I won’t have a cat because he’ll die before me

I was at the club the other playing Scrabble with some friends. Sounds cosy doesn’t it? Sometimes I do activities other than working on the website you know ;).

Anyway, a friend of mine, an old gentleman, said he wanted to get a cat again. He’d had a cat years ago and missed him. He likes cats, which came as no surprise to me. You can tell who the cat lovers are can’t you?

He said his wife also liked cats. So what was the problem? There are cats all over the place who’d love to live with this guy.

Dying Cat
Dying Cat
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

He told me his wife wouldn’t get a cat again because she couldn’t go through the difficulties of a cat dying. My friend would probably die before the cat but his wife, being younger, would outlive their cat. She would have to go through that tough time when a cat dies.

As cats have a lifespan that is a fraction of the human’s we are bound to have to suffer the emotional torment of losing our beloved cat – if we love cats. I guess some cat owners don’t really love cats. They want to get rid of them.

That got me thinking. I understand the sentiment. I have lost two cats, one to an accident and the other to old age. I am yet to get over the first loss despite it happening almost 20 years ago. When my old lady cat was dying it was agony for me and her I guess. She was better at it than me, though. The whole emotional roller coaster spanned about 9 months before she died and it still hurts now after her death more than a year ago.

An added trauma with really caring for a cat is struggling with that most difficult of decisions: when to gently put her to sleep if that is the best course of action.

But are we to succumb to those emotions and allow them to present a barrier to adopting a cat that needs a home? A person who suffers when their cat dies will be a very good cat caretaker. There are lots of cats who need a very good cat caretaker. Good cat guardians/caretakers are a precious resource to be used.

Death is a part of life. Being sad is also a part of life. We need to accept these things. I feel that people are unwilling to accept sadness in a world that has difficulty in accepting the difficult bits of life. It is like depression. Back in the old days people called it being sad or melancholy. Today it is a medical condition requiring treatment  – drugs. This is wrong.

My argument is that my friend’s wife is wrong. I am not being critical. I am sensitive to her feelings. When we adopt a cat we do it for the life of the cat. We factor in all the things that are going to happen including, the joys, the expense, the worry and the sadness when she passes on to a better world. It’s a bundle of emotions called living. We are able to adopt the right mindset to travel that journey. And the joy vastly outweighs the sadness.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

12 thoughts on “I won’t have a cat because he’ll die before me”

  1. Animals just don’t have a lifespan as long as ours, unless they are a tortoise or a large parrot like a macaw. It’s important to photograph your pets frequently during their lifetime so you will always have the memories of the good times you had with that pet. I too have loved and lost many pets; cats, dogs, horses, and even snakes. All of them died at ripe old ages too. My old Thoroughbred horse died at 34 years of age–his passing was very hard—not only that he was elderly, but it was also the realization that I was getting older too, and would someday leave this world myself. I do have other horses now (minis), and other cats and dogs. Time goes on, we can’t stop it, but there should always be room in your heart to love another pet when one passes.

  2. Ruth (Monty's Mom)

    If I had not befriended Monty I know he would have died before me. He’d be dead already. I never managed to catch his sisters who lived wild for a time outside. Doubtless they are dead now. Which will hurt more? The knowledge that cats I failed to help died before me or having Monty die before me after living a long and happy life with me? That cat is probably going to die before you do in either case. Don’t give him a home and he dies after a short, hard little life. Maybe some people can live with that. I’d rather live knowing I made the life of a cat better and longer than it would have been.

  3. Ruth (Monty's Mom)

    I meant to say the resident is unlikely to outlive the cat. I know of one case where the cat’s caretaker died and the cat was given to another resident, a very lonely man who really needed a furry friend. But if the cat dies it is true that the humans in that situation can comfort each other. It would be a shared loss.

  4. Ruth (Monty's Mom)

    Some nursing homes allow the residents to have cats. Twice now I’ve worked with a resident for physical therapy who has a cat. One for sure I know has his claws, which I was happy to see. I’m not sure about the other one. Back claws for sure, but I didn’t see front ones. Doesn’t mean they weren’t there. That’s my biggest concern when nursing homes have cats or a resident in the nursing home has a cat– that someone will have thought the responsible thing to do is to declaw the cat. That’s just cruel and wrong. But otherwise, having animals around is great. In the nursing home setting the resident is likely to outlive the cat, who can then go to a different resident. The cats seem to give the elderly people a new lease on life. The nursing home I was working at today has a resident dog. He is not declawed. Why should any resident cat be? But maybe I am making too much of that, because I don’t know for sure that any cat I’ve seen in a nursing home was declawed and one for sure was not.

    1. Interesting comment. It makes me think about true “community cats”. If a cat can share human companions that would seem to me to ease the difficulties of loss when the cat dies.

  5. I’m crippled & in a nursing home, but I still love cats! That’s why I subscribe to Pictures of Cats. I’ve never had one die, just disappear. Then you never know what happened to them. You just hope they’ve found a better place to live. I’ve always given my cats their freedom because I feel cats need that! I’ve never been to Pinterest, so I can’t comment about it!

  6. Ruth aka Kattaddorra

    Over the 38 years we’ve had cats in our home we have had to say goodbye to quite a few and it never gets any easier, it’s heartbreaking and I think I just can’t go on living any more either. You never get over losing a loved one, whether a person or a pet, just with time you get used to them not being around. It’s worse when you have to be the one to choose when to let an old ill cat go because the feeling of guilt lingers, did you choose the right time?
    There’s a feeling of relief as well as the grief when an old cat chooses his/her own time.
    But the years of pleasure surely outweigh the pain of parting even though it doesn’t feel like it at the time.
    If we all let the pain of the the eventual parting stop us from having cats no one would share their homes and there are millions of cats needing and deserving homes and I think it’s selfish not to think of that.

  7. Hi Michael,

    Marc – sorry for your pain.

    I can see both sides of the argument and I have a lot of respect for each.

    I agree that life is largely about pain and suffering. That comes with physical incarnation.

    Perhaps this couple might consider adopting an older cat from a shelter. Then perhaps the older gentleman wouldn’t have to worry about outliving the cat. Besides, it’s the geriatric shelter cats who need help the most.

    I think that those who argue that you shouldn’t worry about outliving your cat would argue that you can make arrangements for someone else taking your cat if you should become disabled or die.

    I also think that they’d argue that cats who don’t get rescued will suffer or be put down.

    I agree with the logic.

    Even so, I think that it’s a personal decision and there is no cookie cutter answer.

    Some can’t take the pain of losing a beloved cat. They can’t stand watching them suffer in their last days and are averse to putting them down in the end.

    I have mixed feelings – strong on both sides. I also think that a person could present convincing arguments in support of either stance.

    I’ve had cats since 1985. I’ve had a lot die on me.

    When they suffer from terminal illness it kills me. Yet, I am glad to be there for them.

    When they die, I lose a piece of me forever. It feels very painful and heavy. It is exceptionally difficult to bear.

    I think that it’s a privilege to have a chance at cat companionship. I also feel that it’s a privilege to serve them and am deeply honored when they allow and appreciate my service.

    How often do we really get a chance to help someone? Helping a cat makes me feel worthy and I’m grateful for the chance.

    I think a person is defined by their ethics, words, and behavior. I also think that a person is defined by their contributions to society, the animals, and the planet. Love isn’t just a feeling or an attitude. That’s a good start, but love is action. The proof is in the pudding.

    Helping cats is love in action. That act alone can make a person feel worthy.

    Good topic.

    =^-^= Hairless Cat Girl =^-^=

    1. Great comment – I totally agree. I think you are so right when you say it’s a privilege to be accepted and appreciated by a cat. It’s a great thing – one of the greatest things in life.

  8. Its very interesting. I have heard of this before. Infact somebody I know does not want to get another cat for the exact same reason. She said “they die you know” – like that is the first thing she thinks of when she starts to fall in love with a cat and she refuses to go through it again after her very old cat she had since she was young died. That happened so many years ago and yet even now, 15 or 20 years later, she loves cats but she still refuses to love one and live with it. Well I had to leave a cat behind when I left Canada. In good hands with her mum (my ex gf) and her littermate sister. But for me it was a disaster. It made leaving impossible and I was in total denial. I couldn’t get my things packed because I didnt want to disturb her and see her watch me pack away our home of 8 years. I left everything til the last minute and too late. I was a mess. I had a friend deal with alot after I was gone. I knew for a long time I was leaving. It would have been easy as pie if it was not for leaving my cat behind. This was one of the hardest things I ever did in my life. The other was on the last day of June this year when Red died. I’ve never been physically overcome with shock and emotion like that. It was the opposite to leaving my cat in Canada (which was terribly long winded) – it was sudden and unexpected. Before the end of the day I had buried him and would never see him again in my life. I have never had a cat get sick slowly and die. That will be next for me I suppose. I must say that I still think about Red everyday and cannot walk home the usual obvious way past where I found him. I have not opened the shutters to my balcony since that day. I don’t think I can ever really be as happy as I could be if he was around. But I am not a rational human, particularly, and I will not now stop having cats because of this. I guess however what I am saying is that I can respect somebody who decides not to have another cat, in view of the fact of losing them in the future. It is a sad waste of a potentially good cat caretaker – that’s a good point. Maybe these people could get involved with cats in some other way. But I dont think they can. Some people immediately think of the loss and heartache the second they start to love something or someone. I had a girlfriend like that once. So they don’t dare risk it. It’s unfortunate because it reflects the prevalence of a massive amount of pain they once must of had. When I think of Red however, I think of the love and fun and not the pain of losing him, usually. Same for old relationships. I don’t think of the break up. Some people do though.

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