People who have pets know what it is like to worry about their health and go through the loss of grief when they pass. My elderly cat recently passed away and I am so thankful for the 12 years I got to have with her. We adopted her from the humane society when I was about 13. My mom spotted her on the website, and we thought she was just the goofiest looking long haired tortoiseshell cat ever. Her previous owners had to surrender her after she ran away for 9 months and then found her way home. When she got home, she had most likely been abused and needed stitches and surgery, so they decided to no longer keep her. She was approximately 7 years old when we adopted her, and we fell in love with her attitude. She would meow her heart out for every meal and was obsessed with food. She loved being around people but would sometimes go for a scratch or bite if you tried to pick her up or pet her for too long. She was truly a member of our family. During the last 6 months we could tell she was starting to age and her health was starting to decline. After all, she was around 19 years old. She started to no longer want to climb up her tall perch and she wasn’t playing like she used to. She became super picky with what food she wanted to eat.
A month ago, her health took a turn for the worse and my family had the acknowledgement that this might be her time to pass on. We made an appointment for her at the vet as soon as we could to see what was happening to her health. They ended up putting her on medicine and she began to return a bit to normal. She was still having trouble making high jumps because of her age but she was happy and enjoying life. I remember waking up and feeling so grateful that I could hear her meowing. Yet, we were in a stage of anticipatory grief, we knew the time was coming and were able to begin to cope with the loss we knew was inevitable. Three weeks later and she had another difficult day. She could barely move, and my family knew that if she didn’t pass away that evening, we would have to take her to be put down. We spent the evening stroking her paws and talking to her. When we took her to the vet the next morning, they agreed the best choice would be to put her down as she was no longer going to be able to walk and her breathing was labored. During those past three weeks I had spent so much time cherishing those moments I had with her. We knew for a while that she was coming to the end of her life, and we got to spend so much time appreciating the quirkiness that was our Peanut.
I’ve heard people say, “but it’s just a pet”. What people do not realize is that yes, it’s a pet, but it’s not just a pet. Pets are routines. They are companions. They are coping mechanisms. You do not realize how many routines you have that revolve around your pet until you don’t have to do those routines anymore. That pet is by your side through happy moments, and they are there for you during sad moments. My family now sits around in the evening reliving those amazing moments we had with her, sharing stories that make us laugh and looking at photos of her that warm our hearts. It is hard to lose a pet, but what would be harder, is not having be able to know that pet at all.