Depending on their age, children react differently to the death of a pet. For many it will be the first time they experience this inevitable part of life. This being the case, it will help enormously for a parent to talk things through with a bereavement counsellor as to how to approach and explain pet death. The child may also find such supportive third-party help invaluable.
Never underestimate a child’s grief or reaction to the death of a pet, as it can affect them in many different ways that can have long-lasting and detrimental effects on their behaviour, health, learning ability and socialisation. One thing you should not do is say that the pet was ‘put to sleep’,
To as this can create false hope; the child may think that one day their pet friend will wake up and come back again. Whether a child should be allowed to see the body of the pet depends on the age and psyche of the child. A qualified counsellor will be able to advise on the best course of action to take.
It is not just the owner who grieves over the loss of a pet; so can other animals in the household. Some people prefer to let the other animals see the body of their friend so they recognize he has died and can say ‘goodbye’. The best thing to do is to carry on with the remaining pets’ routine as normal, and to let them work out a new hierarchy among themselves. Perhaps the last thing you need right now are the potential problems that introducing a new pet into the equation may, well bring.
Time for a successor
Only you will know when the time is right to get another cat. When it is, remember that there are plenty of homeless felines, young and old, waiting in rescue centres to fill the gap in the life of a special someone who can offer them the life they deserve – a good, caring home and lots of love.
After the death of a cat, do not get another one just on the basis that you think it will be beneficial to surviving pets although in some cases this has proved a success, as they may resent an intruder. If you do get another cat, wait until you feel emotionally and physically ready to cope with a new addition to the household.