Pet Death.
Some Suggested Coping Strategies

Pet death is an extremely sad, traumatic experience and nothing can really prepare you for it. If you've just lost your cat (or any other pet) and you're struggling to come to terms with it, I've suggested some coping strategies on this page that I hope you may find useful.

1)Allow yourself time to grieve

Your pet may well have been with you for the last 15 or more years - while you got married, had kids, got divorced, lost and made friends, moved home... the one constant and dependable thing in your life was your pet. And even if you only had him for a much shorter time period, he was still a huge part of your life.

Your pet is part of your family - he's part of what's made you what you are - and it is absolutely OK to grieve for him. Ignore anyone who says anything like "but it was only a pet" - they just don't understand...

Some ideas to help cope with pet death include talking about your pet to people who will understand what you're going through (there are a lot of us around), and / or writing your thoughts down in a diary, or even in a poem.

You may want to do something to remember your pet by, such as planting something in the garden, getting a pet memorial, making a collage or scrapbook of your favorite photos of your pet, or even getting a portrait painted from a favorite photo.

2) Let any feelings of guilt go

Please, please don't feel guilty about the death of your pet. You gave him a fantastic life and loved him, and I bet if he could talk to you now he'd say "thank you."

If you had to take the decision to get your pet put to sleep because he was so ill that it would have been cruel to keep him alive and suffering, you've made a very brave and difficult decision that was in his best interests. Again, please don't feel guilty about this - you've done nothing wrong.

3) Remember the good times

Naturally you will be extremely upset, especially in the first few weeks or months after the loss of a pet, but I'd encourage you to try to remember the good times as much as you can.

If your pet was very ill in the last few months of his life but happy and healthy for the other 15 years, try to focus on the happy and healthy years. Remember his funny habits, what he did that made you laugh, the happy hours you spent together. Be positive about the wonderful life you gave him and how, in return, he enriched and changed your life for the better.

Pet death is an awful experience, no question. But I think there's something worse - to never experience that unique bond and unconditional love is, in my opinion, missing out on one of this world's greatest gifts.

When my last beloved cat died, my friend showed me the Rainbow Bridge poem. I thought it was lovely and it really helped me. Maybe it will help you too - I hope so.

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