Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Dealing with the Loss of a Pet - Kids & Grief

We recently shared on Instagram, the loss of our older male cat - Yoda. Yoda had been with my husband and I since he was a kitten, and he was technically my husband's cat. He was a spunky cat that loved to hide and pounce on people's feet when he was younger. He especially seemed to not care for me taking some of my husband's attention. Although in the later years, he took to me more and somewhat "adopted" me after my cat, Luna, was gone.

Luna passed away a few years ago, and after that time Yoda started coming around me more, sitting on my lap while I edited videos and having more interest in what the kids were up to. As he aged, he mellowed out and spent less time trying to hide to attack people's feet. He was definitely a member of the family and the kids took to him too.

Cats and Aging

Just one of those natural parts of life, Yoda had started getting older and we'd noticed a slight decline in his ability to jump onto furniture and get up and down the stairs. We went on vacation in October of this past year, and when we got back it was visibly noticeable that something was amiss with Yoda. He was acting off and had started drooling, a thick, clear drool. After giving it a day or two to subside it wasn't getting any better, so we headed to the vet.

The vet gave him a thorough check-up, and while under anesthesia checked out his mouth area. They couldn't find any tooth decay or issues, so they decided that it was some kind of infection in his throat and gave him antibiotics to help clear it up. We expected that would be the resolution of the issue, but it wasn't.

He was better for a week or so, but the started to rapidly decline. The drool turned to thicker drool, the drool eventually became blood tinged - and towards the end the drool even had a dark red blood color. (And horrible smell, which apparently is from the iron in the blood.) There was nothing visibly wrong with him, other than it had started to affect his interest and ability in eating, and he was starting to lay around more. The vet didn't find any additional cause for his condition.

Loss of a Pet

Yoda eventually succumbed to his illness when he became too weak to even hold up his head. I knew that it would be the end when I woke up that morning he made low whimpering sounds and had no interest in moving. I gave him gentle pets, told him to close his eyes and find Luna.

This is the last picture I took of him, just a few days prior. When I took the picture, I felt like it would be the last one I would take of him - and it was.

Telling the Kids about Pet Loss

One of the big questions I was asked after the fact on Instagram, was "how did the kids take it"? The girls are ages 6 years old and 8 years old right now, so old enough to be aware of what's happened and older than when Luna passed. I decided that taking them each aside separately and talking to them directly was the best route.

I used clear language that I hoped they would understand and told them that Yoda was gone. They knew he had gotten really sick and had noticed how badly it had gotten recently, so they understood he was too sick to go on.

They did really well with the news, all things considered. They did know that he had been sick, so I think knowing he wasn't continuing to worsen or suffer was some comfort. Their reactions were actually the reverse of what I thought they would be... Isabella is my natural animal lover and tended to be around Yoda more, so I thought she would take it harder - but after some consideration, she said, "That is good and bad at the same time. At least he isn't still suffering being sick." And after a long pause.... "Can we get a dog?" HA! Almost 8 year olds! So she'll be fine.

Natalie just turned 6 years old, and she never really did much with Yoda so I wasn't sure how much effect it would be on her. However Natalie does love being dramatic, so it was about 30 minutes of wailing after I told her, but we eventually got her calmed down by showing her old pictures of Yoda when he was a kitten and "oh so cute", and by then she had absorbed the news.

We will miss our little buddy! Here are some of my favorite pictures of Luna & Yoda together!

** This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

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