Dealing with the loss of your cat

This is not easy.

Suffering the loss of a beloved cat is a painful experience. No matter old she was or how expected her death, she was a part of your household — and your family — and losing her is very difficult.

Knowing what to expect, knowing that you can find support, and feeling like you’re not alone will make an overwhelming process a little bit easier to endure — and you will endure.

Coping with grief

You will likely experience the Five Stages of Grief, just as you would for any loved one:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

It’s normal to pass through these phases in arbitrary order, so don’t feel even more sad if you’re depressed and then feel anger again — it’s totally natural. There might even be days where you experience all five. Just remember that all of your feelings, however contradictory they may seem, are normal.

Find support

Whether it’s friends, or family, or online communities, you’ll do best when you have positive sources of support. Though you may feel emptiness and isolation, you’re not alone. Find people you trust and let them know how you’re feeling. During this time, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Make sure you’re eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep.

Unfortunately, there are many in society who don’t respect the role of cats in our lives. Steer clear of those voices right now and connect with people who understand what your feline friend meant to you.

Move at your own pace

Some folks may suggest, almost immediately, that you get another cat to help buffer your loss. (Your children may suggest this route as well.) Be sure that you make that decision only when you are ready for it. Caring for a cat can be hard work, physically and emotionally, so be sure you’re prepared to take that on.

You’ll know when the time is right for a new cat, so don’t put any pressure on yourself. And when you do decide it’s time, don’t worry that you’re somehow betraying your lost cat; indeed, continuing your love of animals is the best way to honor them.

Likewise, resist the urge to put a timeline on your grief. Don’t tell yourself you’re going to mourn for two weeks and then get over it. Putting a deadline on you grief will likely only add pressure at a time when you need to be nurturing to yourself. Your grief will run its course naturally, and letting it do so is the healthiest way to manage it.