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Loss Of A Cat: How To Cope With Cat Bereavement And Pet Loss

Posted in: Cat Care - Last Updated: December 20, 2022 - Author: Rebekah Carter
Posted in Cat Care 
Last Updated: December 15, 2022  
Author:  Rebekah Carter

In an ideal world, our cats would live as long as we do, accompanying us through the various stages of our lives.

Unfortunately, cats have much shorter lifespans than their human counterparts, which means there’s a good chance you’ll need to deal with the emotional impact of a loss of a pet at some point when they pass over the rainbow bridge.

Loss of a cat

For most pet parents, cats are more than just furry companions, they’re an integral part of the family. This means losing your cat can be just as painful as losing a friend, family member, or relative. The death of your cat can leave a void in us that feels almost impossible to fill. 

Here are some tips for cat lovers to manage the inescapable pain of cat bereavement and the unbearable sense of loss.

How To Cope With The Loss of a Cat

There’s no one-size-fits-all way to deal with grief. take your time and allow the process to take its course. You don’t have to get another furry friend if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. You also shouldn’t feel guilty about bringing a new creature into your home. 

Signs of Grief

The loss of a beloved pet is never easy. It doesn’t matter whether you lose a human, cat loss or another animal companion, the impact on you can be extremely significant. With this in mind, it’s important to be patient and compassionate with yourself.

Remember, they weren’t “just a cat”, they were a part of your family and daily routine.

Over the years, our cats become a constant part of our daily lives. They welcome us home with meow conversation and purrs, warm our hearts with their affectionate padding, and entertain us with their funny antics. 

When you first lose your cat, it can be difficult to deal with your own grief and say your goodbyes.

Ultimately, the stages of grief and the feelings you’ll have when your cat passes away are very similar to the experiences you’ll have after the loss of a human being. You can expect to experience the following “stages of grief” after your pet moves on:

1. Denial

Denial is one of the first stages of grief you’re likely to go through. At first, it can be difficult to accept that your cat simply isn’t going to walk through the door and welcome you like always.

The best thing you can do during this stage is try to accept the loss. 

Don’t force yourself to dwell on your cat’s death, but gently remind yourself they aren’t coming home. 

loss of a pet

2. Anger

Anger can be a difficult emotion to feel after death. You may feel angry at your cat for abandoning you, angry with yourself for failing to see the signs of an illness, or even angry at whatever caused your cat’s passing. 

In any of these situations, it’s common for a feeling of anger to be rapidly accompanied by a sense of guilt. 

However, it’s important to remind yourself that these feelings are normal. Just try to make sure that you’re not pushing other loved ones or animals away in your anger. 

3. Guilt  

Feeling of Guilt and anger can lead to a lot of complex questions following the death of a cat. You might find yourself asking “what if”, more than you would like. You may find yourself wishing you could do something to bring your cat back. 

Unfortunately, once again, the only way to move past this stage is to try and accept there’s nothing you can do.

4. Depression 

Depression is often the longest stage of grief when dealing with a cat’s absence. It can present with many different symptoms, from crying to sleeping a lot or losing interest in your daily activity. 

Your appetite might decrease, and you may feel overwhelmingly sad for a while. Remind yourself these feelings are normal and allow yourself to find ways of reducing your sadness, such as distracting yourself with your other pets or activities. 

Consider professional help or mental health therapy if it becomes just too overwhelming.

5. Acceptance

Finally, while it may take some time, you’ll eventually accept that your cat is gone. During this stage, you can begin to adjust to life without your cat. 

Moving into the acceptance stage doesn’t mean you’re not going to feel sad anymore. 

It simply means you’ve dealt with the fact that your feline companion is no longer with you. You’ll always miss your cat, but it will gradually become easier to live your life without them.

cat bereavement

Processing Cat Grief

Everyone deals with grief differently. You might find you skip through the early stages of grief much faster than other people, or that you spend a long time in certain stages. There’s no “right way” to mourn, so don’t hold yourself to any specific standards here. 

If you’re struggling, the following tips might help:

  • Embrace your feelings: Give yourself permission to feel however you feel. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling angry, guilty, or sad for too long. Don’t feel bad if you have moments of happiness, or you forget for a moment that your cat is missing. This is normal. 
  • Surround yourself with the right people: Your support network can be extremely helpful during a period of mourning. Surround yourself with people who understand what your cat meant to you, and don’t be afraid to talk about how you feel. There are pet loss support groups out there, just pop online and you will find the through a Google search.
  • Spend time with other pets: If you have another pet, make sure you spend plenty of time with them. Pets can grieve just like human beings. It’s important to make sure you’re giving your furry friends the support they need too.
  • Remember the good times: Sort through the pictures you have of your lost cat, their belongings, and anything else that reminds you of them. Remember the good times and give yourself permission to smile when you recall the memories.
  • Distract yourself: Some people think they’re dishonoring their cat if they don’t mourn and cry throughout the day. However, losing yourself in the pain is rarely a good idea. Try to redirect your focus and attention to other things you enjoy. 
  • Be patient: Remind yourself you can’t change the grieving process. You’ll never “get over” the loss of your cat, but you will eventually start to feel better and more “normal”. It’s not going to be easy, and it’s going to take time, so be patient with yourself.
signs of cat grief

Loss Of A Cat: Summary

The loss of a cat can be devastating. Should You Get a New Pet Cat?

Sometimes, the natural response to feeling a void after the loss of a family pet is to seek out a new precious cat companion. In some cases, welcoming a new cat into your home can be a good idea. It’s a good way to redistribute your attention and take your mind off your missing friend. 

If you have other animals please keep an eye out for behavioral changes in them too. 

You’re not “replacing” your feline friend, you’re simply finding a way to share your love with someone new.

About the author

Rebekah Carter is a dedicated animal lover. Her Savannah cat, Roscoe, has a lot of attitude, while her Maine Coon, Dukino, is full of love. When not writing, she’s looking after her cats and researching ways to help them live their best possible life. Her passion for animals and natural skill for writing led her to pursue pet blogging.