Dealing with the loss of a cat is an extremely painful moment: this little friend, this family member, who grew up and lived with us for some time… Whether his/her death was accidental does not change a thing, grieving is difficult and it takes time to recover. Accepting the loss of your beloved cat is a very challenging situation especially when we do not know what to do, when our emotions take over and leave us hopeless.
“It does not matter how it happened, nobody is ready to emotionally accept the death of our beloved pet” says Psychologist Dr. Wallace Sife who founded the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement.
Don’t be ashamed to CRY
To cry on your animal’s death is very normal and people who do not understand should be avoided at all cost. Making fun of someone or demoralizing them on the loss of their pet is not a thing to do! It does not help and it is disrespectful.
The stages of the loss of a pet are shock and denial, anger, distancing, guilt, and depression. The final stage is resolution which means you greave but with a will to move forward in a way that memorializes your friend. To that extent, the death of your cat friend is very similar to one of a friend or a family member, you will go through several stages and it will take some time. Days, weeks, months, nobody reacts the same way.
One very important but difficult thing is to overcome guilt. If you had to euthanize your cat or if he died in an accident, it may be harder to cope but you need to understand that this isn’t your fault. Death is a part of life and we need to accept the risks in order to keep on living.
Accept your grief, do not try to control your emotions. By freely expressing your feelings, you will be able to move from one stage to another and get closer to resolution. Hang in there!
SHARE your feelings
It is of tremendous importance to talk, express your pain and feelings, share it with people who understand you (family, close friends…) and once again, avoid people that you know would not understand why you are crying. You can even find support groups that will help you cope with your loss.
Honor your friend
This is probably one of the most therapeutic solutions you will ever find. You can organize a little ceremony that will honor his/her memory. Simply planting a tree in the backyard for example is a nice symbol that will always remind you of your friend.
You can use urns, headstones, engraved plaques, window decals. You can also prepare a photo album which will probably make you smile as it will remind you of how much you are going to miss him but also bring you joy thinking about all the good times. A nice album will enable you to accept his loss but keeping a big place with him in your heart.
Other good ways to think about your cat is to light a candle or write something about him/her. Basically anything you feel appropriate for the one who shared part of your life.
Think about yourself
If you want to overcome your grief, there will be a time when you will want to get out there and stop crying alone in your room. You are punishing yourself and it is not good to stay like that.
Instead, rather than staying alone and miserable, it is important to do things you love. Have a nice dinner, take a trip somewhere to change air, get a massage and above all, exercise. Exercising is a very good way to release the happy hormone and get you out of this depressing mood.
Adopt a new cat ?
It’s not that easy. You cannot and should not replace your friend too early. It is a slow process and you need to wait for the right time before adopting a new friend. You can’t push it without risking of feeling disloyal to your old friend. Just take it one step at a time, visit your local shelters from time to time, do not commit too fast. Then when the times come, you will know.
How to help your children
Your children will probably develop extraordinary bond with their cats and pets in general. It’s also going to be hard on them. Best thing is to say the truth, do not invent a story of the cat running away or going to sleep. Explain what happened to their cat in a way your children can understand for their age and religious beliefs.
Let them know it’s alright to cry and express their feelings and make sure they understand it is not their fault. Be there and talk to them, help them going through this difficult time, stick together and let them know you’ll answer any questions they may have.
Dealing with the loss of a cat: Final thoughts
You are right, nobody can be in your shoes right now. However, you are not alone and as hard as it might seem, you will pull through. Time does heal, even if it takes a while. In the meantime, you need to accept and sometimes put some extra effort to cope with your cat’s disappearance. To put it in a nutshell:
- Don’t be afraid to cry
- Express your feelings and share them with your loved ones
- Make something special in the honor of your cat
- Bring positive energy in your life and do the things you love
You can hear some more advice on this very interesting and peaceful video:
If you feel like sharing your experience here feel free to do so by leaving a little comment, it would greatly help other people facing the same situation. Any recommandation or tips is welcomed. Thank you.