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Help needed to explain planned euthanasia of a pet TheNuge 1 child; Pennsylvania 23055 posts
1st Jul '13

My husband and I decided that later today we will be putting our wonderful, sweet, elderly cat to sleep later this evening.
She has had 15 great years and now has nasal/sinus tumor. We have done all that we can and we don't want her to suffer further or have an acute incident in the middle of the night that would be VERY upsetting to a kid and terrible for her.



Both my husband and I have dealt with the death of pets but never with a 4 1/2 yr old. We have talked about how sick she is, but our daughter doesn't see her as sick. Our vet prefers us to bring her in at night, so our daughter will see her being brought to the vet and not coming home. We dont think she'd understand the concept of "saying goodbye" and that it would be too upsetting for her.



Any suggestions for "dos and donts" from those with experience with something similar? This kitty has a significant presence in our house as she is very affectionate and has always participated in playing "dress up" with our daughter and her friends. So sad.



Edit - sorry. I meant to post this in a parenting forum, but all input here in D & D is appreciated.

user banned 2 kids; Vientiane, Lao People's Democratic Republic 17415 posts
1st Jul '13

I'd make it very clear that the cat isn't coming home. That sometimes when an animal is very old and very sick the vet puts them to sleep.
I'd make it clear that this is what is happening. I wouldn't say that your daughter should say good bye but do say the cat will not be coming home.
I'm do so sorry. I had my cat, 21 years old out to sleep a few years ago. It's a peaceful ending and my beautiful vet set me a sympathy card, it explained how dignified cats are and it's a tribute to their dignity for you to make this decisionx

user banned 2 kids; Bat Cave, North Carolina 64587 posts
1st Jul '13

Are you religious? We are so things get explained differently than they would for a non-religious family.



BUT, regardless of religion, I'd make sure she knows that the kitty isn't coming home, so she doesn't keep waiting, kwim? I'd let her say good bye, and if you're really concerned about explaining death to her, you can just say that he is sick, and that he's going to a pet doctor that will make him feel better, but that he won't be coming home.
You know your child better than I do, obviously, so you know more of what she can handle. Some kids are a bit more mature and understanding about death, some aren't and it can be hard on them and very confusing. Good luck, and I'm sorry about your cat :(

justanothamotha Due January 20; 130 kids; Climax, Michigan 5120 posts
1st Jul '13

My son was 4 too when our cat had to be PTS. I just told him that the kitty needed to be put to rest now. He was old & in pain (he was having some issues, but nothing my son was aware of) and that we needed to love him enough to let him go instead of trying to hold onto him while he was suffering. He did okay. It is hard. And he asked for weeks/months after if the kitty was better yet & we'd talk all through it again, that kitty was not going to get better, the kitty was gone, etc.



Just be aware that for us it trigger an ah hah moment for him to realize gramma & grampa were old. That was about a month in, then a bit later he realized that *I* was going to get old & that meant I was going to die too. By the time THAT came up, I thought we were finally settling out of it. :/ Unfortunately it is a discussion we have ongoing two years later periodically, but he seems to take it better & better with time....I hate having to discuss it with him though as he gets so sad every time we talk about it.

TheNuge 1 child; Pennsylvania 23055 posts
1st Jul '13

<blockquote><b>Quoting THE KATIE PRICE:</b>" I'd make it very clear that the cat isn't coming home. That sometimes when an animal is very old and ... [snip!] ... set me a sympathy card, it explained how dignified cats are and it's a tribute to their dignity for you to make this decisionx"</blockquote>




Thanks. It's been really hard. My husband and I have been together for about 8 years but he has been with the cat for almost 15 yrs.
If she were the typical aloof cat this would be much easier.

TheNuge 1 child; Pennsylvania 23055 posts
1st Jul '13

<blockquote><b>Quoting The Original Mayhem.:</b>" Are you religious? We are so things get explained differently than they would for a non-religious family. ... [snip!] ... about death, some aren't and it can be hard on them and very confusing. Good luck, and I'm sorry about your cat :( "</blockquote>




I'm Christian and my husband is Jewish :)
Last month our neighbors dog died and I mentioned "dog heaven." My husband looked at me like I was crazy. BUT, last night, in preparation for today, my husband started talking about dog and cat heaven. I laughed a little inside. It is so much easier!!
Thanks for your input!

user banned 2 kids; Bat Cave, North Carolina 64587 posts
1st Jul '13
Quoting TheNuge:" <blockquote><b>Quoting The Original Mayhem.:</b>" Are you religious? We are so things ... [snip!] ... my husband started talking about dog and cat heaven. I laughed a little inside. It is so much easier!! Thanks for your input!"


Good luck! Yep, that's the route we go. We explain that they (an animal or a person) leave their body on earth but their soul goes to be with God. It made it a bit easier, at least with DS, to answer the questions of "well why are people buried?" "what if you dig them up, what would you find?" Just weirdo kid questions. But now, from what he knows, our pets and family that have passed away are still living, just not here on earth, kwim?

TheNuge 1 child; Pennsylvania 23055 posts
1st Jul '13

<blockquote><b>Quoting justanothamotha:</b>" My son was 4 too when our cat had to be PTS. I just told him that the kitty needed to be put to rest ... [snip!] ... it better & better with time....I hate having to discuss it with him though as he gets so sad every time we talk about it."</blockquote>




Thanks. And yes, I'm sure this will trigger some questions and potential fears. Our daughter can be rather dramatic. She is pretty sensitive.
All these conversations about life and death are a natural and normal part of life. I'm just dreading it and trying to prepare. Having pets is great and worth the sadness at the end. It's just one of the hard parts :(

justanothamotha Due January 20; 130 kids; Climax, Michigan 5120 posts
1st Jul '13
Quoting TheNuge:" <blockquote><b>Quoting justanothamotha:</b>" My son was 4 too when our cat had to be ... [snip!] ... dreading it and trying to prepare. Having pets is great and worth the sadness at the end. It's just one of the hard parts :("

No I get you. I also think they are an unavoidable natural part of life & shit that HAS to come up, but I didn't realize how actually painful it was to have your won child look you in the face terrified when they have that realization that you are not immortal. It's awful. :(



I am sorry for your loss AND sorry for the stuff you are going to deal with in the talks to come. :/

CountingBlue+3 3 kids; Bridgeton, MO, United States 3534 posts
status 1st Jul '13

I am sorry about your cat. I just wanted to say don't use the words 'put to sleep' I feel like that a kid may think that means they should be worried about sleeping.

TheNuge 1 child; Pennsylvania 23055 posts
1st Jul '13

<blockquote><b>Quoting I ♥ Jack & Amelia :</b>" I am sorry about your cat. I just wanted to say don't use the words 'put to sleep' I feel like that a kid may think that means they should be worried about sleeping."</blockquote>




Hmmm. Ideas for other words?

user banned 2 kids; Vientiane, Lao People's Democratic Republic 17415 posts
1st Jul '13

<blockquote><b>Quoting I ♥ Jack & Amelia :</b>" I am sorry about your cat. I just wanted to say don't use the words 'put to sleep' I feel like that a kid may think that means they should be worried about sleeping."</blockquote>




That's so true.
I'd probably say: the cat is going to the vets to die. I'm sorry but I would, I'd discuss how it's been an amazing life and she is very old and so you have to take her there to die.
My son is a bit older than your daughter and I've had issues with him regarding animals used for food etc.. I've told him life can not exist without death, that works.
I'm not religious but I send my son to religious ed, he'd say the cat was in heaven.



I'm really sorry.

user banned 2 kids; Vientiane, Lao People's Democratic Republic 17415 posts
1st Jul '13

And even a non aloof cat is dignified, that's what cats are. You're giving her dignity. Xx

TheNuge 1 child; Pennsylvania 23055 posts
1st Jul '13
Quoting THE KATIE PRICE:" <blockquote><b>Quoting I ♥ Jack & Amelia :</b>" I am sorry about your cat. I ... [snip!] ... death, that works. I'm not religious but I send my son to religious ed, he'd say the cat was in heaven. I'm really sorry."


Thanks. I'll talk with my husband so we are both using the same language

user banned Lesbos, Greece 95211 posts
1st Jul '13

I told the girls our cat had to go to the doctor to get a shot to feel better and that she wouldn't be coming back with us.