I received a few comments from readers about sudden loss of their pets and it had me thinking about an experience I had in the past. You usually read about me talking about Dusty frequently, however this time I have to share a personal experience about Precious, my first cat. She was my first love. This is my experience dealing with sudden loss of my cat Precious. But first, let me give you some context.
Moving to the Big Apple
It was June 30, 2006 and I had just moved to NYC with my sister and two cats in tow. Precious was about 8 years old and Dusty about 5 years old. It had been a long day of traveling across country on a plane for 3000 miles. Our cats did pretty well. I think it was attributed to the sedatives the vet gave us to give them for the trip.
However, as day turned into evening after we landed, I could tell the sedative wore off as Dusty was back to her perky self. Precious not so much. She was not only cranky but groggy. At one point walked around like she was drunk. It had my sister and I worried a bit however since we were brand new to a big city we had to find a vet as soon as we got settled.
By morning Precious and Dusty seemed to have shrugged off what was left of the sedatives and seemed back to normal. We moved into our loft apartment on day one in July and ran to Target to get some cleaning essentials, sheets and pillows to start off our life in the Big City.
After returning to the apartment, cleaning and trying to get settled my sister called out. “Precious is coughing. Something’s wrong!”
Gone too soon
I rushed into my sister’s room where Precious was making a coughing sound but couldn’t stop. We were right by her side trying to assist her. Was she chocking on food? No. She wasn’t vomiting or passing a hairball. It was as if her lungs were filled with fluid or something. She was in my lap still coughing until she stopped. Just like that she took her last breath. The whole incident didn’t last very long. I feel like it was 10-15 minutes.
All the while my sister was on the phone trying to reach our old vet and our family to Google a veterinarian in Brooklyn. (We had no landline, cable or anything set up yet!)
I felt Precious take her last breath. We both were overcome with disbelief and shock. What the hell just happened?! I knew our vet said before we flew across country that Precious needs to see a vet when we get settled. She had a heart murmur since she was a kitten, but I no idea she had days or hours to live.
We never got an autopsy due to cost however my sister and I felt her heart murmur combined with the sedative and/or traveling may have been too much. Honestly, we never got an answer only a hunch.
How we Dealt with Sudden Pet Loss
I can’t imagine how pet parents that suffer from sudden pet loss deal when they never get to be present for their pet when they pass. (i.e.: car accident, etc.) But I do know what it’s like when you are present. I dealt with overwhelming feeling of shock. Then you have to come to a place of acceptance. Being present did help us deal with this reality. Also, we had to come to grips that we would never know 100% the cause of her sudden death, but only speculate. Lastly, we had to remember to be present and provide comfort and be there for Dusty.
We had Precious cremated and her remains are still with me to this day. I have her ashes in a red and gold velvet box. You can read more about this in my previous blog post called What do I do with my Pets’ Remains?
Not only did we lose Precious, Dusty lost her big sister. We went through a period of grieving and Dusty went through a period of grieving too. Dusty was normally very active and inquisitive and perky however, after Precious passed away, she wouldn’t go into the room where Precious passed away for several days after. She was less active and melancholy. We did our best to give her extra cuddles, extra treats and belly rubs to let her know she was loved and we were there for her.
With time, Dusty eventually returned to her old self. This actually helped us in the healing process. Having Dusty’s energy and presence around helped keep our spirits up. Watching Dusty return to her old self had my sister and I reminiscing on good times and funny moments when Dusty and Precious would play around. (Honestly, Precious was the type to be more annoyed with Dusty’s perky energy. Precious’ attitude was more like Garfield the cartoon cat; loved to eat, sleep and lounge; not to be disturbed.)
After some time passed, we even attempted to get Dusty another sibling. Check out my other blog post called “What I learned when I got another pet too soon!”
This was my experience with sudden pet loss. With the support of family, coming to a place of acceptance, memorializing Precious and comforting our other cat, we were able to come to a place of healing.
Life throws you for a loop sometimes. Losing a pet is one of the hardest things you may ever experience but you make it through. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to know death is coming and other times we get surprised. Just know you aren’t alone. I’ve been there too. If you are looking for additional tips to moving forward after pet loss, check out the Pet Loss Support Page.
Have you experienced unexpected sudden pet loss? How did you deal? Comment and share below.