Recently I took a two-week vacation and asked one of my best friends to catsit for me. One of the last days I was gone, when she walked into my place, kitty ran out and disappeared. I’ve put up signs since I got back, but it’s been a couple weeks now, and I know the chances are my cat is gone for good, probably dead. I know it was an honest mistake, but I can’t help it: I’m super pissed at my friend, to the point where I can’t even look her in the eye. She’s apologized profusely, and she contacted all the local shelters and pet hospitals before I got home to help, but I can’t get over it. What do I do? It feels petty to end the friendship over this, but I can’t even be civil to her.
You’re both right. By which I mean both halves of your warring emotions.
It would be petty to end the friendship–your friend was doing you a favor, she almost certainly didn’t do anything wrong (two weeks home alone is pretty likely to make a cat stir-crazy), and she clearly feels terrible about what happened. It could have happened to anyone–even you–and there was no malice involved. She’s even done what little she can to try to make it up to you.
But you’re also not obligated to make nice with her right away. Losing a pet is traumatic–they’re our best friends, and often our most constant companions–and you have every right to grieve that loss. And part of that grieving process, logically, means avoiding your friend; not because it’s her fault (it’s not), but because seeing her is guaranteed to stir up really painful emotions about the recent disappearance of your furry sidekick.
Tell your friend that you need some time to get over this, and until you do, you’d appreciate some space. It might make her feel bad for a while, but she’ll probably understand. Then, when it’s less raw, try to start reintroducing her in group settings (where there’s less pressure to constantly interact with one another). I’d wager you’ll welcome a found friend, even if she did have a part to play with your lost cat.
Don’t call me callous, but…
When you’re ready, consider getting a new cat. Pets aren’t fill-in-the-blank replaceable, and your love for them is absolutely individual, but that doesn’t mean you can’t love another little guy. Thousands of animals need loving homes; don’t let your loss shut the door on them forever.