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Probably cat to sleep today - how to explain to 3 year old?

(41 Posts)
Liskey Fri 29-Mar-13 07:52:26

Me and DH in tears this morning, big banging noise at 5 this morning and came down to find cat in a bad state. Her eyes were staring and head tilted to one side and can't walk without shaking. She's been off her food for a week and took her to vets yesterday who gave anti-biotics in case of a virus as she felt gassy brought her home and she was playing and chasing off another cat in "her" garden. Went to emergency vet who suspected neurgiocal/stroke but could be something with kidneys/liver. Cat is 12 next week.

We're both in floods as we know if she's the same later we can't let her go on - how do we explain to our 3 year old - who loves the cat (and was pretending to be a cat already this morning).

Sparklingbrook Fri 29-Mar-13 07:57:37

Oh Liskey I am so sorry. sad

Do you think that your 3 year old would comprehend that the cat is very very poorly, and the vet couldn't make it right?

Difficult at 3 to know what they understand about death.


Liskey Fri 29-Mar-13 08:01:26

Thanks for that - DD did come with me to the vets yesterday so that could help. Ir's going to be so diffficult.

DD is now being scarface claw (the toughest tom in town) and me and DH are trying not to cry (and failing)

Liskey Fri 29-Mar-13 08:03:35

DH thinks DD shouldn't come to the vets to say goodbye, I'm not so sure.

Sparklingbrook Fri 29-Mar-13 08:06:16


Another way of explaining is that the cat wore out and stopped working and the cat was very poorly? I have a feeling that at 3 children may think that death is temporary so it's very hard.

Sparklingbrook Fri 29-Mar-13 08:07:47

Not sure about taking your DD to the vets, my feelings would be not to.

cozietoesie Fri 29-Mar-13 08:09:30

So sorry, Liskey. I'm trying to cast my mind back to that age. I don't think I was aware of personality as much as 'catness'. I'd, personally, say that the cat went somewhere (on holiday, say) and get another cat directly for the little one.

You and DH will have to deal with the matter yourselves of course.

Liskey Fri 29-Mar-13 08:10:51

thanks again, me and Dh are struggling - had cat since she was 8 weeks old

Sparklingbrook Fri 29-Mar-13 08:11:24

I am finding it hard to envisage a 3 year old and what they can comprehend cozie.

Grange Fri 29-Mar-13 08:13:23

I've been in a very similar situation with my DD being 2 when I had to take her with me to the vets at the end. If at all possible I wouldn't take your DD. So sorry to hear about your cat.

cozietoesie Fri 29-Mar-13 08:15:03

Quite so, sparkling. Myself, I wouldn't overthink it. Just get a new cat for the little' un.

Bearwantsmore Fri 29-Mar-13 08:17:38

Depends on the level of understanding of your 3 yr old (is she just 3 or nearly 4)? My parents' dog died when DD was nearly 3 and age accepted it very well - children seem to accept things in a much more matter-of-fact way than us IME. However she obviously wasn't attached to the dog in the way that your DD will be to your poor cat. If I were you I'd be honest with her. She will see both of you being upset so I think it would be good to explain that it's ok to feel sad.

I also wouldn't take her to the vet though. Hopefully the vet will allow one or both of you to stay with the cat while it is done and this will be difficult with DD there

Huge huge sympathies to you all x

Grange Fri 29-Mar-13 08:17:38

I told my older DD ( who was in nursery so didn't have to come ) that cat had been poorly for a long time (which she sort of knew as she'd seen me give her tablets every morning) and that now the tablets weren't working so she needed to rest in heaven with all the other older cats to look after her. I'm not particularly religious but it was what DD accepted.

Kahlua4me Fri 29-Mar-13 08:19:11

Our guinea pig died yesterday, she was nearly 10 so very very old. Her brother died last summer so dh are going through it again.

I went alone with her to vets as didn't want kids to see. They were very tearful last night but seem better this am. Dc are 9 and 5

I think the best thing to do is explain that she was very old and very poorly so nothing could be done to help her, but now she is in heaven and is happy and free of pain. What has helped with my dc is talking with them and following their lead. It's fine for them to see us cry as it helps them learn how to deal with their own grief and to realise that it is a part of life.

Sending love to you all as it is a hard thing to go through.

Kahlua4me Fri 29-Mar-13 08:19:51

Should say dc are going through it again, not dh

Liskey Fri 29-Mar-13 08:26:00

Cheers for all advice.

DD is only just 3 so I am probably over thinking this.
She hasn't realised yet the cat isn't here at the moment.

GoingGoingGoth Fri 29-Mar-13 08:27:35

Sorry, nothing helpful to post as Dd was 4 month when our cat was put down, but just wanted to add our sympathies.

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 29-Mar-13 08:42:15

Obviously I see a lot of children with their elderly pets. Over 4 years of age I do think they should have the choice of weather to be there or not at the end. I find that they are very sad at the actual moment and then very matter of fact and asking for a new pet before they have left the consult room.

cozietoesie Fri 29-Mar-13 08:48:14

Thanks for that, Lone.

Sparklingbrook Fri 29-Mar-13 14:40:39

Hope you are ok Liskey. It has been a little bit sad on The Litter Tray this week.

Liskey Fri 29-Mar-13 14:44:29

Thanks - cat still at vets her tests show something is wrong with her kidneys but the vet wasn't convinced that was causing all of this. She's responsive but still listing to one side. Me and DH are going in later to see how she responds to fluids and see if there is any chance.

DD has founds some of the cat special treats and has got them out for when the cat is better.

Nodney Fri 29-Mar-13 14:48:29

So sorry OP. when my DS was 3, a kindly neighbour poisoned his beloved cat with anti freeze and the poor cat died. We were devastated, he was a gorgeous cat who loved our son. We managed to hide our grief and told our DS that the cat had gone on holiday. He asked for him a few times and then appeared to forget. I didn't think my 3 year old could cope with the finality of death x x

shallweshop Fri 29-Mar-13 14:56:21

Oh liskey, I really hope the vet can do something for your cat. One of our cats had to be put down after a stroke when DD was 4. She insisted on going to the vet with DH (but they didn't stay in the room when the injection was given). When they came back we all had a good cry together and that night we said a little prayer to him in heaven.

Really hope there is a happy outcome for your kitty.

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 29-Mar-13 15:43:41

Nodney I know you did what you thought was right. However, there have been quite a few respective studies that have looked at children being told about bereavement whether it is pet or human. These have shown that we should always tell children the truth. Telling 'white lies' such as gone to sleep, gone on holiday can lead to other problems with children becoming fearful of family members going to sleep or going on holiday.
I always feel that one of the reasons we have pets is to help children to understand and experience bereavement before it is a close family member.

cozietoesie Fri 29-Mar-13 16:47:29

Not sure I agree - much depending on the child and the circumstances. Interesting though, Lone.

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