When Losing A Pet Feels Like Losing A Person

girl hugging her cat
Japheth Mast

Last week, I lost my roommate of eight years. All that time, it was just me and him. He was the only being in my life that was always happy to see me, always giving me unconditional love, always missing me when I departed and overjoyed when I returned. It didn’t matter that he was tiny, furry, and greeted me with meows instead of words. He thought he was speaking to me, and in a way, he was. He was my buddy for so long that I grew to understand him through his specific sounds, like we had our own special language. He took up a whole lot of space in my world for such a little guy, and I didn’t realize just how integral he was to my life until he left it.

I was beyond lucky to have him as a constant source of love through the ups and downs of my life. He provided cuddles, emotional support, and unrelenting affection. He never cared what I looked like or minded when I was grouchy. He simply wanted to be near me, no matter what. No wonder he meant more to me than any boyfriend I’ve ever had. Animals are much better at relationships than people most of the time.

Some might call me a crazy cat lady for sharing the deep pain I feel at losing the companionship of my little buddy, and I don’t care. The people who have truly loved a pet understand how hard it is to sever that bond. My kitty was the first animal I owned alone as an adult, and he was the first pet I’ve ever had to put to sleep. He was with me through most of my life as a self-sufficient person living independently in a city far from my family. In moments of self-doubt, sadness, and frustration, he was always there patiently allowing me to bury my face in his fur and escape reality for a little while. He followed me around like a dog, always keeping me in eyesight, and he always ran to me when I called him. He didn’t like anyone else much, but he sure did love me a whole lot.

I’ve been through a lot of breakups, but nothing else made me feel this empty. My tiny studio apartment is suddenly cavernous, swallowing me whole into a chilly pit of unwelcome sadness every time I turn the key in my lock and remind myself that he won’t be there to greet me. I see him exactly where he would be in any given moment even though I know he’s not actually there. I cry in frustration every time his little cat friend across the hallway comes to my door and tries to barge in and play, because I can’t explain that his buddy won’t be around to spar and tumble with him anymore.

One minute he was okay and then, three weeks later, he was gone. He had no health problems in the entire eight years I owned him. He was always good-tempered and never gave me any trouble, and then suddenly his body collapsed. I don’t know if you can ever prepare yourself to lose a pet, but I certainly wasn’t prepared for him to leave me so soon.

I wish I could have explained to him the depth of my love. I hope he felt it. I hope that he had the happiest life possible. I know I made the best decision for him because he would’ve been in constant pain, but I can’t help feeling that I betrayed him. He trusted me to protect and take care of him. The most painful part of making decisions when it comes to a pet’s health is knowing that they don’t understand what’s happening. I hope he somehow knows how very sorry I am, that I miss him all day every day, and that I will never forget him. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Speak your truth. Be kind. Stay present. And don’t forget to play!

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