Oct 072008

You may be surprised at the pain and grief you feel when your cat dies. These ways to cope with the loss of your cat are from pet lovers who have felt your pain.

when your cat dies

When Your Cat Dies

When your cat dies, picture him or her with an angel. The Willow Tree with Affection (pictured) is a beautiful angel holding a cat, with peace and love and acceptance.

“Grief can’t be shared. Everyone carries it alone, his own burden, his own way.” ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The sadness you feel when your cat dies can’t be shared and is yours alone. But, it can help to read about how others mourned their cats’ deaths.  Here, pet lovers share tips for coping with cat loss — these tips may not take away the pain, but at least they’ll help you see you’re not alone.

Here are several tips for healing from cat lovers who experienced the pain of their kitty’s deaths.

4 Ways to Cope With Grief and Loss When Your Cat Dies

Everyone deals with their pet’s death in different ways. These stories from people who loved and lost their cats may help you heal…

Share memories about your cat with people who knew him or her

“As a child, we were encouraged to talk about the pet and remember him or her,” says cat lover Pam Vetter. “Pets are family members and have important roles in our lives. Whenever a frog, lizard, parakeet or guinea pig has died in our house over the last 14 years since my kids were born, we’ve held a mini-funeral in the backyard.  We bury the pet, put a rock marker on top, and share our memories about the pet. The time together serves to recognize the pet’s role in our lives.  My kids are encouraged to share their memories about our lost pets.”

Give yourself time to heal after your cat dies

“There is no single formula to saying good-bye when your cat dies,” says Dan. “Healing takes place over time. The loss of a pet is the loss of someone you loved, and when anything you loved is abruptly taken away from you, there is no substitute. Four years ago, my cat Peep disappeared without a trace. I live in an exclusive suburb of Los Angeles in the hills. It’s often you have wild life and predators roaming at night. I was sick with some dental problem and when I came home from pharmacy at 9 pm, I couldn’t locate both my cats…one of then came home and the other didn’t.” – Dan Tanner

Welcome another cat into your home – when you’re ready

“Last January we had to have our beloved cat, Janvier, put down,” says cat lover Jessica. “He was suffering from renal failure, and the treatment would have crushed his spirit and terrified him, so we made the hardest decision of our lives. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss having my first baby around. It’s pathetic, but we haven’t even gotten rid of his kitty litter (it’s clean!) or his leftover food. I still think I can hear him puttering around at night. We have two young children and insanely busy lives, so we haven’t adopted a new cat yet. We feel like we wouldn’t be able to give him or her enough attention at this time, which would just not be fair. I really believe that having a new kitten would help us survive our cat’s death. I also think that bringing a new pet into our lives would help us honor Janvier, by constantly reminding us of the cute and funny things he used to do. So I hope that one day soon-ish, we’ll open our homes to a new pet both to help heal our hearts and so our children know the joy a cat can bring to a home.”

Rescue an abandoned kitten or cat

when cat dies

Our cat, Nunki. She’s 10 years old, and I cherish every day with her.

“I had my multi-coloured white and ginger cat, Penny, for 8 wonderful years,” says Cynthia. “Her death was sudden. She seemed to be losing weight to a point until she appeared too thin, so I took her in to the vet’s and got the bad news. They suggested an operation, but the next day I got a call during the surgery that she might not make it. I rushed in, and she died in my arms. In my case, whether or not to get another cat was already solved in a way, as I had just rescued a small black kitten, and was fostering her for the local Cat Adoption Team. The month before, I had decided to adopt her myself. After Penny died, I called her my ‘Little Gift from God’.” – Cynthia Colby.

In Letting Go of an Animal You Love, I share 75 ways to cope with pet death from veterinarians, pet loss experts, grief counselors, and cat lovers. If you’re struggling to cope with grief because of your cat’s death, you may find comfort there.

Are you ready to open your home to another cat? Read Should You Get a Cat After Your Cat’s Death?

If you’d like to share your stories and thoughts about your cat, please do below.

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  227 Responses to “When Your Cat Dies – 4 Ways to Cope With Grief and Loss”

  1. Dear Nikki,

    I’m so sorry for what you’ve had to go through when your cat died. It’s a terrible accident, and the grief and sadness sometimes feels overwhelming. Your poor cat was here and healthy one minute, and then gone the next. It’s heartbreaking, and so difficult to understand.

    My prayer is that your heart heals as you grieve your cat’s death. May you cry and be sad as you say good-bye, for this is a sad time. I pray you’re able to come through the grief and be strong for your other cat. I also pray you’re able to open your heart to perhaps adopting a new cat, and sharing all the love that in your heart with a new animal who needs a home. It may be too much to think about right now – I have a cat and two dogs, and I will be wrecked with grief when they die – but my prayer is that you heal and become able to love again. May you feel God’s strength, peace, and love as you say good-bye to your beloved cat. Amen.

    In sympathy,

  2. That is such a sad story. I’m sure you feel awful. Your other cat will feel your pain too. Keep an eye on the other cat. It may stop eating due to depression. Take it to the vet if it does because only a couple days without eating, it can get fatty liver disease. I took my other cat to the vet and we gave her a liver supplement and did tests. The liver supplement prescribed actually acts as an anti-depressant too. My cat perked up and has lived 3 more full years since then. We started being very affectionate with her and she has risen to the challenge and become a brand new cat that loves attention. I also play Jackie Evancho videos for her. She seems to love her singing.

    Let your heart heal, and reassure your other kitty. Pray to God for help to get through it. God gave me a sign I asked for to reassure me my cat was in heaven. I said to give me a sign with cardinals or blue jays. When my husband set the table, for some reason he used glasses I’d received for Christmas a few years back. These glasses have cardinals and blue jays on them. My husband didn’t know my prayer. God has also sent cardinals and blue jays to our bird feeder on a regular basis.

    Trust your kitty is living happier in heaven and it will help you go on and forgive yourself.

  3. Last night someone hit my cat with their car I heard the tiers trying to stop and as soon as I ran to get my cat she was hit. I had to watch her flopping around nonstop and when I picked her up her blood was all over my body. I took her to the pet er and was told it was to late that she is gone.
    I don’t know how to deal with this I had to hand feed her and help her use the bathroom when I first found her out side in the snow. She has been through everything with me and everytime I wanted to give up I knew I couldn’t because she needed me.
    now its just me and my other cat who is just as sad as me
    what do I do

  4. Dear Jen,

    It sounds like Littledot meant so much to you, and you’re devastated by her death. Cats are so important to us! I love my cat, too, and I dread the day I have to deal with her death.

    I hope you’re starting to heal. I don’t think we’re ever the same after our cats die — I still miss a cat I lost 15 years ago, and feel guilty about her death — but slowly we do start to feel ourselves again. It’s important to grieve and say good-bye when your cat dies, but it’s also important to give ourselves permission to heal and move on.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you. If you want to share memories of Littledot, please feel free. Writing is one of the best ways to heal from pet loss.


  5. I am going through this right now. My darling Littledot died at age 19. I spent a lot of time with her. I loved her so much. I cry anytime I’m alone. As soon as I walk out the door from work, I start crying. I’m crying right now. I can’t sleep. I feel like I want to die, too. Heartbreaking does not come close to how I feel. I don’t think I could go through that again.

  6. I don’t think we ever really get over the grief we feel when our cat dies. I had to put my Fluffy down almost 20 years ago, and I still feel so sad when I think about losing her. It’s just part of me now, just like the pain of losing my grandmother, sister, aunt, and best friend.

    There are no exact stages of grief, and there is no exact time that mourning pet loss takes. I believe our pets will always leave a hole in our hearts – and it’s up to us to choose to remember them with peace, joy, compassion, and happiness. I try to remember all my lost loved ones with peace and joy, not pain or grief. It’s hard, but I really believe there is no forgetting. It’s just about moving on, and loving who we’re with right now. For me, it’s my two dogs and my cat that I love right now. I miss Fluffy, but I try to focus on the beloved animals in front of me right now.

  7. Ying Li,

    I know that feeling of guilt. I, like you, had a negative experience with a vet so didn’t take my cats. I knew something was wrong with Misty–same story as yours. I still feel some guilt especially because our second cat we did take to the vet and has lived another 2 yrs with treatment (pills) after her diagnosis. 17 years is pretty much the end of life for most cats but it is still hard because the cat has been with you so long.

    I suggest you write a letter to your pet about how special it was. Say your apologies in there. Ask God to send you a sign that will assure you all is well.

    I still miss Misty and have occasional dreams about her after 2 yrs, but the major heavy grieving was about 2 months. Grieving is a normal part of processing loss. Just do what you can and look for support if needed.

  8. I just lost my cat Ruby 3 weeks ago from illness. I have so much guilt that I wish I have taken care of her better. Everyone said that she had good 17 years, never sick, she had my husband and my parents all the time, but I felt that I did not spend enough time with her. 3 years ago, she seemed to eat less. I wondered if she was sick. I had not have good experience with vet at that time with my other cats, my husband decided to change to the best food and add natural herbal supplement for her and she was doing great until 3 weeks ago. She stopped eating and threw up her food at night. Emergently I found this great vet (His name is Dr. Mike Doe) overnight. The minute I saw him, I trusted him. I had bad feeling that something serious wrong with my Ruby. She was diagnosed with possible cancer and I am working with cancer patients for over 10 years. I had to make the hardest decision to put her down. She was 17 years old, I could not imagine for her to go through biopsy and chemotherapy etc…
    It is very hard for me and it will be 3 weeks tomorrow that I have not touched or hugged her. When I am at work, I don’t feel much sadness. The moment I come home, I started to search her and felt that she is everywhere in the house. I felt so bad that I am crying for the loss of cat and see my patients are fight for their lives…, I wish that I spent more time with her instead of work all the time…, How long does human grief for their pets? I heard about 2 years. I can’t live like that for 2 years. I am dreaded to get another cat because of not spending enough time with them…

  9. In our household, we had 4 cats; one being a male feral that adopted us. He brought a respiratory ailment into the group after being around for about a year, but at first I thought he just had a minor cold. One of our other female cats of about 10 years of age caught it and she became very sick, requiring vet care and medications and forced feeding. Then our 8 year old female cat caught It, but it didn’t progress as severely in her. Our main cat was a frail 20 year old matriarch, who seemed ok. We isolated the sick cats and their food and water, but within a few days, the old cat began sneezing – an ominous sign. She had been under a vet’s care for some time, so we brought her in; but it was too late and she got very sick. She had survived 2 previous major health crises, so I hoped she might make it thru this one. But I was forced to ponder the odds, and as much as I wanted her to live, I could not bear to see her suffer – so I had her euthanized.
    I struggled with my emotions as I watched her life ebb away, and wept uncontrollably as I drove home with her body in the car. I returned to an environment where I see her traces everywhere and cannot believe she is gone.
    I console myself with the fact that death is inevitable and that she is now at peace, as her physical burdens are over. Make the most of the time that you have with your companions, as you will realize how precious it was when it is gone. My emotions run the gambit, from some decision guilt of euthanizing her, to not protecting her better, to just the plain loss of her loyal companionship. Friends that have lost pets have consoled me too. Life goes forward – these departed animal friends of ours become cherished memories and remind us of the value of their unwavering friendship . Send them your love and that light will shine on in their new world.

  10. Dear Marc,

    It sounds like your cat’s death has been really difficult for you to deal with. You’re still in the midst of heavy, black grief. I agree with you; there might be some other problem that is making your grief much more difficult to process.

    Why do you think Rusty was so important to you? I think it’s important to talk to a grief counselor, and sort through your feelings and thoughts. You have the answers – it’s just a question of digging deep to find them within yourself.

    What is causing you such pain? Talk it through with someone. It’ll be painful to talk about it, but it will be worth it in the long run.

    I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.


  11. As im writing about my cat story tears are pouring down my cheeks. Rusty was my best friend of 17 years together he past away in may this year and i think of him every day, i can’t talk about him without crying i do have another cat and dog and i feel guilty
    Of this love that i had for my rusty my wife sister past away to
    Cancer and i hardly cry but i was very sad about it, so my wife is very unhappy about the fact
    That i did not have much emotion as i did for my rusty
    And they is nothing i can do about it.
    I miss my rusty so much i feel that i am too sensitive and can’t let go and i do not want to let go so i do think i have a problem here

  12. Thank you for sharing your experience here. I wish I had words of comfort to help you mourn your cat’s death, but I feel like words aren’t enough.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you. May your hearts and souls heal, and you remember your beloved cats with peace and joy.

    In sympathy,

  13. Last Thursday afternoon, my 12-year-old Phineas died at home while I was on my way to the vet’s for more meds. He was being treated for toxoplasmosis. It initially took five days for the vet to decide to put him clindamycin and he was on it for two weeks and doing well. Unfortunately, I was not told until I called the vet three weeks in that many cats must be on meds for months, not weeks, for toxo. Phin’s symptoms returned four days after the second week of pills and I was too late getting more. I cannot feel worse than I have since he died. He was such an unconditionally loving friend and I feel like I totally failed him. I know that guilt changes nothing and I am trying to remind myself to be grateful for the bond we had for 12 years. I always tried to protect him and to have my indoor cat die because of my negligence is unbearably painful. I have lost family and friends over the years, and this loss is just as painful — maybe more so because I feel like I caused it.

  14. I recently lost one of my cats. She was 6 years old and seemed perfectly healthy. On Monday, my parents informed me she had a kiney infection and was put to death. I’m still in shock. I miss her but I know I’m not alone.

  15. Liliana my heart goes to you,
    What can do to us a lit bit of fur, i hope your cat didn’t suffer very much, because beside the loss that it’s very painful, you will be thinking how afraid Penny was, what she was thinking, I asked my cat Pippin to go to her and protect her, he always protected female cats by other bully cats. Where she is now there is no suffering, no pain, when my cat died I asked my mother to help him, the receptionist at the vet asked his cat Clarke to help him too, (my mother and Clark both passed away and she said there are times when she sees her cat and feel his presence from the other world. I had a friend she is an economist but she had the same experience she was away in a work meeting, and when she got back to the hotel she saw her cat at the reception, later she heard from her mum her cat died.

    I tell you my story you are not alone, I am recovering from my pet loss too.
    I just lost my cat too, we had appointment with the vet on Sat 2nd of March 2013 at 14:40, it was an unusual sunny day, still very cold, here in London, at about 11 am Pippin my beautiful 15 year old tabby went out into the garden I was feeling very sick myself, I couldn’t sleep the previous night, I watched him from the window, he stay out about 15 minutes. I have been agonizing about my cat for about 6 months when he was diagnosed a tumor on his esophagus not operable, I used to give him a medications for the pain and for the tumor to develop slowly, but after 6 months there was growth almost all around his jaw and he was unable to eat, and my cat loved his food, that week I tried with all my love to make him eat no longer solid food, he no longer could open his mouth, and I wanted him alive in my life, he was like my flesh and blood, he was my child, he trusted me, but I couldn’t let my selfishness to keep him alive with all that suffering, since he got ill I have cried almost every day been powerless, assisting impotent to that illness taking over my beloved cat, but when he had good days I was the happiest person in the world, that day I knew it was a good bye, I thought I was prepared for it, but I felt totally crushed, the pain was agonizing I felt guilty, I had my cat killed, he didn’t want to die, but how could I have let him die starved and in pain, he lost the fur on his neck because the tumor was pushing out, I used to disinfect it, my heart was was sliced in a way I didn’t think it could be possible. My boyfriend was with him,I was there too, but I couldn’t look at him. We took his lifeless body at home I didn’t want him to be buried right away, we did it next day, in the garden, every since we have big candle burning just to remind him he is still loved and in my heart, I still cannot believe I will never see his sweet face again, that he will not come when I call him, when I saw him for the very first time I fell in love with him immediately, he was very friendly, not a bad bone in his body, I have 3 other cats, they at times hate each other but he was the peacemaker,
    since he fell ill I devoted myself to him, and I miss him and always will, now you may think this is the worst thing ever happened to me, no I know pain, my mother passed away 10 years ago, and always will love her too. Good bless you my friend healing will come too.

  16. I just recently lost my cat, a coyote got him. I am very hurt, I don’t know what to do to make my pain go away. I have been crying a lot, he is always in my mind 24/7. I really miss him a lot :-(

  17. I know there is nothing I can say to make it easier, but I just want you to know that every night I say a prayer for people who lost their cats. It is such a heartbreaking thing, to say goodbye to your beloved pet. I hope this article helps you mourn your cats death – especially the comments section, because it shows you you are not alone.