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Coping with Grief When Your Cat Dies

Updated on May 5, 2018
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Sadie Holloway wants to help others who are coping with the loss of a pet know that they are not alone in their grief.

These tips on how to cope with your cat passing away will help you honor your beloved pet and move toward healing from your grief.

Saying goodbye to a furry friend is never easy.

Be gentle with yourself. Coping with the death of your pet cat may take time.
Be gentle with yourself. Coping with the death of your pet cat may take time.

Understanding the depths of your grief and sadness over the death of your pet is the first step in your healing journey. With time and the support of others who have experienced the loss of a beloved cat, you'll one day be able to remember your pet with a smile on your face and a warm feeling in your heart.

If you're missing your cat, here are some gentle tips on how to honor your beloved pet and move towards healing from your grief. As you gather support and information, you'll soon learn that your reactions to your animal friend passing away are common to everyone who has suffered the heartbreak of pet loss.

Time spent with cats is never wasted.

— Sigmund Freud
Finding a special place in your garden to create a pet memorial is a lovely way to remember your cat.
Finding a special place in your garden to create a pet memorial is a lovely way to remember your cat.

Create a memorial garden. Many of our pet friends spent much of their lives enjoying the fresh air, running in the grass, digging in the dirt. Creating a special place in your yard is a lovely way to honor your pet. The act of gardening, tending to flowers, and watching things grow has been scientifically proven to boost your mood and encourage emotional and spiritual healing. Having a special place where you can go to think about your pet or send him your prayers is a nice way to spiritually reconnect and remember the love you shared with your cat.

Even people who live in apartments with small patios can create a planter garden with a small shrub to commemorate the deceased pet. Memorial gardens can include painted stones, statues, tiles, glass art, and wind chimes.

Light a candle for your four-legged friend

Hold a memorial service for your pet. Consider inviting your closest friends and family to a memorial service for your pet. Many of your friends and family do understand your sadness over the death of your cat; they may even be feeling grief themselves. Sometimes those close to us are at a loss for what to do or how to help. By hosting a memorial service for your cat and telling your friends and family their presence would be a great comfort to you, you’ll be providing them with a way to help you overcome your sadness.

The memorial service can be as simple as a gathering in the garden where a pet has been buried, or as large as a formal service and reception held in a pet funeral home. Pet bereavement is slowly gaining wider acceptance and there are now organizations that can assist with burials, cremation, and memorial services. Your veterinarian may be able to refer you to a service provider in your area.

Create an online pet memorial. Part of the healing process in grief recovery is sharing stories and remembering the pets we love. Online pet memorials, which are becoming more common on the internet, can be a great source of support. Reading other people's stories of losing their pets and empathizing with their pain can help you validate your own feelings. The real-time aspect of the online memorials and pet loss forums can also help you feel less alone. As you reach out to others in their grief, you will slowly start to heal. Helping and supporting others and witnessing their pain and grief can help you ease your own feelings of loss.

Write a letter to your beloved pet expressing your sadness. Write to your pet, telling her everything you loved about her and what memories you will cherish forever. Write freely. There is no right or wrong way to express your grief. Your beloved furry friend will understand every one of your heartfelt words.

I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through.

— Jules Verne
The other pets in your family may also show signs of grief and sadness when a furry friend dies.
The other pets in your family may also show signs of grief and sadness when a furry friend dies.

As you come to terms with the loss of your pet, take care to notice how your other family pets are doing. Animals are capable of forming deep bonds with each other. Even animals from different species can be lifelong friends with each other. For example, a study done by the ASPCA in the 1990s found that cats can have very strong emotional reactions to the loss of an animal friend. Almost 70% of the cats studied showed distinct changes in vocal patterns, either meowing more than usual or becoming uncharacteristically quieter. So while you are helping yourself and your human family members overcome the loss of a pet, don't forget to give some extra love and attention to the other animals in your home also coping with grief.

There's a Special Place for Your Beloved Cat

What has helped you cope with the death of a pet?

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© 2015 Sadie Holloway

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