Coping with Pet Loss: It F@#%ing Sucks!!

ARRRRRRRRGHHHH! Why??? I miss him so goddamn much. Sigh. That about sums up my state of mind from May 5th, 2024 to now. On that fucked up day I had to say goodbye to one of my two beloved cats, Thumper. I had him since he was 2 months old. The little monster almost made it to 14 years old. Sigh. Pet loss definitely sucks on a massive level that’s hard to describe.

Loss in general is one of the absolute hardest things us humans have to go through. Whether it’s losing family, fur family, friends or any other relationship/thing we care deeply about… it all FUCKING SUCKS!! Ahem.

As much as it sucks, it’s a reality we all must accept and deal with, lest it will destroy us. There is no life without death, grief is the cost of love, etc. There’s lots of fancy words to help us cope with this reality.

Thumper (right) with his brother Stewart on the day I got them.

Thumper’s Last Moments

The Beginning of the End

It all started in October 2023. The little dude began acting quite unusual and a trip to the vet revealed he had an unknown heart condition (in addition to his already diagnosed and controlled hyperthyroidism). He also had the symptoms of feline dementia so he was losing his furry little mind. He got put on a super long waiting list for a vet specializing in cat cardiology, but that appointment never got to happen.

When early 2024 rolled around, Thumper wasn’t Thumper anymore. He was basically a furry little zombie mindlessly wandering around the apartment. He didn’t play with his toys anymore, he didn’t respond to being petted, stopped grooming himself, and ignored his favourite treats. His bonded brother Stewart no longer recognized him, hissing and growling whenever Thumper wandered too close.

Thumper was still eating and drinking well and seemed quite content in his mindless pacing around (he also seemed to enjoy it whenever I paced alongside him). There was still quality of life for him, even if it was a different life. I wasn’t in a rush to make that painful final decision for him, but I knew in my heart that day was fast approaching. It’s a really awful feeling.

The End is Nigh

On the May 5th weekend, Thumper stopped using the litterbox and lost control of his bladder/bowels, meowing in pain and fear whenever he used the bathroom randomly. It was like he didn’t know what was happening. I could feel his heart pounding at a very slow rate and he could not sleep at all. He was literally going to walk himself to death.

He was getting progressively worse so I called the emergency vet. They made an appointment available immediately to see what was going on (shout-out to them). Before I took him, I couldn’t stop crying like a baby. I knew in my heart he wouldn’t be coming back. I gave him two huge cans of his favourite cat food, which he happily downed in about 2 minutes.

He didn’t fight like he usually does when I put him in the carrier. When I pulled up to the vet, I looked back at him in the car. He was doing a cute little confused slow blink at me as the morning sun shone on him. That shattered my heart into a million more pieces.

The vet did her exam and his kidneys seemed fine (usually that’s the thing that goes on cats) but there was something seriously wrong with his heart. She could put him through a barrage of expensive cardiology tests that very likely wouldn’t find anything they could fix, but I told her everything that was going on with him. The harsh reality was his quality of life was gone, and he wasn’t going to get any better despite what the tests found.

We both agreed euthanasia was the best option for him. She seemed relieved I was the one who brought it up.

Thumper seemed impressed by Pikachu Pete during one of the Later Levels GameBlast streams.

Goodbye, Dear Friend

I was given the option of letting them do it in the back room without me, or sitting with him in a nice private dedicated room while they did it. As much as I knew it was going to kill me to witness, I chose to sit with him while they did it. I got to see him on the day he was born, and I was going to be right there with him when he left this world, dammit.

After I got a few minutes alone with him to say my goodbyes, his end happened on my lap. He put up a bit of a final fight as the vet gave him the medication (can’t say I blame him). He looked up at me growling as it happened and I saw the spark of life leave his eyes. It was a really surreal horrible moment.

The vet declared he was gone, then carefully closed his eyes and made a dark joke about that being way too dramatic of an exit. I quipped back that it was just like a Shakespeare play or something. We both laughed through tears. Gallows humour is the best coping mechanism ever.

She gently picked up his body and took him out back. A few minutes later I was handed his remains in a random cardboard box I know he would have loved (the vet tech who gave me the box was crying almost as much as I was).

Thankfully, my parents live in the middle of nowhere and let me bury him (along with that box and his favourite blanket) on their property. For some weird reason, it’s really comforting to know where his final resting spot is. My friend even made a tombstone for his grave. I can visit him anytime I want.

Thumper always appreciated a good box!

That Coping Thing

So yeah, needless to say I was (and still am) a bit of mess over losing Thumper. My cats are just like close family to me so this is the biggest death I’ve ever experienced. I know I will never forget the little dude and his loss will always be felt in some form. It is what it is, eh.

Ripping Out Grief by the Roots

This whole thing made me reflect on what exactly grief is. Grief is basically our stubborn brain outright refusing to accept something awful that is no doubt true. With this knowledge I was able to work with my monkey brain to process this awful thing, creating much less internal drama to suffer through.

Emotions are NEVER something you can simply push away, and grief stirs up a tsunami of them. To be healthy you must feel the emotions, not fight them (and I did just that). I took two sick days from work and just ugly cried in random waves while my remaining cat Stewart kept headbutting me, sleeping on my lap and purring nonstop.

I forced myself to do things I knew would trigger painful tears but had to be done. My vet has an app where you can schedule appointments, order medicine, etc. There is a “deceased pets” tab in that app. I looked at Thumper there knowing it would trigger A LOT of tears but help my brain to accept his death.

I also returned his unused thyroid, flea, and pain medication to the vet office. And yes, I had an emotional meltdown at the front desk when I did so, but I felt much better the next day. My brain was on the path to accepting things.

Before Thumper’s dementia changed him, Stewart always loved curling up with him.

Oh Gawd, the Guilt!!

Grief is extremely painful and it’s in our brain’s primal programming to avoid pain. This is why intense guilt often accompanies big losses like this. Your brain is trying in vain to prevent emotional pain from ever happening again, which often manifests in brutally unhelpful thoughts like blaming yourself for everything. Since I had to choose Thumper’s end, that increased my guilt tenfold.

Did I do the right thing? Could I have done something differently to save him? Did I betray him? Why the hell did I get mad at him when he accidentally upset coffee on a few meaningless Magic: The Gathering cards a few weeks ago??

To counter thoughts like this, logical evidence is your friend! I did do absolutely everything I could for Thumper. I loved him so much I chose to end his suffering rather than keep him around solely to stop me from hurting.

During his final night with me, I couldn’t let him in my bedroom because he kept peeing on the bed for some reason. I opted to sleep uncomfortably on the couch in the living room instead of leaving him shut out of the room alone. He seemed pleased I was there with him while he circled around me all night. I also gave him a pretty sweet luxury life of almost 14 years. That’s a lot of awesome memories and good times spent with him.

I still can’t quite bring myself to look at my Magic cards again, but hopefully that will change eventually. One step at a time.

Thumper was the best purrsonal trainer.

Resources for the Coping Thing

The main point of this article is to not just get my feelz out into the AI infested internet void, but to also hopefully help anyone out there who happens to read this and relates to it. You’re definitely never alone in experiencing the heavy loss of a dearly loved pet.

Never let any asshole out there make you feel like pet loss doesn’t matter. Anyone who truly likes animals knows they are just as important as family.

If you need some assistance processing the loss of a pet, I very highly recommend you check out the wonderful Dr. Sarah Hoggan’s amazing TED talks about this difficult subject: Pet loss grief; the pain explained and The emotional cost of euthanasia. These videos helped me out quite a bit after Thumper died. But definitely grab some tissues before watching 😭

As much as it hurts to say goodbye, I’m glad Thumper is at peace and can finally rest now. See you on the other side, little dude ❤️

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  1. 1

    Dude I’m crying like a baby here and I didn’t even know him.
    Having to let them go is so hard it feels like it’s gonna break you, but that shows how much you loved them that you can do what is best for them even when it hurts like hell.
    Sending hugs from across the pond.

  2. 2
    Mr. Wapojif

    Thumper was clearly an awesome dude of a cat and I feel your loss. Another digital hug from Blighty to help you out. The passage of time is a great healer! Happy memories of him doing his thing are also a mega positive. 💟

  3. 5

    Losing a loved companion is dreadful and devastating, and I’m so very sorry. Not too long ago, I passed the 4-yr mark without my kitty. Every day is hard without him still, but the good memories remain. May those of you and Thumper stay with you forever; he is at peace.