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.
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.