Anyone have guilt from death of a "foster" cat?

momof3b1g

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I'm going through guilt at not being able to take care of a stray cat. He and his litte female buddy cat showed up last week at our house. We assumed dropped. We live in a rural area. Well I cant keep them inside 24/7. So as long as the temperature was warm. They stayed outside. Well Sunday midnight i went to give them more food. They were gone. The little girl showed up. So I brought her in. I kept watching and calling for him. He never came back. Monday morning I looked all over calling for him. I saw a cat go across our yard and disappeared. I go take a shower. Dh comes in and says he's laying by the mailbox. 😭. Im just sick with guilt. I wish I had a place to take them in. I only had cat carriers and they can't stay in them for more then a few hours. We had set up with the rescue to take them yesterday. We had been feeding them all week. Got them through the cold weather that came last week. Gave them boxes to sleep in. If I only had taken them inside. I kept telling dh we need to get an outdoor enclosure or crate inside to keep them out of trouble. I hate how I cant go back and make it right. They were so sweet and friendly and well cared for.
I feel like I failed him. I should have protected him
 

StanAndAlf

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Unfortunately we can't save them all. You tried, and that is what matters.

I have felt something similar, though not the exact same. One of my fosters came about half way through her pregnancy. She was undernourished, incredibly skinny and she had bloody diarrhoea. She was 18 months old, this litter would be her third litter, and each litter, including this one, had seven kittens in it. Her previous litter (the second) were only 10 weeks old.

So I made the decision to abort the kittens. It broke my heart to see such precious little lives gone. She was incredibly sweet and just the best mother. But I know I made the right decision, for her and the kittens.

Shelters are overflowing. Foster carers are at their limits. I was lucky enough to find homes for seven kittens I was already fostering, and for her, let alone another seven. Those kittens weren't facing much of a future, and poor mumma cat really couldn't take raising another litter. She was skin and bone.

I completely get where you are coming from. I made the best decision I could at the time, and I did what I thought was right. So did you. You will have the chance to help others, and learn from mistakes. Don't be too hard on yourself.
 
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momof3b1g

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The problem is beat myself up over is i could have saved him. Just 2 more days and nights. :( I had a lady offer to take them over the weekend. But dh and I didn't feel right that should be do what was best for them. I hate feeling I left them in danger. People around here dont all like cats. I feel bad that he could have been harmed on purpose. They were so friendly but if they were a house pet. Why did they not have them fixed. And no chip. Just so many regrets. I took them in when it was so cold as I'd regret if something happened. Wish I had done it for other reasons. I beat myself up as I cant go back. I got no second chance. He can never come back. He was so sweet and friendly. He didn't deserve to die. Someone else let him down send so did I 😭
 

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I am very sorry that you went through this experience. In trying to help strays and ferals, it is unfortunate that this is encountered on a regular basis. Please don't blame yourself for this as you did not cause him to pass. You are connecting yourself to his passing and need to realize that you were helping him, not hurting him, and that sadly something intervened. In retrospect, everything takes on a new light, hindsight is 20/20, as they say, even if it was not clear before because no one is psychic and no one can tell the future. So we take the past incident and move it into a new reality with a new ending and then blame ourselves for not having acted on what we never really thought we should necessarily have done and it spirals from there.

I have only worked with strays and ferals and have lost cats to uncontrollable incidents. Right now there are 5 cats in my immediate area who are TNRed ferals, varying degrees of friendliness, but no place to go and not adoptable. I have to accept the fact that every morning they may not return despite efforts to provide them with shelter and food.

You are very "stuck" on the coincidence of how close you were to getting him to safety. That is a hard one but it also plays into your sad feelings. If the only option were for the cats to live outside, you would not feel as tied into this.

I lost one cat years ago who was just brought home from TNR and when he was released he ran right under a moving car which was no where in sight as he was being released. Lost the whole new life he might have lived and I felt miserable about it. You did not mention how he died exactly? Is that part of what is troubling along with the sadness of his loss?
 
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momof3b1g

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I am very sorry that you went through this experience. In trying to help strays and ferals, it is unfortunate that this is encountered on a regular basis. Please don't blame yourself for this as you did not cause him to pass. You are connecting yourself to his passing and need to realize that you were helping him, not hurting him, and that sadly something intervened. In retrospect, everything takes on a new light, hindsight is 20/20, as they say, even if it was not clear before because no one is psychic and no one can tell the future. So we take the past incident and move it into a new reality with a new ending and then blame ourselves for not having acted on what we never really thought we should necessarily have done and it spirals from there.

I have only worked with strays and ferals and have lost cats to uncontrollable incidents. Right now there are 5 cats in my immediate area who are TNRed ferals, varying degrees of friendliness, but no place to go and not adoptable. I have to accept the fact that every morning they may not return despite efforts to provide them with shelter and food.

You are very "stuck" on the coincidence of how close you were to getting him to safety. That is a hard one but it also plays into your sad feelings. If the only option were for the cats to live outside, you would not feel as tied into this.

I lost one cat years ago who was just brought home from TNR and when he was released he ran right under a moving car which was no where in sight as he was being released. Lost the whole new life he might have lived and I felt miserable about it. You did not mention how he died exactly? Is that part of what is troubling along with the sadness of his loss?
I assume hit by a car. He was laying on the side of the road by our mailbox. Just by our driveway.
 

fionasmom

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I have lost several ferals that way and it is never easy. He knew what you did for him and was grateful to you. Try to look at it from that perspective. It won't make you suddenly happy, but might ease the hard feelings you are having right now.
 
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momof3b1g

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Ugh I just can't shake the guilt. He was so sweet and innocent. Every car that goes by my house makes me wonder who hit him. Was it a car or a kid on an atv. My stomach gets sick. I cant change what happened and that makes me hate it more. If only I.... if only this or that. I don't know his story where he came from. They were so nice and could have easily been rehomed if someone didn't want them. ;(
 

fionasmom

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This will take time to work through. Years ago at my other house there was a cat much like yours who could have been adopted given a little more time. One night, early, I heard a honk and few minutes later saw her body in the street with her companion cat standing over her. A guy on the street had seen her, honked, and when she did not move quickly enough just hit her. I immediately brought in her friend and he became one of my heart cats. It eased things a little for me that I was able to take care of him.
 
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momof3b1g

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This will take time to work through. Years ago at my other house there was a cat much like yours who could have been adopted given a little more time. One night, early, I heard a honk and few minutes later saw her body in the street with her companion cat standing over her. A guy on the street had seen her, honked, and when she did not move quickly enough just hit her. I immediately brought in her friend and he became one of my heart cats. It eased things a little for me that I was able to take care of him.
I'm glad had i not brought in the little one. Both would have been killed. But also wonder if he didn't come back to my door front because she was gone
 

fionasmom

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It could be that he understood that she had passed or that he was frightened and hid.
 
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momof3b1g

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Yea he didn't come when I called them at midnight only she did. I saw a cat go across my yard at 7:30am and then he was gone. Never came for breakfast. He was dead by 9:30
 
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momof3b1g

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Do you think he didn't want to be in the carrier? The 2 previous morning were cold like 30 degrees. So I took them in for about 5 hours. The 3rd morning he didn't come home. He went into the carrier fine and didn't cry. They kept wanting in the house. I'm sick I wasn't able to take them in until Wednesday. I mad at who let them outside. Not fixed them. I just don't get it. I hate I can't fix it. I can only move fwd but it won't bring the little guy back. Im sick thinking he was harmed on purpose. I knew better then to leave them outside. I dont like cats outside. But I was afraid if I put them inside my cats would get sick or they would get into the medicine cabinet or something.
 

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The fact that they could have transmitted something to your cats is not an unrealistic concern. I don't ever bring anyone in the house without going to the vet first. I isolate them outside on my back patio area in a very large dog crate or, if they have to come inside, in a bathroom. Even that that, with all the cautions and vet care, I did have one massive outbreak of a UTI. If your cats had gotten sick from the newcomers you would have felt terrible about that.
 
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momof3b1g

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The fact that they could have transmitted something to your cats is not an unrealistic concern. I don't ever bring anyone in the house without going to the vet first. I isolate them outside on my back patio area in a very large dog crate or, if they have to come inside, in a bathroom. Even that that, with all the cautions and vet care, I did have one massive outbreak of a UTI. If your cats had gotten sick from the newcomers you would have felt terrible about that.
Yes that's why I dont usually bring them in. Damned if ya do. Damned if you don't. I told dh we needed to have something outside to keep them safe :(
 

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I've been through a very similar thing - - and it's tough. Like everyone's noted - don't beat yourself up. You absolutely did nothing wrong - and you absolutely likely saved the other kitty's life.

My incident occurred over a year and a half ago. The short version - several of the neighborhood feral colony that we've TNR'd have decided our place is where they decided to call home (as my hubby says "could be the heated cat shelters in the garage, or the heated water bowls, or the canned food, treats, and love they get" - - I personally think it's just that my hubby and I have charming personalities. :) ). The 5 we'd cared for for 5 years became 4 when one had a heart attack - - broke my heart, but at least she went quickly. The other 4 I've worked with every day now for the 5 years. And as soon as the 4th one - "Brady" - did a sudden turnaround (after only 4 ½ years of working with him every day!) and started letting us pet, brush, etc. we decided as soon as a few things we needed to do were done, that we'd try bringing them all in.

Then days later, 10 minutes after the guys ate their breakfast, a neighbor and said that "one of your greys has been hit - not killed - but the driver never stopped." Poor Brady - the kitty who was terrified of us for years (but in LOVE with his best buddy Crosby) - he'd suddenly come to really love us. Who knows why it took so long or happened when it did. But we did get a good month of real loving on him in before he was gone. And the sweet boy knew where his home and those who loved him were - so much so that he drug himself across a street, up a huge hill, across a yard, finally collapsing about 10 feet from our home/garage. Brady was trying to get home - to get to us, and to get to his best buddy Crosby. I'll spare the details, but even my husband and neighbor sobbed getting him into the carrier. The vet told us what I already knew - his spine was crushed - - even the vet said he must have really wanted to get home because that took so much determiniation to pull himself that far while that injured. As she said - she's sure he wanted the comfort of us and the comfort of home. Even as he was being put to sleep he rubbed his head on my hand, purring softly.

My hubby and I were both inconsolable for days. Even Crosby was lost for awhile. I kept sobbing and saying "but if we'd brought them in when we first talked about it, he'd be alive - - - it's all our fault!!!!" But hubby kept reminding me - we'd made his quality of life SO much better for quite some time. And he knew that. It sounds like your little one knew that too - - he obviously looked to you for comfort. You made sure he had a full tummy, and a place to go. You saved both - - one perhaps not forever - but the other one sounds like it'll benefit from the situation, which, I know is a small consolation. I still cry periodically over Brady. I don't know that I'll ever "be over him" - - - but a bit more of the guilt fades as time passes. Know that you did what you could. If he didn't want in the carrier - - likely you wouldn't have gotten him in it. You definitely tried. Please remember that. You made his time on earth while he was around you much better. SO many feral/stray kitties don't have the benefit of someone caring like you. You did your best....and that's alot more then most people do.

(attached is a pic of Brady - who was well-loved, as was your kitty - we do what we can, but I believe, as hard as it is, it's our grief that reminds us that they DO need help when we can!)


BRADY_spring 2017.jpg
 
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momof3b1g

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Thank you. I dont know if i will ever think I did my best. When best wasnt good enough. I told dh they were not safe outside. We joked years ago about buying an old RV or camper to keep them in until we can get them to the rescue. I feel like I'm being punished for not letting the lady take them over the weekend and boom Monday morning he's gone. The little girl stuck close the the house. But the boy was off didnt see him come up to the door even though he hadnt eaten since the night before. They were safe all week. Just 2 days before and he wasn't. We have out buildings but full of dh junk. I have so much sadness and anger. From dh to who ever harmed him. I dont know if he died immediately but it was a holiday I couldn't have taken him to the vet if he hadn't. I have a cat trap and should have put it in the yard. Maybe he would have gone in and not gone so far from home.
 

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I completely and totally understand how you feel. I do have to say I did smile a little about getting an RV— for the 5+ years we talked about wishing we could somehow afford to get an RV to keep our “driveway gang” safe since they all LOVE(d) getting in our cars if a door was left upon for even a minute — I thought I was the only person nutty enough to talk about that! (My hubby laughed about it - I was dead serious - if we had money I swear I’d have done it!!!)

I know the heart-breaking feeling of having an endless loop in your head of “why didn’t I…”. (I think lots of us here do). I play it over and over in my mind, thinking “if only I’d have sat with them while they ate since they had come to love scratches but instead something (I can’t remember what) else inside was more important…..or if I’d let hubby feed them bc he always fed earlier & that truck wouldn’t have been there at the same time…or if I’d pushed trying to get them inside even one day…even one hour earlier, esp since we’d toyed w/it for weeks….or encouraged Brady to play more with Crosby that morning…”

And I really do wish I could say (altho everyone is different with different grieving processes) it’ll feel better by Friday. But we both know if I did I’d be lying. ☹ I have fibromyalgia & losing Brady put me into a dark place of sorrow, pain - physical & emotional- that I was in bed for weeks. Couldn’t work. Angry with my husband (luckily he knew I wasn’t really mad at him - I was mad at it myself).

And I still cry periodically…..as does my husband. Crosby still periodically goes to the spot under a tree they often shared & just lays there, refusing to play or eat treats. I know it’s him taking his time to mourn his best buddy.

What helps me most is (after the worst, deep-down grief has lessened - and it will) channeling my grief into something in Brady’s honor. We hadn’t fostered in some time, but we eventually found our way back to it. Anything that can help you think “losing him was awful, but we’ll pass the time we would have spent working on him doing something positive for another kitty. Or kitties.

It’s unbelievably hard. But you’ve done much that’s right. And that’s good that wouldn’t have been out there without you. I do hope you keep us posted on how things go with the little girl buddy. You certainly have lots of people on this site (myself include) who will lend you a shoulder!
 
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