Dealing with a Sudden Death
I just had to put down my 3-1/2 year-old cat, who was recently diagnosed with feline leukemia and suffering from its symptoms. The whole thing seemed very sudden and was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. He'd been with me since he was eight weeks old and I just don't know how to deal with it. I also don’t know how to help his best friend, a six-year-old female cat, adjust to his being gone. Do you have any suggestions?
I am filled with great respect for the strength you demonstrated by ending your cat’s suffering, Sue. It’s an especially difficult task when a fatal disease comes on suddenly because you have no time for the anticipatory grieving process to ease your loss. Many people share your feeling that putting down a pet suddenly is one of the hardest things they've ever had to do.
The acute phase of grief usually lasts about 10 days and often hits in unpredictable waves. During this time, while your energy and concentration are temporarily redirected to thoughts of your deceased pet, it is very important that you take good care of yourself. I know you’re also concerned about the well-being of the other cat in your home. It may be too late now, but the best way to help a pet in this situation is to let her see the body of her companion before cremation or burial. Animals are naturally able to recognize death as a permanent change and she’ll spend less time searching for the missing pet. Your female cat will also welcome some extra attention. Keep in mind that you’ll most probably notice her behavior returning to normal at about the same time you start to feel less devastated.