One of our beloved family cats is extremely ill -- has been at the local emergency vet clinic for the last two days. They're not sure exactly what's wrong with him, but it's looking likely that he may not recover. If he continues to be in a lot of pain, we may decide to euthanize.
I'm trying to think through how to explain this to our 2 1/2 year old. This is a cat she spent a lot of time with and knew well. So far we've told her that he is very, very sick, and that his whole body hurts. She has seen me crying, and I've told her I'm sad because the cat is so sick, and that I really hope he will be able to get better.
I'm thinking that if euthanasia is the route we end up with, I probably won't even tell her that at this point. It feels like death is hard enough to understand when you're 2, let alone euthanasia. (Though I'm open to other opinions on this.)
So I'm thinking that what we'll need to explain is that our cat died. My concern is that if we say he got too sick and he couldn't get better, that she will find it very scary if she gets sick -- I don't want her to think that if she or one of her parents get a bad cold or flu, that we're going to die. She is already (long before this happened) very interested in sickness, and spends a lot of time pretending that her dolls and stuffed animals are sick.
We don't have strong religious beliefs that would lead us to tell her that the cat is going to be with God, etc.
Any advice on how to explain our cat's death without making the idea of "very sick" unnecessarily scary?
Also, so far she hasn't seen the cat since he's been ill. It was nighttime and she was asleep when I took him to the emergency vet, and I visited yesterday without her. We haven't decided whether to take her if one of us goes to visit him today. He is in a cage, pretty out of it, hooked up to an IV infusion pump. Should we take her to see him so he doesn't just "vanish"?
So far, she hasn't expressed any interest in seeing him, and honestly doesn't seem to care too much that he's sick and not at home.