Losing a Cat is a Bereavement

The saddest part of being a cat caretaker is when we have to say goodbye. No matter how long we have our cats around us, it’s never long enough and each and every cat is special and irreplaceable to us.

Cat death and bereavement
Poster by Ruth aka Kattaddorra
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

To some people who don’t love cats like we do, the loss is not very important, they think we make a fuss about very little, they may pretend to be sympathetic but they often make us feel even worse.

I remember that happening to me when losing Bryan, not that long after our much loved mother. Both died of cancer, the difference was that we were able to spare Bryan the pain and distress our mother suffered, he was put gently to sleep. He had been my rock after we lost our mother, my constant companion and shadow, depression hit me again but all our GP said to me was: ‘Well cats don’t live long do they?’

I could have just done with a few words of comfort from him, he made me feel I was dramatizing my loss. My dear sister, Barbara and I, of course have had each other for comfort through the loss of all our much loved people and pets, we are very lucky in that.

I think it’s even harder to come to terms with when we have had a cat PTS, even though it was the kindest thing to do, the guilt is there because we are the one to decide to end their life. We have only had two cats die naturally of old age and Popsy who died suddenly far too young. All our other cats have had to be PTS.

It’s very tempting to say to someone who has just lost a cat: ‘I know how you feel’. And I have been guilty of saying that myself. We do know how they feel but it doesn’t help them because they feel that no one else can feel as bad as they do.

‘She wouldn’t want you to be sad’, ‘She won’t be able to rest in peace while you are grieving’, ‘Why not get another cat?’, ‘She was old wasn’t she?,’ ‘She’s gone to a better place’, ‘It was her time to go’, ‘Be strong’. None of those words help!

‘I’m so sorry for your loss’, ‘Cry if you want to’, ‘It’s very hard losing a much loved cat’, ‘I am here for you if you need me’, ‘You will be in my thoughts and prayers’. Those words may show that we care, but nothing can really help.

It’s impossible to comfort someone bereaved, only time can do that, when the pain subsides and acceptance sets in. We never get over a loss, we just eventually get used to it.

Apart from Barbara and her late husband John helping me in my grief for Bryan, the most comfort I had was from a friend in Wales, I wrote to tell her the sad news, she phoned and told me she was crying with me. It felt like she truly cared.

Sometimes when words can’t be found, a few tears with the person who has lost their cat, or a silent hug, can help. The saying ‘better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’ is very true and we have to know loss and sadness, to be able to appreciate happiness. But it’s very hard.

Personally I sometimes feel my heart can’t hold much more grief and sadness and I have to remind myself to treasure every moment of happiness while I can.

Ruth aka Kattaddorra

33 thoughts on “Losing a Cat is a Bereavement”

  1. I just came across this lovely poem that someone sent to me when Felix died in 1997, it made me cry then and it still does now, there are so many memories of precious cats…

    I shall walk in the sun above, whose golden light you loved
    I shall sleep alone and, stirring touch an empty place
    I shall write uninterrupted
    Would that your gentle paw could stir my moving pen once again
    I shall see beauty, but none to match your living grace
    I shall hear music but none so sweet as the droning song with which you loved me
    I shall fill my days but I shall not, can not, forget
    Sleep soft dear friend, for while I live you shall not die.


  2. Another comment:
    ‘For Gods sake, children are dying every day and yet you cry over an animal’
    What a very cruel thing to say!

    • Yes, cruel, a life is a life and of course we feel our own loss more keenly than when we hear about sad things happening in the world, there isn’t a limit on sadness or compassion, however much we need there is always more there.

      • Yes Dee lol People don’t like to have a dose of home truth but tough, because if they deserve it they get it! 😉

  3. PoC really helped me when I lost Red – and so did having Lilly around. So does having Molly. But it’s still very hard.

  4. Some comments on this link on facebook which show how insensitive some people can be:

    “It’s just a stupid cat, get over it”. Even though she apologized, her words will never be forgotten.
    “You’re crying over a cat?” Non-pet people do not realise, it is just as difficult to lose a cat friend as it is to lose a human friend. Sometimes I grieve more for a cat. Cats give unconditional love; humans, not so much.


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