7 Ways To Cope With The Death Of Your Cat

Katina Solomon of the website Online Psychology Degree explains some ways to get through that difficult time after the death of your cat. She writes about companion animals in general but of course the same principles apply. I know what it feels like to lose a loved cat. Actually for me the process of getting over my cat’s loss started before her death. That sounds odd but I knew at least six months before my lady cat died that she was dying. The very difficult time during which I had to decide when to ask the vet to euthanise her (she was very ill) gave me time to adjust to her loss, painful though it was. It does not always happen that way of course.

I believe that if you really love a cat when you lose her or him, you lose a bit of yourself on her death. You never recover this loss. Your life is just a little bit less good.

After I lost my cat companion of 18+ years, I did do something as Katina suggests (see below). I built a page about when to decide to euthanise your cat. That helped me. I feel it was something positive. And just now while writing this I have made a very basic video in memory of Binnie. It is rather basic because emotionally I find it hard to work with video material of her.  I don’t have any video material of my first cat. I filmed Binnie about 4 months before she died.

This is what Katrina says:

Allow Yourself To Grieve

This seems like common sense but it makes sense to restate it. Some people will hurry on in their lives and try and bury their loss. The advice is don’t do this. It seems you have to feel the pain and cry through it. The time frame is very variable. I still grieve the loss of my first cat about 18 years ago. I don’t think I will ever stop to be honest. She was the daughter I never had.

 Express Your Grief Openly

This seems to be a part of the process of allowing yourself to grieve. Well, I have to admit that I did this alright. I cried my eyes out at the veterinary clinic in the reception area. I couldn’t stop it coming.

 Spend Time With Your Surviving Companion Animal..

….if you have a surviving companion animal that is. This is about providing comfort for your surviving companion as well as repairing yourself. A symbiotic process. I think this is a very good point indeed. In multi-cat or multi-animal households there will be friendships between animals, some of them will be close. They have to work their way through the loss of a friend too. It is nice idea to share during this time.

Do Something In Your Cat’s Memory

Katrina writes of doing things such as volunteering at an animal rescue center or making a donation to an animal charity. This helps turn pain into something more positive.

Keep A Journal

I don’t keep a journal but I guess this website is a good substitute.

Create a Memorial To Your Former Companion

I don’t know how many people do this. It seems natural to me. But some people take their cat to a cat shelter for free euthanasia and that’s it. They say goodbye there. This sounds heartless to me. I have an urn in the living room with her ashes in it next to the ashes of my former cat. Both were cremated individually. I touch the urn frequently when I walk by it.

Get Some Support

My support comes from the regulars at PoC. Great people. Apparently there are counselling services. There are also forums and so on where a person can talk about their loss. I guess it is about writing and talking about it.

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Comments

7 Ways To Cope With The Death Of Your Cat — 9 Comments

  1. All good advice Michael and I know that we never get over the loss of a much loved pet, it’s only that with time we get used to them not being around, just the same as when we lose a human family member.
    Over the 38 years we’ve had cats we’ve gone through bereavements and grief many times and tears still come to my eyes at times thinking of them and I miss them all, each and every one, because no matter how many more we have, each one is special.
    Some people who have no feelings for cats say ‘It was only a cat, move on, there’s plenty more’ That doesn’t help at all! Talking about it with other cat lovers or coming to a forum like PoC gives comfort that we all understand and feel each others pain on our loss.
    I think having to have a cat euthanised leaves us with a feeling of guilt too, afterwards thinking did I do right? Was I too hasty?
    I tormented myself for a whole year after Bryan was PTS with cancer, even though I knew at the time it was the kindest thing to do, yet when Ebony died naturally I was able to accept it better, still grieved of course but hadn’t the guilt feelings.
    I really don’t understand how anyone can leave a cat at a Shelter or a vets clinic to be euthanised and walk away unaffected, I agree it’s heartless.
    R.I.P all our beautiful lost companions, we will never forget you.

    • Yes, a good point again, Ruth. I think we need to talk it through with people who understand and that means people who love cats and animals just as much. The time when to euthanise your cat – if that is necessary – is an agonising decision. As you say it is liable to create doubts and feelings of guilt. It’s tough.

  2. Only pet owners can understand the loss of a pet which for others could be just another animal death.At least to me, a loss of any of any pet was akin to losing a human companion and as also akin to human relationships, time played the role of the healer.We never ever forget our human relationships, good or bad, memories stored in photographs or other memorablia reminds us of human friends, foes and lovers. Similarly in pets, its memories that keep them in our minds long after they depart.

  3. I feel the best way to show respect to your beloved loved cat that has past is to get another one. Get two. One to replace them and the other just to show them you loved them. There are so many kitty’s that need a good home. Where better than a cat-lovers home! The rest are very excellent ideas. Thanks

  4. I had to bury Red in June pretty quickly. He had been in the sun for most of the day I expect. It really bothered me to not have much time. I laid him on the floor for a little more than an hour and the other cats came by to see him. I kept his collar and I brushed him all nice and kept the furs that came off on the brush. I then had to go bury him. I chose a nice peaceful place where I can go visit him. I planted flowers there some weeks later.

    I kept his furs and some leaves which he used bring in from outside and a couple other funny things he brought in as little gifts. I buried him with his favourite wand toy and I kept his other favourite wand toy along with his favourite bouncy balls. I have all these objects together placed in the middle of his favourite shelf which is in a cupboard, the door of which I close so nobody can go in there, cats included. He liked it in there with the door ajar. It was his little ‘apartment’ behind my front door. If I couldn’t find him he’d be asleep in there. So thats my little alter thingy for him since I have no ashes. Maybe I will take some soil from his grave and make a potted plant of some orange flowers since he was orange.

    I think Michael is right in that a piece of me is gone and life can never be quite as good. It only happened a few months ago and it was a total shock. I spent all my off-work time on the couch with Lilly, his best friend. Lilly was very depressed and so was I. We both just sat around not doing or saying much for about 3 weeks. I continued going to work as normal but was very depressed and quiet and not for talking. A trip for my job to England pushed me out of that rut but when I got back it all came back again. I have not walked past the place where I found him, nor the route I used to walk excitedly home to see him on, since the day he died. I have gone another way. Still cant break out of that one. I have been to his grave 2 times, both of which I was not satifyingly alone since its just outside a friends garden and she was home. I couldnt go there for ages after I buried him. Now it has been a while and its colder out so my friend wont bein the garden, I think I will go visit and spend some time sitting by his grave.

    I’ll be brutally honest now – my father, who I loved very much but who I only see a couple times year lately, died last week. He is my father, that’s important and he meant alot to me and I think he was a great dad. I feel bad about it of course but my life here hasn’t been affected by that since he is far away, so the grief I feel is totally different and perhaps not intense as such. When Red died, I couldn’t eat or sleep or speak for ages. I was completely crushed by him not being with me anymore. It felt like a 3 week punch in the stomach, physically I felt in my tummy. I have never experienced anything like that before. The two deaths don’t compare. They are totally different. As much as my father is a huge part of me, and a part of the way I loved Red even (my dad loved animals, thats where I got my love of cats) – Red was a HUGE part of me too and to be honest, I can’t even explain it. I guess I just loved him really alot. I only had him a year. It’s strange. I feel like my living room is his room. We moved in together. He was the best part of my life and I guess that can’t be replaced. It’s important to now that though. You can’t just pus on and forget about such things.

    • I feel the same way. When both my parents died, quite close to each other, I felt no where near the pain I felt when Missie and Binnie died. I felt it was a relief for my father and his family. As to my mother I did not feel that much for her in the end. But my first cat was like a daughter. It sort of killed me inside when she died. I was depressed for a long time. I was burgled twice soon afterward and I moved home. I had buried Missie in my garden. When I moved I asked my girlfriend at the time to exhumation her body so that I could take her with me and have her cremated. She is with me now. All this seems natural to me and is no disrespect to my parents. In the end we were individuals. But my cats are part of me. It is probably the giving and caring that creates this bond and the gorgeous innocence of a companion cat. Of course even though Missie was like a daughter to me I always treated her and respected her as a cat. And what a cat she was. Even writing this I become tearful. She died in 1994.

  5. I have a cat that is 13 and has a heart condition so I have to give her pills. She has lost so much weight but she was fat. I find it painful to look at her. She still has some quality of life and I think my vet will help me make the final decision. I am grieving already. She is a good companion and such a character I will miss her so much as my other 3 cats will poor Tiggy

    • Good luck. I watched my Binnie die slowly for about six months and then I had her put to sleep. I grieved her loss as you are before she died. It has hard. It was a painful time. Take care.

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