Monday, March 25, 2019

Pet Loss: Was My Cat Saying Goodbye?

[Reviewed and updated November 2, 2021]

A reader writes: This past weekend, my Puff (14+year-old cat) left this world and went to a better place. The other day she kissed my face all over and then licked my neck--with such gusto too--a contrast to how she became as she got older, blind and not able to stand. I think a 2-day heat wave contributed to her demise--but she hasn't been herself for months. The vet figures it was a neurological problem such as a brain tumor, or stroke--like my late but great grandma would say, "whatever it was, it wasn't good"-- the time had come.

My little Puff was letting me know that this wasn't a good quality of life for her. She spent the last couple of weeks in my closet--but I guess if you're blind it doesn't matter. She stopped drinking water. Last night I gave her several "nose syringes" of water--it wasn't easy, but I was sure she'd be feeling better today. I didn't bring her up the stairs to my room and closet because it was cooler downstairs. She had some food last night--I tapped on the dish when she walked away and she came back to eat it. After the heatwave of the last 2 days, it looks like we'll get some rain--tears from heaven.

Do you think my Puff was saying goodbye to me when she licked my face and neck? She never licked my neck like that before. I feel sooo sad of course--but I find a tiny bit of comfort that she's the one that said goodbye first. Thanks for listening. I found your Grief Healing website a comfort.

My response: I'm so very sorry to learn of the death of your precious Puff this past weekend, and I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for you to let her go. Making the euthanasia decision for our cherished companion animals is one of the most difficult things we ever have to do, and I know this must have been terribly hard for you. Yet I'm sure your precious Puff knew how much you loved her, and I have a feeling that she would have understood that this was your final act of love for her. If I were you, that is certainly how I would read the unusual behavior she displayed, licking your face and neck that way.

We simply cannot know for certain what our animals are thinking at any given time, but there is no doubt that they can sense what's going on with us, and they have their own way of communicating with us and connecting with us on a nonverbal level. There is so much about this that is beyond our understanding, but that does not mean it isn't real. See, for example, what Rita Reynolds has to say about this in her beautiful piece, Euthanasia: The Merciful Release, which is posted on my Comfort for Grieving Animal Lovers page.

At a time like this, I think it's important to embrace whatever brings you comfort, my dear ~ and I hope that when you remember your precious Puff, it is love that you will remember most. Please know that I am thinking of you and holding you in my heart. 

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© by Marty Tousley, RN, MS, FT, BC-TMH

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