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Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5482
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Greetings, On Monday, February 18th, my beloved cat named

Customer Question

Greetings,
On Monday, February 18th, my beloved cat named Ella of 3 years and 6 months was euthanized by her vet. We had rescued her when she was under 6 weeks old. She was abandoned by her mother or circumstances at a very early age and was mauled by a dog before we got her.
We had always noticed that she was scared and insecure and would bite or hiss out of fear. We gave her a lot of love and then she became normal but she always was no-touchy-feely cat. She would purr and give and ask for love as she pleased. Of course, we were sensitive to her personality and continued to love her for who she was. She was scared of guests or strangers. Sometimes, she would hide or hiss. If a cat would come by the front yard or backyard, she would howl and growl from inside the house and that was it.
About 6-8 months ago, our neighbors got two outdoor cats. I believe that her anxiety level increased. We were putting the food out for neighbor’s cat because it seemed like that the neighbors were not feeding them properly and the cats were asking for food. Ella would sometime be normal or sometime be upset.
Last month or so, Ella viciously attacked my daughter (23 years old) who was the one who had brought Ella home. The attack was severe as in bites and scratches. We took Ella to the vet and got her evaluated for rabies and vet did some other tests. Everything was normal and life moved on.
On Sunday, March 17th 2013, I was playing with Ella and she was happy and purring when suddenly the outdoor cats started fighting outside our front door. Ella ran to the door but door was closed so she could not fight them but turned around and I became the target of her “redirected aggression”. She attacked me and bit me and scratched me. I had to lock myself in the bedroom. I finally came out but she was still aggressive so I somehow lured her into a room and locked her. We kept her confined overnight so she could calm down but when we let her out in the morning, she attacked me again. My daughter and I locked us in a bedroom and Animal Control had to come in and trap her in a crate.
Then we took her to the vet. This vet has been seeing her since she was a baby and is completely aware of her health and personality. He said that the only option is to humanly euthanize her because she is not suitable for adoption, declawing will not help, and she is dangerous and unpredictable. She cannot be let loose in the wild because that would be cruel to her since she does not know how to hunt and has always been an indoor cat. She would either be killed by a big animal or a car might hit her. We were not left with a choice. Hence, she was euthanized and I was there with her in her final moments.
This has been devastating. I miss her so much. She was part of my family, part of who I am. I am looking for some comfort. I am a person of faith and accept the circumstances as will of God. Emotionally, I am traumatized, sad, and very disturbed. I had a very special bond with Ella. I see her everywhere. When I close my eyes, I see her face. I have been weeping non-stop. I will be attending a pet-loss-grieving meeting of a support group in two weeks or so. I will be getting her ashes and intend to bury them.
I just thought that I will write to you because it helps to share. Please help me cope with this.
Thank You!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

I am so sorry about the loss of Ella. The loss of a pet can be devastating because they are part of our family. And when you lose a pet, especially when it is a difficult situation like Ella's was, it can be a shock. Plus you spend time and energy saving Ella and doing everything right to help her have a happy life. To have her turn on you and have to euthanatize her is heartbreaking.

Right now you are most likely just trying to absorb what happened and are not yet able to accept the situation completely. It is very common with the death of a beloved pet, unexpected or not, that the loved ones left behind have a time of adjustment where they grapple between trying to belief what occurred and not being able to accept it. Give yourself time to adjust to what just happened. It may take a bit of time to get over the shock. It is very normal to keep seeing her everywhere and to believe she is still around. It will take time to adjust to her loss and to be able to let go.

What might also be adding to your grief is the fact that you had no choice but to put Ella to sleep. She was hurting you and your family and there was no way to address her behavior. But some people who lose a pet that way still tend to blame themselves, thinking there was more they could do. It is important that you practice letting go and believing that you did everything possible to give Ella a wonderful life. And she did have a happy life with a loving family. If you need to, talk to family and friends as well as giving yourself written and verbal reminders that Ella was happy. You rescued her and treated her with kindness and love.

Everyone grieves in their own way. Some people feel the need to cry a lot, others go into themselves and don't talk or socialize for a while. Allow yourself to do whatever you feel you need to in order to grieve your loss. If that is writing in a journal about your feelings, crying or talking to someone, that is what you need to do.

You may also want to memorialize Ella in some way. It can go a long way to helping you heal when you actively do something to honor your pet. Writing an on line memorial, burying her in a special place and plant a tree honoring her, posting pictures or making an album or just setting up a special area in your home with Ella's favorite things can help. Joining a group and talking with other pet owners that have gone through losses is an excellent idea. They understand and can help you grieve so you feel better quicker.

I hope this has helped you,
Kate
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5482
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.


Kate. Thank you! I feel that I didn't explore enough options; yet, there were no options to my knowledge to explore. It happened so quickly that I end up asking myself "If I made a hasty decision" but then remind myself that a professional (Ella's Vet) was right there and in his opinion, this was the only option. Nonetheless, I love Ella and miss her. I have kept her collar and will be framing it in a shadow box and will put it on the wall. Thanks. I really appreciate your detailed answer. It helps to hear from a professional.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
You're very welcome. I am so sorry about Ella. I have lost both dogs and cats and I understand how heartbreaking it is and how easy it is to be hard on yourself. But you did everything possible plus more for Ella. Keep reminding yourself of that. You loved her and she knew it.

Take care,

Kate
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Kate


One last question. "Did I really do everything possible?" I didn't try behavorial training or anxiety medicine. Vet did not seem to think that this would have helped. "Did I really do everything possible?"


 

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 1 year ago.
If the vet did not feel it would help, then is wouldn't have. Vets spend their lives learning about animals and understanding their behavior. I imagine they get several hundred behavioral questions a week and because of that, they really know what they are talking about. And even with training and/or medications there was no way to predict that Ella would not lash out again. It was probably too dangerous to take the risk and the vet might have based his decision on that fact. It might help you to talk to him again more in depth to get the rational behind his thinking. That could bring you the peace and answers you need.

Kate

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