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When Time Is Up: Coping With the Death of a Cat

The loss of a cat is a very painful and emotionally draining experience. Owners usually consider themselves lucky if their elderly cat dies in its sleep; however, this is not a common scenario with most pets.

When Time Is Up: Coping With the Death of a Cat

If your cat is in severe, chronic pain, you should consult your veterinarian to decide the best course of action. However, most responsible owners generally know when their cats should undergo euthanasia.


Euthanasia is a painless procedure for bringing about an easy death for your suffering cat. This procedure involves the intravenous administration of an anesthetic-like substance that causes a loss of consciousness and then stops the heart and breathing. Owners often ask to be present during the procedure and are comforted to know that the ending is very peaceful and pain-free. This procedure is one of the last acts of kindness you can bestow on your cat.

Telling the Kids

Young children might respond in anger or fear, thinking that people are subject to the same fate as their animals. Teenagers going through their own frustrations might accuse you of wanting to murder their beloved pet.

As painful as these scenarios are, you must respond calmly and reassure your children that your cat is no longer enjoying life and that keeping her around is ultimately quite selfish. Explain exactly what happens and think carefully about requests to come along and witness the euthanasia. This experience isn’t for everyone, and you should be cautious with your choice. If you have any doubts about your child’s ability to handle your cat’s death, schedule the appointment while they’re in school.

Sometimes, planning a small memorial service helps to bring closure to a sad event. Encourage both children and adults to share their feelings and reflect on the joy your cat brought to your life. To avoid losing a pet would mean not having the pet in the first place, which would be more painful still.

Encourage your children to share fond memories of your cat. Telling funny stories about your cat may help to relieve much of the anxiety. Don’t be afraid to laugh at amusing antics and photographs. You can mention, also, how happy your cat would be to see you all united in love and grieving for her.

Many animals die every day simply because they aren’t wanted. Think of the wonderful life and love that you gave your cat, and perhaps, when you’re ready, you can share your love and home with another lucky cat.

Coping with Cat’s Death

Grieving for a lost pet is a very real and valid emotion; in many cases, your cat was an actual adopted family member. Don’t feel guilty if you’re unable to do much for a few days. Many people are surprised at the feelings of loss that accompany the absence of a quiet, furry kitty who never seemed to be in anyone’s way.

Several good books are available to help you cope with your grief at the loss of your cat. Many support groups also exist online or in your community. Your veterinarian should be able to provide you with a list of resources.

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