Sunday, September 25, 2011

Kids & Pets & Death

We had a bit of a scare this week. One of our cats became quite ill - lethargic, weight loss, not eating, peed on the deck. She is currently staying over for a few of nights with the vet. The X-rays showed kidney stones (lots of kidney stones) and possible kidney damage, so things were looking pretty grim Thursday night.  But we caught a break, I think. The blood work came back Friday morning, and all the levels were pretty good, with no indication of kidney failure. She's continuing to receive intravenous fluids and has been given an appetite stimulant. The hope was that she would start eating, and she would come home Saturday.

That hasn't happened, and the vet decided to keep her til Monday. Our fingers are crossed that she's back on her food and will come home to us to start the new week.  The vet believes we can expect a good long time with her yet. He suspects the stones have been there for some time, and that she may just need periodic fluids and pain relief to deal with any flare-ups.

But what if he's wrong?

We are looking into resources to help our Little Boo, in case we need to say good-bye. He has already experienced the death of a pet - our dog passed away two years ago, but Little Boo was only three, and he and I were out of town when it happened, so it didn't have as strong an effect as the death of one of our cats would now, when he's older, and present. He does still ask about our dog from time to time, and this seems to be a normal reaction given his age. According to some information on our vet's website. children under about 5 aren't really able to understand the finality of death, and they may continue to question a death for some time. It is important to be honest about the finality of death, and to allow ample time for discussion. Honesty, simple responses and explanations, and leaving room for grieving are critical.

I spoke to his daycare last week, to give them a heads-up. His teacher there immediately jumped into action. She asked me to keep her informed and promised to implement special programming to support Little Boo and provide some insights for his classmates, should things work out for the worst. She clearly had experience in this area and was more than willing to put special supports in place. Never underestimate the resources that might be available to you and your children - teachers and caregivers have often been doing this for years, and they have a lot in their toolboxes. Find and request the supports you need!

We remain hopeful for a full recovery for our kitty. But we are also learning, and preparing ourselves, as our pets age. It will be hard enough for us as adults. We want to be sure to do the best we can to help our kids get through these difficult times as well.

Have you experienced the loss of a pet? What strategies have you employed to help your kids (and you) to deal with the loss? I'd love to learn from you!!

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