Grieving The Loss Of A Pet

Our pets, we love them like family members, because they are family members. It’s been many years since I have had to endure the loss of a pet. We want them to live forever. And with our cat, Muffin, we thought for sure he would live much longer than he did.

George adopted Muffin as a kitten in early 2004. When we started dating, I was greeted by Baxter the dog and Muffin the cat. I had never really been a cat person. Maybe because I never had one as a child and I don’t remember anyone close to me having one. I’m not so sure George was a cat person, but an ex-girlfriend talked him into adopting a cat.

So here we are, two not really cat people … living with a cat. In the beginning, the cat would sometimes make an appearance, but not often. At some point he started to show his face a little more. I think he knew he could get some love from me when I was around. Muffin always did his own thing, showed up when he wanted some attention, then back to a window or a bed to spend his days looking outside.

Of course over the 13 years of his life, he became part of our pack. We knew where to find him when he was “missing” in the house. We knew that if he meowed he wanted a refill on food or water. We knew that he was wide awake when we were ready for bed and wanted to march on our chests while we were petting him and then he would proceed to drool all over us. The “not really cat people” became cat people without knowing it.

Muffin and Baxter always lived together well. George rescued them a few months apart. When we decided to adopt another dog, Spencer, I was afraid of what Muffin would think. But since Spencer was a puppy, the cat quickly put him in his place early on. Muffin even did well when we had a baby earlier last year. He was inquisitive but kept his distance. I think all the crying from the new baby was enough to want him to stay upstairs on our bed.

Muffin, all of a sudden, was very sick out of nowhere. Now that I look back I wonder if I missed something or if I would have noticed something was wrong sooner, if the end result would have been different. Within a two week period, we went from having a vet appointment because he wasn’t going in his litter box to having to make the decision to put him down. The first vet appointment we found out he had an upper respiratory infection, the second appointment we found out from x-rays that he had an abdomen full of fluid. The last appointment we had made the decision not to let him suffer anymore. He became extremely lethargic, wasn’t eating and was having a horrible time walking and keeping his balance. It was a hard decision, and I know George wasn’t 100% ready, but it was time.

We cried most of that evening at the vet’s office. But George was able to hold Muffin while they did the injections. We went home and continued to cry. Went to bed, got up the next day and we were both still crying. I spent that whole next day crying over Muffin. The people who weren’t cat people were a mess over losing their cat. A few days after Muffin had passed, I was cleaning. There was a clump of his fur on the floor. I refused to pick it up and throw it away. I couldn’t do it, I wasn’t ready to part with anything he had left behind. Oh and the basement door, it was so hard for George and I to close the basement door. We always left it cracked open so that he could go up and down the stairs. We tried to shut it a few days later and it just made it worse seeing that door closed every time we walked into the kitchen.

The grieving process when losing a pet takes time. It’s still hard months later. I glance over to Muffin’s usual spots and expect to see him, but he’s not there. I walk in the bedroom and at a quick glance mistake a pillow on the bed for the cat all curled up. I was so used to filling up his food bowl during laundry that I catch myself getting ready to check his food when I’m in the basement.

George and I keep saying to each other, “but we’re not cat people!” In reality, we weren’t cat people before him, but we were Muffin’s people in the end. I don’t think either of us realized how hard the loss of the cat would be for us. But when you spend 13 years caring for an animal, how could it not be hard.

So for anyone that has stopped by the blog because they’re dealing with the loss of a pet, I feel your pain. It will get better, but it takes time. And don’t anyone ever tell you you’re taking too long to grieve the death of your pet. Our pets really are family members. They just have four legs and fur.



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