Six Ways to Cope With the Death and Loss of Your Cat
For many pet owners, particularly cat people, it is normal to feel sorrow and grief after the death and loss of a beloved pet. Like grief for our loved ones, grief for our pets can only be dealt with over time. Here are some healthy ways to cope with the pain of losing your cat:
Grieve the loss of your cat and accept it
You are grieving not only a being but also a friend whom you treat like family, not just any relationship but a friendship that was beautiful and unique to you in many ways. Now that your beloved cat is gone, accept it. You will eventually come to terms with the death of your cat but there is nothing wrong with accepting that what you are feeling is valid.
You might go through stages to cope with your grief and notice changes in your behavior. You may have trouble thinking or focusing. You may want to sleep all the time or experience sleeping difficulties. You may feel angry at yourself, your cat, at anything or anyone that caused the demise of your cat. You may also feel guilty, numb, or depressed. Remember it is normal and okay to feel what you feel but don’t stay angry, guilty, or depressed longer than necessary.
Reach out to people
Surround yourself with people who would understand your grief and loss: empathetic friends and family members, people who loved your cat, and others who have also lost their pets. Having lost your beloved cat, you need not be alone day after day. Do not hesitate to seek out people who do understand and lend a sympathetic ear. Meet new people and regularly connect with family and friends to stay positive and ward off depression.
You should acknowledge, however, that not everyone would understand your grief, especially those who have never kept and lost pets. Some people may intentionally say things that could hurt your feeling. It is important that you reach out to those who understand.
Carry out an end-of-life ritual
Openly express your feelings and find healing in the form of ceremony or ritual, such as a funeral, remembrance, or memorial gathering for your pet in a pet cemetery (if there is one in your area). Many experts believe that holding some type of a ceremony or ritual can help us cope with the loss of our beloved pet cats.
Create a legacy
Celebrate the life of your treasured pet and the fun times you both had together. You may want to honor the legacy of your beloved cat by spreading its ashes in a meaningful place (if creation was chosen) or planting flowers and trees in their memory. You can also create a physical legacy of your pet by making a photo album, scrapbook, or video and saving fur clippings. You may also want to pass on your beloved cat’s legacy by donating to a good cause in your cat’s name. The point of having some form of a legacy is to remind you of the happier times, celebrate your cat, and move on in your grief.
Express your feelings in creative ways
You may want to heal and process your grief by writing in your journal about how you are feeling after the loss of your beloved cat. You can also write an essay or short story, compose a poem or song dedicated to your cat, or make a painting or sculpture of your cat. That way, you also leave a legacy of your deceased pet.
Cat owner and published author Lynda Hamblen wrote her first novel William and Tibby Forever (Christian Faith Publishing; 2018) to cope with the loss of her cat, William, who was killed by a car.
Look after yourself
It is hard to maintain your normal routine after the death of your treasured cat, but nothing can change what has happened. The best you can do for yourself – and your cat who is now in a better place – is to get back on your feet and regain happiness, emotional strength, and quality of life. Look after your health and wellbeing. Get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly, and eat a healthy diet. Spend time with the people who care about you.