Paws to Listen Service Supports Cat Owners Through Grief

With National Grief Awareness Week operating from 2-8 December, charity Cats Protection needs to spotlight its support service for grieving cat homeowners.

Now in its fifth yr, Paws to Listen is there for anybody going through the heartbreak of dropping their cat, scuffling with points like euthanasia, or whose cat has gone lacking. Supported by gamers of People’s Postcode Lottery, it’s a free and confidential service, connecting callers with a volunteer listener over the phone or through e mail.

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Gail Allen, who additionally works for the charity, explains how the service helped her when she misplaced her beloved cat Buttons earlier this yr. The two shared an in depth bond, ever since Gail adopted Buttons and his brother Butch in 2012, and he or she says of their first assembly: “I simply knew these had been my boys. It was love at first sight.”

The feline pair had been additionally fixed, loving companions to Gail when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. “Buttons was my fixed shadow, becoming a member of me on many video calls all through the primary two lockdowns,” she provides.

Sadly, on 10 February 2021, Buttons handed away instantly and unexpectedly. Gail says: “It was very fast, and over earlier than he knew what was taking place. I used to be distraught like by no means earlier than, and in such shock. He wasn’t ailing or outdated. It was 9pm on a Wednesday night so my neighbour took me and Buttons to the closest 24-hour vets. Throughout the entire journey I used to be convincing myself that he was okay, he needed to be okay. The nurse didn’t even actually have to take a look at him to know he was gone.

“I acquired a put up mortem and toxicology report performed, as a result of I felt I needed to know what the reason for demise was, that one way or the other this could assist me. Nothing confirmed up and the vets assume it was most probably a blood clot that got here out of nowhere. It’s known as ‘sudden demise’.

“Needless to say, I struggled loads with the sudden surprising lack of my boy. I wanted a while off work, and it was throughout this time that I contacted our Paws to Listen service. It’s troublesome to place into phrases how a lot it helped me to speak to somebody who actually understood what I used to be going by. So many individuals, members of the family included, stated or acted like Buttons was ‘only a cat’. But he was my household, my boy, and had been so near me for seven years.

“The Paws to Listen service was capable of assist me make sense of what had occurred and to cease feeling so responsible. I had satisfied myself it was one way or the other my fault and I’d been a foul mum to Buttons. But now I do know that he had the very best life doable with me and I did the whole lot I might for him, for each of my boys. You solely want to take a look at images to see the love in his eyes.

“It made such a distinction working for Cats Protection and coping with my grief for Buttons. My colleagues have been so understanding and have actually helped me by this yr. Sadly, my yr of grief snowballed as I misplaced my Dad in March, equally unexpectedly and instantly. But what I discovered from the Paws to Listen service has actually helped me by each losses. I feel probably the most precious factor I’ve discovered is that “grief is the worth we pay for love”. I really feel such highly effective grief as a result of I’ve been fortunate sufficient to really feel equally highly effective loves in my life. The ache won’t ever go away, nevertheless it turns into simpler to bear, and simpler to name upon good reminiscences that fill you with love and heat.”

Entrepreneur and TV Personality Deborah Meaden can also be a supporter of the Paws to Listen service, saying: “I misplaced a really pricey cat and it amazed me fairly how devastated I used to be, and for simply how lengthy I used to be devastated. I feel it’s actually necessary that folks recognise that grief, and there may be really someplace to go together with it. Sometimes you’re feeling a bit of bit foolish speaking about your cat and your grief so I really feel that the Cats Protection Paws to Listen service is necessary, as a result of it means you possibly can choose the telephone as much as any person who understands and who can give you some help and be sympathetic with the best way that you just really feel.”

Susan Anthony is a volunteer listener on Cats Protection’s Paws to Listen service who understands the ache of dropping a much-loved cat and says that it will possibly very rewarding to have the ability to assist others who’re going by this kind of loss. A retired stockbroker, Susan began volunteering for the service in 2017 when she was made redundant and located herself searching for one thing worthwhile to do in her spare time.

Susan says: “I used to be trying on the Cats Protection web site for job alternatives as I had lately been made redundant and was half-heartedly investigating areas fully outdoors the monetary world. Having seen the chance to offer help for individuals grieving for his or her cats, I knew instantly that it was one thing I used to be drawn to and I believed I could possibly be good at.

“Most of the time our callers are searching for somebody who understands how devastated they could be and doesn’t dismiss the lack of a cat as one thing fairly insignificant. Many of them don’t need to burden family and friends an excessive amount of or are unwilling to disclose simply how distressed they’re.

“Lots of people are anxious that what they’re feeling is so peculiar and inexplicable and I feel they discover it useful to study that many others share their emotions and feelings and that these are a typical, albeit not inevitable, a part of the grieving course of, for which there isn’t a timetable and no predictable path.

“We by no means decide, and callers admire that. We additionally recognise that we aren’t skilled counsellors so, the place relevant, we do signpost some individuals to different assets, together with GPs, counselling, Samaritans or different grief help companies.

“Not everybody recognises how shut a bond individuals can develop with their cats. The fixed companionship {that a} much-loved cat can present can’t be overstated and, for a lot of, they’re the explanation to stand up within the morning and keep it up, notably throughout exhausting instances and, in fact, throughout the Covid lockdowns.

“People who’ve loved the non-judgemental consolation of a cat throughout emotional turmoil, or the lack of different family members, typically change into inconsolable once they lose their little good friend, whether or not as the results of an sickness or an accident or as a result of they’ve gone lacking – maybe the toughest loss to bear, given the uncertainty and mixture of hope and dread.

“It all the time appears extraordinary to me the variety of callers who say that even well-meaning associates or acquaintances have suggested them to “get one other cat”, or who say “it’s only a cat”, implying they need to recover from it and transfer on. There is now actually extra media protection concerning the necessary position pets can play in individuals’s lives however, even so, I feel a reasonably extensively held view is {that a} canine could be man’s greatest good friend however a cat is an impartial soul, not somebody with whom a human can kind an in depth bond, which is clearly unfaithful.

“I’m additionally positive that few individuals actually admire how lengthy it will possibly take somebody who’s grieving to come back to phrases with the lack of a cherished cat, which might make them really feel very remoted.

“Paws to Listen gives a precious service to lots of these grieving for his or her cats and though a number of the calls are exhausting and could be distressing, to know that you’ve helped somebody in ache even a bit of bit could be very rewarding.

“Cats Protection could be very conscious of the necessity for its volunteers to take care of themselves, too, so it’s comforting to know that we will contact our workforce chief for help and backup at any time when the necessity arises, for instance if we take a very difficult or upsetting name. Having been a volunteer listener for the service now for greater than 4 years, I can nonetheless say that it provides me an actual sense of accomplishment which, now I’m retired, I would in any other case have struggled to seek out.”

Cats Protection’s Paws to Listen telephone line is open 9am-5pm Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays) and could be reached on 0800 024 94 94. Alternatively, individuals can get in contact through a web based kind at www.cats.org.uk/grief

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Marc-André

We usually write about all issues referring to cats on our Blog Katzenworld!

My associate and I are owned by 5 cheeky cats that stand up to all types of mischief that in fact, you’ll additionally have the ability to discover out extra about on our Blog

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