Losing an animal can be like losing a family member and it’s important to understand that feelings of upset and grief are not only completely normal, but are completely valid. There are a number of different ways in which you can address your feelings of grief and come to terms with the loss of your furry companion.
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Grief is a strange emotion and can often affect day to day activities. You may experience no grief at all, and that is okay! Everybody deals with loss in different ways, and there is no definite way to grieve. There are different stages of grief that you can experience. Some people may experience every stage, whereas others may only experience a few.
You may struggle to believe the inevitable.
Feelings of anger towards yourself, your cat or others.
You may be burdened by the ‘what if’s’ to help you come to terms with your loss.
You may have feelings of sadness and helplessness.
The other stages of grief may still be present, but you have come to terms with your loss.
Keep your cat’s ashes
It may be helpful for you to have your cat individually cremated and this is something that your veterinary practice can organise for you. This may allow you to still feel close to your cat, even though they have passed away. There are different caskets that are available depending on whether you would like to keep the ashes or scatter them.
You may also be interested in having some of the ashes turned into jewellery, allowing you to take them wherever you go. Jewellery includes rings, necklaces and bracelet charms. These are really beautiful and make a lovely keepsake for you to cherish.
You can also ask your veterinary practice to save some of your cat’s fur for you to keep. This can make you feel like you have more of a physical connection with your cat. Your veterinary practice may also offer ink or clay paw prints, which will allow you to admire their little paw pads forever.
Make a scrapbook
Making a scrapbook can let you compile all of your memories into one place. This could include your favourite photos of your cat, their paw prints, some of their fur and even their collar. It may be useful to write a letter to your cat or write down some specific memories which you remember fondly. This could include some key dates such as their birthday and the day you brought them home for the first time. It may be a nice idea to start your scrapbook in chronological order from birth to present day. Whenever you miss your cat’s presence, you can look over the photos and memories that you have, which is a great way to overcome feelings of sadness.
Plant some seeds
Planting seeds can be a brilliant way of remembering your cat. There are different varieties such as ‘forget me nots’ or ‘daisies’ which are particularly prominent in remembrance. You could plant these seeds in your cat’s favourite sleeping spot or in the same location where you sprinkled your cat’s ashes.
Sowing seeds may also offer you some comfort, by taking your time to nurture and look after the seeds until they bloom. Forget me nots and daisies will appear every year in your garden.
Have a pet portrait commissioned
It may be nice to create some artwork to remind you of your cat. Alternatively, there are many companies and artists out there who offer pet portraits in different styles such as realism, watercolour, or even comedy style portraits. Having a pet portrait displayed in the house can make you feel like their presence is still with you. This is a lovely way to remember your cat.
Your memories are enough, and that’s okay
Don’t feel like you have to do anything to remember your cat. Your memories may be enough for you, and that’s okay. You shouldn’t feel obliged to do anything significant and don’t feel guilty if communal cremation is the option you would prefer. With communal cremation, a small number of animals are cremated together, and you may be able to visit the crematorium’s remembrance facilities, if they have one. For some people, having reminders of their cat around the house may prolong their grief. It is absolutely okay to come to terms with your loss in your own time. Allow yourself time to reflect on your cat and the impact they made on your life, as well as the impact you made on theirs.
Ask for support
Losing an animal can be extremely difficult and there are plenty of pet bereavement services out there. Your veterinary practice may offer a bereavement service or be able to refer you to different services available.