The Final Farewell

When it’s time to say ‘Goodbye’:
Information to guide you at a difficult time

It’s heart breaking to have to think about saying goodbye to a beloved cat companion. If you have to do that, please be reassured that we are here to support you. This information offers you some signposts on what to expect and how we can help.

Introduction

Even with the best love and care, some elderly cats can start to lose their enjoyment of life. Some can no longer control their toileting. Others suffer ongoing pain. Some other cats can have more difficult problems, at any age.

In any of these cases, it’s natural to think the worst when your cat is unwell. However, do talk to our vet Amanda early on. Some cats have relatively simple problems that can be managed with a change in diet, or regular pain relief, so they can continue to enjoy life. By talking things through with Amanda, you can work out together if your cat can still have more good days than bad days.

If your cat is not having many good days, that is when the distressing question of euthanasia comes up. We understand what a difficult decision that is and we are here to help and support you throughout that time.

Euthanasia

Euthanasia means “good death”. Some people call it “putting your pet to sleep”. It involves the injection of an overdose of anaesthetic by the vet. Your cat then becomes so deeply unconscious that he or she dies: his/her heart stops and his/her brain shuts down.

Euthanasia is a last gift when we cannot restore our cats’ quality of life. It is a peaceful and painless death. This does not make the decision any easier, however. One of the hardest aspects is knowing the right time to say goodbye. We are here to help you know that: you don’t have to work it out on your own. By talking honestly together with you, we can help you ensure that your cat’s life will come to an end at the right time for him or her and that their death will be gentle and peaceful.

Planning For Euthanasia

If you are having to make the decision for euthanasia, you often have some days or weeks to prepare for it. We know this can be a distressing and emotional time, especially if the people around you do not understand. You will find more information about grief and pet loss on this page

For anyone, when we first hear bad news, it can be hard to take in other information. We are always happy to answer all your questions but quite often, people find they cannot think of all the questions they might want answering straight away. Also, if you have many questions, the consultation isn’t always long enough to answer them all.

So, at Cat’s Whiskers, if we recommend euthanasia for your cat, we will always offer you a separate, longer consultation with vet Amanda to talk things through. We offer this service to help you gain peace of mind about the euthanasia decision and plan for the day. What we talk about is up to you but typically, the sorts of things we might discuss include:

  • The decision to have your cat put to sleep and any fears, doubts or feelings of guilt that you or other family members may be experiencing;
  • The euthanasia procedure, including the best time and place for that and who wishes to be present;
  • The options for your cat’s final resting place and the different ways that you may wish to memorialise or celebrate your cat’s life;
  • How the death of your cat may affect you e.g., if your work colleagues do not understand;
  • How other family members may be affected—including other pets and your children—so that you can know what to say and do to support them. For example, you may be caring for a relative with dementia and be wondering what to tell them. Or your child may have a special relationship with your cat because they are struggling at school, or being bullied. We can talk through these challenges with you and direct you to different resources for more particular guidance.
  • The experience of grief and the different support resources available, so that you can always find further support that’s right for you.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask all the questions you need to, for your peace of mind. It’s OK if you cry. We want to support you, and we all understand how painful it is to have to say goodbye to a beloved cat.

If you think a consultation like this might be helpful or you would just like to know more, don’t hesitate to ask any of the team.

After Euthanasia

After a cat is put to sleep, there are different options for care of their body.

Home Burial
Many people choose to bury their cat at home (where this is permitted by the local council) Home burial has always been the traditional way and it can be very helpful, at a sad time. Two things to keep in mind are:

  • A deep grave is essential so foxes or other animals cannot dig it up.
  • If you are planning to move house, you cannot take your pet’s body with you.

Individual Cremation
Here, the cat is taken to Surrey Pet Cemetery & Crematorium and can be cremated individually. Their ashes are returned (to Cat’s Whiskers / to you) in your choice of urns or a scatter box, with a certificate of cremation. We can arrange for collection of your cat’s body, or you can take him or her to the crematorium yourself. Surrey Pet Cemetery & Crematorium also provide burial grounds and a memorial garden

We use Surrey Pet Cemetery & Crematorium because it is an accredited pet crematorium that operates a very respectful service and conducts cremation on the local site, not at a centralised one elsewhere. You can read more about them here www.surrey-pet-cemetery.co.uk

Group Cremation
Here, cats are cremated together and the individual’s ashes cannot be returned.

Costs

The costs for our euthanasia service are broken down into our professional fees and any cremation fees (if you choose cremation).

Professional Fees
Every family we serve receives the same level of personal care from our team, whatever their circumstances or budget. Therefore, our professional fees include the following support and care at no extra cost, if you wish to have them:

  • Afterwards, we wrap each cat’s body in a blanket or material of your choice.
  • We provide grief support information including a list of many different resources from websites to helplines.
  • We can also provide cuttings of your cat’s fur.
  • We are always available to talk after a euthanasia. We also recognise that you may not want to talk at the time and you may have questions or concerns later on and want to talk then. So, our standard euthanasia fee also includes extra private time—so you can always talk with your vet or veterinary nurse again, either by phone or by appointment in the clinic. Please don’t hesitate to talk to us when you need to.

Please contact us for current professional fees

Cremation Fees
Please contact us for current cremation fees

Payment

We realise this is a sensitive subject and we appreciate your understanding.

To make it easiest for you, we don’t ask for payment at the time unless you prefer that.  It’s different for everyone, so some people prefer to pay in advance. Others call a few days later or wait for us to send an invoice later on. We normally do that two weeks after the appointment. Our receptionist will always confirm your wishes with you.

When Your Cat Dies

Our cats are family members. They are our companions and we go through life together, through good times and bad. They accept us just as we are, and we love them right back. It’s natural that their death can cause us deep pain.

Nothing can prepare us completely for the time when a beloved cat companion dies, or has a serious condition that cannot be cured. Each person reacts uniquely. Your loss is your own and it can feel devastating. It can be especially hard if a death is unexpected. Or if you are facing—or have already made—the decision to have your cat put to sleep (euthanasia).

When you grieve, you may have many different feelings. For many people, common feelings may include sadness, guilt, relief, anger, and numbness. However, there is not set list. Also, grief does not typically occur in neat stages, moving from one feeling to the next. Instead, grief can feel more like painful work as you try to accept the reality of your cat companion’s death and adjust to life without him or her. There is no timetable, however, you adapt to life without your cat in your own time and in your own way.

While all of this is normal, sometimes the people around you may not understand. That can make it even more difficult. Please know that you are not on your own. We are here to help and support you.

How We Can Help

Like you, many of us at Cat’s Whiskers have beloved cats. We understand how intense grief can be, even if we believe that we are strong. We also understand that feelings of loss can continue for weeks or longer and that it’s different for everyone.

We therefore take our care for you very seriously. We never wish to intrude and we know that grief is an individual and private process. However, please don’t feel you are on your own when you are going through the loss of your cat. We have developed the following services and support, to help you:

Person-to-person support

Informal Support
We are available for informal conversations in person and by phone (01903 830577) If we cannot respond to you immediately, we will do so as soon as we can.

Planning For Euthanasia
If you are having to make the decision for euthanasia, you often have some days or weeks to prepare for it. We therefore offer you a 30-minute special consultation with vet Amanda to talk these things through. You are can read more about it here  If you think a consultation like this might be helpful or you would just like to know more, don’t hesitate to ask any of the team.

Memorials
We know that each cat is a loved family member, who sees you through good times and bad. It is a privilege to play our part in looking after them. We are always honoured to join you in remembering them and our website has a dedicated memorial wall http://www.cwvet.co.uk/blog/category/in-memory-of-a-special-cat/ where we can upload a picture and tribute for you, just speak to any member of the team.

Counselling & Helplines
Sometimes, grief can be a real struggle. If you are finding it difficult to cope, or just want to talk things over with a professional, there are many options available. Below are some examples of where you can find confidential, further support. Don’t hesitate to reach out.

Pet Bereavement Support Service

  • Email support: pbssmail@bluecross.org.uk
  • Telephone helpline: 0800 096 6606. The support line is open from 8.30am – 8.30pm every day. All calls are confidential, and are free if you call from a landline. If you are calling from a mobile phone, some phone networks may charge.
  • Website: www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-loss

Cruse Bereavement Care

The Samaritans

The Ralph Site
This website provides support to bereaved owners and includes a list of accredited counsellors. The Ralph Site stresses that it cannot endorse the counsellors individually and that it’s best to do your own research into the individuals’ services. Generally, we recommend that a counsellor should be a registered member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (MBACP)

Other resources
There are numerous online resources and books that can be helpful. Here are just a few examples:

Books

  • I Miss My Pet. A First Look at When a Pet Dies by Pat Thomas. Barron’s Educational Series, 2012
  • Goodbye Mog by Judith Kerr. Harper Collins Children’s Books, 2003
  • Losing a Pet: Coping with the Death of Your Beloved Animal by Jane Matthews. Small Books 2008. Also available in a Kindle edition.
  • Goodbye, Dear Friend: Coming to Terms with the Death of a Pet by Virginia Ironside. JR Books Ltd, 2009 (Also available as a short recording)

Websites