cause the cat to lose consciousness, his heart will stop, and he will cross over the Rainbow Bridge very peacefully. This is completely painless for the cat, although on an emotional level it is extremely painful for the devoted owner.

If your cat is young and healthy, it might be a good time to think about what you would like done if he dies suddenly (sadly, the unthinkable does happen). In times like this you will need to make quick decisions during an extremely emotional time and you don’t want to make a decision that you later regret. You may, in a stressful situation, decide to have his body cremated, when actually in calmer circumstances you may have decided to bury him under his favourite tree in familiar surroundings. Deciding on what to do during the inevitable in advance will save a rushed decision if the time comes prematurely.

If you have never experienced the death of a much-loved pet, you may be surprised by the depth of the emotions you will experience when it does happen. Sometimes the grief is overwhelming and you may wonder if you will ever see the sunshine again. Seek support from people who knew him, a pet-loss group or even animal welfare groups who run befriender schemes.

A really special thing that you can do to ease the grief is to print out photos of your beloved cat and make a commemorative collage on one of the walls in your home so that he is always remembered.

In time the tears will dry and you will look back with fond memories of the love you shared. And in time you will make space for another fur baby to join your lives, not as a replacement, but as a little soul that was waiting quietly in the wings for his turn to turn your life around. Take comfort in knowing that these precious souls come into our life to leave an indelible mark, but when they leave us to chase butterflies on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge they give us a chance to make room for another.

 

by Phillipa Mitchell

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