Son having hard time adjusting to cat's death

Momma_Bird_OHSeptember 12, 2002

We had to put our 18 year old best friend, Bobcat, "to sleep" on Tuesday. It's hard on all of us, but hardest on my 6 y.o. DS who just started kindergarten. He cried and cried Tuesday evening, woke up crying Wednesday, cried at school yesterday, cried last night and again this morning. I wrote a note to the teacher yesterday so she would know why he is so upset. He also wanted to take a picture of Bobcat to school, so we looked through the photo albums and found a good one of DS holding Bobcat. He was upset that the teacher didn't use it as "show and tell" yesterday.

Other than getting another cat, does anyone have ideas on making this easier for DS? I end up crying with him, bcause Bobcat was my best friend for 17 years (I got him when he was 1). Other than telling him that Bobcat is now longer sick and suffering, does anyone have ideas? TIA!

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merj13

Wow Momma Bird,
What a timely subject. Your story brings tears to my eyes. I just had to have my 16-year-old dog put to sleep last Wednesday. I must say it was the hardest decision I ever had to make, and hope I never have to make it again.
My five-year-old daughter took it better than I did. But I had told her when I realized the dog was failing fast that I thought "Sabre" would be going to heaven soon. My two-year-old son today mentioned that God shouldn't take "Bear"'s mommy away, so he's having a few more issues than my daughter is. "Bear" is Sabre's 11-year-old puppy who is very lonely without the companionship of her mother.
I would say the best thing you can do with your son right now is talk (and cry!) with him. He needs to see that you miss Bobcat too. Did you have a service of rememberance for Bobcat? If not, spend some time this weekend sharing your favorite rememberances and pictures of Bobcat. Bury a box of his favorite toys, and place a grave marker (stepping stone with his name painted on it) over the spot. If he had a favorite spot outdoors, that'd be an ideal location. I wouldn't try to bottle up that sadness at all, but make sure the message is that Bobcat is happy now; he's like a kitten all over again...not sick or in pain at all, and he's watching over you and waiting for all of you on the other-side (whatever your personal other-side might be).
Give your son and yourself some time before adding a new family member. You all need the time to heal. If you live in a good neighborhood, go for a walk and pet all the kitties that will let you pet them. "Here kitty, kitty" seems to get a nice pat from 50% of the kitties in my neighborhood. This will make you sad, but connect you with the love you had for Bobcat. Maybe come the holiday season, you will all be ready for a new kitty to love, but in the meanwhile be gentle with yourselves! And let your son bring up the topic of a new kitty.
Tia, feel free to contact me directly if you'd like to. I know how you are feeling right now!
Take care,
merj

    Bookmark   September 12, 2002 at 12:40PM
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Momma_Bird_OH

merj13
Thanks for your ideas. I did tell DS we would go out this weekend and look for something to use as a grave marker for Bobcat, and I would let him pick it out.

Please tell your DS that God didn't take away his dog! Have you read "When Bad Things Happen To Good People" by Rabbi Harold Kushner? He goes into depth about how God does NOT cause bad things or let bad things happen. I think too many Sunday Schools teach that God is the grand puppetier in the sky, causing everything or letting everything happen. I heard so much of that yesterday in 9/11 remembrance shows.

We are having a memorial service for Bobcat this evening. We were not able to do it Tuesday because it was 8:00 by the time I got home from the vet, and we had church last night. I think it will help DS - I've found several poems and scriptures (about animals) and written a thanksgiving prayer, thanking God for the years we had with Bobcat. Hopefully DS will understand.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2002 at 1:22PM
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sadiesmom

I am so sorry for your loss, Momma Bird. It is so hard to let our young children find out that bad things do happen in our lives. I don't have much advice for you except this: Make sure you keep telling your son that even though he is sad now and that is okay, that he will not always be sad.
I remember when I was young, my family suffered a string of untimely and tragic deaths. I distinctly remember being terrified that the rest of our lives were going to be filled with all the sadness that we were all feeling at the time. That fear definitley hindered my ability to cope with the situation. Our family has lost 2 dogs and a cat in the last 6 years and I made a point of telling my kids over and over that although they would always miss our cherished pets that in a few days or weeks, they would feel happy again. I recently overheard my daughter reassuring a friend of hers in the same way. At 5 years old, a child's mind is still in the "right here and right now" phase and it is so hard for them to imagine the future being any different than the moment. Anyway, you have probably already told your son that but just thought I'd throw that in since I wish someone would have explained things to me a little better.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2002 at 1:46PM
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merj13

Tia,
I hope the service for Bobcat helped give a little closure for your family. (Not that it makes it any easier!) The best thing for you to do right now is be there for one another, and talk about that sadness. Once all that sadness gets out you and your son will remember the good times. Ultimately, ALL you will remember is the good times.
Thanks for the concern about my son. Today he said that he wished God would bring Sabre back down so Bear would not be sad. He's two, so his comprehension of heaven is kind of tricky. To hear him talk, he thinks that Sabre has kind of gone on vacation. I'm not sure how we're going to work through this one, but we will. He's a pretty smart little guy.
Take care,
merj

    Bookmark   September 13, 2002 at 8:31PM
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Arkansasgardenboy

Please get that son another cat. The sooner you get another cat the quicker this will be over. Been there done it.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2002 at 6:26PM
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Momma_Bird_OH

AKboy - we're trying! Bobcat was a Manx and we want another Manx. They are hard to come by, I've been making calls for 2 days. I have found some prospects on the Web - we hope to have another Manx in a few months. DS is getting better, but still cries at least once a day - but then, so do I! Coming home is the worst - Bobcat always ran to meet us when we got home, and coming in to the empty house is AWFUL.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2002 at 11:04PM
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Arkansasgardenboy

It is good to bond to pets. I hope you find the cat that you will love. You have given you son memories which will last a lifetime. I think there are many lessons which can be learn from these experiences. I hope you will find a cat you all can give your time and love. If you get real desperate our cat is always having kittens. She has two, now.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2002 at 10:07AM
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heather74

at least you were honest and are trying to help him cope! we had a cat for at least 15 years and when I came home from college, my family told me he died of natural causes...

I was destroyed because this cat was like my brother, but what killed me even more was that the family lied to me and I eventually found out my mother had run him over in the driveway...

that summer, I rescued a cat from his previous owners who were abandoning him to move out of state. I have no regrets on taking him because it helped me move on and helped with the sadness, but I don't really feel like I ever dealt with Sam's death.

since then, I rescued a kitten from a local shelter (who is now my baby) and helped a friend rescue a 1yr old cat from the same shelter.

although it is extremely tough to deal with the loss of a pet, in time a new pet (preferably adopted from a shelter) helps fill the void! it's also a good way to make a positive out of a negative and realize that when one door closes, another opens...

    Bookmark   September 16, 2002 at 10:06AM
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Carlotta_Bull

It's given my daughter a lot of comfort when we've had to face the death of a pet.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Rainbow Bridge

    Bookmark   September 16, 2002 at 2:32PM
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maymo

Get the book, "The Tenth Good thing about Barney". It is a picture book and releates exactly to your situation.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2002 at 6:59PM
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Arkansasgardenboy

How is the new cat doing?

    Bookmark   October 8, 2002 at 10:00PM
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Momma_Bird_OH

AKboy - the new cat is not adjusting well. She's 5 years old and we got her from a Manx breeder. She's used to living in a big breeding barn with other cats, not people. She spends most of her time hiding behind the toilet in the upstairs bathroom. She did come down last night and let me pet her. Getting her hasn't helped DS at all, since she won't let him touch her. We're thinking of getting a second cat, hopefully one with a more outgoing personality, for DS. Thanks for asking.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2002 at 9:12AM
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Arkansasgardenboy

What about getting a kitten? You new cat may adjust and it may never completely adjust. I would recommend getting a younger cat, such as a kitten. What about a puppy, too?
Our two kittens are doing well. Hope things work out.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2002 at 11:14AM
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talley_sue_nyc

I personally have to say that when I lost my cat, i got a new cat too soon. I ended up feeling disloyal to my old cat, and resenting the new kitten because she was playful and in the way unlike the old, grownup cat. It DIDN'T help me with the loss--it emphasized it, because the new kitten so clearly showed she could never replace the old cat.

Give your boy an extra-long hug from me. I'm sure you're letting him know that it's OK to be sad, even really really sad. in a way it's a tribute to Bobcat, that he is mourned so deeply. I hope the memorial service helped--rituals serve a valuable function.

One thing I think about stuff like this is that you should wallow in it when the feelings rise, instead of pushing them away or trying to deny them. It's right to feel sad when you miss Bobcat when you come home. And I'd vote for talking about it right then--"remember when...." Those conversations are so incredibly healing.

My sympathies and a big hug to you, too, my friend!

(FYI, to all, Momma Bird's name isn't Tia--the "TIA" at the end of her post stood for "thanks in advance.")

    Bookmark   October 18, 2002 at 7:16PM
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