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Your family pet has cancer. Your kids are 4 and almost 2. What do you tell them when its "time"?

Normally I believe in total (yet age appropriate) honesty with kids. However, the kids grammy isn't doing to well either right now. I am leaning towards the cat "running away" when its time to put him down. I'm afraid if I tell them we are putting the cat the sleep because he's old and sick, might make them freak out when I take Grammy to the dr. :( What do you tell small kids when you have to put a pet down?

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karamille

Asked by karamille at 11:54 AM on Nov. 17, 2010 in Pets

Level 20 (9,112 Credits)
Answers (15)
  • My MIL told my husband his bunny ran away when really a dog got to it and killed it. Later in life she was drunk and told him the truth and he still holds it against her.
    Just tell them the truth, say something like everything grows old and dies, the cat is going to a better place where it will no longer be suffering. Something along those lines, you can tell them the truth in this situation but keeping it toned down for it to be age appropriate.
    Gnomeofmyheart

    Answer by Gnomeofmyheart at 11:57 AM on Nov. 17, 2010

  • I would be honest with them if it were my kids... Tell them she is very sick and the best thing for her is to be put down. Let them say their good byes & let them understand this is the best thing for her...
    SabrinaMBowen

    Answer by SabrinaMBowen at 11:59 AM on Nov. 17, 2010

  • My daughter is almost 5 and she's very smart! Her Grandma died, and she even went to the viewing. All the kids in the big fam did. She had previous experiences with pets dying, and we were able to have the discussion. It's part of life We all do it when we get really old. Insert spiritual bleifs here_________________________. She still got sad but she does okay with the concept of death.

    As for the cat. If you euthanize her, don't tell the kids you did so. But do tell them she got old, sick, and passed away. It may be a chance at a healthy introduction to a hard part of life.
    Musicmom80

    Answer by Musicmom80 at 12:03 PM on Nov. 17, 2010

  • When our 8 yr old cat unexpectedly died, he had a massive asthma attack, we told our 3yr old for the night that he was at the vet still because he knew I was rushing him there because he was very sick. The only reason we lied for the night was because I was 12w2d pregnant and bleeding, the cat died, then dh got a concussion and spent a good portion of the night in the ER, so we were spent emotionally already and it was nearly 1 am by the time we left the ER.

    The next day we explained that Monkey (the kitty) was very sick and that we tried to help him but he died and went to heaven. He cried, but I think that was mostly because I was sobbing and dh was obviously upset. He had the cat from the time he was 8 weeks old. Thinking about it now makes me want to cry actually.

    I think the best you can do is just tell the truth that sometimes when our animals are very sick the best thing we can do is let them go.
    kfroz0415

    Answer by kfroz0415 at 12:04 PM on Nov. 17, 2010

  • I believe in telling children the facts on life and educating them in an age appropriate manner. Everything lives and every living thing eventually has an end. Teach them why it is important to value the life your pets have because this is the cycle of life and everything has its time. And let them know animals just do not have as much time on earth as humans so we make their time happy and fun and be sure they know they are appreciated and loved. That is what I tell my kids. I am sorry for your cat and grammy too.
    spottedpony

    Answer by spottedpony at 12:07 PM on Nov. 17, 2010

  • If the cat dies on it own, we will definitely tell them he died. Its the putting him to sleep part that is the part we are debating how to handle.
    karamille

    Comment by karamille (original poster) at 12:09 PM on Nov. 17, 2010

  • My dog has cancer and I told my daughter that Mocha is sick, and she's old, and she will pass away like her great grandfather did. We had the death talk when her hermit crab passed away (my daughter was 4 at the time). I know it's not an easy thing to explain to kids but you're going to end up doing it eventually.
    Nanixh

    Answer by Nanixh at 12:12 PM on Nov. 17, 2010

  • Just the basic's are needed at such a young age. You could say he is sick and need's to see God and go to heaven . Or just listen to there questions and be very basic with your answers.
    Stevensmom707

    Answer by Stevensmom707 at 12:17 PM on Nov. 17, 2010

  • Be honest. Its always the best policy.
    hmhmom

    Answer by hmhmom at 12:28 PM on Nov. 17, 2010

  • I started losing my pets when my daughter was 5 months old, so she has been through this 8 times so far. Kylie is now 8 years old. Out of the 8 pets, 5 of them had cancer, one passed the day she turned 5 months, so of course she does not Remember. One died suddenly at home with no known illness had been perfectly healthy. One was Diabetic and not doing well. The other had hyperthyroidism and was in end stages of kidney failure. Kylie was 2 years old when the first two that she can remember died(mother and son 4 1/2 months apart). I was honest with her that they had a disease called cancer that made them very sick and that they went to heaven. I did not go into a lot of detail but she did well with that explanation. I also did not say that the animal was put to sleep. If your cat has cancer please don't let him/her die at home. Cancer is painful if you don't put the cat to sleep when it is time the cat will suffer.
    KyliesMom5

    Answer by KyliesMom5 at 12:45 PM on Nov. 17, 2010

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