What do I do with my pet’s belongings after they are gone?
After suffering the loss of a pet and coming to terms with it, other questions are raised, like “Now what do I do with their stuff?” Experiencing loss and dealing with the stages of grief is hard enough let alone dealing with the task of clearing out their toys, bedding and belongings. It is a constant reminder of life before their transition. This can be especially difficult when the pet was the ONLY pet of the house. Either way, when the time is right for you, here are four ways to deal with your pet’s belongings after they are gone.
After your pet has long departed it is nice to keep fond memories of their lives and your experiences positive and in a good light. You may want to have a keepsake or something to remember them by that is tangible. For instance, after my cat Dusty passed away, I kept her pink sparkle collar. It lies by my keychain bowl on a table by a framed picture of her. Some people like the idea of using a collar as a key chain holder or attachment.
Perhaps, you never had a collar for your pet and had a “chip” so you may want to hold onto their favorite toy or even keep a favorite photo and make a special frame for it. There are many options and creative ways you can keep a tangible memory of your pet’s life. I’d recommend limiting the items to one or just a few in sight.
I have found doing this helps recovery from the loss become more manageable because there are not constant reminders all over the house. For me, seeing a lot of toys and things my cat played with triggered a lot of emotions for me. I did not want to wallow in sadness for longer than I felt comfortable for my own mental health. So I had to remove the majority of her belongings as a result. This leads me to the second option.
After a couple of months I found that seeing my cat’s box of toys and unoccupied kitty condo daily was a constant reminder of her death. Sure I had the good memories but seeing that empty space on top of the kitty condo in the corner of the house daily just felt like rubbing the salt in my wounded heart daily.
I came to a point of realizing that the best memories I have are in my memory and heart forever. I don’t need a daily reminder of her last days with the physical things in the house. It made me think of her daily routine, her comings and goings and scratching on her scratchy pad every morning. Aside from the memories constantly flooding my brain, this stuff takes up space.
I had to come to accept at this stage it was time to move forward and keep the greatest treasures of her memory in my heart and clear the physical space to allow room for new energy and new beginnings. My cat’s energy and spirit are always with us, just different now. With that in mind, I donated my kitty condo and toys to neighbors.
If you are not comfortable with that, you can also donate online or take to your local no-kill shelter. Animal shelters love to get any extra supplies to help cats and dogs.
If you know you’ll get another pet one day in the near future, you may want to consider sanitizing the toys, litter pan and wash the bedding and tuck away until you get a new family member. Or perhaps you have a house full of pet siblings and they all shared their toys; it may suit you to keep the toys and maybe hold onto their collar.
Additionally, sometimes money is a factor and you may be of the mindset to keep the belongings and you can reuse them one day in the future. Buying new stuff all over again can be costly so reusing items saves you time and money in the long run.
4. Discard & Start Fresh
Lastly, if none of these options work for you, you can always discard your deceased pet’s belongings/toys and start fresh. Remember, discarding of your pet’s belongings does not discount or void the memories and love shared between you both. These things in the physical are just that T-H-I-N-G-S. They are symbols that help us recall precious memories and experiences.
So please don’t let anyone make you feel bad for the way in which you handle clearing out your pet’s belongings. It’s a personal choice. In my case, I kept a handful of things and donated some and trashed the rest. I felt it was an important step to not keep clutter and hinder my healing process physically and mentally.
When you clean and reorganize your life you allow opportunity for new blessings, renewed healing and a clearer mind. It doesn’t make the pain less or make one forget the loss but it does help you move forward with a renewed attitude. You may find it necessary to discard of their belongings if your pet was the only pet of the house and you are preparing to welcome a new pet.
Depending on the situation, it is not uncommon for pets to sometimes have a negative reaction to another pet’s scent they do not identify with or feel intimidated by. For this reason, it may be the best option to start fresh and buy new items for the home.
So, those are my four tips for dealing with your pet’s belongings after death. If you were wondering what do I do with my pet’s belongings now that they’re gone, I hope this blog post has given you a few helpful ideas. I hope this helps make life a little easier in this stage of the process. Choose what is right for you. Remember, possessions may go, but the love never dies.
What did you do with your deceased pet’s belongings? Comment and share your experiences below.
Originally published August 6, 2016. Updated March 14, 2018.