One of the reasons I created this group is because "Rainbow Bridge" pap leaves me in sugar overload, and every cat discussion board I've ever visited is saturated with it.

I fully understand loss and bereavement when a beloved cat companion dies, which is why I would never, ever rain on some Rainbow Bridge believing person's parade when their friend has died. However, if there were a Rainbow Bridge, I find it hard to believe that only animal companions who were well-loved by some smelly upright ape would be there, or that all the cats waiting there for me would magically get along, and all 50 or so (however many I end up having lived with before I die) would enjoy being one of 50.

Then, there's the whole issue of people calling me my cats' "mother". I don't remember pushing any kittens through my vagina. If I'd wanted offspring, I would have born children. I get to be a doting auntie to my nephews, which is what I always wanted to be. That, and a couple of cats have chosen to live with me. I think of them as companions rather than children.

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I have to chime in on this thread. I deal with pets dying regularly in my profession, indeed I have sent many many of them on their way. It's a sad part of the job, and it's something of a learned art to deal with the grieving pet owners. I have to say that I rarely see a person really act as if it is their child passing away, although there have been a few that came awfully close. Anyone who has ever lost a real child would know that losing even a much loved and irreplaceable pet pales in comparison. I love my cats, and especially miss one (Little Bear, AKA Bear-Bear) that I lost a few years back unexpectedly, but I have a daughter, and I often try to imagine how devastating it would be to lose her. No, I would rather lose anything else in the world, even my own life, rather than face the emotional reaction of losing my child. Only people who have no children could fail to understand that particular dread.

I do usually refer to my clients as the parents in some fashion, usually in a phrase such as "just look at Daddy while I give you this shot", or "don't worry, Mama's not going anywhere". These little murmurings are to soothe both pet and client, and as far as the pet is concerned, I could be speaking gibberish as long as I use a soothing voice and tone. Most people understand it's a little game, and play along willingly, even big, bad, tattooed biker dudes that bring in a big, intact male pit bull (or occasionally little toy poodles). Cat people more than anyone love to play this game, but I have never ever heard anyone say "mommy's wittle fwuffikins". Maybe they do this in the privacy of home.

Oh, and the Rainbow Bridge thing. Yeah, it's totally ridiculous, but people love it. I hope I don't offend people, but I confess that I often include a little copy of the poem with sympathy cards. Maybe by now everyone in the world has seen it before, but countless people have thanked me for the sentiment. I think folks understand the intent, and appreciate the harmless fantasy. I wonder if anyone really takes it seriously?

Reminds me of Lev Vygotsky's socialization meme. Despite the Sapir/Whorf hypotheses or maybe because of 'em, we are born into societies where imaginary friends get called plenty. It's hard not to let fly a "goddammit!" or "Jesus Christ!" in moments of anger or surprise. I usually end up at some point with "For flyin' Frank's sake," but it's taken me some time to train the old dog that trick.


All the cats I've buried or seen die are still stuck in memory, and because of the society in which I was raised -- with all its memes -- I still mourn their losses as if they had gone from one world into the next, even though I know that the cats I mourn ceased to be cats when the last gasp of air departed their lungs. At which point I have to actively disengage myself from that association and face the stark reality of what death really means.


The bridge people (rainbow or $cientologists or Vikings or nerds) have their own socially-derived delusions  to contend with. Doesn't mean I don't have to point that out sometimes, especially with non-human deaths. Humans can get a bit testy if I face 'em off with that truth. Most of the time I just let 'em be and shake my little primate haid. (He said as he prepared to go off to a visitation for a former co-worker who died way the hell too young, dammit.)

I will have to look up Lev Vygotsky's socialization meme, as well as the Sapir/Worf hypothesis.  Thanks!

Something worth sharing:

"Another cat? Perhaps.
For love there is also a season; its seeds must be resown.
But a family cat is not replaceable like a worn out coat or a set of tires.
Each new kitten becomes its own cat, and none is repeated.
I am four cats old, measuring out my life in friends that have succeeded but not replaced one another."

-Irving Townsend


(found at


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