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Christmas thoughts

With the recent generous helping of snow, there’s no mistaking it’s nearly Christmas!  Here are our Christmas thoughts to get you through the festive season…

Most of us are lucky enough to associate the festive season with feelings of joy and happiness; the scent of orange and clove candles, decorating the Christmas tree whilst sipping mulled wine with loved ones, with our biggest worry being how to fit everyone around the dining room table! For some people however, thoughts of Christmas couldn’t be further from this comforting and joyful scene. Instead, it can be a lonely and sad time of year, especially if they have lost a loved one. This might be their first Christmas without their family member, friend, or fur- baby, which can be difficult to manage when everyone around is celebrating.

Seeking help

Coping with the pain and grief of loss can be overwhelming. Sometimes it helps to share your feelings with those who have experienced loss too. Whilst some of us will share our grief with friends and family, others may wish to seek support elsewhere. There are many support networks available:

  • Cats Protection offers ‘Paws to Listen’ a free grief support service here.
  • The Blue Cross offers a pet bereavement service, providing free, confidential support to anyone affected by losing a pet. They are open every day of the year including Christmas day. So, no one need ever be alone coping with loss. Click here.
  • Samaritans provide confidential non- judgmental support 24 hours a day for people who are experiencing feelings of distress here.

 

Each of these charities have trained bereavement volunteers who will lend an understanding ear to help to support people through their grieving process. Just to be able to tell someone exactly how you feel can be such a relief and bring great comfort. For some, losing a pet can be as traumatic as losing a human loved one.

If you are struggling to cope with grief, you may find it comforting to read our October blog, which also contains further links to support networks.

The cost of loving crisis

It is not always through the pet’s passing that an owner experiences loss. People are facing financial hardship like never before, and some are even having to make the heart-breaking decision to give up their pet as they feel they can no longer afford to feed them. Blue Cross recognises this and has a campaign running to help owners, so that no pet should have to go hungry. Moreover, no one should have to choose between feeding themselves or feeding their pets. If you’re struggling to afford food for your pet, Blue Cross is happy to welcome you to their pet food banks, without judgement. For more information on how you can access this service or help to support it, click here.

Could you offer a foster home this Christmas?

When a fur-baby has passed away it might be some time before you feel you are able to take on the long-term responsibility of another pet. But perhaps you are looking for a way to fill the void they have left behind?

One option might be to become a foster pet-parent. Cats Protection is currently facing its most challenging period with the demand for spaces in the shelter far exceeding supply.  The charity is appealing for cat lovers to open their homes and hearts to provide a temporary, warm, and safe haven for a cat until it can be found a permanent home. More info can be found at here.

Who knows, it might not just be the snow that melts. You may find you are ready to open your heart and fall in love all over again!

Don’t leave them out in the cold

If fostering is not something you are able to do, there are other ways you can channel your love for animals. Many feral cats, or even cats who are put out when their owners go to work, can find it hard to find shelter in the winter months. Why not embark on a project to build a weather-proof shelter at the end of your garden? Even an upturned plastic storage box will make a welcome dry hidey-hole – just ensure it is stable, so it doesn’t fall over and trap the animal inside.

Whatever the type of shelter, use hay or straw to make it warm and comfortable inside. Both are naturally warm and dry quickly if they get damp.  Blankets or pillows hold moisture and will freeze if they get wet. Your efforts won’t go unnoticed. Maybe you’ll even make a new four-legged friend!

A pet amongst friends

Pets play a huge part in providing greatly needed companionship and a reason to stay positive and carry on. Our pooches – young and old – are there for us, encouraging us to go out for walks, get some exercise, and lift our spirits! If you know of a friend whose pet has passed away, why not share your pet? Invite them to go on walks with you. Or, if you are the person whose fur baby is no longer with you, then why not offer to fur-baby sit one evening!

Cherish our loved ones

If you are fortunate enough to share Christmas with loved ones, why not surprise another pet-parent with some delicious festive pet-friendly biscuits? Get busy in the kitchen and turn your hand to baking yummy treats especially created for dogs and cats.

Check out this link for some great recipes using staple ingredients found in most cupboards. These can be made a few days in advance and kept in an airtight tin ready for the big day or wrapped up as gifts for four-legged friends. Remember to attach a label listing the ingredients to avoid allergy issues!

Sharing is not always caring

Sharing Christmas festive food is fun but not with your pets. Many festive foods are poisonous to pets. Mince pies and chocolate in particular can all be fatal in some cases, so keep them out of reach of inquisitive noses and paws.

For more information on the most common festive foods that are toxic and dangerous to pets, click here.

If you are worried your pet may have eaten something they shouldn’t have, don’t delay! Call your vet for guidance.

Other Christmas hazards

Festive food isn’t the only hazard to consider around Christmas time. Other things you have in your home can be dangerous too. Some festive plants and flowers can be toxic to pets, including poinsettias, holly, ivy, mistletoe, and lilies, so avoid buying these if you have pets.

For more advice, click here.

Final thoughts

Whatever your plans over the festive period, take time to look after yourself, relax and have the best Christmas possible. And remember, help is only a phone call away.

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