Saturday, June 25, 2022

How To Say Goodbye To A Dying Cat

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Andrew Addison

I lost my little tortoise shell girl today to a fatal epilepsy fit No amount of words will say how I feel she was my world, best friend It hurts very much so and I will miss her cheeky personality and loving nature towards me She was a very unique cat in so many ways which will be missed every day and i have enjoyed sharing my life and home for over 14 years with my gorgeous girl Tilly god bless you soul we will be meet again one day

Saying Goodbye To Hedda Part Three: Creating An End

Guest post by Sarah Chauncey

This is the third post in a three-part series. Sarah Chauncey is the author of an upcoming book for adults grieving the loss of their cat. We featured part one, Facing the Possibility of Euthanasia, two weeks ago, part two, Making the Euthanasia Decision, last week.

Euthanasia is one of the most excruciating decisions a cat guardian will ever have to make. Part of what makes it so difficult is that our culture has no rituals to mark this transition, nor to grieve the end of a relationship that holds a unique place in our hearts and lives.

In my experience, creating a ritual to say goodbye before euthanasia made a significant difference in my ability to process grief.

When I knew my 20 years with my cat Hedda were coming to an endafter Id forgiven the vet for daring to utter the word euthanasia and after Id broken through my own denialI decided that I wanted to say goodbye formally. I cleared my schedule so I could be with her for the final 24 hours.

How To Say Goodbye To A Pet For The Last Time

There’s something special to be said about being able to say goodbye to your pet for the last time. For many, this opportunity never comes especially in the case of the sudden loss of a pet due to accident or injury.

Below are some ways to make saying goodbye a little easier, or to lessen your pain as you prepare to say your final goodbyes.

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What Happens To My Pets Body Afterwards

Speak to your vet before you leave about any keepsakes youd like, such as a clipping of their fur or a paw print. You may want to take you pets collar, harness or carry box home with you, or you may prefer to leave it just let your vet know.

Once youve said your goodbyes, your pets body will be treated with respect.

There are several options for what can happen afterwards and there is no right answer its a very personal decision. Its most common to choose cremation arranged by the vet but this is by no means the only option.

Things To Do With Your Cat Before It Dies

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Your cats unlikely to be up to much in its final stages of life. While you should attempt to spend as much time with it as possible, respect its boundaries and only do what it has the strength and energy to. Some things you can do before your cat dies include:

  • Reflect on happy memories
  • Feed your cat treats
  • Sit with your cat in the garden to let it feel the sun and fresh air
  • Take pictures so that you have keepsakes
  • Let it sleep in its favorite part of the house

When your cats ready to die, give your family the chance to say their goodbyes individually and encourage them to tell their pet how much they love them. This is a happy memory that theyll always have to look back on. Many owners regret not being there to say goodbye because it was too painful at the time. Your cat needs its loved ones surrounding it when it dies.

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Contact Agape Pet Services For Compassionate Respectful Cat Cremation

If youve reached the final days of your beloved cats life, contact Agape Pet Services for cremation services. We offer home pickup at any time of the day or night, give you options for a private or communal cremation, and provide an optional private viewing if you wish. We know how special the bond with a treasured pet can be, and well treat your cat with the compassion and dignity your furry companion deserves.

Pet Loss And Kitty Considerations

The surviving pets often begin to act differently when their companion cat or dog first becomes sick or starts to decline. For people, this can be a time of preparation, and some of our grieving may be done well in advance of the pets actual death. Dr. Barbara Kitchell, a veterinary cancer specialist, says that grief counseling often is part of what caring veterinarians naturally do.

We cant know if surviving pets realize their companion animal friends will soon die, but they certainly do act as though aware a change has–or will–occur. In fact, many sensitive cats react to their owners emotional upset and grieve in response to our own changes of behavior over the heartache.

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When Should I Euthanise My Cat

If your cat is refusing food and water, showing signs of pain or discomfort and has difficulty breathing then it may be time to speak to your vet. Its an incredibly difficult decision to make and you will understandably want to keep kitty around for as long as possible but consider their quality of life and comfort levels. Your vet will be able to help you reach a decision.

Knowing The Right Time To Say Goodbye To A Pet

Man saying goodbye to his dying Cat Misty

End-of-life decisions for animals are difficult. A veterinarian has developed a scale to help clear up the confusion.

Nearly 14 years ago, my daughter and I were grieving the death of my mother, and it seemed nothing could lift our spirits. Then we got Fluffy, a bouncing bundle of gray and white puppy, and everything changed.

Fluffy kept us busy with pee pads and squeaky toys. She made us laugh in spite of our sadness, and the gray clouds of grief began to recede.

Over the years, our 10-pound fluff ball was a constant in our lives. We dressed her up in holiday sweaters, celebrated her birthdays and scolded her for sneaking food from the cats dish. But in recent weeks, as our walks slowed down and her naps grew longer, it became clear that our time together was limited. I hoped that in the end, Fluffy would have a natural death, drifting off to sleep for good on her favorite soft pillow.

A natural death is what many of us hope for with our pets. They are members of our family, deeply enmeshed in our lives, and for many of us, thoughts of euthanasia seem unfathomable, so we cling to the notion that a natural death is desirable.

But my veterinarian advised me that my end-of-life scenario for my dog wasnt realistic. In most cases, a natural death, she told me, means prolonged suffering that we dont always see, because dogs and cats are far more stoic than humans when it comes to pain.

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Changes In The Appearance

Cats are notorious for their grooming habits. They are literally obsessed with hygiene and keeping themselves clean.

Senior cats are not so keen on spending time on grooming and self-care, which results in a messy and unkempt physical appearance.

Over time, as dirt starts accumulating and the coat tangles, the cat will produce a foul odor.

/ Give Your Cat Space

While your cat needs affection in its final hours, it also requires space. There are times when your cat will want to be alone. If your cat becomes aggressive and scratches you, its not open to human company.

In fact, youre stressing your cat out, potentially making it feel more sick or distressed. Your cat wont have the energy to fight back, and stress can speed up death, making its last few days much more uncomfortable.

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Find Ways To Say Goodbye

It may be useful to start thinking about how you might like to say goodbye to your beloved companion. The day your companion animal dies may be a sad and distressing time and it can be hard to make decisions like these on the day or shortly after. It may, therefore, be worthwhile discussing and researching your options in preparation for the sad day so when it does happen, you can concentrate on caring for yourself and getting the support you need, during what will be a difficult time.

You may wish to also consider options for cremation or burials as well as ways to memorialise and keep your pets memory close.

Burial.

Many people choose to bury their companion animal at home. This also provides an opportunity to honor your companion animals life with a funeral or ceremony. Sweet Goodbye offers burial and cremation kits suitable for small and large companion animals. The Cloud is suitable for small animals including mice, birds and cats and the Cocoon is suitable for large cats, and small to extra large dogs. Each kit contains beautifully crafted memorial markers, garlands, and guidebooks which contain tips on how you can create a personal ceremony for your companion.

Cremation.

There are a number of Pet cremation services available and your veterinary clinic may have a preferred provider which they regularly use.

When Does Euthanasia Become An Option

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If the signs your cat is dying are starting to interfere with her everyday activities and seriously affecting her quality of life, it is time to consider euthanasia.

It is an indisputable fact that euthanasia is an extremely difficult decision. Considering cats can live for well over 12 years, it is only logical for you to get too attached. Anyway, in some cases letting go is the best option for your cat. Euthanasia helps you too by shortening the emotional distress caused by your cats sickness.

When considering euthanasia, it is best to talk with your trusted vet and ask for guidance through the process. If you decide to have your cat euthanized, the vet will give her a special injection. The procedure lasts only a few minutes, and it is not painful at all.

Depending on where you live, some veterinary clinics and euthanasia services offer to perform the procedure at the comfort of your home.

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Help For When You Have To Make That Tough Decision

Cindy said, “When she no longer responds to you. When theres no joy.” There was no question Nixie no longer enjoyed my company. But was that because I was the one poking her endlessly or because she truly had no joy in her life? Cindy also warned me to watch for fluid collecting in her abdomen, a symptom of heart failure.

Last year I had the honor of interviewing Dr. Robin Downing, the founder of the Downing Center for Animal Pain Management. She shared with me the Quality of Life Scale , written by veterinary oncologist and Pawspice pioneer Alice Villalobos. Using Dr. Villalobos scale, cat parents can take seven criteria , then rate them one to 10. A score greater than 35 indicates an acceptable quality of life.

I dug down deep. I had to get this right. Although I wanted Nixie to live forever, I couldnt be selfish. I owed it to her to spare her pain, but I also didnt want to say goodbye too soon.

Nixies score was 36, only one above the threshold. The next morning I realized that fluid had begun to collect in Nixies belly, as Dr. Cindy warned. Nixies heart was failing she would not recover. And I could no longer hydrate her with fluids to keep her comfortable. The score had dropped below the acceptable 35.

I read the score over and over, looking for an escape. Nixies enormous soul had outlived her body. That morning I made the most difficult phone call of my life, her final vet appointment.

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Not Interested In Favorite Things

As your cat’s health deteriorates, she will lose interest in things she once enjoyed. She may no longer want to play with her toys, may turn her nose up at favorite treats, and may even stop purring when petted. Disinterest in the world around her and a lack of joy for things she once loved are signs that your cat is ready to pass on.

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Make A Clean Comfortable Bed Available

To make your cat feel more comfortable, add special touches to their cat bed or whatever place your cat likes to sleep. Add extra blankets for cushioning, and be sure to change the blankets regularly if your cat is having trouble getting to the litter box.

You can also line the bottom of the bed with a small heating pad or electric blanket to help keep your cat warm and toasty. Youll probably want to add extra blankets on top to keep the heating pad from making your cat too hot.

Alternative Ways To Help You Through Your Grief

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You might want to set up a memorial in a special place in your home as a beautiful tribute to your special feline friend.

A few favorite pictures, a loved toy, and their collar may bring comfort every time you look at it.

Do you have tattoos, or maybe youve been thinking about getting one? Memorializing your pet this way will keep him close always.

Find a photo of him that makes you smile and then DO YOUR RESEARCH.

Not all tattooists are adept at pet portraits, so look at portfolios, ask for references, and take your time!

Does your town or city have opportunities to plant a tree or erect a bench with a special plaque?

Often the proceeds go to a charity, so you can have a lovely, tangible memorial, as well as helping a worthy cause.

If youre ready to part with some of your pets belongings, your local animal shelter will sometimes accept donations of this sort and be thrilled if you would like to donate them.

As long as they are in good repair, things like cat carriers, toys, clean grooming supplies, and cat trees and even unopened, unexpired cat food or treats can be a huge asset to a struggling nonprofit.

Alternatively, the gift of money is always welcome. Just make sure you know how your chosen charity will allocate those funds.

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Helping Your Child Cope

Like anyone dealing with a loss, kids usually feel a variety of emotions besides sadness after the death of a pet. They might experience loneliness, anger if the pet was euthanized, frustration that the pet couldn’t get better, or guilt about times that they were mean to or didn’t care for the pet as promised.

Help kids understand that it’s natural to feel all of those emotions, that it’s OK to not want to talk about them at first, and that you’re there when they are ready to talk.

Don’t feel compelled to hide your own sadness about losing a pet. Showing how you feel and talking about it openly sets an example for kids. You show that it’s OK to feel sad when you lose a loved one, to talk about your feelings, and to cry when you feel sad. And it’s comforting to kids to know that they’re not alone in feeling sad. Share stories about the pets you had and lost when you were young and how difficult it was to say goodbye.

Low Respiration And Heart Rate

The respiration and heart rate of your cat may slow as their body starts to slowly shut down. The resting heart rate for healthy cats ranges between 150 and 200 beats a minute and they take around 20-30 breaths a minute. If you examine the heart rate of lethargic cats and find it slow, these are warning signs of a cat dying.

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When Is The Right Time To Say Goodbye To My Cat

It’s often difficult to know how your cat is really feeling, so it’s important to talk with your vet, family and friends.

You and your family know your cat better than anyone else. So, though it’s hard, try to make a decision based on your cat’s best interests.

We often feel guilty about whether we put our pets to sleep too soon, or too late, but these are normal reactions when we grieve and you’re not alone in those feelings.

Note:

Grieving The Loss Of Your Cat

Saying Goodbye To Your Best Friend

Grieving the loss of your cat is completely normal. She has been an important part of your life and provided companionship and love. Take that personal day from work if you need to, and talk to your friends and family. If you have other pets, let the routine of caring for them provide some normalcy. No other pet will ever replace your cat, but they all bring different things to our lives and are special in their own way. And most of all, look through old photos and videos to remember your cat at her best and consider ways you can honor her memory.

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Changes In Smell And Appearance

Cats like to devote time grooming themselves. However, when they come closer to their end, they do not have the energy left for grooming and start to appear unkempt and messy. Also, they will develop an obvious odor because of the toxic build-up as different organs stop functioning. This smell gets worse with time as they do not have a solution to get rid of the toxins.

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