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Traumatic loss of my cat and best soul friend - the day my luck ran out


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Hello fellow animal lovers! It has taken me a long time before getting back some senses to be able to write about what happened.

Like many of you, especially the ones who suffered a traumatic, unexpected loss of your pet, I went through (and still going through) the whole loss of reality, denial, anger etc... cycle.

Talking about it, not talking about it, let the hurting feelings flow, not letting them flow..... all of it an attempt to hide the big wound and the emptiness felt in my heart. All of it an attempt to "show" my dear Ginger how sorry I am, as if then it would bring him back to me.

In this part of the world where I currently live, it is not easy at all to keep a cat happy and healthy.

The first three years of Ginger's life, it was - I guess - the most ideal, as I still lived in a house with a green yard right outside, and the small greenery area is far away from roads. I would slowly introduce him to the space outside the house, then, he learnt how to open the windows, through observing me opening them. He would open the window, run out in the night, and often come back with preys such as insects, a half bird... 

I have been proud to keep him well fed, loved and also somehow keeping his cat instincts alive.

The following three years, I moved to living in condos. The first one is a small studio. The next was a nice apartment with a lot of sunshine. At the beginning, I thought there is no way my dear Ginger can walk outside anymore. But he got fat, especially in the small studio. I was also afraid that he would get bored, as I go out a lot and when I am away at work he would be completely alone in that tiny apartment.

Two years ago me and my fiance, while walking my dear cat on a leash, we lost him when he suddenly heard some noise, and shook off his collar and leash.

I searched for him for 7 days and 7 nights. Despair. Counting on luck. But I stay determined. I found him finally and he called back when I called him finally. He called and called, so I could locate where the meow sound came from. He was hiding in a hole that he dug.

Two years later.

July 2nd, 2018 - in the late afternoon, while I was resting at home, my partner says "let's take Ginger for a quick walk".

We have been practicing, also many times we simply did not walk him, if I was tired.

This time, I was heavily pregnant. I was going to give birth in a month.

Everything happened really fast. 

This part is what I now play in my mind over and over. I'm told that I clearly have PTSD. 

I felt something was wrong but could not tell, like a gut feeling but not strong enough.

Once we are downstairs, outside the building, in our residential park, I don't remember clearly but only the parts that led to losing Ginger.

I was given the leash suddenly, I felt unsure but took it, because we have been practicing for two years carefully.

Because I thought I can do it, we both thought it should be fine.

My beloved Ginger saw a big dog, who was not leashed in a corner.

When I saw the dog, I was frozen, I then either did not have enough grasp to hold onto the leash, or I was not fast enough.

It is a harness-collar-leash.

This was the last time I saw my dear Ginger, him running away into the bushes.

We spent a whole month to search for him, day and night, in the middle of the night, daybreak...

I went under the rain...

My dear cat responded to our calls only once, from 3 days and times. Each time, as we go near the vague area where we heard him, no more answering.

When he called out to me the last time, July 22nd morning, there are some neighbors walking their dogs.

I didn't bring the "cat transportation bag", and with the big dogs present, I thought I should come back 30 minutes later.

NO luck.

Early August, I gave birth. Overjoyed and excited. Family times.

In the month of August, we had less time to look for him, but we leave cat food around where we last heard him, every morning.

August 22nd late evening, I receive a message from a neighbor who work as volunteer for cats and dogs.

Someone who is aware of my missing cat, saw a cat climbing up hill near the park... and this person called the vet center immediately.

Normally this was a very kind and great thing to do.

The vet center sent their driver to try and catch him.

That evening, only a young vet was available. 

This vet decided to put him down, after trying to give him gaz mask, and then another injection of pain killer, to try and help him breath (??)

I cannot really talk about it anymore. 

We saw him the next day only.

My brave cat lost weight but wasn't skinny. We think that he had done a great job using his cat instincts to survive.

This is just so unlucky.

I've been blaming us since then.

Almost six months now, the pain is real. It is basically impossible to think that my dear Ginger is gone. At a moment when I really want him to cheer with me.

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The entire neighborhood is covered with my posters with clear photos and information and my phone number. I went to that vet center myself twice.

How the vet center did not think of calling my number?

So much confusion and bad luck.

I go through therapies. I'm reminded when Ginger also ran into the wild when he was living at ground level. But that time he climbed up a tall tree. That time I was lucky. He meowed back enough times.

I have to force myself to be content with these six years spent with his wonderful company, and be happy with the love I gave him and vice versa.

I still feel it is wrong of us, we were over-thinking about how to keep him healthy.  We should have kept him inside the apartment. Period.

Of course, it is easy to say now.

My beloved cat was between six and seven. Every time I guess or imagine how he was when he was hiding, the pain goes deeper.

I try not to sink into deeper depression.

Because how would that even make Ginger happy or bring him back?

Friends tell me as he was not super skinny at the end, hopefully he enjoyed being in Nature at least some of the time.

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I am so sorry for your loss.  I can't help but wonder why the vet put him down rather than trying to save him, I'm not understanding that.  But I also realize that's a moot point now, it's done.  Your cat knew you loved him, cared about him, were trying to feed him.  It was fear that held him back, not from you, but the fear of stray dogs, of noises he heard, of the unknown and known.  You were his safe place.  

I don't know of your thinking of the hereafter, but I totally believe we'll be with them again, how, what that looks like I can't say, but I like to think of it a bit like this...as the things that concern us here in the physical we are freed from , but we know and are known by those we've loved in this life...and I hope this brings you some comfort.


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I'm so sorry for your loss of your beloved Ginger, my dear.

You say you go through therapies ~ I'm not sure what that means, but I hope you will find some way to learn from your mistakes and forgive yourself for whatever part you think you played in this tragic story. As you say, it is easy to say now what you wish you had done differently then ~ but we cannot know what we do not know. You did what you thought was best for Ginger at the time. Now you know better:

1 hour ago, Gingerlove said:

we were over-thinking about how to keep him healthy.  We should have kept him inside the apartment. Period.

We learn from our mistakes, if we are willing to pay attention. You can take whatever lessons you have learned from this tragic experience and you can resolve to do things differently in the future. 

I invite you to read this article in hopes that its content will help. Make sure to follow some of the links you'll find embedded in the post:  Pet Loss: Coping with the Trauma of An Unexpected Death

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Why did I not say anything when asked to go for a walk with Ginger? Why did he give me the leash? Why did we overlook the fact I was heavily pregnant?

These questions have been torturing me for months.

No answer.

I researched about GPS collars a year ago, and then thought, "Oh, we're super careful, there is no need".

The thought that we got confident about this exercise. I hated us...

The big lesson: we can never get confident about "training" a cat.

I wished that walk never happened. Six years of love and care, ruined by this confidence, or naivety. 

I didn't even have that idea. Now I know my Ginger never wanted us to argue.

This is too much to endure. The responsibility. When I decided to save Ginger from the pet shop I decided to protect him...

May he be at a peaceful place, out of any fear.

Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement.


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I really do hope and pray that you will read the articles about guilt, my dear, and take the suggestions to heart (see links below). The only one who can forgive you for this tragedy is YOU ~ and if you find that you're unable to do that by yourself, I hope you will find someone qualified in grief counseling (ideally someone who understands and respects the human-animal bond and the very real pain of loving and losing a cherished companion animal) who can help you to work through all of this and come to terms with it.

See especially:

A Dangerous Villain: Guilt

Grief and The Burden of Guilt

Guilt and Regret in Grief

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Thank you Marty, I will definitely read and try to work on all the guilt and regret part; and kayc thank you for the video...it made me cry my heart out! 

I don't understand how I "let" what happened happen when I love Ginger so much. He is part of the family, and part of me. I cannot speak the special language I use anymore. Or risk feeling that pain.

It is the first time I have a cat. I might have thought that I know Ginger enough so I know what is good for him.

I realize I know so little about cats, even after reading some books...

The worst is remembering when a good friend - who never had any pets - said : "don't take him for a walk, it makes both of you stress out...just for the sake of making him not bored..."

Of course I wish I can re-decide on that day, say No when asked to go to the park.....

This part in the last article link from Marty is very sharp:

"Many people are destroyed by loss because, learning what they could have been but failed to be, they choose to wallow in guilt and regret, to become bitter in spirit, or to fall into despair. While nothing they can do will reverse the loss, it is not true that there is nothing they can do to change."


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I have found it helps to learn from life's lessons, not so we can beat ourselves up, which never does any good, but so we can evolve along the way, for that is part of life's purpose, it's the journey as we go.

I've had cats all my adult life, yet I don't feel I know a whole lot more about cats even after a lifetime of having them!  They are unique.  Having one does not necessarily prepare you for another...they are not at all like dogs.  Dogs seem to have a couple of pathways to their heart...their stomach...and belly rubs...oh and going for rides/walks.  Cats are so blessed independent!  They don't seem to let on if/when they do like something, they seem to think we are made for them and not the other way around at all!  My Kitty takes walks with us sometimes but at her decision and she's never worn a collar or leash.  She seems to have street smarts, and knows to avoid wild animals.  I have a real thing against dogs let on the loose, they cause huge problems!  My dog is 110 lbs and has been attacked by dogs ten times!   I can't count the times we've narrowly missed problems with other people's dogs on the loose...I'm 66 and not very big, it takes knowing all kinds of tricks to handle him when he's freaked out by someone's dog on the loose coming at us!  INCLUDING yelling at and stomping my foot at said dog and shouting NO! and telling it to go home!  Other owners look stupidly at me, seemingly incomprehensive of what is ensuing or what could happen.  I have to yell at them to get their dog back!   Sometimes I think we should license the owners, not the pets (to get this you must first pass this test...).  That said, had it not been for someone else' letting their dog roam loose...I know, they all think their dog wouldn't do any wrong.  But it's instinct.  They love to give chase to their prey, they may or may not intend to harm, but they look at it differently than we do.  What we consider wrong they don't look at it the same way.  Your cat was caught up in that, wanting only to be safe.  I don't look at this as your fault at all.  You didn't know your cat could make it's great escape!  You had no way of knowing, totally unsuspecting that day.  In hind sight the only thing I'd do different is maybe use a harness to attach the leash by, but until you've had this happen, how would you know?  And I don't use a harness on my dog because I tried that and he kept chewing up the harness.  So I went to using a Halti to walking him, but dogs are a whole different matter than a cat.  I'd have to say you got luck of the draw, and I'm sorry.  I hope you don't let this stop you from ever trying again to be a pet owner...


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On 1/22/2019 at 11:50 PM, kayc said:

but at her decision

Thank you so much kayc for sharing your precious experience with our loving little furry companions. I asked myself exactly that, was that Ginger's decision to go downstairs in the park? After losing him once already, I was cautious. My partner thinks that we can practice to carefully walk Ginger.

When I was so heavily pregnant, I lost my usual sense of urgency / my reflexes. 

I still feel like a failure. I could not hold onto the leash when he was startled.

There is no solace when I focus on that part.

Why did my partner encourage so much for the walk?

Why didn't I discourage this?

I thought, we can do this. I'm tired, but we have done this so many times now.

Truth is, we had been lucky. Until this time.

Thinking how happy Ginger was, how much love there was, is what everyone tells me to do.

I'm seeing several different counselors. One is particularly used to the owners and their pets sharing a deep connection.

It helps a lot. I go to group therapy sessions, at Christmas, each participant lit a candle, thinking of their cat/dog, and we wrote down what we want to tell them. We then made creative souvenir with their photo inside.

I have this souvenir at home now. I cannot move it.

I still cannot believe that Ginger is no longer purring on the sofa. I wake up in the morning, sometimes thinking that he is right outside the door meowing to me. Like always.

I tried not to think about all these feelings / thoughts. But they keep coming.

I agree with you, kayc, that when life presents us with a lesson like that,  we need to learn.

Until now, I was in my fantasy that I know my Ginger well. 

I really did not mean to pay less attention to him. It is just that everyone around me were trying to prepare Ginger not to be too demanding of my attention, so that he will not be at a shock when Baby arrives. My dream of having a family photo where dear Ginger poses with us is now impossible.

You know, that leash we used, is attached to a harness. We upgraded it that way, after the time we lost him with the collar-leash.

Of course I did not predict that this time, I lack strength or reflex.

Cats can be very independent, as you say. When we saw him, he removed that harness and collar leash!

It breaks my heart in such a way, I wish I could protect him for a few more years. Why had that happened? And indirectly through the owners' silly decision? 

Counselors have been reminding me how we all make even bigger decisions that turn out to our disadvantage, from daily's small decisions, to bigger decisions that involve another person, a relationship, etc.

I just cannot seem to forgive us, or forgive myself, when it is something that concerns Ginger. After all, I saved him many years ago, and he counts on me.

I must not break down......

Just yesterday, I went to check out a charity center that rescues cats (and dogs). It took me months before I can look at a cat without crying immediately. Now I'd cry but not frantically. 

I asked all the questions about how I can help them perhaps fostering a cat.

I will get there, little by little.

I wish to do something good and rescue a cat (but I'm unable to keep a pet now as I never could see my cat as a pet...), in honor of Ginger and with the love I have for Ginger. Maybe that way, it feels like it is extended, our bond.

I will also try to talk to an animal communicator I used before when we were searching for him. The loss is so hard to accept... Thank you for listening. 

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I know, I don't think of them as "pets" either but for lack of a better term and to be all inclusive, not just cats, not just dogs, but include horses, ferrets, etc. I use the term pet sometimes.  To me, they are members of my family.

I'm glad you have a good counselor helping you through this.    Marty listed my favorite articles on the subject, I hope you have gotten a chance to read them, they are a huge help when it comes to guilt from losing our animal.  And it does help to focus on the good life we gave them, the times shared, the love and enjoyment of it.

I wish you well in going forward and peace.

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46 minutes ago, MartyT said:

My dear, I thought of you when I read this just now ~ I hope it speaks to you as well: "How do I live without..." ♥️

This is very brave: “For anyone who is suffering loss, I encourage you: be creative. Be inventive. Be strange. Demand union. Find ways.” As hard as it is...

Ginger is a cat - people say to me. Yes, but he is connected to my soul.

Surely more and more people will realize the importance of our pets.

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Very often when we decide to have pets when we are adults, we have some emotional scars that we already carry with us.

I lost my father in my teenage, someone who I wasn't very close to.

I didn't grow up with a lot of warmth in the most classical way. 

All these things make losing my Ginger a lot more difficult.

I know that one day I will need to say goodbye, but I always thought I would look after Ginger until he is an elderly cat.

Losing him like that, having a vet who just decided to put him down.

I don't know how I'm going to heal.

I have a lot of love around me - and including on this discussion group - and I'm really grateful and thankful.


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