Getting Over the Death of a Cat
Accepting the Diagnosis
I found out that our kitten, Tuxedo had Feline infectious peritonitis, better known as FIP, on February of 2009. Upon hearing the news, I didn't quite react the way I was supposed to. First of all, I was a first time cat-owner and had never heard of FIP. But after the vet calmly explained the grave future for Tuxy, it seemed as if there was no future for him. He was only with us for 4 months at this time, but I was already so attached to him.
I went crazy researching anything and all information I could find on the internet and libraries. I spoke to several vets from across the country, but all were certain that there was no cure for FIP. The vets gave Tuxy two weeks to live because his breathing had just started to slow down. Although it was clear that there would be no hope, I just couldn't accept it. I began searching for alternative medicines and cures online. I was so determined.
I tried a number of remedies from massages, acupuncture to shark liver oil. The most expensive thing was the shark liver oil. The shark liver oil apparently has properties of rebuilding the immune system with white blood cells. (Many cancer patients who do chemotherapy also use this to boost their white blood cell count because the chemo depletes them in conjunction with the cancer.) The shark liver oil did not deliver a miracle but Tuxy did live for another 3 months, way beyond what any vet believed was possible.
Up until the last day Tuxedo remained positive and chipper as always. I'll always love him, and to be very honest, I handled the grieving process in the worst way possible.
I completely shut down socially. I didn't go anywhere besides to class and back home. I ignored all social/financial responsibilities and ignored all my friends for over two months. I was even completely shut off from my boyfriend. I pretended to act completely fine. I never complained or talked about Tuxedo at all.
I think it's important to talk about what happened to people you trust. You can't just leave all those feelings bottled up inside forever and expect to ok. I know for a fact that if I had just been more open to those that cared about me, I would have been able to mourn faster and accept his passing faster. Accept help from people who want to help you!
Keep Them With You
Another huge obstacle that stood between me and acceptance I believe is the fact that I immediately removed him from my life. I got rid of many pictures, all his toys, bed etc immediately. I think it's wrong to suddenly act like the death never happened. I did that exact thing. I would create this negative environment where no one was allowed to even say his name.
I now make sure that I keep reminders of him around. I don't try to purposely think about him everyday and get depressed but I realized it's good to recognize that I had him and how much I loved him. Nowadays, I'm able to talk about Tuxy without crying, breaking down or even ruining my day.
It's a cliche but grieving really does take time. Yes, its annoying to hear but just keep that thought with you at all times to know that gradually, things will feel better.
Let It Out Creatively
After grieving over the loss for 3 months the wrong way, I started to change my attitude towards the loss and began to take my anger/sadness out on something useful rather than my friends/family. I decided to learn Spanish and Salsa! This is when everything turned around for me. I was happier working towards a goal and doing something physical brought me out of my depressing attitude.
Try to learn something new or something physical, and remember, set a goal! It'll help get out your anguish faster. It can also be something more creative rather than physical: like writing, which is what I'm doing now as one of the last things I wanted to do for the mourning process.
Thinking About a New Pet
The most difficult part of the process for me was thinking about getting a new cat. I was extremely fearful of getting another cat. I was deathly afraid that the exact same thing would happen. My friends and boyfriend urged me to consider it, but I wasn't ready.
Another thing that I was adamant about was not getting a kitten from the local humane society, which is where I got my first cat. (Humane society cats are more susceptible to disease because there are multiple cats sharing litter trays, food bowls and a small living space.) After 8 months, I knew that I had finally accepted and gotten over the loss when I realized I wanted to do the right thing by adopting another kitten from the humane society. After all, those cats are the ones that really need a home!
I am happy to say that I have had my new cat, Kimbab (a Korean food item!) for a few months now and couldn't be happier. I am also happy to report that although I still fear FIP, I'm not such a paranoid cat mother. Also, I still remember and think about Tuxedo all the time; I just know that there's enough love for them both.