Tanya is the owner of two feisty ferrets and one cat. She has studied animal health and dedicated volunteer time in many shelters.
No one ever wants to see a beloved pet leave us. However, it is inevitable that the time will come for your fuzzy friend to pass. It can be an emotional and stressful time for both the pet parent and the pet.
1. It Is Okay to Be Sad
Some people may say, 'It is just a ferret' or 'you can get a new one. That is something that you will need to brush off, as hard as it may be. A ferret has the same close bond with its human(s) as a cat or dog and not everyone understands that. It is okay to feel sad and emotional. You are losing a loved member of your family.
Think about the good times you and your fuzzy friend have together—the silly things they got into or tried to steal. Think about all the mischief and all the laughs they gave you. If it helps you smile, look at old photos that you might have.
Cry if you need to. Talk to a friend. It is important, as with any death, not to bottle your feelings up. There are many online groups that offer support from others who had gone through the same thing and will be happy to help. There will be a list of these resources at the end of this article.
2. Natural Death or Euthanize?
How you decide to let your ferret go is a very personal decision. There is no right or wrong choice. It is important to take time to consider your ferret's situation.
Are they suffering? If they are experience pain, you may choose to have your friend euthanized. This will allow them to pass peacefully and comfortably. Take the ferret's quality of life into consideration.
Perhaps your ferret is just elderly and is showing signs of slowing down, perhaps coming to the end of their life. If your ferret is still happy, eating, and not having medical issues, there is nothing wrong with loving them love and allow them to live their lives and pass at home.
Never let anyone pressure you. This is a personal decision between you and your pet and it is a choice you get to make.
If you would like to know more about how small animals are euthanized, I recommend this article from Cornwell University College.
A great resource is this quality of life assessment from The Ohio State University. It will help you rate your ferret's life and have an idea of where their life sits on a scale.
3. Allow Yourself to Be Angry
It is common for people in any grieving process to feel angry. As you lash out, you may find yourself looking to put the blame on something or someone. Maybe the vet missed a diagnosis. Was it is the food I fed her? What about that time he fell off my shoulder?
Get out your anger in a safe way. Scream in a pillow. Write in a journal. Avoid taking it out on your friends and family around you. Ask for some time to yourself.
Once you are done, relax and bring your thoughts back and rethink. Is it rational to blame things that you have no proof of? Is it fair to blame yourself, your vet, or anyone else for something that may not have been preventable?
We wish our pets would live forever. Deep down we know that they all must cross over eventually. This is the time to reflect on how great that little creature was and all the funny things he did to make you smile.
4. Help Your Other Animals Cope
All animals within the household will sense the loss of the ferret. If you had other ferrets, you may notice them laying around more, as they will feel depressed. Lots of love and snuggles will help them get through it.
If you now have a single ferret, know that ferrets often make a close bond with their human and can live alone with no problems. However, they will require more of your attention for playing, cuddling and socialization.
You will probably see a temporary change from any cats and dogs in the home. Whether they were close friends or not, animals sense these changes. It will be common to see these pets display some signs of sadness as well.
Love of love. Some extra treats and helping them feel secure will allow you to help your pets feel better.
5. Getting a New Ferret
When you decide to get (or not) another ferret is something that will need to be discussed in your household. There is no time limit on adopting a new animal. If you feel you are ready right away, then you go find your newest friend!
If you are not ready, then you should wait. Don't just buy a new ferret because you think your other is lonely. If you are not ready, then it won't be fair to the new little guy.
Remember you don't want to replace your ferret that passed on, but simply give another ferret a home so that it has the chance to live that great life with you as well.
The most important thing about grieving the loss of a pet is that you do it at your own pace. Each person is different and whether it takes you a week, a month or a year, it is all a natural part of the process.
It may help you reach out to other ferret owners to talk to, as they will understand what you are feeling. Look for forums and Facebook groups of ferret lovers.
If you feel an overwhelming sense of depression, please don't be afraid to reach out to a doctor or therapist for help
- USA - National Suicide Prevention: 1-800-273-8255
- Canada - Suicide Prevention Service: 1- 833-456-4566
- United Kingdom - National Suicide Prevention Helpline: 0800 689 5652
- Australia - LifeLine: 13 11 14
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.