Your cat isn’t “just a cat.” The bond you shared with your beloved kitty cat is deep, and your heart and home will never be the same. Coping with the grief and accepting your cat’s death isn’t a quick or easy process; don’t let anyone make you feel foolish about the grief or loss you feel after your cat dies. Pay attention to your own feelings of guilt about your cat’s death or embarrassment about how bad you feel. You didn’t just lose a pet. You lost a beloved life companion, and your heart will be forever changed.
Here’s what a reader says about her cat’s recent death: “I lost my 22 year old beloved feline friend three months ago and I’m completely heartbroken,” says Shannon on Do You Miss Your Cat More Than You Thought Possible? “We spent almost every night and day together. My heart, soul and life feels dark: an eternal night. My girl was unwell for many years, but we always found a way though… I always thought our love would defy death, but it didn’t. My cat has helped me through my own difficulties, but more than that, she is the best friend I’ve ever had, and will ever have.”
Give yourself time to grieve your loss. Know that your cat’s death is a huge loss, and you need to give yourself time to recover. You lost a companion, a beautiful animal you shared your home and life with. Losing your cat changes your life in surprising ways, and you must allow yourself to grieve and say goodbye at your own pace.
It’s funny how different cats affect us in different ways, isn’t it? Some are just closer to us than others. Some are kindred spirits. They touch our hearts deeper and affect our homes more powerfully than other animals. Sometimes even more than family and friends! I’ve said good-bye to four cats, and I’ll never forget two of them. Fluffy and Zoey touched my heart deeply, and I expect I’ll see them when I pass. I don’t know what form they’ll be in, but we’ll recognize each other. We’ll be reunited with our beloved cats after we die because we are kindred spirits.
I know it’s not easy to lose your cat, and I’m sorry for your loss. Know that you aren’t alone, and that you will feel better some day. You won’t forget your beloved cat, but you will start to remember with peace and love. You never fully “get over death”…you just learn how to live with the wispy shadows of loss.
Accepting the Death of Your Beloved Cat
Your home isn’t the same. You may still have cat toys, food, and bedding all over the place. And even if all your cat’s stuff is put away, you still see and feel your cat around corners, on chairs, and in your room at night.
You have memories, both good and bad. You may even be dealing with feelings of guilt and regret over your cat’s death. If you live with other people, they too may be struggling to accept your cat’s death. If you live alone, you may feel lonelier and sadder than you’ve ever felt. You may also feel surprised or even shocked at how sad you are that your cat died…and how grieved you are when you think of the future.
Know that your grief is normal, and even healthy
With great love comes great pain. The more you love anything, the worse it feels when you lose it. The closer you felt to your cat, the more sad you are after your cat dies. Grief is normal and healthy. Grief is your mind, body and heart’s way of processing the pain and healing your soul. The grieving process is painful, but it will help you heal. Your cat’s life deserves to be grieved because grief is a sign of love, respect, and connection.
How do you grieve your cat’s death? It depends on you. Your personality, lifestyle, age, health, and even your outside interests affect your grieving process. It’s important for you to learn about and explore different ways to cope with scary, overwhelming feelings of grief because unresolved grief builds up. If, for example, you have leftover or unprocessed pain from your childhood it will prolong and exacerbate the grieving process you experience as an adult. That’s why grieving your cat’s death is healthy and important: it clears the way for fresh emotions, new love, and a strong heart.
Grieve and say goodbye to your cat by remembering
How will you grieve and accept your cat’s death? By creating memories and sharing your cat’s life in different ways. Actively grieving allows the pain of your cat’s death to move through you. Loss and grief hurts, especially if you’re like me: You feel like you will literally die of a broken heart. The heartache and grief feels overwhelming, crushing, even terrorizing.
As hard as it is – as sad as you feel – it’s important to accept and feel the deep loss. Feeling is healing. Writing helps me feel the pain and remember my cats in ways talking doesn’t. I’ve never gotten over the two cats I loved most, that I said good-bye to before I was ready. I live with the shadows of pain, regret, and guilt but I know that my cats are resting in peace. They loved me when they were alive, and they love me still. I remember them with mostly joy and a little sorrow, mostly peace and a little twinge of longing. But I know my cats forgive me for the difficult choices and mistakes I made.
Your cat forgives you. Your cat loves you and wants you to be happy. Your cat is resting in peace.
Share the pain of losing your cat
What helps me heal and accept death is writing. Talking helps, too, but I find writing about my cats more healing. Writing helps me find truths and insights I didn’t expect. I’m so glad Shannon shared her feelings about her cat’s death, because it helps other pet owners see that they’re not alone. “Watching the cat I love so dearly slowly demise and die was heart-breaking,” she said on my blog post about grieving after a cat dies. “I keep questioning everything about my cat’s death – could have done more? Did I let her suffer because I couldn’t bear to be apart from her? The vets told me several times they thought my cat’s quality of life was low, but I thought otherwise.”
Sometimes, you look back and know you would’ve made a different decision about your cat’s life and death. But you did the best you could at the time…and you have to be okay with that. If you don’t accept that you did your best, then you’ll continue to suffer. If you don’t forgive and accept yourself, you won’t grieve your cat’s death in healthy ways. If you don’t love yourself, you’ll find it impossible to truly love another animal or human.
Allow unanswered questions about your cat’s death
You’ll never know what would’ve happened if your cat didn’t die when she did. A longer life might have meant more pain and suffering. Try to accept that your cat’s death came at the right time.
“What if I was wrong about my cat’s life and death?” asked Shannon. “Why did she have to go blind in her last week? Why did the vets not manage her blood pressure and renal failure? I could have made my cat happier and she might still be here. Everything feels a blur and I’m trying to make sense of something which doesn’t make sense. I feel sick at the thought of time passing by.How can I last a lifetime without seeing my cat? What if we never meet again? I wish I could close my eyes and wake up somewhere with her. I don’t want this life without my cat. I love and miss her so much.”
Know that you are not alone in your grief
I included a variety of stories about loving and losing cats in my ebook Kitty Comforts: Help and Hope for Coping With the Loss of Your Cat. If you feel like you’re alone in the grief you feel, you’ll find it helpful to read how others accepted and moved through sad feelings after a cat dies.
Try different ways to grieve your cat’s death. Know that pet loss can be as traumatic and sad as any other death in your life, even a beloved family member. A cat’s death is different because animals love us unconditionally and wordlessly. The loss of a pet uncovers a surprising amount of past grief and pain, which is why you feel like you’ll never get over your cat’s death.
A cat is never “just a cat.” Give yourself time, patience, and tender loving care as you grieve your loss.
How do you feel? Share your big and little cat stories and thoughts below. You might feel better if you write through your feelings. If you’d rather keep reading, you may find Comforting Prayers for the Loss of a Beloved Dog or Cat helpful.