Grieving the Death of Your Cat

Not everyone understands the special bond that cat owners have with fellow felines. Cats are mysterious, intriguing creatures that can add so much to an owner’s life. There is nothing like hearing the purr of a contented kitten by your side! It’s not a surprise that we share so much of our lives with our furry companions.

Even if you knew that your cat's death was approaching, the depth of your grief may surprise you. The grief you feel over the death of your cat may not be fully acknowledged or recognized by others, but your emotions are normal and very real. Grief is the price we pay for the love we shared with our pet.

What Does Grief Over the Death of A Cat Look Like?

The grief following the loss of a cat tends to look a lot like the grief you would experience following the death of a person. In fact, seeing your feline friend’s empty food bowl and toys after their death may trigger feelings of sadness and tearfulness.

Changes in appetite are possible following the death of your cat, eating more or less than normal. You may feel extra tired and have a hard time concentrating. You might also notice increased feelings of irritability and less patience with others in the wake of your loss.

Feelings of guilt are also common after the death of a cat. If they died in an accident or unexpectedly, you might be feeling guilty over your inability to save them. Or perhaps you couldn’t afford certain treatments or medications. However, you did the best you could with the information you had at the time. You acted out of love for your pet.

All these emotions are a natural reaction to the death of your beloved cat. There is no one “right” way to grieve, and it’s crucial to note that grief does not follow a specific timeline. Everyone responds to the death of a pet in their own way and in their own time.

What to Do Following the Death of Your Cat

Following the death of your cat, your veterinarian can provide advice on next steps. You may be unsure as to what to do with the body of your cat, so it could be good to ask for resources on cremation and burial services. You can also get valuable guidance on what to do if your cat dies at home.

Deciding what feels most meaningful to you can take some time. Consider reaching out to someone in your support network who also understands the value of having pets in their lives. They can provide valuable knowledge and help when making decisions like these.

After the death of your cat, you might get taken aback remembering the role your pet played in your daily routines and rituals. Perhaps your cat always sat on your lap while you took an afternoon break. Or maybe your cat used to wake you up by jumping on your bed in the morning. It can take some time to adjust to their absence.

Taking Care of Yourself While Grieving Your Cat

Grief takes a physical, emotional, and mental toll on the griever. Try to be gentle with yourself as you manage the complex emotions following the death of your cat. One way to be kind to yourself is by taking care of your physical needs, especially if the loss was very recent. Strategies to manage your physical wellness can include:

  • Taking time to prioritize sleep and rest
  • Eating regular meals
  • Moving your body and getting outside in nature or natural light
  • Avoiding alcohol and mood altering substances

It can also help to talk to supportive friends during this time. If friends or family can be helpful in a specific way (such as  participating in the memorial or dropping off a few things from the store), ask for support! Your friends and family would welcome the opportunity to help you out.

Honoring Your Cat’s Memory

Your bond with your cat is one of a kind. And it’s something you can continue beyond death. There are many ways to honor the special relationship that you had with your pet. Other individuals who have experienced the death of their cat honored their loss by:

  • Having a special memorial service
  • Making a list of favorite memories of their cat
  • Donating pet supplies or making a financial contribution to a animal shelter
  • Finding a creative outlet for grief such as crafting or art
  • Creating a scrapbook of photos
  • Writing a poem or letter to their pet
  • Saving a tuft of their fur
  • Planting a tree or butterfly garden
  • Selecting a memorial stone, plaque, or urn for ashes
  • Spreading their cat’s ashes in a special place if they were cremated

Learning to Live After the Death of Your Cat

If you find that grief symptoms continue to feel overwhelming over time or are getting in the way of your day-to-day life, consider looking for resources like a pet loss support group or grief coaching. Having a grief coach gives you a safe, supportive, and non-judgmental place to talk about the death of your cat and what you are feeling. You don’t have to grieve alone.

Being a dog owner is full of chewed up shoes, sticks, wagging tails, and cuddles. How can you honor all your memories with your dog while grieving over their death?