After Your Cat’s Death – Should You Adopt a New Kitten or Cat?

Written by on June 25, 2011 in Cats and Kitty Tips, Pet Care Tips with 18 Comments
adopting another cat after my cat dies

Our cat, Nunki, is 9 years old. She spends most of her time outside, or waiting at the door to get outside!

After their cat dies, some people adopt a new kitten or cat right away. Others wait until the pain of their cat’s death has faded a bit.

If your cat died, here are a few things to think about…

“I hear many people say they don’t want to replace a cat they’ve lost,” says writer and publicist Sandra L. Gehring, author of Breaking Your Own News. “But honestly, adding another pet to the family was the only thing that made me feel whole again. We waited 11 months after Cooper died before we brought home our new pet, but that entire time the house felt empty without a pet. It took some time for the initial shock and pain to abate, and to deal with my husband’s sudden spinal cord injury…but a house isn’t a home and a family isn’t whole without a pet.”

Whether or not you should get a cat after your cat’s death depends on your personality, lifestyle, and home situation. The decision to get another cat boils down to one simple thing: what makes you most comfortable.

If you’re still mourning your cat’s death, read Letting Go of an Animal You Love: 75 Ways to Survive Pet Loss. In it, I describe 75 ways to cope with pet loss – I interviewed pet experts, veterinarians, grief counselors, and pet owners to discover the best ways to get over a dog or cat’s death.

Should You Get a Cat After Your Cat’s Death?

In When Your Cat Dies – Help Mourning Pet Loss From Cat Lovers, I describe a few ways to say good-bye to your cat. Here are a few tips for saying hello…

Be aware of how getting a new cat can help you heal

“I highly recommend getting a new cat after your cat’s death,” says animal lover Julie McClure. “Another cat will never take the place of the cat you just lost, but in a matter of days or weeks, this new cat will love you unconditionally. A cat will demand attention, demand feeding and demand lots of your time. You won’t be able to help starting to fall in love with the little guy! He will never replace your past cat, but he can fill the void left from your cat’s death. Cat death is not quite so hard if you have some other little cat who wants to cuddle and kiss your face.”

Honor your cat’s death by living in the moment

“To adopt a new cat is to honor all your previous pet has taught you about unconditional love and living in the moment, not ‘forgetting about them.’” says Sid Korpi, author of Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss. “I cannot feel as though I’m betraying his/her memory by moving on if I ask my dead cat’s spirit to help me find the next exactly right-for-me cat who needs my love and a good home. Then I sit back and trust that when the time is right, that former cat ‘angel’ will play matchmaker between that next new four-legged/two-winged family member and me.”

If you feel guilty because of your cat’s death, read How to Cope With Guilt After Your Cat or Dog Dies.

Allow your new cat to be his own “person”

“It can be a mistake to get a new cat too soon,” says Flo, whose pet’s death affected her deeply. “Allow yourself to grieve over the one you lost, and to grow accustomed to being without him. When Punkin died, I got two littermate kittens the very same day. Big mistake! I did not allow myself to grieve over my cat Punkin, and that might be why it took me so long to come to terms with her death. If you get a new cat, don’t look at it as a replacement for the one you lost. He deserves to be treated as his own cat self.”

Don’t compare your cats to one another

Some people think it’s better not to get the same color, sex or breed as the cat whose death you’re dealing with. Others love a certain breed, and can’t imagine living with another type! Again, it depends on each person. But one thing is the same for everyone: don’t compare your cat.

You may think things like, “Fluffy would never pee on the carpet” or “Sammy always came when I called.” Getting a cat is like parenting, and it’s good to remember that, like children, no two cats are alike. They have their own habits, personalities, tastes, quirks, strengths, and weaknesses, and they should be loved for their unique selves.

My heart goes out to you if you lost your cat. A pet’s death is surprisingly difficult to face; I hope it helps to know you’re not alone.


18 Reader Comments

Trackback URL Comments RSS Feed

  1. Laurie says:

    Dear Gay,

    Thank you for telling us about Leyna! I can just see her grooming herself in front of the mirror, preening and admiring her lovely coat and body :-) Cats are wonderful, aren’t they? Their only downfall is that they leave us far too soon.

    May your new little girl will brighten your lives and home, and may her spirit interact with Leyna’s. There will be no replacements, only multiplied joy and love.

    We’d love to hear how it goes – how your new kitty settles in – anytime you want to update us.


  2. Gay McDonald says:

    We have had the pleasure and sheer joy of our beloved Leyna for 16 wonderful years. She was self-aware, grooming herself by preference in front of the mirror. She died horribly, and there was nothing we could do in the remote area in which we live, to get her put to sleep. We did what we had to do, but by God it was hard, and the pictures in our heads are way too vivid to cope with. Our hearts are raw and aching, and her “brother” Eric, also 16, is crying for her almost all day long. None of us are sleeping, nor eating much.

    We’ve had the offer to bring home another little girl, aged 14 weeks. It’s only been a couple of days, but we think we will work out how to get to her and bring her home with us. Because the new little girl is so young, we feel that she will help to bring some smiles into our days. We don’t want to forget Leyna, we never will, she was a daughter to us. And the new girl will not be another Leyna, she will be her own “personality” and bring her own touches to our lives. This is the absolute worst timing for such a huge loss, as we are currently under a lot of stress, to the point where I have had shingles for over 4 months now, and my husband had shingles for about 5 weeks. This site has been a wonderful find. God bless

  3. Laurie says:

    Dear Kelsey and everyone who shared about their cat’s death,

    Thank you for being here. I’m so sorry you lost your cats, especially if the death was unexpected. It’s so shocking and horrible to find your cat dead, or to have to put her to sleep.

    Every day, I think about the cats I’ve loved and lost…they’re always with me, even though I haven’t touched or kissed them in over 10 years.

    Loving our cats with all our hearts means we hurt with all our hearts when they pass on. I guess the only thing we can hope to do is eventually carry the love, joy, and happiness we felt when our cats were alive in our hearts now, in honor of their memories.

    In sympathy,

  4. Kelsey says:

    I never had a pet besides hamsters and fish until I moved into my own apartment this past July. My best friend suggested that I get a kitten. I was partial to the idea at first but then I saw a picture of a litter of kittens that was being given away and I couldn’t help myself! The second day of moving into my apartment with my boyfriend I picked one of the kittens. Her name was Stripes when I adopted her but I renamed her Nala. She was my best friend. I woke up this morning to find her dead in her litterbox and I am pretty sure it was because she got into the garbage and ate food that was in it that was not good for her…. she had litter all over her mouth… I feel terrible she was the most loving cat I ever met!!! She loved to cuddle with me all day and slept in my arms. She’d meow with me back and forth… she loved to wrestle with a stuffed Tazmanian devil toy… If Nala could hear me now this is what I would tell her, ” I miss you sooooo much I hate not having you around.. you were my little baby I will always miss you following me around in the morning meowing at me in the bathroom while I’m getting ready for work… or when you wake me up to cuddle with you.. and when you run to the sound of my voice when I come back home from being out all day… I love you so much I’m sorry this had to happen to you I will always remember you and cherish you in my heart, you were my first real pet you were my baby and a best friend to me..” :’( RIP NALA 5/2/12 to 10/19/12 YOU WERE THE BEST KITTY IN THE WORLD

  5. Layton Morgan says:

    well its 4 days since my best friend paased away he was 14years old he had weak heart this past two years i gave him his meds every day but in the last few days he tried to go away from home do think he knew he was going to die ? he never did this before he loved his home we all loved him , thank you all Gods Blessings & comfort to you all my heart is with you . Tears

    Layton Morgan

  6. My Pain says:

    well after reading the other posts my heart is with you all, our cat [charlie] died saturday past got the best care there was from the vet & my sister & i but charlie heart was getting weaker when death came it his our family bad our home is lonley & cold with out him he was white with black nose he was my best friend i miss him tears . thank you . layton.

  7. Jane says:

    My beloved Myla (14 y.o.) died on Tuesday in a freak household accident. We have an attached garage with entry from the kitchen. Our idea of letting our cats ‘out’ is letting them run around in an enclosed garage with the overhead door opened an inch. Myla wouldn’t come in and I was worried about her getting too hot. One sure fire way to get her to come out was to open the overhead door. She would always run out onto the drive way and flop and twist on the cement. My good girl wouldn’t run away–she’d flop and twist in the sunshine. I began my walk through the garage to pick her up from the driveway when I saw the tailgate my husband had taken off the pickup and propped in the garage. To my absolute horror, the tailgate fell on my baby girl and crushed her–killing her (I desperately hope) instantly. I am utterly devastated. Myla has been my best friend for fourteen years. My husband tries to console me, but I can’t fathom life without my baby. I’ve had other cats through my life, but this relationship was unlike any I’ve ever had. Family and friends have been supportive, but I want to be alone in my grief. My days since her death have not been anywhere near productive–the house is a mess and I could care less. Today, I thought the tears were done, but they come out of nowhere. I don’t want to eat, I can’t sleep, and I can’t stop seeing the horrible instant of that tailgate falling, knowing I was too far away to save her. This pain seems never ending.

  8. chris says:

    Sigh, i just have to share this story with out some one saying hes just a cat or at least it was the cat and not something important. My cat was murdered he was only 7yrs old next week was his bday. Sunday morning july 22nd i let my cat go outside to go out and sunbath an dhunt a typical day. I came home and he was all cute an dwarm and happy and healthy sunbathing on my porch i patted him and told him he was a good boy. He purred in return and i went in to realax froma hard week of work. When it came night time my cat will jump up on my window and beg to be let in around when i go to sleep and he would sleep in my bed. That night he didnt beg which wa snormal just ment he was hunting. The next day i couldnt find him and i was uneasy but being a dumb lazy asshole enjoyed my day off instead of searching for my cat and guess what i went to the beach and ended up staying till 4pm once it came to night time i went out searching for my cat calling his name and stuff but he wouldnt come which was odd he would want to spemd two nights outsid ebut if he wouldnt come there was nothing i could do. So i went to sleep and in the morning my friend came in asking if that was my cat on the porch i went out and to my releaf it was. This was short lived because his bottom left big tooth was hanging out on just a little piece of gum and just hanging sorda looking like a saber tooth tiger. I called my mom seeing if i should take him to the emergensy vet hospital which she said defently. I take him there and he moans when i carry him. I bring him to the vet and tk my horror his wounds are so much more severe then i could have possibly imigine. Both of his back legs were smashed and broken one of them ha dits ligamints snapped and every thing all his teeth were smashed and his eye socket wounded. It obviously wasnt an animal he said and with how the wounds were and that his claws weerent frawed (cats brace themselves right before getting hit by sticking their claws in the groumd and when he would have got hit his claws would habe frawed) so the vet was able to determine it was a himan who attacked my cat and held him down while beating him which is how he got so many scrapes but the cat tryed despratly to excape so he gave himself road rash. We had to put him down becuase he would never happy with out one of his back legs and never allowed outside. Also icouldnt afford saving him. So he died in my arms and while he was going he looked up glared at my mother and hissed at her to show her he still will never like her . Rip Sam i will miss you. I really loved my cat and i miss him so much i miss my cat so so so much. What makes it more hard is i would always go to my cat and talk to him and he would confort my if i ever needed but now hes not there and i have nothing to purr me to sleep while i sob inwardly. :( i really miss him and he died the 24th and today is only the 25th well even yesterday i wa smissing him super badly. I dont know what else to say but please Lord take care of my baby in heaven because i want him back one day

  9. Leanna says:

    Ive come across this site looking for ways to cope with the loss of my cat. My little boy Dobby died on 10th July and I had found his body yesterday (11th) he was only a year old and I had had him for 10 months. He was sadly run over but I didnt know that until I went out looking and calling for him. It was such a shock seeing him laying there so lifeless when I thought he had only wandered off. I am absolutely devastated. I loved him so much and am lost with out him even though it’s been 30 hours since I found him. I hope this pain goes away soon. I have been offered another kitten who will be ready in 5 weeks. I dont know if it is too soon or not I feel I need a companion as I’m so lonely without Dobby but I wouldn’t want Dobby thinking I’ve replaced him. I understand it will be a completely different personality and they also look nothing alike. Such a tough decision!

  10. Joyce says:

    OMG Can’t stop crying. I lost my beloved 13 yro Boo almost 3 weeks ago. I appreciate the 2 days of crying. I have a very strong faith in God and that combined with an amazing support system enabled me to move forward.

    The richest piece of advice I got was that it would be ok if I wanted to adopt again in the future and it would not dishonor Boo. I was in such debilitating pain, that I said I was done with animals because I couldn’t go through that pain ever again. Well, the grace and mercy of God softened my heart.

    Today I adopted 2 kittens from the shelter. How could I allow kittens to remain contained and not have a loving home for my own selfish reasons I asked myself. I know the day will come when I will have to say good-bye to them. For now though, they are helping me heal. They will never replace my Boo, but they have filled the empty hole that was in my home.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  11. jan says:

    Daniel that is such a good story although you lost your precious boy, it is wonderful that Angel found such a good and loving home. When one of my Siamese boys died, his brother was besides himself. They had been together every day for more than 13 years and close as close and because I work full time I decided I had to try to get him a companion although I didn’t feel ready. I saw Samantha on the RSPCA site and Mum and I went to have a look at her. She was such a pretty little cat that it’s amazing that nobody had taken her by the time I got there. Anyway when I brought her home, there was no adjustment period from either of them, Smudge accepted her immediately. So you can’t help but think that their spirits do live on in.

  12. Daniel says:

    I am only 21 and have had a pretty easy life, also due to past experience have gone thru my teens with some big commitment problems and tried to be the tough guy who didnt care about anything.. but a year and a half ago when i apodted a kitten named squeek it was the best thing that ever happened to me . My first responsibility in life and the first time i had ever been able to commit myself, he was my world. He got me through hard days and was my motivation to get out of bed in the morning. I kept him indoors as i was too scared of something happening to him.
    2 weeks ago, my boy snuck outside through my legs when i opened the door but came back not long later. The next day we found him paralysed and the vet confirmed it was a snake bite. i didnt hesitate to pay for anti venom and spent a night awake praying (which isnt regular for me) but unfortunately he didnt make it :( for the first time since i became a teenager i cried, for 2 days straight.
    2 days after my boys death, me and my gf got a txt from a friend. a friend of a friend of a friend had been kicked out of home and needed to rehome their kitten and sumhow the text had reached us. i said no as i felt it was too soon and would be disrespectful to my boy.
    The next day my mother gave me an email she had recieved, not knowing my cat had died, the email was a list of what your cat would want if it could leave a will behind after death.. it had things such as “all i have to give is my owners love and my toys and food bowls” , it said things like “give the lap i loved so much to a cat who needs one” and “give my toys and food bowls to a cat who is not as fortunate” , you get the idea , it seemed like a sign .. that day my girlfriend also got a text from the owner of the cat, saying she could not find anyone to take her little girl and she desperately wanted her to go to a good home, she had been told how well we looked after our boy.
    I decided after these signs, believing everything happens for a reason that we should take her.
    To my disbelief, when i saw a photo of her, she was identical to my boy only slightly more fluffy and girly, but the same face, same age .. and name just happens to be “angel” … when we met angel she ran up to me and started licking my hand and wanting cuddles like she knew me… we picked up angel yesterday, and there was no adjustment phase, she has been acting like she’s been here forever. I have 3 cats all with very unique personalities, but angel has the same manerisms, same expressions, and same meow as my boy squeek. she’s not as fiesty and adventurous, but through manerisms, i think squeeks spirit is in their somewhere, and i believe my boy has found his way back home ..

  13. Joyce says:

    Shauna thank you. My Boo just died 2 weeks ago suddenly while I cradled him in my arms. I’m so lost without him. The intense crying spells have diminished but I miss him so much. He was 13. All black with yellow eyes. I rescued him from a shelter. His ashes are with me. I don’t know if I can adopt another cat yet my house is lonely and there is a whole in my heart.

  14. Shauna says:

    Hi. I just found this site when searching for whether or not it was ok to get another kitten after your cat’s death. My cat, Alice, died April 26, 2012, from a blood clot that blocked the blood flow to her back legs and we found her unable to walk and without feeling in her back legs. She had been perfectly fine only a few hours before. I loved her so much, still do and honestly felt desperate for her and consumed with grief after her death. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever dealt with in my life. I had her for 12.5 years and she was just amazing. She was a dumpster kitten with no home when I found her years ago. Today, the 28th, my husband adopted a kitten for me from the shelter. Honestly, I feel like it’s helped me a little bit. It’s nice to share love with a kitten, even if it’s not my Alice. I feel like we honored her memory by adopting a shelter kitten- as she was an abandoned kitty too. I don’t know how to describe it, I feel guilt over it too, but I’m glad we did it. I guess it’s individual to each person. I just was so devastated when Alice passed away, I held her for several hours after she passed away, I just can’t believe she’s gone. But I am happy that I can dedicate a lot of new things to this new kitty-Addy- in Alice’s memory, even though I’m still hurting so badly. Although, Alice will never, ever be replaced. I don’t know what works for everyone else- but we made the decision to have Alice cremated and I’ll have her with me forever. I know I’m rambling on at this point, but much like the other posters here, she was loved like a person- truly. She wasn’t just a cat, she cared, she was intuitive, she was amazing! We’re having a picture/memory quilt of her made and of course will keep her ashes in an urn, next to my bed. I’m just so in love with her and I will be forever- but this new kitty that needs love too is a good distraction, and that’s really nice during such an extensely painful time.

  15. jan says:

    Hi David

    Know that there are many, many animal lovers who will be feeling your sorrow. My beautiful Siamese boys died 8 and 5 years ago and I still think of them with such love and fondness and a lump in my throat, I now have two more to fill the gap, but all of them are special, unique and individual, each one leaves a special paw print on your heart.

    You really have some beautiful memories of your life with Babe and that is very precious. She sounds as if she was a real little character and well travelled. Take care and cry all of the tears that you need to, to honour her life.

  16. David says:

    My cat died March 15 while I was at work. She had been with me for over 20 years. She suddenly got sick less then 2 weeks before. She was a rescue cat when I adopted her in 1992. Babe loved to ride in the car and I took her on trips with me. She was a very affectionate and cuddly cat. Babe loved to play with boxes and bags. If I bought her toys she would prefer playing with the bag and box it came in. When I had heart surgery at age 28, Babe was always by my side during my recovery at home. I believe Babe made my recovery go much better. My job began to move us around and the first place was Knoxville, TN. We lived there for a year. Babe loved the house, it had a sun room that she loved to catch the sun light and watch the birds. She loved to run up down the steps and if I was in the attic she was quick to find a way to go from one side to the other. After a year my job needed me in Florida, I decided I was going to have a house with a pool, Babe loved the enclosed pool area, sometimes when she thought I was not looking she would get both front paws on the first step into the pool and then she would lick her paws and wash herself. It was so cute to watch her do this. She loved chasing the lizards around and even brought one into the house that she played with until I found it and put back outside. 2 years later my job moved us to Memphis, TN. This house had a open hall way upstairs that over looked the family room. Babe loved to run up down the hall and look down in the family. Babe started wanting water from the tap. She would jump up in the kitchen sink for her water and she got more use out of the jetted tub then I did for her water. Less then a year there we were transferred back to VA. I bought a home in the country. Babe loved the sun room in this house, she loved laying in the windows and watching the birds and she could see me out on the deck. I never let her go outside with out me she was an indoor cat. She did sneak out some but never went far. A couple of years ago I broke my collar bone in a bike accident. After my surgery while I was recovering Babe would lay on my shoulder. I moved back to the Richmond area 15 months ago just one block over from the house I lived in when I adopted Babe. She came home to die. I have not stopped crying since. I miss her so very much. She loved me unconditionally.

  17. Dear Jan,

    Thanks for your comment! I’m sorry to hear that you lost your cat. I can’t believe how difficult it is to overcome a cat’s death. I’ve lost several cats over the years, and still feel the pain immensely.

    But, I keep welcoming more cats into my life because I love them SO much! I believe that getting another cat after a cat’s death is very helpful and healing, as long as you remember that each cat is different.

    And like you said, it’s so important to give yourself time to grieve your cat’s death.


  18. jan says:

    When I lost my first cat that had been my own to totally look after, I couldn’t bear coming home and not be greeted by a little furry face. Then I got two Siamese and now I can’t begin to imagine a life without one or two Siamese boys. You certainly need time to grieve and everybody will be different. Some people go out immediately and find another pet pal and some might take months or years. when one of my boys passed away his brother was so distraught I had to go and find him a companion and got a part Siamese girl. My boy settled down immediately, although I know that he missed his brother. When he passed away, much as I love my girl she is a little aloof and so I got another Siamese boy. It has taken my partner a long time to realise that he is just as important! To me having my cats is up there with breathing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *