Cats Protection’s ‘Never Furgotten’ campaign runs for most of July and advises people to contact Paws to Listen, a free-to-use service run by trained volunteers five days a week who can support pet owners over the phone or over email.
There is also an online memory wall where owners can post a tribute to their deceased cat and a webpage where people can give an optional donation to help one of the many thousands of unwanted cats in the charity’s care.
Around 7.2 million UK households own at least one cat and half of those said they got their cat to relieve stress or loneliness. Hence there is an understandable gap when that feline friend is no longer there.
“We hear from many troubled cat lovers who are having to process difficult emotions after the loss of their pet,” said Catherine Joyce, Team Leader of the Paws to Listen service.
“Some people said they felt confused, angry or guilty about their cat’s passing. Others felt they were being a burden to their friends by talking about it or that they should have ‘got over it’ because they lost a pet rather than a family member or friend.
“In fact, grief is a very personal process and everyone experiences it differently. The emotions are completely normal and finding a sympathetic ear can help immensely with coming to terms with loss. Please don’t feel reticent about picking up the phone.”
Cats Protection employee, Gail Allen, 32, from Southampton, contacted Paws to Listen after she lost her pet cat Buttons in tragic circumstances last year.
“Buttons was my loyal companion for almost ten years,” said Gail. “He helped me through some tough times including a relationship break-up and a hunt for a new place to live.
“One evening at home, he just collapsed and passed away. It was a total shock as he hadn’t had any serious health issues in the past except for a slight limp. I took him the vet immediately, and they said it was most likely to have been a blood clot that had come out of nowhere.
“I was very grief-stricken. I convinced myself that it was my fault and that I should have done more for Buttons earlier.
“I contacted the Paws to Listen service and it was so helpful to talk to someone who understood what I was going through. It helped to relieve me of my feelings of guilt and helps me to cope better with loss in general.”
Paws to Listen’s number is 0800 024 94 94. The lines are open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, excluding Bank Holidays and if lines are busy, then a call-back service is available. Alternatively, please email the service on email@example.com
Cats Protection is a national network of around 210 volunteer-run branches and 37 centres, helping around 200,000 cats and kittens every year.