Dragon's Den star lends support to grief support service

Survey reveals nearly two thirds of people felt uncomfortable asking their boss for time off when their pet died

When it comes to losing a pet, owners find it difficult to discuss their loss with fellow workers or their boss.

A survey of 1000 workers, carried out for Cats Protection, found that:

  • 73% of pet owners feel it can be as difficult and upsetting grieving for a pet as it is grieving for the loss of a person.

  • 58% felt uncomfortable/afraid to ask their boss to take time off work

  • 55% hid their grief out of fear of being ridiculed

  • 60% believe people should be given time off work following the death of a pet

Cats Protection is highlighting its grief support service, Paws to Listen, to encourage more people affected by the loss of their cat to use the free and confidential support line.

Businesswoman Deborah Meaden is lending her support to the Paws to Listen service. Known to millions as an investor on Dragons’ Den and now a hugely successful serial investor in a wide range of companies, Deborah has two cats called Storm and Blade and understands the intense grief that comes from losing a pet. She said: “I know how hard it is when a pet dies. The loss you feel can be deeply traumatic and I have found it difficult to function for a couple of days afterwards because I’ve been so upset. I think Paws to Listen is a much needed service for people who want to talk to someone about how they feel.”

Deborah is also urging businesses to take pet bereavement more seriously. She said: “I don’t think firms fully appreciate how devastated someone can feel after they’ve lost their pet. I would like to see companies begin to recognise that for many, their grief can be just as strong as it is losing a relative or friend. I hope businesses start allowing their workforce time to deal with the emotional impact that it can have, rather than dismissing it as ‘just a pet’ and to highlight services like Paws to Listen as a way of supporting their staff during a difficult time.”

We must become better at listening and empathising more, especially as we are known as a country that loves animals.”

Cats Protection launched Paws to Listen in 2016 to help support those whose cat is missing, had to be rehomed, nearing the end of their life or they have recently passed away. A 2016 survey showed that 75 per cent of cat owners believed that the public underestimated the effect the death of a cat has on its owner.

As well as the support line and information guides, Cats Protection also offers a memory wall on its website, where owners can pay tribute to their pets, and a page where people can offer support to other upset cat owners.

The service is available between 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday, except bank holidays and it is hoped that the service will be expanded further in the future. Anyone wishing to use the service can call 0800 024 9494 or to find out more, please visit www.cats.org.uk/grief

Cats Protection is the UK’s leading feline welfare charity and helps around 200,000 cats each year through a national network of over 250 volunteer-run branches and 36 centres.

Cats Protection’s vision is a world where every cat is treated with kindness and an understanding of its needs.

Cats Protection’s registered charity number is 203644 (England and Wales) and SC037711 (Scotland). Founded as the Cats Protection League in 1927, the charity adopted the name Cats Protection in 1998.

More information about the work of Cats Protection can be found at www.cats.org.uk

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