Cat Loss Grief: Tips on Coping with Losing a Cat
Grief over the loss of a cat is perfectly natural – pets can be members of the family and precious long-term companions. Everyone grieves differently, and it is important not to let other people dictate how you should feel.
Here are a few constructive ways to process and move through pet loss grief:
Putting a Pet to Sleep
Putting a pet to sleep is usually the result of both your veterinarian’s assessment and your own judgment. Cats who are terminally ill might still have a good quality of life for a while, but there are signs you can watch for to determine if your cat is really suffering:
- Low activity level and appetite
- Obvious signs of pain
- Lack of response to affection and participation in family life
If your cat it showing these signs, it might be time to consider ending their suffering in a humane way. A lot of veterinarians will allow you to be with your cat as they are put to sleep, which for a lot of people is an important first step in the grieving process; it makes the passing real and allows for you to comfort and say goodbye to your pet in their final moments.
Finding the Necessary Support
It’s important to consciously seek out family and friends who are pet lovers to support you during this time – don’t be influenced by people who say “it was only a cat,” or try to bury your feelings in an attempt to appear strong. Often Humane Societies can also recommend pet loss support groups and counselors that can be another source of pet loss help.
Memorializing Your Cat
When you’re grieving over the loss of a pet, it’s easy to focus on only the end and not celebrate the life of your cat. But creating rituals and mementos of your cat’s life can be healing. Consider holding a small funeral for your pet, as well as creating tangible mementos such as photo albums or letters to your pet. If you are a member of our Facebook community, then you probably recently experienced our Facebook tribute to my parents’ dog, Napa, and also to my cat Rags, the reason for this website.
Grief and Other Pets
Pets typically notice changes in a household, so surviving pets may also go through a period of grief for a lost feline companion. These pets will need some extra love and care for a while, and this opportunity to bond with your other pets can be healing for both of you.
A lot of people have also been helped in their grieving process by adopting a new kitty, especially if one is available from the same litter. Of course, this new addition can never be a replacement, but it is something new to focus on and a constructive distraction from grief.
Coping with Pet Loss is a significant struggle in the lives of pet-lovers, but there are so many healthy ways to express and share your grief, as well as continue to experience your love of cats through old and new pets.
How have you dealt with the loss of a pet? How did your family members and other pets react? What recommendations do you have for getting through the grief?
When my Rags passed, I decided to make a box for this ashes – and it was a really therapeutic process for me. You can see the start of the box for Rags here, then there’s a second post showing progress and the third post shows the final product.