When is the appropriate time to move on from a pet’s death? Is there ever a “right” time?
It’s been approximately five months since the passing of my beloved cat, Alpha.
Every week when I open up the paper and see a row of furry faces available for adoption at the Cove animal shelter, my first instinct is to run out and adopt an armload or two of cats and dogs.
But can I really do it? It takes more bravery than I realized to move on from the death of a beloved pet.
I miss the days of hearing the soft trill and feeling Alpha’s weight hit the bed as she jumped up to join me as I slept.
I miss looking forward to the soft warmth to cuddle with after a long day at work.
But what I miss most was Alpha’s uncanny instinct at sensing when I was sick or sad. She was an aloof cat for the most part, but the moment she sensed anything wrong with me, she was right there by my side until I felt better.
As a notorious animal lover, I’ve had several pets pass away, from running away and being presumed dead, to a dog that died from a snake bite.
Yet, this loss is different because she is the first pet I owned for more than a decade.
Despite her initial resistance to us bonding, it happened.
And now, the bond is still strong as my family members and I take turns watering the mum plant in our garden that was planted in Alpha’s memory.
Every cold front that blows in, we’re running outside to place a pot over her mum plant. And I still don’t have the strength to visit her grave.
It’s not like her death was unexpected.
As the years went by, Alpha went through more than a couple of her nine lives, valiantly fighting through illness and the loss of her eyesight.
Yet, she persevered, and after each illness, seemed stronger and healthier. She went from having one paw in kitty cat heaven one day, to seeming almost kitten-ish and spry the next.
I began to view her as almost invincible, even though she was blind and emaciated.
Do I really want to go through any more discussions with vets about having to put a furry member of my family to sleep forever?
Or waking up one morning to my tiny best friend struggling to simply breathe?
During my hours spent volunteering at animal shelters, I’ve seen plenty of animals in need of a good home. My heart especially goes out to cats with feline leukemia and other serious illnesses.
The thought of making their potentially shortened lives bright while they’re here on Earth is very tempting. But with that temptation comes the realization that we’d have to one day say goodbye forever.
Oh, to be able to keep a feline companion infinitely in the kitten stage and never have them age into senior years.
I know that with each day it will get easier to consider adopting again, and that it isn’t a matter of if, but of when I’ll bring home my new feline or canine friend.
I look forward to that day.
Jacqueline Dowland is editor of the Copperas Cove Herald. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7464.