Friday, June 14, 2013

Coping When Your Pet Is Sick

By Julia Williams

I was originally going to title this post, How the Internet Makes Being a Pet Parent Better. I changed my mind when I realized that it wasn’t really “the internet” that I meant, but the people a pet owner can meet there through various online avenues. For me, those avenues are primarily a pet blog and Facebook. There are many others that one might choose as their favorite “virtual water cooler,” but in the end it’s the interactions we have with other pet owners and the friendships we form that matter more than where we choose to gather.

Some people, including me, have a hard time remembering what life was like B.I., or Before Internet. My virtual water cooler visits are an integral part of my day. It’s how I stay connected to others while enjoying the solitude and freedom of a work-from-home career. Yet it’s become so much more than that to me, and I only realized just how much more when my beloved cat, Annabelle, recently fell gravely ill.

I was cycling through all of the “downer” emotions that besiege us when our fur kids are sick: anxiety, fear, sadness, dread, helplessness. Mostly, I was just very worried about Annabelle and terrified that I would lose her. I do have people in my “real life” who understand the turmoil that having a sick pet creates, but only a precious few. I really needed an army, because I was trying to be strong, for Annabelle…and I was failing miserably.

I found my army on Facebook, where my friends’ list includes many good-hearted souls who love their pet as deeply as I do. I also participate in a Facebook group that’s comprised of crazy-about-cats people like me. One thing I especially love about Facebook is that no matter what you might need from others – support, opinions, answers to questions, knowledge that only comes from personal experience – you can post a status and get what you need immediately. It’s like a real-time lifeline, a metaphorical tow rope thrown to a drowning man.

My pet-loving friends on Facebook understood my pain like few can, because most had been there before
with their own sick pet at some point. They were there to lift me up when I fell down; they gave me the strength I needed to keep going in the face of uncertainty and chaos; they offered unwavering support and encouragement for me, and for Annabelle; they purred, prayed and sent pawsitive thoughts and healing energy to us both.

And when the stress and strain of my gravely ill kitty caused me to spiral downward toward despair, a gentle scolding brought me straight out of my “pity party of one” and back to life, back to diligently trying to focus on positivity, hope and faith. One cannot and should not ever underestimate the importance of those three things when your pet is sick. We simply can’t let go of the thought that all will be well, even when it looks like it might not be. It can mean the difference between surviving…or not.

My sweet, loving kitty is a lot better now, and I pray she will make a full recovery and have a long and happy life. At this point, all I can do is take it day by day. Today, I am thankful she is here. Each day I have with Annabelle is a gift, and I'll never take that gift lightly.

I feel fortunate to have so many wonderful pet loving friends and acquaintances who helped me cope during one of the most heart wrenching times of my life. Yet I also know that if the unthinkable happens, if I lose my Annabelle much too soon, my army will be there to help me fight and recover from my devastating loss. It feels good to know that I’m not alone; I will not ever be alone, because an army of passionate pet lovers has my back. That, my friends, is how the internet makes being a pet parent better. 

Read more articles by Julia Williams


  1. I am glad your Annabelle is back on the mend and we hope she makes a full recovery. It's true, the blogging community here would no doubt pick me up if something happened to my guys.

  2. OH Annabelle! I am so so glad you're better!! Your doppelganger, Barney.

    OH Julia! I am so so glad you found comfort and aid on FB. I must remember that resource. I can tell you this -- even "just" the readership on my blog came to my rescue lately with Bugs's hot-spots. I simply cannot imagine going through that ordeal without the Net support and collective knowledge. It's an awesome thing. I'm planning on writing a post about this as soon as I can find a moment.

    In the meantime -- headbutts to you & Barney wants to wrestle (ahem) with Annabelle. Let us know when you think she's up for that. Mayhem.

  3. I'm so glad Annabelle is feeling better. It is amazing how much these online connections enrich our lives in so many different ways, isn't it?

  4. Beautifully written, Julia. We, too, are thankful for such a wonderful online community of pet-loving friends. What a blessing -- in good and bad times alike. It makes our hearts sing to know that Belle is doing so much better. We are purring and praying for a complete recovery, and sending much love and big hugs to you both.

  5. So glad to hear that Annabelle is doing better, when I went through the same with Bobo I didn't have the support of an online community, I never even knew that it existed in 2007

  6. We totally agree! The pet lover world is an amazing place and we have so many friends we consider as family too. I am happy that dear Annabelle is doing better

  7. I m so grateful that your darling little girl is better. MY blogging friends and Twitter friends upheld me when Admiral was so very sick and when she passed away. I don't know what I would do without those pet loving understanding friends.

  8. I am fortunate that I have a strong "in person" base of pet lovers that understand, but I feel I can only burden them so much with my cat's situation. So it is really nice to have an online support group too.

    I am happy to hear your kitty is on the mend. I hope she continues to get better. I am in the process of trying to figure out what is up with mine. While she does not appear gravely ill she is not the cat she used to be!

    This is a wonderful post. Thank you for reminding me of the "army" and being part of it!

  9. Love "virtual water cooler" You are so right Julia. The pet blogging (and facebooking and twittering lol) world is terrific for support and advice when horrible things happen to our beloved furries. I am so glad Annabelle is better and hope she will be around for a good long time yet! xx

  10. We're gonna keep purring for Miss Annabelle, and we're so happy to hear she's doing better. When we lost our Inigo I don't know what we would have done without all of the kindness on FB and Twitter and our blog. It's so nice to know that people understand.

  11. Julia - I feel a strong connection with you at the moment, as I have been having my own emotional issues with my senior cat, Jazz. I was literally living in fear and would break down in mental exhaustion every time I looked at him, fearing he was slipping away from me. I went to BlogPaws and surrounded myself with the positive energy that I needed from my animal loving friends who understood my pain. I came home a stronger person and Jazz is all the better for it. I have diligently nursed him as best I can and he is doing so much better. I take each and every day with him as a gift and it truly is wonderful to know how many people genuinely care. I am so glad Belle is doing better and my thoughts and prayers will stay with you.

  12. I'm so happy to hear Annabelle is better and send continued healing purrrrs. We're lucky to be part of a community that truly cares.

  13. More healing purrz for Annabelle. We have a special community and special group that others may not understand. Take the teen who friended a bunch of cats on Twitter and spent all day knocking people who post as their cats. She'll never understand.


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