Dec 022013

If you accidentally hurt your dog or cat – or you had to put your pet down – these ways to deal with guilt for causing your pet’s death will help you cope.

These tips are inspired by a reader who shared his guilty feelings about putting his dog to sleep. Saying good-bye to your beloved dog or cat is heartbreaking - and it’s even worse if you feel guilty about your pet’s death. I hope these tips help. “If there is a heaven, it’s certain our animals are to be there,” says Pam Brown. “Their lives become so interwoven with our own, it would take more than an archangel to detangle them.”

guilt about pet deathWhen Your Pet Dies: A Guide to Mourning, Remembering and Healing by Alan D. Wolfelt is a guide for pet owners who are struggling with grief when their pet dies. This book will help you understand why your feelings are so overwhelming, and help you cope with the guilt you feel about your pet’s death. The topics discussed include practical suggestions for grieving, ideas for remembering and memorializing one’s pet, understanding the many emotions experienced after the death of a pet, understanding why grief for pets is unique, pet funerals and burial or cremation, celebrating and remembering the life of one’s pet, coping with feelings about euthanasia (and guilt about putting an animal to sleep), helping children understand the death of their pet, and things to keep in mind before getting another pet.

4 Ways to Deal With the Guilt of a Pet’s Death

Some people accidentally cause their dog or cat’s death by accidentally leaving them in harm’s way. The most important thing to remember is that you did NOT purposely cause your pet’s death. Dealing with guilt may be a bit lighter if you know you would’ve acted differently if you had the chance. If your actions led to your pet’s death, you have to keep reminding yourself that you did not deliberately harm your dog or cat. It was an accident, and you would have done things differently if you had know what would happen.

Identify “imagined” guilt about the loss of your dog or cat. Not recognizing that your Yorkie, cockapoo, or Siamese cat was ill doesn’t mean that you weren’t paying attention or taking good care of him or her! This is imagined guilt. Animals can’t always communicate their physical health; pet owners can’t see inside their bodies and brains.

Another type of “imagined” guilt is if you’ve accidentally caused your pet’s death by letting him out, keeping him in, or losing track of his whereabouts. If you did not deliberately set out to harm your pet, then you have nothing to feel guilty about. I know this is easier said than done – and it takes effort to forgive yourself.

If you’re dealing with imagined guilt because of your pet’s death, remember that sometimes illness or disease overcomes our dogs, cats, and other beloved pets…and there’s nothing we can do. This loss of control is a very painful — but real — part of life.

I recently wrote How to Forgive Yourself for Not Protecting Your Dog, to help you deal with the guilt you feel. Please take a moment to read it — it’s the comments on this article that inspired me to write it.

Remember that it’s normal to feel guilty when your dog or cat dies. Whether your guilt is real or imagined, know that it is a normal grief reaction. Even the most “innocent” pet owners feel guilt over a pet’s death. For instance, I now cringe when I recall how angry I was at my beloved cat, Zoey, for scratching the basement door (I didn’t realize the door to her litter box was shut tight, and she couldn’t get in). That was over 12 years ago, and I still feel guilty! Healing after you had to put your pet down often requires forgiving yourself.

dealing with guilt pet deathGoodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet is the number one bestselling book on pet loss and grief on Amazon. I love the book because it offers both heartwarming stories and practical guidance on grieving the loss of a pet. It’ll help you deal with guilt when you caused your pet’s death.

Identify “real” guilt about your pet’s death. Real guilt may spring from your feelings that you neglected your dog or cat’s annual vaccinations, daily food intake, exercise habits, and “quality time” with you. If you’re struggling with real guilt, remember that you had reasons for doing what you did. The stress of money, work, kids, marriage, and daily life may have taken precedence over how you treated your pet. Maybe you didn’t make the best choices.

guilt over dog cat death

“Dealing With Guilt When You Caused Your Pet’s Death” image by Laurie

Healing after your pet’s death involves accepting that you wish you would’ve done things differently — and talking this through with your family, friends, or loved ones.

Remember what you did right — because you did a lot right. Your dog or cat loved you beyond all reason – so you must have done something right. How did you love and take care of your pet? Balance your real guilt with the real ways you loved your pet. You took good care of your dog or cat in many ways; don’t wave that away.

Dealing with guilt when you caused your pet’s death isn’t just about grieving; it’s about cherishing the best parts of your life with your dog or cat.

Do you feel like you caused your dog or cat’s death? I encourage you to share your experience below. Talking and writing about it is healthier than ignoring it, and can help you process your grief.

If you’re struggling with grief and guilty feelings because of the circumstances surrounding your dog or cat’s death, read Letting Go of an Animal You Love: 75 Ways to Survive Pet Loss. I interviewed veterinarians, grief counselors, and pet experts for the best ways to survive the death of a beloved dog or cat, and I included stories from real pet owners who coped with guilt and grief in sometimes surprising ways.

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About Me

My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband and I live in Vancouver, Canada with our dogs Georgie and Tiffy, and our cat Nunki. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad! I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology.

I'd love to hear from you below! I can't offer advice, but writing might bring you insight and clarity.

  133 Responses to “Dealing With Guilt When You Caused Your Pet’s Death”

  1. Dear NRK,

    Thank you for being here, and sharing your heart-breaking story with us. Poor Coco-Bear — I have a mini poodle and I believe we feel so much more protective of our little dogs because they are so vulnerable! But they’re so tough…until we are faced with how frail our hold on life is, no matter how big or small we are.

    Today I wrote this article for you and other readers who have commented here:

    Please read that article, because it contains all the ideas I have for forgiving yourself and dealing with guilt after a dog’s death. There are 10 tips…………but I think the most important thing to remember is that you won’t forgive yourself overnight. I’m still dealing with guilt over a pet’s death, and it happened 15 years ago.

    The bad news is that we will always be broken, grieved, and lost because of the guilt we feel for causing our dog’s death. It will always be with us. The thing we need to aim for is making it a tiny sliver in our hearts, not a log or a plank. We need to work through the guilt so we can live with ourselves, so we can remember our dogs with peace, love, and joy.

    There are no magic tips to take the guilt away. But, we can learn to forgive ourselves and hold ourselves with compassion and peace.

    Read the article, and think about the ideas I shared. I welcome you back any time, let me know how you are.

    In sympathy, remembering Coco-Bear with prayers,

  2. Dear Tamara,

    I wonder if you’re dealing with something underneath Ziggy’s death, that is causing you so much pain. On the one hand, it’s normal and natural to feel guilty for not preventing your dog’s death — even if there was nothing you could’ve done to save him. But on the other hand, if we get stuck in what counselors call “complicated grief”, it could be a sign that there are underlying things that need to be dealt with.

    Would you consider talking to a counselor? I encourage you to think about it. I was recently reading about a guy who couldn’t get over the death of a friend because there were some unresolved emotional issues from his past. Sometimes, our past emotions can blindside us if they haven’t been worked through.

    Or, maybe you just need to process your experience with Ziggy in a safe place, with someone you trust. I really encourage you to talk this through with someone. There is something holding you back from dealing with this guilt….what is it?

    I wrote this article, to help us all deal with guilty feelings:

    I also included it in the body of the blog post above.

    Call a help line or a counselor. Or, get one of the books I suggest in my article — start learning about forgiveness and self-compassion.

    And, remember that this is a process. Maybe you just need more time to process your grief. It’s so hard to grieve our dog’s death because we’re in the midst of their home! Everywhere we look is a memory of our dog’s life. It’s so hard.

    Read the article, think about what I said, and come back and let me know how you are after a couple nights’ sleep.


  3. I am shattered and broken beyond all measure. I lost my animal soul-mate in my sweet, sweet Coco-Bear. I did not know it was humanly possible to feel this heart sore and still be alive… The only thing that compares to the pain and grief, I am struggling so hard to cope with, is the quilt I feel for not doing a better job of protecting her from harm. I feel I failed her…

    The first time we went to the breeder to meet, what would be the most loved doggy of my life, I picked her up, looked into her brown little eyes and she waved her tiny paws at me and I immediately felt a connection to her, something I could physically feel and I immediately knew that she was the one. We took her home a week later and introduced her to her new sister Kiki and they immediately started playing together and I remember how astounded we were at Coco’s amazing demeanor.

    She was the tiniest little fluff-ball Yorkie but she had a personality that was simply larger than life.
    To try to describe her is so hard as she was so special in every single little way. Everything she did was in the cutest manner it could possibly have been done. She used to sleep between me and my girlfriend’s head pillows at night and should I wake up I would always reach for her and feel so much joy and comfort. She was so playful and loved everyone so much. I have so many dear and fond memories of her that will be locked in my heart for ever!

    I have had many dogs in my life and loved them all dearly but my Coco-Bear was my animal soul-mate. I didn’t think it, I felt it. I have never ever loved a doggy as much as I love her. The pain I feel for her loss is indescribable and I don’t know how I will ever heal again. It literally feels like someone has ripped my heart out.

    Because I only filled a brick sized hole in the wall with bricks, thinking that it would be impossible for such tiny doggies to move them out of the way and get out, and not proper wire or something that would have been impossible to move, she managed to get out and another dog bit her… My girlfriend received a call from the vet’s office informing her that Coco was bitten and did not make it. I remember upon answering the phone when my girlfriend called me to let me know what happened and hearing her cry in such a way that shook my soul, the fear that was immediately installed in me thinking, hoping and praying that something bad did not happen to our “kids”. The news at first was unreal. I could simply not believe it but upon arriving at home and seeing the hole open and knowing it is true I collapsed and starting crying uncontrollably knowing that I have lost her, a big part of me.

    I feel so much self-hatred now for not closing the hole properly when we had enough warning that something like that could happen. I don’t know now how I could have thought that it was enough to protect them, I simply expected they would not be able to move the bricks as they are so heavy and they are so tiny. I mean how can you love someone so much and do such a poor job of protecting them.

    We buried our beloved Coco-Bear in the front garden where we can see her and every time I see her grave I can not help but think that it is my fault that we have been robbed of her…and it tears me up inside…

    I miss her every waking moment and like a poems says, if tears could build stairs and heartache could build a pathway, I would make a road to heaven and bring her back again. I don’t know how I am going to get through this. I miss her more than I have ever known how to deal with, to hold her tight and to play with her, to feel her walking on the duvet towards the top of the bed to come sleep close to us… I am broken and can not help but feel responsible… I love her so much, why did she have to be taken away from us? I would give anything to have her back!

    I keep going to bed at night thinking tomorrow would be better but when I wake up only to find that I only feel worse as she is not there and I have not awoken from this nightmare…

    I need some advice / help as to how to carry on and get through this please?

    Daddy loves and misses you so very much my Coco-Bear!

  4. Dear Tamara,

    I am so sorry that Ziggy died the way he did, and that you feel so guilty about it. Poor Ziggy, I always wish our beloved dogs could talk to us and tell how they’re feeling and how sick they are! Part of our heartache and guilt comes from how helpless and vulnerable they are. We don’t talk dog.

    Now, looking back, it seems obvious what the problem was. Hindsight is always 20/20, they say! But when you’re living through it, and you’re thinking about money concerns and the fact that our dogs always have different health issues that come and go, most of the time without a vet’s assistance….I would have done the same thing you did. I wouldn’t have taken my dog to the vet right away.

    I know the guilt is overwhelming, but I hope you can focus on the fact that if you had known Ziggy’s life was ending, you would have rushed him to the vet pronto! You did not deliberately cause his death. I understand the feeling that you could have done differently, but you don’t know how things would have unfolded even then. It always seems like the right thing to do is the thing we didn’t do, when in fact we don’t know what would’ve happened had we followed that path.

    My prayer for you is that you come to know deep in your heart that Ziggy forgives you. He loves you so much, and doesn’t want you to suffer any more. He is grateful to you for the life and joy and treats and walks you gave him! He isn’t dwelling on the last few moments of his life….he is living in the moment, and his moment is full of peace, joy, and freedom.

    I pray that you experience the peace, joy, and freedom that Ziggy is enjoying. I pray that you connect to God, and find self-forgiveness. God forgives you, Ziggy forgives you — there is peace and freedom available, if only you can forgive yourself.

    I’ll write an article about forgiving yourself for your dog’s death tomorrow, and post the link here.

    In sympathy and peace, with hugs and blessings,

    • Laurie,
      Thank you for your kind words. It’s been exactly a week since Ziggy passed, but the pain and guilt I feel is still so intense. I can feel myself spiraling into depression because all I can think about every day is the fact that I failed him and did not get to say Goodbye, either. I wish I could have talked to him one last time and I wish more than anything I would have been laying with him, holding him when he passed…but like a heartless person I slept in my bed while he was on the floor panting, probably scared and confused. I just can’t seem to forgive myself. I hate myself and the choices I made before Ziggy died. I feel like I can’t even go on another day because the pain is too much. I don’t know what to do.

  5. Laurie,
    I can’t even describe the overwhelming guilt I feel. I feel so much self-hate and regret for not making the right decision that ended up causing the death of my dog, Ziggy. About a month ago I noticed a change in him. He would lie on his side, stiffen up and urinate. I didn’t know this at the time but he was having seizures. I don’t know why at that moment I didn’t call the Vet or make an appointment. I guess I felt I had time because he would act normal afterwards? I don’t know what my reasoning was. I was so ignorant that I knew something was happening with my dog and I didn’t make it a priority to help him. About 8 days ago (the day I realized they were, in fact, seizures) I noticed his condition had gotten worse…he had more than one seizure…so I called the Vet. The woman I talked to told me that sometimes dogs have more than one seizure in a day and many times they come out of it. I made him an appointment for the next day. By that evening I knew Ziggy was in rough shape. He was barely getting up and when he did he was unsteady. He was panting heavily. I gave him aspirin…and tried rubbing him down with cool water throughout the night. By Wednesday morning sometime between 5:45 am – 6:00am, Ziggy passed away. I feel so incredibly guilty…Why didn’t I being him to the Vet sooner? Why didn’t I call the on call Vet that night when I knew he was struggling?? WHY? WHY? I know money was a big concern because I haven’t been in a good place financially for a long time…I knew I couldn’t barely pay for a Vet let alone an on call Vet. I just wish I would’ve tried. I should’ve demanded they help my dog and I could make payments to them later on. I should’ve tried harder to keep him alive. He was only 6…he could’ve lived another few years. I feel like I failed him. I didn’t take care of his health like I should have and now he’s gone. I feel guilty for ever having a bad thought about him when he would do naughty things…I feel bad that I didn’t give him enough attention at times. Most of all iim so depressed and grief stricken about the fact that maybe if I would have brought him to the Vet like a responsible and caring dog owner something could’ve been done and he would still be alive. Even if he was too ill…at least I could live with knowing I did whatever I could to keep him alive. That last night is really getting to me…he was lying on the floor next to the bed and although I was right there I kept falling in and out of sleep while meanwhile my dog was fighting to stay alive. I know how scared he must have been and it’s driving me crazy thinking he died a slow, horrible and agonizing death. He wasn’t crying or yelping in pain but he’s breathing was so hard and fast…I hate myself for not listening to my gut and not risking him to the on call Vet. They probably could have regulated his breathing somehow and helped him…but I did nothing. It’s been almost a week and all I feel like doing is crying. I feel like Ziggy was there for me but I wasn’t there for him. I’m such a horrible person and feel like I don’t even deserve to live. How did I let something I loved so much die right in front of me? I really don’t think I’ll ever be able to get past this…

  6. Dear NGC,

    I’m sorry that you’re going through this. I wish I had the right words – I just want to encourage you to try to forgive yourself. You were doing the best you could, my friend. You loved your cat and you wanted him in your life for as long as possible. Looking back, you see that maybe you could have made different choices. Maybe you’d do it differently, if you were to do it all over.

    But, for your own emotional and mental health, you need to find a way to forgive yourself. Your beloved cat is resting in peace, and I am 100% sure he would not want you to be beating yourself up like this! He wants you to remember him with peace, love, joy, and happiness. He doesn’t want your memories of him to be tainted with self-hatred, guilt, and so much pain!

    Grieve your loss. Work through the pain. But, find the courage and strength to let go of the guilt that is tormenting you. Do it for your sake, and for your cat’s sake.

    If you can’t forgive yourself, I encourage you to call a distress line or talk to a grief counselor. Sometimes, we can’t forgive ourselves because of things that have happened in the past. Sometimes we need to process a bunch of old experiences before we can forgive ourselves and move forward.

    What do you think? I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

    In sympathy,

  7. Dear Bre,

    I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. It’s a horrible feeling, the weight of the guilt that we feel about causing our dog’s death. My heart breaks for you and your mom…and your other dog who is also grieving the loss of his best friend.

    I encourage you to talk to a counselor about dealing with the guilt you feel. Something like this can be crushing, and if you don’t find a healthy way to cope with guilty feelings and forgive yourself, you may experience emotional difficulties.

    You didn’t deliberately cause your Chorkie’s death – you would have stopped it if you could have! I know that, you know that, and your mom knows that. Somehow, you have to find a way to forgive yourself. Also, if you know your mom forgives you, you may find it easier to deal with the guilt. Does she forgive you.

    Here’s my prayer for you: Dear God, may Bre find a way to let go of the guilt and pain she feels over her poor little dog’s death. May she grieve, and may she find healthy ways to process the pain and guilt she feels. God, I ask that You relieve her of the heavy burden of guilt she feels about her dog’s death, and please help this experience to somehow turn into something good. May Bre and her mom build an even stronger relationship through this time of grief, and may Your presence comfort and guide them. May their little Chorkie rest in peace, in Your arms of love. Amen.

    I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers, Bre.


  8. Dear NCG,

    Thank you for sharing – it takes alot of courage to speak up and be honest about how you feel about the choices you’ve made. I can tell how much you love your cat, and how you wish things were different. You were making the best decisions you could out of the love you felt for him.

    There is no judgement here, just acceptance and empathy. I’ve never had a sick cat, and I don’t know what decisions I’d make if our cat ever got really sick. But I do know that I love her with all my heart, and would do almost anything to keep her here with me.

    I wish you peace and love as you say good-bye to your cat. I’m very sorry you have to go through this, but I know your experience will help others make decisions about their own pets. If you have any advice for others in similar situations, please feel free to share.

    Take care of yourself — and your cat — tonight. Try not to beat yourself up. You made decisions out of the extreme love you have for him, and you would never have deliberately done anything to hurt him! Your heart is in the right place — guided by love and loyalty to the creature you love dearly.

    Blessings on you,

    • Laurie, this is harder than imagined.

      we did end up putting him to sleep. I shouldve known better. I knew I didnt have the financial means nor, as of the last few months, the time to take care of who I knew to be an FIV positive cat. I feel like a monster.

      Because of his FIV progression, lets just say several health issues arose which made it impossible for him to be a functional cat again. It was selfish of me. I was emotionally attached yet I didnt know what to do. I knew the better thing was to give him up to chance a better life for him..

      so many dilemmas: would anyone have adopted him? could there, in fact, have been anything I couldve done? etc. What i do know for a fact was that Icouldve done better and cared more.

      It hurts. I feel like I did this to him.

      It hurts bad. all he did was bring joy to my life yet I was too selfish to go through emotional pain to make his life easier.

      Im sorry.. this is painful.

  9. I can’t believe I’m doing this. I thought it would make things better but I feel like as things come to light in writing this out I’ve more guilt in store for myself than I thought.

    Haven’t lost my cat.. He’s by my side at the moment, but if one were to take a glimpse at him now they’d immediately think he was well on his way to leave our world.

    The article above brings out that money, work, marriage, etc. Can cloud how one cares for their furry child.. As I’ve always been the type to uphold “no, in fact they shouldn’t be detriments to caring for a pet”, I’m deeply ashamed of myself in that though money has been an issue, I still decided to keep him around.
    I was under the impression that he’d be okay if I just kept him indoors (he’s an fiv positive cat) and that he wouldn’t have any serious episodes if I kept him away from any foreign things that can pose a threat to his health. My heart was in the right place, my heart is in the right place… But I was being irrational.

    I think ahead to a possible future where I’d have to put him to sleep. I think to myself… “Would I even be worthy to stick around and see him through to the end? What sense would it makes since I’ve let him down all this time? It’s pathetic that I’m only now considering these things way after the damage has been done”

    I’m not asking for sharp comments and judgements.. I have enough for myself. I have an appointment scheduled for him tomorrow. For all who read this there’s more guilt and self-hate behind the screen than these words can describe. I love my cat, though I did a horrible job showing it..

    Someone please respond.

    • The bit about putting him to sleep and being there I wrote in haste. I intend on staying with him til the end no matter how much guilt and pain and regret it stirs up.

    • I can’t even begin to express how much I can relate, and sympathize, with you! My sweet, beautiful, adorable, and irreplaceable dog died just 4 days ago, and I am also wracked with guilt. If I had gotten him help sooner, maybe something could have helped/saved him…as it was, I was just frantically trying to help him myself, but he wasn’t getting better!! I was just crazed with worry. In the end, I did get him to to a vet with help from my eldest son (an absolute angel)…But my beautiful dog was too far gone and had to be put out of his misery…I know I will never, ever forgive myself. I don’t even want to, or think I could. I don’t care about that, anyway. It’s SO not about me–I’m garbage. I know he suffered horribly, but he never made a sound…I don’t know why…My precious, perfect, sweet dog is gone, and I feel absolute hate and disgust for myself, and I will for the rest of my life. I’m very afraid of the feelings…but I have to just hope that I will see him again, somehow, somewhere in the cosmos…and that he will remember me, and still love me… I love him so much and feel so heartsick!!!!!!!

      • I feel horrible even now.

        I am however slowly but surely getting better, but I really did love this beautiful creature so it’ll leave a mark.

        I’m not sure about you or others on this forum, but I have a spiritual streak that believes in a fundamental part of ourselves surviving after death.

        Also, I’ve confided in others both in person and online regarding my own guilt and have gathered that if truly our furry friends did have a perfect, unconditional love superior to our own (which I’m sure they did, and may still…), then not only do I think that they’re still around (and in a way, more alive than ever.. free from pain and suffering rooted in the physical), but truly feel that they wouldnt want us, in their closer-to-perfect-love for us, to cling on to guilt and pain and regret.

        These are, of course, my opinions. Don’t get me wrong.. I’m not trying to rationalize or justify what I’ve done. I’m still disgusted at myself, and It still hurts. A LOT.

        We’ll just have to take it one day at a time.

        Please let me know how you’re doing. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

  10. I just lost my dog today. He was a tiny little Chorkie, and it was entirely my fault, at least I think it was. He was my mom’s dog, really, and she’s devastated. He was a live and well when I let him and my other two dogs out this morning when my parents were out, and I didn’t go to let them until they came home. I found my other dogs under the shade but the little chorkie was lying limp on the ground in the grass, he was barely breathing. We rushed to our nearest vet but they were closed. If they hadn’t been closed we think he might have made it, but we had to go all the way to another vet thirty minutes away and he was already gone.

    It’s all my fault, I know it, I was being lazy and didn’t let them back in even though I knew it was hot. I’m habitually lazy, it wasn’t just a fluke that I’m trying to tell myself was the cause, I really am horribly lazy and did it a lot, not letting them back in at the right time. My mom is inconsolable, and I don’t know what to do. The dog did have a very very recent welt on his back that just appeared a few days ago that was HUGE and we think it might have been a snake bite, but we’ll never know if that killed him. I just don’t know what to do, I have two other dogs and they just know he’s gone. One is a new Yorkie that we just got, so she didn’t know him very well, but the other was the little guy’s best friend, and he’s been so sad lately I’m afraid I’ve killed him too just by taking his best friend away. And my mom is in a rough spot right now, she’s just felt like everyone is out to get her and she loses everyone she loves, and now I’ve lost her her dog, the one she was counting on to make her feel better when they were on their own with me moving out. I’m just so sorry but I know that’ll never make up for it.

  11. Dear Mary,

    Thank you for sharing about your cat – and I am so sorry for your loss. It’s always hard to know when to bring a pet to the vet, because often they just have minor health hiccups that don’t require anything but time to heal. I would’ve done the same thing as you.

    I hope you can release yourself from the guilt you feel. If you knew about urinary tract infections, you would’ve taken your cat to the vet right away! You didn’t do anything wrong. You were acting on the information you had, and it was just a bad act of fate that your poor cat died. So sad, I am so sorry.

    Your beloved cat is resting in peace now. She doesn’t harbour any feelings of blame or resentment or pain towards you! She loves you and knows how much you loved her. She wants you to be free of the pain you feel for her death – and she is waiting for you to forgive yourself and be free.

    I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. May you forgive yourself, and remember your beloved kitty cat with love and joy.


    • Thank you Laurie for the reply, I don’t think I will ever forget an I know I will punish myself at times, my other cat is so like his sister at times I think its her coming and I know he misses her too.

      thank you

  12. i had a lovely 2 year old female cat who died nearly 3 weeks ago. The last time I saw her was on the Friday evening about 8.30 but it was too soon for her to come in ( I have 2 cats mainly outdoors in the day and keep them in at night). When it was time for them to come in only her brother was around, but that wasn’t unusual as she loved to hunt she would often come in at 1.30 in the morning. So we kept calling her all night till about 3 am still no sign I think I knew then something had happened.

    We searched the next day all round the garden and ditches now sign eventually we found her at 4pm about 30 feet from the main road ( she was always crossing the road) but yet it was a quiet road. She was lying on her side legs out tail in line with back eyes open and mouth slightly open on a sloping bank head down the slope, it was like she was on her way home

    My guilt comes from the previous week she came beside me a did a pee and there was a bit of blood in her urine, she seemed fine every other way, she was 20 foot up a tree half an hour later. All that week she seemed fine I never really noticed anything untoward. I should have brought her to the vet but didn’t, as the previous year she had blood in her poo vet said then nothing to worry about. I looked up when she was found dead sudden death in cats and UTI came up did my cat have this and get blocked and die a horrible death – I will never know. There is so much I have learned about uti and food but only at the expense of my lovely little cat. When she was found she was a bit in the open so was she hit by a car. I just cant get it out of my head regardless of how she died that she was probably in pain and I didn’t realise – but she always seemed a happy loveable cat.

    I brought my other cat to the vet to get checked in case of poisoning , they said female cats don’t usually get blocked – are the being kind to me. I only wish I had brought her to the vet
    Time does heal I cried for 2 weeks lost about a stone but the guilt is still there I worry about the other pets we have I am watching them for any little thing

  13. Dear Elizabeth,

    I am so sorry for your loss, and that you had to make the decision to put Johnny down. I know you feel guilty about it – like you caused his death. But, I believe you made the right decision. You did what you thought was best at the time because something in you knew that prolonging his life would be too difficult for him. The veterinarian might have been able to save his life, but Johnny’s body would never be the same. And, what if it happened again? Can you imagine poor Johnny going through the same painful experience all over again?

    I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers. I hope you can forgive yourself, and let go of the guilt you feel for causing your pet’s death. Keep writing about it, here or elsewhere. I just read today that writing about painful experiences on different days helps with the healing process.

    May you soon remember Johnny with love, peace, and acceptance. Picture him chasing birds and rolling in all the catnip he wants :-) Your spirit will be reunited with his one day, and he’ll tell you that he forgives you and loves you more than anyone.


  14. Dear Bonnie,

    I’m so sorry to hear about Lily. It’s tragic to find one of your beloved pets dead in your home – especially when it’s a cat you shared your home with for years, and her death was caused by a newly rescued dog. I guess no matter what the circumstances, it’s devastating.

    My heart goes out to you and your family. I hope you’re able to grieve Lily’s death, and remember her with peace and love. May your feelings of guilt over her death fade away, and may you come to believe that it was an accident that you would have prevented if you had known it was going to happen. May you forgive yourself.

    In sympathy,

  15. A year ago a friends cat had kittens. My fiancé hate cats and didn’t want one but finally caved. I picked a kitten from her litter. My fiancé picked the name Johnny Cash (our dogs name is Elvis which I picked). Johnny was an awesome cat. He would always “talk” to me in the mornings while I got ready for work. When I got home in the evenings I would find him curled up in my fiancé lap. Johnny melted even my fiancés heart. I’ve always been very attentive to Johnny’s behavior. Sometimes mistaking his “moods” for sickness. This time I was wrong. About two weeks ago he began spraying and acting grumpy. He hadn’t been neutered yet so I called and made an appointment. The first available was June 17. Yesterday morning my fiancé woke me up at 6 and said something was wrong with Johnny. He was in the bathroom sink under the running water…just curled up. Blood on his back paws and his “area”. I took him to the emergency vet and they said his urethra was blocked and his bladder was so full that there would be a lot of damage to his kidneys because all the toxins were stuck in his body poisoning him. He was so weak he could barely keeps his eyes open. I called my fiancé and a family member on what to do. They both said put him down, that he would never be the same after. So I did. I held my baby in my arms and watch the life go from his eyes. I’ve never been so upset and angry. I feel like a murderer. That I should have spent the 1500$ and seen if he could have made it. But I didn’t. I took away our dogs best friends. He has been searching for him and it kills me. I seriously can’t live with this guilt. I regret my decision so much. I want to go back and fight for him and try to save him. He didn’t do anything wrong and I gave up on him. Someone please help.

    • Oh, you poor thing!! I came on here for comfort myself! This old world can sure be cruel…but I really do think that we who’ve been through it NEED to hear others’ stories (no matter how guilty we are or think we are ourselves). I’ve heard that saying about how “grief shared is grief halved”–or something like that.
      I know I feel horribly negligent for not acting sooner in my own case. Sometimes we just SCREW UP. It is not an excuse. We happen to be human, and make some real messes out of things sometimes. But I think that if our hearts are true–if we love with our whole heart, and at least TRY to do whatever we can, shouldn’t we try to forgive ourselves? Someone…a new pet, or another that is already in the home, needs a WHOLE heart to love it…not one that is full of holes. (Now, I need to try this idea out on myself… )

  16. Our cat Lily just passed away on Friday. She was my daughter’s first pet five years ago – at Christmas. She was adventurous and loved cuddling with pillows and stuffed animals. She was an indoor/outdoor cat by choice for much of her life. She climbed trees with vigor. She was apathetic to the medium terrier mix dog that came into our home a year after her, but came to accept her. About four months ago, we added a rescue german shepherd to our home. We did not introduce him to our cat in a neutral territory, but at home. He immediately chased her curiously, she ran from him, and we proceeded to remedy this by keeping them separate. Our finances/schedules were/are tight, so we didn’t fully research/consider the ramifications of seeking training for this dog, to adjust for his ~2 years of past life. Both dogs are indoor dogs. Lily preferred to stay mostly outside from that point, instead of limited in bedrooms. I didn’t fully consider how significant this was to her. She maintained a normal routine of eating and alternating from our yard to her eating/sleeping area inside, and my brain made this the new normal, since we didn’t have ‘time’ to address this situation that incrimentally created more and more guilt. We would bring her upstairs, away from the dogs, occassionally, to try to give her the comfort of a bedroom. The german shepherd chased Lily on one such occassion, and she understandably scratched him when my daughter said he nipped at Lily – we separated them. In general, she would quickly go back outside the next day. The german shepherd is literally one of the most docile dogs I’ve ever come across, other than this overly curious behavior.
    Last week, my 11 year old daughter brought her in, to her bedroom. She calmed after a bit, and purred on her pillows. Lily appeared to be getting thinner, and it was about time for the vet (a couple of days).So, we planned to keep her in until that time. The next day, my husband took my kids to summer camp (I was at work). Lily was in my daughter’s room. We think the door must have somehow been left open, even though she is usually careful. When my husband returned home, he found Lily dead in our front room with no markings. She had used the bathroom on a nearby window frame. The dogs greeted him as usual, but then cowered when he directed them to Lily and during his punishment. My smaller terrior had scratches on her ear and face, the german shepherd had none visable.
    I have an overwhelming amount of guilt. At a minimum, she appeared to have been scared to death. I’ve told my kids that she was hit by a car. We have the german shepherd scheduled for training with a specific trainer to deal with cats, but that makes no difference for Lily. I keep having acute realizations of what every day must have felt to her – abandonned, epitomized at her death. All because everyday life is hard and things are tight – I made myself believe that the ABCs were covered and that that was enough. I do believe that what I’ve told my kids is safer for their psyches – the german shepherd has no other behavior that indicates any amount of aggression. My rational brain believes that he acted out of curiousity again, when the bedroom door was open, and that it escalated from both sides. The empathetic part of me wants to vomit when I think of what Lily must have experienced. Looking my kids in the eye is heart wrenching. One of my best friends fostered the german shepherd, so I feel like I have to lie about the cause if Lily’s death to her, as well, to avoid crushing her. I hope that I can pull myself together to help my kids honor Lily completely. This will haunt me.

  17. Dear Charlene,

    I’m so sorry to hear that your dog drowned. That’s very sad, especially since you feel like you could have done more to save him.

    It’s so easy for us to look back and see all the things we could have done differently, should have done differently, wanted to do differently….but in the moment, we did the best we could. The moment is all we have, and we try our best to make the right decisions and do all we can to save our pets.

    I believe you did everything you could to save your dog. Even if you had tried mouth-to-mouth, there is no way to know if it would’ve been successful. Even if you had already read all the websites and articles about how to bring a dog back after drowning, you may not have brought him back.

    You did all you could. You did everything in your power at that time to save your dog. If you could have done differently, you would have.

    I hope you can forgive yourself, and remember your dog with a sense of peace and love. I hope you’re able to let go of the guilt you feel, and grieve your pet’s death without feeling like you could have brought him back. Also – even if you had – there may have been painful consequences of the cpr and drowning that could have caused him to suffer. It’s possible that it happened this way for a reason, even if we don’t know what the reason is.

    In sympathy,

    • Hi Laurie

      Thank you so much for your reply.
      I really appreciate it.

      I think alot of people don’t understand the love we feel for our furry babies-and most people never will-I think that people like us, are just born that way-we where made to love, cherish and protect these babies as if they where human.

      With regards to Tank, my bully-I’ve done so much investigation, asked so many questions and ended up going to see my vet-she knew him so well-he had numerous ops as he was a “sickish” puppy from the start-and she loved him :-) She pulled him through things I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams-times when I wanted to give up on him, she gave me hope to cling on a little longer.

      So I ended up going there-telling her about my guilty feelings on not being there for my baby and not doing cpr.

      She told me to stop reading internet sites on important things, as what they are telling you on there-is not allways as easy and succesfull as it seems.
      She said that if he had been under water for two minutes, she would also not have been able to save him, even if she had all the equipment in the world.

      She said to actualy give a bully mouth to mouth is much more difficult than other dog breeds, because of the mouth actually being in front of the nose.

      Well-I’ve investigated the pool-which by the way is quite dirty-and there was no marks on the side of him trying to get out, no wettniss on the sides indicating that he tried to get out and couldn’t.
      I’ve allways had a pool and taught the little man how to swim from puppyhood-he was not a great swimmer, but he knew where and how to get out when in trouble.

      So we concluded that something else happened that day-he might have had a heart attack and fell in the pool, he might have gone into shock immediately and died instantly, he might have drowned.

      I still have my questions, but my guilty feeling is slowly starting to pass as time goes by.

      I gave him the best life I could and I will miss him allways-the way he played “funny” when I got home, the way he loved to watch tv, the way he rounded his mouth just before barking, the way his tail wagged when he jumped on me…. so many things, every day there is something else I remember and miss about my boy.

      But, I convinced myself that there must be a place after life where my boy will be waiting for me somewhere. Because God won’t be such a cruel God to take away something that you loved with every nerve in your body, so that you will never see them again. I believe he will be waiting for me somewhere and that we will be reunited again.

      I was proud to be his mom-he changed and touched so many lives and I will miss him every day, untill we meet again.

      Thank you for such an encouraging site and I hope that every one who lost a loved one and feeling the guilt of that, will learn to forgive themselves, learn to stand up and breath again.

      It’s hard to go on after such a big loss, but there are other out there needing each and every one of us, because not alot of people are “build” like us.

  18. I lost my English Bulldog of 4 years on Monday evening. I was in the house and the dogs where playing outside like they allways do-when my friend got outside after my pitbull “called” him-he saw my baby at the bottom of the pool. When he got the boy out, he wasn’t breathing, I couldn’t feel or hear a heartbeat, his eyes where open and his tongue out of his mouth-I thought he was dead and even though we got the water out of his lungs by pressing on his chest, I did not do “mouth to mouth” on him. After reading though a few websites it says not to give up on your dog, that with cpr they can still live-and now it feels as if I did not do enough to try and keep my baby alive. It feels as if I was not there when he needed me most, as if I have given up on him when I should’ve at least tried…

  19. Dear Terry,

    I agree with Jack’s mom – I believe we all have those feelings of annoyance, frustration, and even anger when our dogs and cats are naughty! I take my dogs on four walks a day, and the terrier (Georgie) has to stop and sniff every single little thing she passes. The mini poodle (Tiffy) has to growl at the big dogs who walk by, to show them who’s boss. They annoy the heck out of me almost every single day, and I really don’t believe you’re alone in those feelings.

    I’m sorry you lost your dog. I hope you’re able to work through your feelings of guilt, and that you can forgive yourself and grieve your dog’s death. May he live on in your heart and soul, and may you be reunited in spirit one day in the future.


  20. Dear Jack’s mom,

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Jack had a wonderful life with you, and I have no doubt he is still basking in your love, thoughts, and attention! I believe our beloved pets don’t entirely leave us, and that we will be reunited in spirit one day. Jack and your other dog are cavorting on the other side, waiting for you to call them so they can come running, and give you big slobbery kisses. Heaven is the only place we allow our dogs to jump up on us :-)

    Spreading his ashes in different places that he went with you sounds like a wonderful way to say good-bye, grieve, and heal. Thank you for sharing with us.

    In sympathy and with blessings,

  21. My dog died yesterday after nearly drowning the day before. He was 14.
    The hole he left in my life is huge. I feel guilty because he was a total slob
    and every time I mopped up after him I thought won’t it be nice when you’re gone
    and I won’t have to spend hours every weekend cleaning up your mess.
    I had no idea how much it would hurt to lose him. I didn’t realize how big a part of me
    he was, or how I would miss my pal, who went with me everywhere.
    Thanks for this blog. It helps me to handle the guilt.

    • Terry, everyone has those thoughts sometimes, part of nature. I remember when I first got Jack, he was a great pup, but had been abused by someone and it was rough at first getting him to trust me and he also ate most of my love seat one time. I threatened him numerous times to take him back to the pound, but I knew that if he and I couldn’t make this work together that no one else would give him a shot at a wonderful life that he never had before. He transformed in to one of the best dogs I have ever had. Just remember all the great times that you had with him and think about visiting the lakes you both went to, when you feel up to it as it does help to think back on the great times together. My best to you!

      • Thanks, Jack’s mom. My dog ate my prescription sunglasses, among other things, so I can sympathize. :)

  22. I have been having a tough time dealing with putting my beloved Jack Dog down this past January. He was about 16 years old at the time and had a hard time with his back leg, probably due to arthritis is the what the vet thought. However, he started having accidents in the house at one point and then I notcied after about a week that he could not poop at all when I let him outside. I discussed options with my husband, but we had very little money to spend to try to find out what the new issue(s) were. I had adopted my Jack Dog from the humane society about 6mos before meeting my husband, but they had become very close over the years and my husband had a difficult time with the fact that I felt our only option was to put Jack down (especially at Jack’s age). Ever since we put Jack down I have felt that I gave up too soon and that I took the easy way out only because we couldn’t afford to have all the tests done in order to figure out what was causing his problems. I also feel like my husband thinks that I made the wrong decision. I am so sick to my stomach and miss my beloved Jack Dog so much. He had a wonderful life with us when he was around, lots of lovings, camping trips and he loved to swim any chance he had. Did I do the right thing, I wonder?!

    • I think you did the right thing. It’s not easy for anyone to make that choice. Jack was spared a lot of suffering. It’s hard enough losing your dog, please don’t make it harder by second guessing yourself.
      I know how you must miss him. My dog loved swimming too. I don’t think I’ll be going to any of the lakes we went to together.

      Please don’t blame yourself. You’re already hurting enough.

      • Thank you for the support. Amazing how much getting this out helps.

        We will be going back camping to the last lake that Jack swam in just a few weeks from now with our Black Lab and a bunch of friends and of course we will be taking Jack’s ashes with us as he should have a little part of him everywhere we took him.

        We did that a few years back when we had to put our other dog down (he had cancer) and it is amazing how taking him with us and spreading just a small part of him in places that he loved helps the healing process.

        • That is a beautiful symbolic gesture. I hope it brings you some closure. Have fun with your black lab at the lake.

  23. Dear Meli,

    I’m very sorry to hear about your parrot – that must be very difficult to know that she got scared and flew away. It’s so hard to resolve our feelings of guilt about causing our pet’s death — or possible death. Forgiving ourselves takes alot of time and patience. It doesn’t happen just once, it actually takes several tries!

    Is it possible that your parrot will come back? I wonder if she just flew to a nearby tree or perch, and will return when she feels safe…or hungry. Sometimes animals go missing for a few days or even weeks, and return.

    I don’t have any quick tips for dealing with guilt when you caused your pet’s death. It’s just a daily process of choosing to forgive ourselves, and choosing to focus on what we did right when we had our beloved pets safe at home with us.

    Maybe you’ll be back with good news, that your parrot returned? Wouldn’t that be lovely…

    • Thank you Laurie. I’ll be working on that self-forgiveness thing! It’s hard when you grew up Catholic but I hope to move beyond that. I have read stories of parrots coming back and I’m hoping that’s the case. If she does come back I’ll let you all know.

      I’ve read the other posts on here and I’d just like to offer my sympathies to everyone.

  24. Hello all, I’m having a rough night. Yesterday my parrot flew away when I had her outside and I can’t imagine forgiving myself for making such a bad decision. I’d had her for seven years and was enjoying the nice weather and thought she would like it too. We did have a good time for a while until she got spooked and flew away. I can’t stop crying and haven’t been able focus on the work I’m supposed to be doing. I can barely motivate myself to put up posters. I’m devastated. Not only am I unsure that I can forgive myself, I’m afraid that I don’t deserve to. Any advice on getting through this in one piece would be greatly appreciated.
    I don’t usually post on message boards but everyone here seems so kind…

  25. Dear Destiny,

    Another reader had a similar story – one of her dogs killed their cat. It was a huge, devastating shock. She was struggling with the same dilemma: should she keep her dog even though it killed her cat? I don’t know what she ended up doing.

    I have two dogs (and a cat), and I can’t imagine how devastated I’d feel if one of them caused the other’s death. Sometimes I think about it, and I never leave my cat alone in the house with the dogs, even though one of the dogs is smaller than the cat! They’re animals, and their instincts take over.

    That may be the important thing to remember: your dog isn’t a “bad” dog. She is a Terrier who has strong instincts – one of my dogs is a Terrier as well, and I have seen her kill a squirrel. It was terrible, but I know it’s just part of her DNA. She is a hunter, a ratter, and her instinct to kill is part of who she is. I love who she is, even the parts that cause me pain. I have to accept her and love her unconditionally, because she is just a dog. And she accepts and loves me unconditionally.

    I know this is all easier said than done, especially since my dog hasn’t killed one of my pets. If you can’t forgive and live with your Terrier from now on, nobody will judge you! You have to do what you think is best for you. If my Terrier killed my little mini poodle, I don’t know what I’d do. I really don’t know…and my heart goes out to you, that you’re in this position. I’m sorry.

    I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers. I hope you come back and let me know how you are, and what you decide about your Terrier.


  26. Dear Micki,

    I’m so sorry you lost Chloe this way, what a devastating experience. Your poor cat, who you love so much, gone so quickly. I understand how guilty you must feel, and how heartbroken. I wish I knew what to say, other than my heart goes out to you. It was an accident – I can see that clearly, that you never would have hurt your cat! But I know that it’s easy to say “it was an accident”, but much harder to actually accept and forgive ourselves when tragedies happen.

    I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers, as you grieve your loss. I sincerely hope you can forgive yourself, and that you’re able to remember Chloe with love, peace, and joy.

    In sympathy,

  27. Eric,

    I’m so sorry you had to see your cat die. It sounds so painful, especially if was the lilies that caused her death. The idea that something so innocent – a gift for your wife – could cause such heartbreak, it’s just so sad. The only consolation is that you did not deliberately cause your beloved cat’s death! If you had known that this could happen, you would never have brought the lilies home. It was one of those tragic freak accidents that had overwhelmingly sad consequences.

    I hope you’re able to forgive yourself. It’ll take time and it’ll hurt as you grieve your loss – which is a big one. But it is my sincere wish that you can forgive yourself, and know that it was an accident. For some reason, it was your cat’s time to go…and sometimes we’re at the mercy of things we can’t control. Maybe all the time we’re vulnerable – more vulnerable than we realize. My heart goes out to you, and I’ll keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

  28. Dear Julia,

    My sympathies on losing your pet rabbit – I think you did the right thing by listening to your gut feelings. We never really know for sure what the right thing to do is, and all we can do is trust our gut. Medical procedures are hard on animals, and sometimes the kindest, most loving thing we can do is say good-bye. Let them rest in peace.

    I believe you did the right thing. You did what you thought was best, and you let her go. I hope you can forgive yourself if you feel guilty — and I encourage you to trust yourself, that something was telling you that putting her down was the right thing to do. You did the right thing, and she is resting comfortably in bunny heaven right now! Hopping down the bunny trail…I believe you’ll meet her again one day, in spirit.

  29. Dear Delinda,

    Thank you for being here; it takes alot of courage to share how you feel about the possibility you caused your beloved dog’s death. I don’t know if it’s true – my friend’s dog died last week because of a tumor in her stomach. That tumor wasn’t caused by my friend’s choice of dog food or treats…it was something that grew naturally in her dog’s tummy. Her dog was 9 years old.

    Maybe your smoking caused your dog to grow the tumor, and maybe it was just the result of being alive. Our bodies grow harmful cancerous masses, and we don’t always heal from them. It’s just the sad part of being a living creature.

    It sounds like you can’t forgive yourself — whether or not you truly caused your dog’s death. The guilt and grief you feel is eating you alive. I believe your dog would want you to be free of the pain you feel, and to remember her with peace and joy, not pain and suffering. The unconditional love your dog felt for you is still there — and I believe she forgives you. She wants you to be free from the pain and guilt, because she knows that living in torment is terrible.

    I encourage you to talk to a counselor about your feelings of guilt and grief. You need to find forgiveness – you need to forgive yourself. I think the best way to work through your guilty feelings is to talk to a professional, who can give you an objective perspective on your grief.

    What do you think?

  30. Yesterday my toy Manchester Terrier killed my beloved chihuahua Gracie. They had had a few minor spats in the 7 years I had them together but nothing major. Then yesterday when we got home Gracie was dead on the floor. I am beyond heartbroken as Gracie was the best dog and she was my baby. I still can’t believe she is gone. And now I can’t stand to look at the Manchester knowing she caused this. I am considering getting rid of her because of it but I don’t want to do that. But I am worried I will never forgive her or love her again. I’m just devastated at the thought if I had separated them, Gracie would still be here. I fell so much guilt and so much heartache that I don’t think I will ever recover. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I was supposed to protect Gracie and when her time came,I was supposed to be with her and let her go without pain or fear while I held her in my arms. How do I begin to move forward?

  31. 4 days ago, I lost my Sweet cat Chloe. I was so devastated and feel so guilty over her death. I was leaving to go to the grocery store and as I sat in the car I thought I hope Chloe is not under the car. I started the car and the cats will usually run out. I sat there for a minute to see. Didn’t see Chloe so I pulled out of the carport slowly, drove down our long driveway slowly and sat at the end of the drive for a minute before proceeding to the close stop sign at the end of our street to turn out on the Highway. I even sat there for a few minutes waiting on traffic. I pulled out and drove about 5 car lengths and then I heard a thump under the car. I looked in the rear view mirror and there was my Chloe rolling on the Highway. I screamed so loud Nooooo and pulled my car over and jumped out running down the side of the Hwy to where my Chloe was in the middle of the road. About 10 Cars were coming and I was jumping around and flayling my arms and screaming “Stop don’t hit my cat!!!” A car finally stopped in the lane where Chloe was and I ran out and got her. Her ear was bleeding real bad and she was lifeless. I stumbled to the side of the road where I fell down crying in the grass holding my precious baby. I ran back to the car with her and held her and kept telling her I was soo soo sorry.. I was hysterical, it was so horrific, I couldn’t believe I had killed my cat :( I drove back home and was so hysterical and crying to find my Husband to tell him what I had done. He took care of cleaning her and wrapping her in a towel and then he came in and comforted me from crying so loudly. I still cannot get over what I did and what happened. I just keep crying and crying and my heart hurts so bad. I feel so bad and guilty. This was so very traumatic to me. I’m so sorry My Sweet Chloe :( I loved her so much.

  32. My cat passed away suddenly and without warning on my bathroom floor 2 nights ago after acting a bit “off” during the daytime. In the middle of the night my wife and I heard her groaning and I went into the bathroom to find her in pain and she had thrown up and peed on the floor. I got dressed and was ready to take her to a 24 hour vet when I realized that she would not make it. So I paid on the floor and pet her head (her favorite spot) and told her that I loved her and that I would bury her in the yard and always visit her. She died a couple of minutes later. It was very painful to watch her suffer in her last few minutes of life. The next day (yesterday), after burying her, I was trying to figure out what might have caused her death (she was 10 years and in otherwise good health) when I found articles about lilies being toxic to cats. That is when I realized that I had bought my wife lilies for Mother’s Day. She threw them out last Friday (2 days before my cat died) and they fell on the floor as she was throwing them out. I am almost certain that my cat came into contact with the lily petals or pollen and that is what caused her to die (she died about 48 hours after the lilies fell on the floor). So in addition to my sadness I am now overcome with guilt. What if I had bought another type of flower? What if I had thrown out the flowers instead of my wife throwing them out and I had not dropped them? What if I just did not buy flowers at all that day? Last night my wife and I told our 4 year old son about the cat’s death. He did not have much of a reaction, but when I took him over to her burial site, he asked if he could see her and then said “goodnight, sweet dreams” to her. I lost it upon hearing that and cried for 20 minutes. I bought my cat when I was 26 years old, before I met my wife. For the first few years, it was really just me and her. She always knew when I was upset and would come over to me and purr in my ear. She was with me through a bad breakup, she was there the night I met my wife, she was with me when I got married, moved into my first house and my second house with my wife and she was with me when I had my two children. I am devastated at both the sudden loss and the role that I played in her death. I cannot stop thinking about those last few minutes of her life and how she suffered. I feel so sad and so guilty and I miss my friend terribly.

  33. Thank you so much for your website. I’m devastated over the lost of my best friend, my baby girl. I found her running in the middle of the street and we were inseparable ever since. She was a mixed Pomeranian about 5 years old when i found her. i never had a dog so she taught me how to care for her, she loved me unconditionally i never had a relationship such as this. She died about a year ago and i cry almost ever day i miss her so much a.t times it is unbearable. Here is the guilt and the shame, I’m a smoker and i almost certain i caused her death. It was sudden no signs before the day of her death, she was not eating and her breathing was very labor intensive. i took her to the vet and she died that afternoon of a tumor/mass in her lungs.

    i’ve been racked by guilty and sucidal thoughts and shame and pain of not having her with me. I feel so low about myself and at times no desire to go on…this has been the hardest thing i have ever experience and the joy has been sucked out of my life i feel forever.

    How do i go on knowing i killed my best friend?

  34. Thanks for this website.

    I had my rabbit, Button, who had also my best friend, put down on Sunday and I feel enormous guilt and miss her tremendously. She was so intertwined in my life that there is a huge void.

    Button had stopped eating and drinking during the course of Saturday morning – even her treats. I kept an eye on her hoping it would pass as she was a fussy eater but this didn’t happen and she was ‘hiding’ in her room and not moving to urinate. I syringe fed her some food and water and gave her pain meds overnight but there was no improvement and I took her to the emergency vet in the morning.

    The vet on duty was inexperienced in treating rabbits and said she could only give her fluids under her skin and I should take my girl to her vet on Monday morning. Button was 9, had an enlarged heart for which she had meds and she had to have her teeth filed every 2 months (which involved an operation) and as much as before midday Saturday she had been more or less plodding along, for a good long time she hadn’t been herself. She had started to hate the drive to and from the vets and had been taking longer and longer to recover from each procedure and she was never quite the same after each visit, always one step down the ladder. My gut feel told me that maybe it was time. Maybe there was more going on than met the eye and that it was better to put her down one day too early than one day too late and for this reason I made the decision to not have her undergo anymore treatment, anymore prodding or poking. It always stressed me out terribly when she had to go to the vets.

    On Sunday she was not well at all – apart from the previous heart episode, in all the years she had never been so sick and the emergency vet said that she couldn’t give her anything that could make her feel better as it could interact with her heart meds. I would be taking home my very sick bunny and I thought that was cruel as things must have taken a while to reach this critical point. My thinking was that that at her age and with her heart condition (which also made giving her other medication difficult and sometimes impossible) there was a very strong likelihood that the outcome was never going to be okay and I didn’t want her to suffer a minute more. I would rather have been there with her when she was put down then have her spend days at the vet with the same outcome but with me not there.

    Since the deed was done though my thoughts have made a turn – maybe it would have been simple to treat, maybe she would have been fine and well now, maybe I made the decision too hastily or perhaps more for my convenience then with her interests at heart, maybe it would have been better for her to get put down a day too late than a day too early :(.

  35. Thank you for sharing your experience with your beloved furry friends here. It takes alot of courage to confess how bad and guilty you feel, and I know that your experience will help other readers who feel just as bad, but can’t bring themselves to comment.

    In peace and passion,

  36. Dear Beth,

    I am so sorry that Rainbow’s life ended the way it did. It sounds like you feel so terrible for how she died, and how you feel like you neglected her since you started fostering dogs. The ironic thing is that you were so loving, kind, compassionate, and giving to foster dogs! It sounds like your own big, helpful, loving heart is what led to Rainbow’s death.

    I wish I had the right words to say, to ease the guilt you feel. Maybe there are no words – maybe you just need to be held while you grieve the death of your beloved cat, and while you work through your feelings of guilt and self-hatred.

    Please remember that you did NOT intend for Rainbow’s life to end this way. I believe that self-hatred, guilt, and self-incrimination should come to people who deliberately caused pain and death. You did not cause Rainbow suffering on purpose! You were caring for more than one animal, and you couldn’t take care of everyone equally. If you had known Rainbow’s life was so close to the end, you would have rushed her to the veterinarian.

    I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive yourself. I also want to encourage you to talk to a counselor about your feelings of grief and guilt. Sometimes it is incredibly helpful to talk through our pain with someone who is objective, who can help us work through the guilt and self-hatred.

    How are you feeling today?

    With sympathy, compassion, and love,

    • Hi Laurie,

      Thank you for your kind words of wisdom. I am feeling better and want to redirect my feelings of guilt to something useful. I am still grieving but I know Rainbow is getting the love and care she needed and deserves. I somehow sense that she understands and forgives me. She is free and full of life and I will see her one day and that is the hope that I hold onto and what will heal me. Thank you for all that you do.


  37. I feel absolutely horrible for neglecting my cat, Rainbow. She was only about 8 and came to me as a stray 7 years ago. I took her in and she would come up on the bed and sleep with me and my dogs. My mom passed away after a long illness3 years ago and I was her caretaker. I guess to fill that void, I started dog rescue. I started bringing fosters in and the last two would chase Rainbow. I put her food up and her water and litter out of their reach. She was able to eat but would hide because she was afraid of the foster dogs. I always thought there would be another time after the foster dogs got adopted to try to get her back to coming around. I knew she was hiding and a month ago she came out and tried to get some attention. But I was too busy and figured when things get freer I could devote more time to her. That time never came. I noticed last week that she hadn’t eaten her food. I got new food and water and placed it where she was hiding. She ate it and seemed OK. I got her and put her in a quiet room but I was horrified at the weight she lost. I tried to give her nutrients and got her special cat food. I couldn’t take her to the vet because I was committed to vet appointments for my fosters. I though I could save her. Yesterday when I went to feed her by a syring she struggled and I though she was regaining her strength. Then she threw up and cried. I knew this was the end so I wrapped her up and laid her on my lap to give her the attention I should have given her before when I neglected her because I was being the rescue Hero. When I held her she wanted away. I don’t blame her. She died in the night. By herself, neglected by a fool, a wretch, a joke of a person. Now I am incosolable and I know I let her down. I didn’t take her to a vet because I thought I could save her, I didn’t want them to say wow, this is a poor owner–a neglectful owner, and because of finances. I should be hung or imprisoned. I am a horrible, horrible person. Now I care but it is too late. I hate myself. At least Rainbow is free and truly being taken care of. She is blessed and in a far better place away from me.

  38. I had my dog Bull Bull put to sleep 3 weeks ago. He had pancreatitis diagnosed3 months ago and had repeated episodes after the first attack. He was drinking non-stop and losing bladder control at night, and vomiting. The vet said he m ight have other issues such as kidney ,diabetes etc and said only through more tests would we know.After all the visits to the vet I had run out of money and he ate a few of the other dogs biscuits which made it flare up again. I had been feeding them in separate rooms or the same food but as money got tighter I thought I would give the other dog”normal food as the science diet food was expensive and he didn’t need it. I took my eye of the ball and Bull got some of the wrong biscuits. I fasted him but he went downhill. I got a vet to come put him down at home. I should have fixed this episode despite the cost because now I have killed my best friend because I ran out of money. I could have paid off the bill or borrowed more. Now I can’t live with the guilt that I should have given him another chance. I cry everyday. I let my boy down for stupid finance problems.he was 9and a half years. i just hate the decision I made and wish I could turn back time. So sorry ny beloved Bully boy.

  39. I lost my cat half a year ago and it still pains terribly. He loved me. He trusted me. He was getting skinnier for a long time and our vet advised us to go to the clinic and do blood test for diabetes. Everything else was fine, just peed often but was eating, drinking good. He lived only indoors, so a trip to the vet clinic was very stressful for him. I tucked him in a blanket and held him tight. All the way I was telling him that it’s gonna be alright, it is for the best. In the clinic a new doctor came to do the analysis and she said that she thinks that he has a kidney problems and that he is dehydrated. We said that he drinks a lot and our doctor checked him up a week earlier and said he looks well. She insisted that he is dehydrated. Checked him, he screamed. I said to him that everything gonna be fine. Results came back instantly and it showed kidney problems. The new doctor suggested system with saline, and couple of vitamin, micro element shots. We were scared, thought that our doctor had made a mistake and agreed to the new treatment. We went home. He looked so much better. His fur was shining, he become more lively. He was upset with me, ignored me for causing him pain, but later in the night we were friends again. We had to take him back the next day for the second system with saline. He freaked, when felt that we are going to the doctor again, but we took him anyway. All he way I was telling this is for the best, everything gonna be alright. In the vet clinic I was holding him the whole time through his saline system. I felt he is not doing well. I felt something is going wrong. He became very peaceful and I thought he started breathing heavily. I told doctor my concerns, but she said it was ok. We bought all the medicine she advised. Went home. He stopped eating. Was only drinking. We got scared, called the new doctor, she said probably kidney failed, but before the treatment he was eating and feeling good. She said these things happen unexpectedly. We called our doctor, he said that it might be from all the new pills and said to stop them for couple of days and see what happens. He did not start eating. We called again to our old doctor. He said to start force feeding him, till he starts eating again. He didn’t. It was very difficult to feed. He was fighting back. We took him to our doctor couple of days later. He gave some vitamin shots and said that saline system was the one to blame. He said there is nothing we can do, just to wait and see if he will get through. He got weaker and weaker. We force fed him. He fighter back, but with every day his energy got less and less. It was breaking my heart to do that to him. He was still drinking, so it gave some hope. Christmas came, he couldn’t even walk anymore. So skinny and weak. He shouted at night, probably from pain. Our doctor said he gonna go soon and we should let it happen in it’s own time. He hid and slept, but on Christmas with his last energy he came to me and I took him in my lap. Next day he stopped drinking, he could not walk at all. He looked at me and spoke. His voice had changed. After the Christmas he passed away. He slept next me me. I miss him so much. I know he is in a better place now. but it was not his time to go. If I would have not taken for the analysis, wouldn’t have agreed to the treatment the new doctor suggested, he would be still here. He would he here. I let him down. I promised him everything gonna be ok, when I took him to the doctor. He trusted me and I let him down. I caused him pain. I should have trusted myself when I felt second time with system of saline that he is not doing well. I should have stopped it. I should have called our usual doctor and consulted before starting the treatment. He trusted me and I let him down. He trusted me.. Everyone loved him in my family and I took him away. I am sorry. I love him so much. I miss him so much. I am sorry. I am really, really sorry.

  40. Dear Brooke,

    I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. You adopted a lovely older dog, and he was an awesome addition to your life! You wanted to take care of him for a long, long time…and maybe you feel like you let him down.

    I think you made the right decision. I don’t believe you caused his death – I think the most humane, loving thing you could do for him is to let him go. A year or more of dialysis and medications would be painful and stressful, and for what? His quality of life wouldn’t be that good.

    You didn’t make him sick. Kidney disease doesn’t develop overnight. Dogs are incredibly good at hiding their pain, and it’s hard for us guardians to know how they’re feeling. You did the right thing by taking him to the vet and making the decision you did.

    I know I’d feel guilty, too, though! It’s awful. We’re supposed to take care of and love our pets, and when we have to make this horrible decision it feels like we’re betraying them. They trust us with their lives, and we put them to sleep. But, we have to remember that everything we do is for them!

    You made the decision to let him go because that is the best thing for him. If you could turn back time, you would’ve done things differently! But you have to forgive yourself, and accept that you did the very best job you could. You took good care of your dog. He got sick, and his life wasn’t meant to continue.

    I hope you’re able to forgive yourself and find peace. I know your beloved dog wouldn’t want you to be wracked with guilt and struggling with feeling that you betrayed and disappointed him.

    Let his soul rest in peace. Know that you did all you could, and he is in a better place. Grieve your loss. Open your heart to love again, to bring the joy of being part of a dog’s life back into your home! Be strong, and know that you are a good person who loved her dog all the way to the end.


  41. I am overwhelmed by guilt. I’ve had pets (dogs, cats, fish, hamsters, guinea pigs) my entire life, but I have never had to make the decision to put any of them to sleep.
    My story: I moved away from home for the first time last year, all the way on the other side of the country. After settling, I adopted a 10 year old cat from the local humane society. That was last summer. He was amazing. A few days ago, he started eating less and throwing up. On Sunday, he was hiding and incredibly lethargic. So, I took him to the vet. He liked to get in to the trash, so I thought he may have eaten something he shouldn’t have. As it turned out, he had acute-on-chronic kidney disease. His kidneys were failing. I was shocked. How could this be happening? How had I not seen any signs before? With no cure, and a prognosis of maybe a year after dialysis and many medications and treatments, I decided to have him put to sleep. This was the hardest thing I have ever done.
    I can’t help but feel guilty. Did I somehow make him sick? Should I have gotten him dialysis and treatment? What if he wasn’t really that sick and I killed him for nothing? How do I know he wouldn’t have gotten better? Also, I said goodbye but I couldn’t bring myself to stay with him for the euthanasia. I feel selfish and guilty. I can’t sleep. I don’t know what to do.
    Thank you for listening.

  42. Are you finding that the guilt is easing up a little? Sometimes, the guilty feelings fade as time goes by. I still feel guilty about my cat’s death – and it’s been more than 10 years – but the feelings have faded a little.

    • I feel a little better, but I keep blaming myself. You see….I had October declawed when she was a kitten. she never was an outdoor cat and I don’t understand why she was having fits to go outside. That Friday night, I believe October snook past my husband and I when we were coming in the door. Saturday morning, we woke up to find that October was not in the house. My husband went to check the mailbox and found October laying by the door step. he yelled at her and told her to get in the house and noticed that she was moving really slow. She passed out in the middle of my living room floor. I looked at her tummy and I could see the dog bites in a big round circle. October came to and was responding really well by rubbing her face against my face and sticking her paw in my face, as if this was her way of saying good bye. I took her to the vet and begged them to save my baby. I put a hundred dollar deposit down for them to help her. The doctor really did not explain any thing to me about her condition and I feel that he knew my cat was dying and he fooled me into making her suffer even more for two more days. He should have told me she was dying, so that we could be at peace with ourselves and put October down instead of making her suffer.

  43. I am having trouble dealing with the death of my cat October. I feel so bad, I wouldn’t wish the way I am grieving on no pet owner. October was a house cat and I had her since she was 10 weeks old. October would have been two years old in October of this year. In addition, October was declawed at a young age. October never was an outdoor cat, but recently she had fits to run out of the door, when we were leaving or coming in the house. I don’t know why because she was also spayed or fixed at an early age. However, this past staurday

  44. Last night we lost our 15 year Green Cheek Conure to an unfortunate accident. Our 19 year old son’s devoted pet spent every moment with him, he is home this semester from college and the bird was with him snuggling when my son fell asleep. It is going to be difficult helping him deal with his guilt and grief. Our pets, offer such unconditional love. Thank you for the guidance in some of the posts in helping us reinforce it was not an intentional act and to focus on the bond they had. Regardless of the age of our children, helping them get through grief let alone guilt is so painful.

  45. Dear Carol,

    I am so sorry for your loss. It sounds like it was a traumatic experience, and you are experiencing alot of regret and guilt that you decided to put Chucky down. I’ve experienced similar feelings — it felt like it could be the right decision at the time, but later it seems like a huge mistake.

    I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers, that your regret and guilt ease up, and that you’re able to remember Chucky with peace and joy. He gave you so much love over the years, and you give him so much love, too! May you hold the best part of your life with him in your heart.

    You made the best decision you could, under the circumstances. It sounds like Chucky was suffering – perhaps something went awry in his little brain. It doesn’t sound like he was healthy at the end of his life, and I believe letting our beloved animals go when they aren’t healthy or happy is the best way to love them.

    You are grieving, and it seems like part of grief is always regret and guilt. You wish you could have Chucky back, because he was a source of love and comfort for you. I’m sorry you lost him. It’s heartbreaking, and I wish there was something I could say to ease the pain.

    Let Chucky go, and forgive yourself for putting him to sleep. You made the only decision you could, and he is now resting in peace. I hope you’re able to forgive yourself and grieve his death knowing that it was his time to go.


  46. I can’t stop crying from making the decision to put my cat Chucky to sleep-he’s been gone for two months and it seems like yesterday-I was leaving tennis when I was handed a note to call home-Important-my husband who has Parkinson’s stage 2-said he was practicing his speech lesson-which is very loud and the cat came and sat near him-he reached to pet him and the cat bit his hand-sending him to the ER- the cat bit his hand one month before for petting his paws-another trip to the ER infected red swollen-everything was ok that time-
    this time we had a very aggressive Doctor who wanted to admit him for anesthesia and drain the wound-my husband is 75 and doesn’t do well under anesthesia-also he didn’t have his medicine with him and started to shake uncontrollably-I never saw this before-I went home and got one dose of this meds and he calmed down-the Doctor started to scare us by saying your husband could lose his arm or even his life-needless to say-I was extremely upset-we were now in the ER for nearly 8 hours-the next day when we went upstairs to the room where he was practicing his speech -Chucky struck thre back of his pants violently-he really scared me-he was my cat-he loved me so -slept with me every night-when I was sick he stayed with me-always obeyed me-and gave me all his love-we also have his sister-he never liked her in the same room too long-but if we went out the were always together when we arrived home-anyway-I just can’t stop missing him-and now I realize he was only reacting to the scary noices-but now it’s too late-it’s hard forgiving myself for now thinking it through-

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