How Do I Help My Kids Through the Loss of Their Pet?

Updated on August 03, 2010
K.N. asks from Washington, IL
19 answers

Last night we discovered that our 3 year old Himalayan was run over by a car. He was an indoor cat, we had no idea he got outside. My oldest boy (7) is taking it the hardest. Any ideas on how to make this time easier. They've never had to deal with any kind of death before.

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answers from Peoria on

Talking about all the good times they can remember about the cat is ALWAYS a good thing. They will eventually want another or a dog, but the best medicine is to talk about the cat and all the fun they had with him.

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answers from Chicago on

This may be a little out there, but this past weekend I was at Brookfield Zoo. In the Hamill Family's childrens play zoo they had a whole little section dedicated to pets that had passed away. Kids had drawn pics and I miss you cards to the pets and they were hung up. There was also a few great books that specifically dealt with the death of a pet. It was adorable. Maybe have your kids can make cards for their cat and be part of the burial or small memorial service. I wish I could remember the name of the books. If you have time try and stop in at the zoo and see this little exhibit.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Kasey-I've seen this in different forms, but figured it could help some others, too so I included the story.
"Rainbow Bridge"
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...

Based on this, I believe is a website...
I'm sorry for your loss.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Fayetteville on

First Iam sorry for lose. A couple months ago we had to put our 7 year old beagle down and it was hard for our children. First I would do a memorial so that way your children have a way to say good bye. Put something in your backyard for your cat. Like a stone or a arrangement of flowers or something. Have your children write something to the cat saying goodbye to the cat. It will help them and just explain to them that the cat is with god now or however you want to word it. Death is a hard thing to explain especially to children, I have had to explain it to my children 3 times. One for a pet and twice for great granparents and it is not easy by any means. Good Luck to you and your family.



answers from Chicago on

Sorry for the loss of your cat. Losing a pet is never easy. I bought this book called Pets on the Otherside by Sylvia Brown. It is in the children's section in the book store. My son lost a guinea pig when he was in 2nd grade and he was devastated. I let him stay home 1 day to grieve. It helped him. I hope you find the book. It may help them feel better.



answers from Champaign on

I am so sorry for your loss. My advice would be to talk with him as much as he wants to talk about it and encourage him to DO something to help remember him. Things could include making a drawing or writing a story, or making some type of memorial. Having him be more active with his grief may make him feel less out of control and the memorial/drawing, etc would be a permanent reminder of his friend and the good times they had.
My thoughts are with you and your family, take care!



answers from Chicago on

With our guinea pig and miniature rabbit we had a funeral and buried them in the back or side yard. Our son got closure by getting to say a few words.

We had already taken him to 2 funerals of friends so he had already dealt with a funeral. But he still wanted a funeral for his pets.

I think there is also books on this subject you could read with them.




answers from Chicago on

Death is always hard but regretfully, it's a part of life we can't and shouldn't ignore. I think it's wonderful that you are talking about it with your kids. When you acknowlege their grief and find ways to deal with those difficult questions and feelings, you are 1-bonding with your child, 2-building self esteem (I can do this) and acquiring life skills for future loss. The children's book, The 10th Good Thing About Barney is a classic. I'm sure the library would have a copy. Also, the "doing" is very important for the healing and please let the children know that it was in no way their fault.(this is a big thing with kids that they don't always verbalize). Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

Kasey, I am sorry for your loss. We had to put our cat down last spring. At the time my kids were 9 and 6. The vet was wonderful. We went together as a family and the vet took paw prints in bakable clay for each child, and gave them each a clipping of her fur. We baked the paw prints as soon as we returned home. We were able to bury her and every one in the family colored one side of the box we buried her in, to help us say goodbye. We all helped to dig the hole and had a small service of prayers. We all helped to cover the box. We put a cat statue on the grave site. I bought the following books to help the kids with their feelings and to stimulate discussion and healing. Both are available at
Cat Heaven - by Cynthia Rylant
The Forever Dog - by Bill Cochran and Dan Andreasen

The healing process takes a long time and tears and sadness were frequent. We alway stopped to discuss the feelings and to remember that though she was not with us physically, she would always be in our hearts. We still miss our Misty, but have fond memories to keep her spirit alive.

God be with you on this sad journey.

J. C.



answers from New York on

here,if i were u id get a new one asap



answers from Chicago on

My heart goes out to you and I really don't know if I have any special advice. I lost my two year old standard poodle Friday and I have been so sad and depressed since. Yesterday I finally started feeling a little better. I think comfort is all you can give them and assure them that he probably didn't feel any pain as it happened so fast. It helped me for people to who knew my beautiful lpving Joey to console me but i think it is probably just the time factor that will help each day. People have suggested getting another dog right away and I am not sure because the hurt was so unbearable that I don't know if I want to go through that again. Children are resilient and that might be the best thing for them. Good Luck, K.



answers from Chicago on

I saw someone else trying to give you the name of this wonderful book. It is "Cat Heaven" by Cynthia Rylant and is so lovely. (She also did one called "Dog Heaven.") Best of luck and so sorry for your loss.



answers from Chicago on


I am so sorry to hear about your loss. The U of I has a great resource for dealing with pet loss.

Some personal recommendations of books are:
-I remember (Memory Book) by Mary Montgomery (good for 9-13 year olds) - - this is free if you e-mail this address
-Children and Pet loss: A guide for Helping by Marty Tousley (more for you to help them through)

Other books:
The Accident by Carl Carrick
Healing your Greiving Heart: 100 practical ideas by Allan Wolfelt

Additionally they have a free hot-line you can call to talk about I am not sure if this would help your son or if they could provide further ways to help him.

Again I am sorry to hear about your loss.



answers from Chicago on

I'm hoping to find a book about this subject. Our dog was hit and killed last week. The dog saw someone riding horses and ran out to check things out. She was hit by a car coming from the other direction. My son, 7, is taking it pretty hard. Our elderly cat died last year, but we had been preparing him for that so it wasn't as bad. We're dealing with the shock it as well as the loss of the dog.

J. R.



answers from Chicago on

Someone else already posted The Rainbow Bridge website - it was a huge help to me when my cat died (and I was 32). One thing that worked wonders for me and also for my friend's young daughter when her cat died was a link through the rainbow bridge site. It's called the Monday Night Candle Ceremony. Each Monday for about 2 months, I participated and while I cried, I also felt tremendous peace. Here's the link...

There's also a great book called "10 Good Things About Barney." It might help as well.

I agree with everyone who mentioned letting him grieve and talk about the loss. In our family, we have our furry kids pictures on the wall with our non-furry child. We talk about having four kids - three with fur. This was a member of your family, so it may take some time, but it will get easier each day.

Good luck and please know your in our prayers. Losing a pet is never easy - while the Rainbow Bridge offers comfort, it's hard to not want them here with you still!



answers from Chicago on

I am soo sorry about your cat. It's really hard when a pet dies, especially when you have little kids. When my parents dog (Mugzy) died about 1 1/2 years ago at 17 we were all heart broken. Anyhow, my son got the honor of knowing him for four years. I know it is different because your cat got out on accident, and I had that happen growing up too, but we are teenagers in our house, so it was a little easier to explain. I know I saw a book at the library called "All Cats go to Heaven." I cannot think of the author right now. Maybe that will help. We sat my son down and told him...lit a candle to say a prayer for Mugzy and remember nice things about him, and we also had a picture of him and Mugzy together that we gave him to keep (he keeps it in a box under his bed), to look at anytime he misses him. He still asks questions and I will admit it was easier to explain because Mugzy was so old and sick, but still painful. Unfortunately it is a life lesson we all have to learn sooner or later. I am so sorry and I hope some of these ideas help.



answers from Chicago on

Our cat died last spring so I know what you are going through.

Go to the library and ask for books about helping children deal with death of pets.

Also, validate your child's feelings. Say it's ok to feel sad and even angry about what happened. Your child may act out in ways and if he does, ask him if he is sad about your cat dying, etc.

Don't get a new pet yet - your child needs time to grieve. Let him know you are sad, too.



answers from Chicago on

We had a hard time explaining death to our 2 year old grandson whom we raised after his mother died (our daughter). He saw pictures of her but that wasn't enough. He asked my daughter: "are you my mommn?" and she said: "no, I'm your auntie". He asked me if I was his mother and I said: "No, I'm your grandmommy and I'm here to take care of you because your mommy went to Heaven". He then wanted to talk to his M.. We made a brief trip to the cemetary and when we arrived at her graveside, he let go a helim ballon to up to Heaven and say hi to his M.." It took a total of less than 5 minutes. No one cried, and he was satisfied. As he got older, he would ask questions and we would answer them. We always kept it simple. A year ago, the dog that he had been raised with died at the age of 14. The dog had been moving slower, going blind and deaf but our grandson w/not hear of putting him down. "He's fine. I'll take care of him." He carried him outside three times a day to do his thing and then carried him back in. He placed the dog in our bed every night where he had always slept. We started to tell him that it was time to let go and he said: "I know, I know, but not yet". One day, the dog tried to stand up and fell over, unable to get on his feet. We looked at our grandson and said: "it's time to let him , to release him from the pain. He's counting on us to make the decision". He agreed and carried the dog to the car. It was a quiet ride to the vet's where they allowed us to say goodbye and gently put him to sleep. It was all over very quickly. The vet gave me a pin of a dog with angel wings which I carried around for awhile. My suggestion to you is to get out the pictures, talk about the good times with your pet, and suggest you get balloons to send to heaven. Keep it brief, keep it simple, but it will give closure to your kids, at their level. You are a loving M. to be sensitive to this issue.



answers from Chicago on

My sincerest condolences on the loss of your family member. Pet are such an integral part of the family thata I think it is most important to remember that from your child's view that is the depth of the loss.
As others have already told you, taking the time to work through the grief with your child is very important. This will not be an easy time, for you or him and that is okay. You would not expect him to take the loss of anoy human family member easily, so give him the permission to feel the loss before he has to move on from it.
It makes sense that your 7 year old would demonstrate the deepest sense of loss, since he has the best chance of remembering life before the cat, getting the cat, and living with him.
Last year within the span of 45 days, our family had to put down our aging dog and then lost our pet fish. it was a tough time for all of us but especially for the kids (then ages 6, 4 and 1). After the dog died, we did the run to the library and sat and read several books on loosing a pet (the children's librarian was tremndously helpful in making the selection). we checked out 3 books because each of the kids seemed to appreciate a different story. Our dog was cremated and we did not keep the ashes, so there was a need to explain to them where his physical body now is.
My best advice is to simply answer his questions in a way that honestly reflects your belief system. The temptation may be to give him more information than he is ready to process. Let him guide the conversation and don't be afraid to let him know that you are hurting too.
One year later, we are making plans to visit the pet cemetary where our dog's ashes are. Our son (then 4, now 5) is still processing the loss. every now and then he'll just mention it and have some random question about how it all happened, why or where the dog is now. When this happens, it is usually our older daughter who responds first.
it has served to stregthen their relationship as they mourn together.
Peace be with you

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