Losing Your Cat – April and the reason for My Pet’s Ashes
Losing your cat can affect you differently on different days or times of the year or even different times of the day. And this is okay, it is normal. There are times when you’re alright and times when you’re not. We have a special bond with our cats and when that breaks the emotional impact is hard. But with time and care and the support you can learn to navigate the hole that is left.
Pet loss and grief
You might find it useful to know that there are 5 main stages of grief according to the Kubler-Ross model. These are:
Denial – you cannot believe what has happened and you may look for evidence that it isn’t true.
Anger – this is a very normal reaction to the shock of losing your cat.
Bargaining – this is a stage where you might feel completely overwhelmed, it’s really important to get support through this part of your journey.
Depression – although this may seem like the lowest point it is actually the start of the climb upwards. It is a really good idea to share your story with others
Acceptance – this stage is not about forgetting about your cat, it is just that you have learnt a way to walk around the loss.
Our cat April’s story
It’s funny how certain moments in time are frozen forever. The night when we got that knock on our door from our neighbour said that they had seen a car hit April. I can still play it on a loop even now. I went straight into denial. As we searched for her my head just kept saying, ‘she’s just been clipped, she’ll be fine’. Three hours later we returned without my girl. We went out the next morning as soon as it was light and searched everywhere. I put a notice on the local Facebook page and made posters that we put up all over town. Friends and neighbours checked their gardens and garages and sheds. She was chipped so I contacted all the local vets. Nothing.
During that winter people would call me saying that they had seen her so we would run round to check. Although my head thought the worst, my heart kept thinking that she would turn up. Spring arrived and we turned our energies to sorting out our back garden. The previous owners had planted a bay tree in the back that was blocking out all the light. We cut down the surrounding weeds and trimmed it back and there she was. She had been there all the time. My lovely girl had run to hide in her own back garden and we hadn’t found her.
The only anger I felt was at myself, why hadn’t I dug down into the undergrowth? My husband tried to console me by saying that we didn’t know that the hiding place existed. I felt I had let her down. My friends were all so lovely, they plied me with cups of tea and let me cry. But I couldn’t tell my boys, I didn’t think that I could tell them what had happened.
I took my girl to our local pet crematorium and chose the individual cremation. When I returned they handed over a bluebell scatter tube and a certificate and I came back home. A well meaning friend told me to ‘just get another one’, I wasn’t very kind to her. Later on when I tried to explain I realised that some people just don’t ‘get it’. And that’s okay too, it didn’t come from a bad place, she was trying to be helpful.
One of my twins, Hector, asked me whether we should try looking again in people’s sheds. I knew I had to find a way to explain to him but first I needed to understand it for myself. And so I wrote. I have always found writing helps me to sort out my thoughts and so I wrote everything down. As I started writing I researched as many books as I could find. But everything was so sterile and matter of fact. It felt as though you would simply walk through each stage & pop out the end. My thoughts and feelings could change within the space of an hour let alone a stage.
And so I wrote my 12 step pet bereavement guide. Any emotional change will impact your sense of wellbeing but grief can smash you like a sledgehammer. I think it is so important to nourish your loss, you have to find ways to look after your physical and mental health during your own unique journey. As I finished the guide I got a real sense that my loss would not be in vain. And I really hope that it helps you through this challenging time in your life.
Sign up for your free Pet Bereavement Guide.
Time for another cat?
The boys were ready to get another cat long before I was but I am a sucker for a kitten and so we got two! Pumpkin and Midnight joined our family – yes in October! And then last year Mabel – our Schnoodle dog – became a member of the clan. And who knows who else will join us, April will never be forgotten she’s just over that Rainbow Bridge.