mental health affects one third of pets

Two thirds of people feel uncomfortable asking for time off after a pet dies

A survey has revealed that nearly two thirds of people felt uncomfortable asking their boss for time off when their pet died.

In line wth Grief Awareness Day, a survey of 1000 workers carried out for Cats Protection found that 73% of pet owners fell it can be as difficult and upsetting grieving for a pet as it is grieving for the loss of a person.

It also revealed that 58% of respondents felt uncomfortable/afraid to ask their boss to take time off work and 55% hid their grief out of fear of being ridiculed.

To coincide with Grief Awareness Day, Cats Protection is highlighting its grief support service, Paws to Listen, to encourage more people affected by the loss of their cat to use the free and confidential support line.

Cats Protection launched Paws to Listen in 2016 to help support those whose cat is missing, had to be rehomed, nearing the end of their life, or they have recently passed away.

A 2016 survey showed that 75% of cat owners believed that the public underestimated the effect the death of a cat has on its owner.

Businesswoman Deborah Meaden, who has two cats called Storm and Blade is lending her support to the service and understands the intense grief that comes from losing a pet.

She said: “I know how hard it is when a pet dies. The loss you feel can be deeply traumatic and I have found it difficult to function for a couple of days afterwards because I’ve been so upset. I think Paws to Listen is a much-needed service for people who want to talk to someone about how they feel.”

Deborah is also urging businesses to take pet bereavement more seriously. She added: “I don’t think firms fully appreciate how devastated someone can feel after they’ve lost their pet. I would like to see companies begin to recognise that for many, their grief can be just as strong as it is losing a relative or friend. I hope businesses start allowing their workforce to deal with the emotional impact that it can have, rather than dismissing it as ‘just a pet’ and to highlight services like Paws to Listen as a way of supporting their staff during a difficult time.”

The Paws to Listen service is manned by trained volunteers, who can offer emotional and practical help in coping with the loss of a cat and also has a range of resources and information to help, including how to help children deal with the death if a much-loved pet.

As well as the support line, Cats Protection also offers a memory wall on its website, where owners can pay tribute to their pets and a page where people can offer support to other upset cat owners.

The Paws to Listen service is available Monday to Friday, between 9am-5pm and anyone wishing to use the service can call 0800 024 9494. To find out more you can visit www.cats.org.uk/grief