Death of a Cat
Be aware of your children’s feelings if their pet passes away. The closeness and grief sharing of the pet loss will be very comforting to them. Here are a few things that you may find helpful:
- If your cat’s death is imminent, talk about your feelings before the cat’s demise. Depending on your children’s ages, tell them what you can about the cat’s illness and tell them that death will occur.
- Oftentimes, your pet is your child’s best friend and confidant. The relationship is the “safe spot” in your child’s life. Think about how you would feel if you lost your best friend, someone that made you feel happy.
- Express your feelings to your child, and discuss similar experiences that you had in your childhood. Listen to your child’s feelings. A hug is always appreciated. Stay close and try to replace the affection that was just lost.
- Include your child in the decision-making about terminating the cat’s life. This will spare your child bitterness that can last a lifetime.
- If your child wants to see his or her cat after it dies or is euthanized, this should be allowed. It helps your child grasp the reality of death.
- Give your child a mourning period. Mourning is the ritual we go through to help us feel that our loved one’s death occurred with some dignity and caring. Perhaps you can bury your cat on your property and have a ceremony. Talk about the funny things that your cat did and the ways that your cat made you feel happy and enriched your life.
- Some children, when they mourn for their cat, would rather not go to school that day. Tell your child’s teacher that the family cat has died. By recognizing the death in class or having a group discussion, the teacher can show that your child’s feelings of sadness are normal and, in fact, universal when a loved one dies.
- Get out photos and videos of the family cat and reminisce. Draw pictures of the cat.
- Write a eulogy or a biography of your cat with your child. This shows that the cat was important to all of the family members.
Monitor your child’s feelings and behavior for a while. Has he or she resolved the bereavement process? If not, you may see disruptive behavior, withdrawal, a reluctance to go to school, a drop in schoolwork performance, and/or a change in sleeping or eating habits. Try to help your child or seek professional help from a sympathetic pediatrician, your veterinarian, a mental health professional, or one of the references listed.
If any of your child’s friends’ pets pass away, ask your child if he or she would like to make a condolence card.
Your children will always remember your sensitivity and caring at one of the most difficult moments of their childhood. They will be able to comfort others as you have done for them.
See more: Cat Travel Tips