UTIs In Cats: What To Look For And What You Should Do

Late last week, we had a massive scare. Thursday morning while my husband was feeding our cats,  everything seemed just fine, like a normal morning, right up until it wasn’t. Chase randomly peed on a bedroom door and was suddenly in severe distress. He’s an example of how sudden, and how serious, UTIs in cats can be.

It would seem that noticeable symptoms of UTIs in cats can appear suddenly

After he peed on the door, he tried to slink away under the bed, but my husband gently pulled him back out. Then he just lay on his side on the floor, acting like he was straining to pass something. Our first thought was a blockage so we rushed him to the vet. On the way there, he vomited, and then he lay back down and went back to straining.

This is what he looked like. I’m including this video because I feel it’s important in understanding one possible, alarming symptom with severe UTIs in cats (you might also see this with blockages. This behavior requires immediate veterinary care). Had we understood what we were looking at, he might have been correctly diagnosed sooner. **PLEASE NOTE: I TOOK THIS VIDEO AFTER WE GOT HOME FROM THE VET, BEFORE ANY MEDICINES HAD TAKEN EFFECT.**

He had some diarrhea in the carrier too, so at the time, the vet was thinking Chase was in gastro-intestinal distress. X-rays did not show either urinary or gastro-intestinal blockages, so she thought he had gastro-enteritis and gave us medicine to treat that. He seemed to improve, but about 24 hours later he relapsed, and then, all through Friday night, he seemed to get worse. I didn’t sleep at all.

Chase was very sick

By Saturday morning he didn’t want to move at all, and he was guarding his abdominal area. If I tried to touch his tummy, he’d kick at me weakly. So I rushed him back to the vet.

Once there, she wanted to do more x-rays, but changed her mind when she took a urine sample. It was so discolored she brought it in to show me. The red cells in the sample were too high to count, as were the bacteria in the sample. Chase was also running a fever (he hadn’t been on Thursday, when we first took him in), and the obvious pain he was in made the vet worry that the infection had spread to his kidneys. She gave him sub-q fluids because he was dehydrated, and brought him back to me all wrapped in a towel.

She sent the urine sample and blood samples to a lab for a full analysis, and I should hear something either today or tomorrow.

How best to treat UTIs in cats?

UTIs in cats are best treated with a broad-spectrum antibiotic, like Clavamox. The vet gave me seven days’ worth, and told me to keep giving him the medicine we’d originally gotten for gastro-enteritis because it has an anti-inflammatory effect. As soon as I got home, I gave Chase his first dose of Clavamox.

About six hours later, it appeared that Chase’s fever broke. He looked more alert and seemed to have a little bit more energy, and even wanted some water:

He also ate some dinner last night, and he ate a little breakfast and “lunch” today. And then he ate pretty much a full dinner. He’s enjoying his pill pockets, too, so giving him his meds on schedule isn’t hard.

Here’s how he’s sleeping right now – notice how he’s not guarding his abdominal area anymore:

What are some of the symptoms of UTIs in cats?

UTIs in cats are nothing to mess with. It’s vitally important to get your cat to the vet as quickly as possible for care if you notice any of the following:

  • Straining in or out of the litter box
  • Appearing to have pain while urinating
  • Using the litter box frequently but passing very little urine
  • Blood in urine clumps in the litter box (this can be hard to see)
  • Excessive licking of the genitals
  • Urinating outside the litter box
  • Excessive thirst

Left untreated, UTIs in cats can lead to pyelonephritis, which can damage your cat’s kidneys. This is what our vet is worried about with Chase. I think we got lucky with him given how sick he was just 48 hours ago. If you suspect your cat might have a UTI, call your vet immediately.

Watch Kali solve this ‘irritating’ problem

Kali and Chase both like the shelves in one of the bedrooms, but they don’t necessarily like to be up there at the same time. And when one is “trapped” by the other, they’re faced with a choice: Wait it out, or find an alternative way down. Now, Gizmo has jumped from that shelf to the bed a number of times, but Kali’s never done it before. She took her time surveying, which gave me time to pull out my phone, and then she just sucked it up and jumped. Watch below:

Pilling cats: Here are 4 methods for doing so

Every long-time cat owner has had to find ways to give their cat a pill. In fact, pilling cats is often so difficult that there are entire humorous stories dedicated to it. So how the hell do you do it without getting shredded and stressing out your poor cat to boot?

The easiest method for pilling cats is to turn it into a treat

One great method for pilling cats involves using something tasty, such as a pill pocket, her favorite treat, and even certain types of people food. This helps get her to eat the pill without really realizing that it’s even there. Chase and Gizmo are both on long-term medication, and we’ve found using pill pockets works very well. They hear the pill bottle and they come running, instead of hiding. Unfortunately, many cats will eat some of the treat, spit the pill out, and then finish the treat (or not). We’ve found that giving them empty pockets regularly helps keep them from learning there’s a yucky filling and spitting it out.

The old-fashioned way of pilling cats is stressful and can be dangerous, but here’s how you do it

There’s the old-fashioned way of pilling cats, which involves holding your cat down, forcing the pill into her mouth, then trying to make her swallow. According to Dr. Dawn Ruben of Petplace.com, the proper way to do this is:

  1. Firmly hold your cat’s head in your non-dominant hand, avoiding the lower jaw and neck/throat as much as possible. You don’t want to restrict your cat’s ability to swallow.
  2. Raise her nose upward, toward the ceiling, which should force her to open her mouth. This will also make it harder for her to bite you.
  3. Hold the pill between the thumb and index finger of your free hand. Use your ring finger, pinkie or middle finger, gently press on her canines, which should make her open her mouth wider.
  4. Place the pill on her tongue, as far back towards her throat as you can, but avoid putting more of your hand in her mouth than is necessary. If you make her gag, the pill will come back up too and you’ll have to do it all over again. It might also be more difficult to pill her in the future if this happens.
  5. Close her mouth and gently hold her that way. You can then stroke the tip of her nose, which can make her stick her tongue out to lick away the tickle. That should make her swallow the pill. You can also very lightly stroke her throat, which can also make her swallow. The latter method is not always effective, however.

Remember to praise your cat, and even reward her with a treat, as soon as she’s swallowed it. You don’t want her to remember being frightened and uncomfortable.

I personally hate this method for pilling cats, though.

There are devices you can use to shoot the pill into the back of her throat

There are certain devices available for pilling cats that you can use without having to stick your fingers directly in her mouth. Devices like pill guns are basically a type of syringe that holds the pill in place, with a plunger that helps you get it onto the back of her tongue. This can help to save your fingers and time, because they’re less likely to be able to spit it out.

If you’re good at getting the pill onto the back of her tongue, but she’s stubborn about holding it on her tongue, try coating it with a little butter. This can help it slide down faster and prevent her from holding it in the back of her throat.

If none of these methods for pilling cats works, then consider this option

You can always take her medicine to a compounding pharmacy, if there’s one near you. These pharmacies make the medication easier and more convenient for your cat to take. They can even make it tasty so that she might find herself thinking of it as a treat, and want to take it. You can take a look at this list to see if there’s one near you, or ask your veterinarian for recommendations as to where to go.

Ideally, one of these methods should work. Remember, though, that one method will not work well with every cat. If you have a multi-cat household, you might find that what works well for one of your cats doesn’t work at all for another. The biggest keys are patience and staying calm.

Hearts that Purr is a ‘retirement’ home for homeless cats left behind

What do you do when something happens that makes it so you can no longer care for your cat? Some people have arrangements, but many don’t. One organization in Tucson, Ariz., known as Hearts that Purr, aims to help cats in this tragic situation.

What is Hearts that Purr?

Tucson.com says that Jeanmarie Schiller-McGinnis created Hearts that Purr to be an organization dedicated to cats that are left homeless due to illness or death. According to Schiller-McGinnis, cats that have lived with people for a long time don’t do well in shelters. This is especially true of senior cats. “They deteriorate rather quickly,” she said.

Because of that, once they go into shelters, it’s unlikely that they’ll ever come out. Hearts that Purr has two missions: The first is to provide a loving, caring environment for cats in these situations. The second is to educate the public about how important planning for your cat’s ongoing care is in the event you’re incapacitated.

This isn’t the first home for cats in this situation. Lincolnshire Trust for Cats is a retirement home for cats in these situations in the U.K. Founded in 1999, all of its cats once belonged to someone who either died, or is in a home themselves, and can’t care for their cats any longer. As of early March, they had 80 cats in their care.

Retirement homes for cats isn’t a new idea, but it is a good one

Japan has a concept retirement home for pets, as well, although last I heard, it was intended to be just for dogs. The law there requires people to care for a pet for its entire life, even though people might have legit reasons they can no longer do so. Aeonpet Co., created Japan’s retirement home as a way to address that problem.

Hearts that Purr got its start with two rescues that belonged to a 99-year old woman who died in 2013. She lived alone in a trailer in Cochise County, south of Tucson, and her biggest worry was for her cats. Schiller-McGinnis hadn’t yet opened Hearts that Purr, but she took them in anyway.

The two cats died within a year, but Schiller-McGinnis said that cemented her commitment to making this work. Schiller-McGinnis doesn’t just help cats who’ve lost their people, though. She also helps rescue cats at high risk for euthanasia from Pima Animal Care Center. They don’t turn any animal away, and they’re frequently overcrowded because of it.

We need more shelters like Hearts that Purr

Sadly, Hearts that Purr can only handle a certain number of cats, and Schiller-McGinnis is often forced to turn cats away. However, she’s hoping to expand her services, and possibly create some room, with a foster program that matches senior cats to senior citizens. Many seniors are isolated and living alone, and having a cat can provide a lot of companionship.

These kinds of “retirement” homes are a great idea for pets. Hearts that Purr isn’t unique in the U.S., but we could stand to have more like them.

Seasonal allergies in cats – What can you do?

Spring isn’t that far off, and so it’s time to start thinking about all the things that come with the season. That, unfortunately, includes allergies for a lot of us. Did you know that seasonal allergies in cats are a thing, too, though? Cats can react to the pollen and other triggers of our own annoying spring allergies. However, their symptoms are often different than ours. Seasonal allergies in cats are more likely to produce skin symptoms, rather than what humans experience.

Seasonal allergies in cats tend to look different than they do in people

According to PetMD, seasonal allergies in cats tend to show up as atopic dermatitis. Your cat might develop an itchy rash around his head and neck. He might also develop skin eruptions, and you might notice fur loss from excessive licking, grooming and scratching.

Allergies can be hard to diagnose, and it’s also very hard to figure out just what’s causing your cat’s skin problems on your own. If you notice skin issues, you need to take him to the vet to rule out other skin problems first. It’s not a good idea to assume that skin problems are merely allergies.

Cats can suffer from nasal allergies too, though

I remember one spring, it seemed I was getting up to little puddles of clear vomit pretty much every morning. I called my vet and she said she was seeing an unusually high rate of seasonal allergies in cats that year, and it was presenting more as nasal allergies than atopic dermatitis for some reason. The clear vomit was most likely from post-nasal drip. Of course, she also told me to closely monitor my cats for other symptoms to be sure I didn’t have some kind of infection going around my house, or other health problems requiring treatment.

Generally, though, nasal and respiratory symptoms are going to present in cats with weakened immune systems, and cats with other respiratory troubles. Kali, with her chylothorax, often coughs a lot more in the spring than any other time of year.

To treat seasonal allergies in cats, you need to know what they’re allergic to

If your vet diagnoses allergies, one of the ways to find out what your cat is allergic to is with intradermal testing. This is similar to that wonderful test we humans undergo when an allergist is trying to find out what we’re allergic to. Cats are usually put under general anesthesia for these tests. Then your vet or veterinary dermatologist will shave a small patch of fur, mark it with a pen, and inject tiny amounts of potential allergens. After anywhere from 8 to 15 minutes, the vet will evaluate the test.

Since this test has a small rate of false positives, it’s generally the best way to figure out what your cat is allergic to.

One of the potential treatments for seasonal allergies in cats is a “vaccine.” According to veterinarians at PetPlace, your vet will inject your cat with some of whatever he’s allergic to, repeatedly, over a period of time. The goal here is to slowly reduce your cat’s reaction to the substances. If that doesn’t work, then your vet will probably treat him with steroids. There are also allergy soaps that can relieve itching and help sores and scabs heal, although that means giving your cat a bath. Cool compresses on the affected areas might help if you cat allows it. Resist the temptation to give your cat human medicines, like Benadryl, until you’ve talked to your vet though. It’s never a good idea to give cats human medicines without your vet’s guidance.

Putting cats and mirrors together can be funny, but why?

Have you ever seen your cat react to its reflection in a mirror? Have you ever wondered why some cats bristle, hiss, and grandstand, while others just walk away like there’s nothing there, while still others will extend their noses for a sniff? Putting cats and mirrors together (or letting them explore mirrors by themselves) is amusing, but why?

Cats and mirrors can be entertaining, but there’s a reason they do what they do

Way Of Cats says that the way cats react to seeing themselves in mirrors is an indicator of whether they think the reflection is a real cat. Basically, if your cat thinks his reflection is actually another cat, then he’ll react as though it’s another cat. And how your cat does that depends on how he usually reacts to other cats.

Some cats greet strange cats by trying to touch noses. Some cats greet strange cats with grandstanding; puffing up their fur, arching their backs and flattening their ears. What happens with cats and mirrors, though, is that the “other cat” mimics your cat’s actions and movements exactly. Your cat doesn’t interpret this as a response; rather, he finds it confusing.

Another confusing element to mirrors is that there’s no scent. Cats’ sense of smell is far more refined than our own. They can smell each other, even if we think there are no cat odors around. But the cat in the mirror should have a strange scent, and all your cat smells are the usual, familiar scents.

Can cats recognize themselves in mirrors?

Cats don’t recognize the image in the mirror as themselves, either. Eventually, they realize that there’s something amiss, that the image they’re seeing is not another cat, but that doesn’t mean they’ve figured out they’re seeing themselves. In fact, according to The Nest, dogs and cats always fail the “mirror test.” In one study, researchers gave anesthetized dogs and cats marks on their foreheads. When they awoke, they looked at mirror reflections and gave no indication that they recognized they had marks on their own foreheads.

None of this makes their reactions any less amusing. We know the strange cat isn’t real, but they don’t, which adds to the hilarity as long as you’re not intentionally scaring your cat. How do your cats react to their reflections?

Cats’ eye color – Why cats’ eyes are so cool

Cats’ eye color is an endless source of fascination for me. We all know that some cats have eye colors like ours–such as blue–but many have eyes that are far greener than any human’s green eyes, and, of course, there are cats with stunning gold eyes. On the homepage here, I have close-ups of both Kali’s and Chase’s green eyes. All our cats have green eyes, which seems to be the most common color. But there’s actually much more to cats’ eye color than just whether they’re blue, green or gold. Much more.

Cats’ eye color may be linked to their coat color

Cats with “pointed” coloring (meaning dark coloring on the muzzle, tail and feet), tend to have blue eyes. Burmese cats tend to have gold eyes. Egyptian Maus have a unique shade of green for their eyes, while Russian Blues may have vivid green eyes. Tonkinese have aqua eyes. White cats often have blue eyes as well, but can also have green or gold eyes.

We had a Persian with emerald green eyes when I was a kid, named Aurielle. She was a shaded-silver chinchilla Persian – white with silver peppering along her back and tail, on her paws, and around her eyes. She looked a little like she was wearing eyeliner. Her brilliant green eyes are part of what helped make her “the queen” of the house because they made her gaze so intense.

Cats’ eye color tends to be more intense when they’re purebreds

On that note, purebreds are specifically bred to meet certain standards, and that includes eye color. According to Catster, breeders specifically breed to make their cats’ eye color especially vivid. Like Aurielle’s up there. She was a purebred, which could explain her unusually vivid eye color compared to most mixed-breeds I’ve seen.

Blue-eyed cats don’t have any melanin in their eyes

Kittens are born with blue eyes because the melanin in their irises hasn’t been switched on yet. As they grow, their eyes may stay blue if they don’t have any melanin. As light hits the structures of their eyes, it refracts and makes them look blue, and without melanin, that will always be the case. Generally though, they’ll start changing around four to six weeks. We thought Kali was going to have blue eyes when she was young, but her eyes just took a little longer than Chase’s to change to green.

White cats with blue eyes are often deaf compared to cats of other colors and other eye colors, however, this isn’t always true. Furthermore, white cats with odd eyes might only be deaf on the side with the blue eye, or not at all. And odd-eyed cats are just plain cool no matter what they look like. We had an odd-eyed cat. Kitty had one blue eye and one green eye. The edge of the pupil in her blue eye was far less defined than that of her green eye, which we always found interesting. Odd-eyed cats are generally white, or have what’s known as the white-spotting gene. That gene produces tuxedo cats and cats with big white patches. Kitty was blue-gray and white.

 

Cats’ eye color is just plain cool.

Do cats have sweet teeth? Science may have an answer

I swear I have a cat with a sweet tooth. Whenever I’m eating things like sugar cookies, donuts, or cake, Kali is all up in my face, trying to get my food off my plate, out of my hand, and she even sniffs at my mouth if I don’t let her have anything. If I drop a crumb? It’s like dropping a piece of steak or chicken – she is all over it like a vacuum cleaner. Cats are strict carnivores, so what is the deal here? Do cats have sweet teeth?

Science is actually working to answer the question, “Do cats have sweet teeth?”

Well, according to Scientific American, no. Cats literally have no way to taste sweetness at all, unlike most other mammals. They don’t have the taste receptors necessary to taste sweets, apparently:

“They don’t taste sweet the way we do,” says Joe Brand, biochemist and associate director at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. “They’re lucky. Cats really have bad teeth as it is.”

Okay, so what’s the deal with Kali, then? What is it that she tastes or smells in sweets that she absolutely must have?

Some scientists, like those quoted in Scientific American, argue that it’s not so much that cats have sweet teeth as it’s possible that they might be able to taste very high concentrations of sugar. If that’s true, then cats that are more sensitive to sweetness—even if they don’t taste it the way we do—will try and eat our amazing sweet treats.

Maybe it’s not the sweetness they’re after, though

Others arguing against the idea that cats have sweet teeth believe that it’s not the sweetness they want, but rather, they’re going after the fat. Indeed, things like cake, donuts, sugar cookies, and especially frosting, aren’t just high in sugar, they’re high in fat. Cats’ taste receptors are geared to taste fat, so there’s a chance that’s what they’re after.

So, do cats have sweet teeth? Science says no, but there’s so much anecdotal evidence that suggests otherwise that I’m not sure there’s a definitive answer here. And I wholly believe that Kali has a sweet tooth or three.

3 great products for removing cat urine and stains

Cat parents often have one major headache, and that’s cleaning up after their cat has urinated outside the box. Even when you catch your cat at it, and clean the spot immediately, you still often have a lingering odor. Worse, if your cat has used one spot, there’s a decent chance he uses other spots, too. Removing cat urine from all those spots is a daunting task.

It’s frustrating. Believe me, I know how frustrating removing cat urine is, especially from carpets. Cat parents often feel that the only option is to replace the soiled carpet and padding or piece of furniture. To add insult to injury, many carpet cleaning manufacturers have “pet” cleaners that are intended to get rid of pet stains and odors. Those rarely seem to work when the odor is cat urine, though. Fortunately, I’ve found a few cleaning products that work well for removing cat urine.

Ceva’s Urine Away is by far the best product I’ve found for removing cat urine

I didn’t know about Urine Away for a really long time. In 2012, we piled all four cats into my car and drove out to my father’s house because of a family emergency. I was out there for nearly seven weeks with them, then we piled them back into the car and drove back home. Before that trip, we hadn’t had much of a problem with our cats urinating outside the litter boxes. Afterward, though, we started having a massive problem with our two most high-strung cats.

I took them to the vet to rule out medical problems. The vet gave me the all-clear, so I tried everything I could think of to stop the behavior and clean it up and get rid of the smell. Nothing worked. After 8 long months, I went back to my vet and asked about fluoxetine. She agreed, and it’s helped a lot, but I still had a ton cleaning to do. I told her I had no idea how to really get rid of all that cat pee.

She told me about Urine Away, which destroys the molecules that cause the distinct odor of cat urine (and has a strong “soapy” odor).

Since the fluoxetine helped Chase and Gizmo stop their marking behavior, I was able to get ahead on their spots. After cleaning, I noticed that they didn’t stop to dig their noses into their spots anymore. They didn’t flinch from the scent, but they didn’t seem to smell the urine anymore. That has been par for the course for well more than a year now.

Urine Away is available on Amazon.com, at Wal-Mart, and elsewhere online in 8 oz and 16 oz bottles, and full gallon jugs.

1-2-3 Odor Free is also good at removing cat urine, but requires more effort

1-2-3 Odor Free is a cleaning system containing certain bacteria that break down the uric acid crystals that form in and underneath carpet and padding. It’s 100-percent harmless to people and cats.

However, because it’s a system and not a single product, you must use it exactly according to its directions for it to work. Fortunately, the manufacturer believes in educating its customers about how to get rid of pet stains and keep them gone, so they walk you through how to use 1-2-3 Odor Free on different materials and surfaces if you place your order over the phone. The system takes work and effort, but it does work very well.

Psssst, I have a secret: This system requires you to soak an area, and then place a damp terry cloth towel over it and leave it until either the towel is saturated or 24 hours have passed. The damp towel helps to wick out excess urine.

Nature’s Miracle works well for removing cat urine in many people’s houses

Nature’s Miracle Stain and Odor Remover uses an enzyme that works to destroy not only the urine and stain itself, but also the pheromones left that attract your cat back to the same spot. Nature’s Miracle has a whole line of products for both cats and dogs, and can be found at places like PetSmart and Petco.

If you see your cat urinate on the carpet or you find a fresh urine spot, blot it up as quickly as possible to minimize staining and odor. That will always make removing cat urine easier.

Avoid punishing your cat, however, as that may simply encourage him to do it more. This includes avoiding rubbing his face in his mess and swatting him, or roughly tossing him into the litter box. The last thing you want is to create a negative association with simply urinating when you’re trying to rid your house of existing stains and odors.

If you have something that works that I haven’t listed, please feel free to share it!

NEVER let anyone say this to you after your beloved cat dies

For many of us, our cats are part of our families. They’re more than just pets, they’re companions who nurse us through tough times with their cute antics, and their quiet understanding and sympathy (or they cheer us up with such an obvious lack of sympathy that it’s laughable). They give us things to giggle about, like they know they can entertain us and take advantage of that. They can act like little children, too, jumping up where they aren’t supposed to, only to jump back down and become all wide-eyed innocence when caught, like a small child insisting his hand was not in the cookie jar. But sadly, we’ll see when our cat dies, often before we do, and it’s devastating. But not everyone will have words of comfort or empathy when it happens, and that can be worse.

Recently, I’ve been comforting a friend whose beautiful feline friend died suddenly. He and his wife are grieving, their child cries over her loss, and for what? Who cares when a cat dies? She was just a cat, right?

WRONG. When a beloved cat dies, you lose a full member of your family

Our beloved feline companions are not just cats, whatever people who don’t understand may say. Your cat didn’t judge you for any mistake you ever made, when the people around you did. He didn’t offer advice that was both unhelpful and unwanted when your relationship fell apart. He knew when you wanted company the last time you had the flu, and when you just wanted to be left alone in your utter misery to try and get at least one moment of sleep. You knew his love was true and unconditional, even when it felt like nobody in the world loved you. He was, in many ways, your best friend, and so much more. So when your cat dies, it’s awful.

An article on the North Shore Animal League’s website tells the truth when it says that nobody is surprised to see us grieve over the death of a loved one, but many are when they see us grieving that same way when our cat dies. Non-pet owners often feel that a pet is just an animal, and that you’re making a huge deal over nothing (some who have pets of their own do this, too). These people might even question your mental health, which is just plain offensive.

Cats are fantastic at hiding when they’re sick

With our cats, a death can be especially devastating because we often have no idea that they’re even sick until it’s too late to do anything. Cats are very good at hiding illness until they’re too sick to keep putting in the effort. Alessandro Macaluso published a poignant article about her cat, Bear, and how he’d seemed just fine two days before his death. He had a large mass on his bowels, which killed him.

My friend’s cat may have felt perfectly fine before she passed, too, but she may also have been hiding something. She suffered from hyperthyroidism and had high blood pressure as a result. He doesn’t know exactly what happened – she appeared to have a seizure, for which they took her to the vet. Later in the day, she passed away in her sleep. Who knows whether she was feeling bad, or if the seizure came upon her as suddenly as it looked? Not knowing that your he’s even feeling bad makes it that much harder to process it when your cat dies.

Arin Greenwood talks about what it’s like when your cat dies unexpectedly. She, too, wonders what she could have missed when her cat, Derrick, died suddenly. The vet said it was likely a stroke or a heart attack, but she and her husband second-guessed themselves for a long time, wondering what they missed.

Some people are just plain insensitive

There are people who will ask you how you could possibly not know your cat was sick. The truth is, it’s not hard, and it doesn’t mean you were neglecting him in an way. Chase was once very sick, but he just seemed slightly out of sorts and I thought maybe he had a little bug. I felt silly taking him to the vet, but it turned out he was so sick he needed emergency surgery (fortunately he survived and is still with us). He’s a master at hiding when he’s not feeling well. Most other cats are, too.

Even when you know that his time is limited, it’s still devastating when your cat dies

But even if you knew your cat’s time was coming, it can still be very difficult when he actually does go. Yes, you knew, but that doesn’t make it easier. Those who don’t understand might say, “But you knew it was coming.” You might know it’s coming with a human family member, too, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

Macaluso and Greenwood were understandably devastated over the deaths of their beloved cats. And those who would say, “It’s just a cat,” to them, or to us, are those who just don’t get how painful it is when our cat dies. You don’t have to justify your grief—or your love—to them. He was your family, your companion, and your friend. And it’s perfectly okay to grieve, and to do so in your own time and your own way. He was not “just a cat.”