The heartbreak of losing your cat may be surprisingly painful. You knew you’d be sad, but you may not have expected to feel so overwhelmed with grief and sorrow. And yet here you are, struggling to cope because your cat died. You may feel lonely, but you are not alone. Join us as we say goodbye to our beloved animal companions and furry friends. You will find comfort, strength and encouragement as you read through these ideas and insights for coping with your cat’s death.
Here’s what a reader said: “My husband and I just had our 14 year old cat, Kordell, put down last Tuesday,” she wrote on Do You Miss Your Cat More Than You Thought Possible? “We miss him very much. He had diabetes and dementia, he was acting very strange right before we put him down. He would wander around the house with a glazed look in his eyes. I would like to know how to survive this great loss. How do we ease the pain of losing our beautiful cat?Thanks.”
Surviving the loss of a cat is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do. People may be surprised by how hard a pet’s death is. You yourself may be shocked at how bad you feel that your cat died! Another surprise is that the death of some pets hit us harder than others. Some cats are so ingrained in our hearts and souls that we feel we’ll never stop feeling helpless, heartbroken, and unsure about how we’ll go on.
Your cat was always there for you, unconditionally loving, listening, and passing no judgment on anything you said or did. And when you touched, petted or groomed your cat you were flooded with feel-good hormones, such as oxytocin and endorphins. So was your cat! And that’s why the pain of your cat’s death hurts so much.
Easing the heartbreak and pain of your cat’s death is different – and perhaps even more difficult – than coping with the death of a human loved one. Why? Because as George Eliot said, “Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.”
Easing the Pain of Your Cat’s Death
“The animals in my life represent my most intense and valued of relationships,” says Sid Korpi, animal chaplain and author of Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss. “I come from a human family fraught with conflict, addictions, and abuse. Over the years, I’ve pruned away the most toxic of those relationships, but through it all, I’ve had the purest love and devotion I could desire from my pets. They’re my ‘family of choice’ rather than of biology. They were always thrilled to see and be with me; they reminded me to play, to live in the moment, and to love without thought of myself. In short, these animals helped me be a better human being.”
The sad truth is that you’ll never be the same. Your loved your cat, and with great love comes great loss. You’ll always miss your furry feline friend – the purrs, the snuggles, even the errant hairs and meows in the middle of the night! You won’t ever be fully “over” your cat’s death…but you won’t always be in as much pain as you are right now.
Consider changing your environment
If your cat slept on his own pillow in your bed (like our cat, Nunki, does every night), consider rearranging your bedroom furniture or changing the type of bedding or pillows you use. If you watched TV with your cat on your lap every night, find other ways to fill your evenings – write that book you’ve been fantasizing about, clean your junk drawers, or organize your photos in a family album.
Distract yourself by creating new, different, interesting habits or patterns of living. This may help you learn to live without your pet and ease the pain. You may also find Comforting Prayers for the Loss of a Beloved Dog or Cat helpful.
Allow the pattern of your life to be different
“A pet’s death means that the pattern of life has changed,” writes Gary Kowalski in Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Lost a Pet. “Ingrained habits – going for a walk with the dog every evening, setting food out for the cat before work – will serve as persistent reminders of the loss that has befallen us. Like a person who has been recently widowed and automatically makes two cups of coffee instead of one, we may have to be retrained.”
It’ll take a conscious effort to create new habits or a slightly different pattern in your life now that you’re living without your cat. And maybe you don’t need to. Maybe you’re more comfortable with the way things are, and you don’t want your life to change more than it already has. That’s okay. Give yourself what you need.
Make sure you have a reason to get up in the morning
“One of the basic human satisfactions is the feeling of being needed, and attending to an animal gives many people a daily sense of being useful,” writes Kowalski. “It is important to know you make a difference, at least to one appreciative creature. For some people, losing a pet can mean losing a sense of purpose.”
However, before you can contribute and feel useful – and before you heal from the grief of your cat’s death – you may need to grieve. How do you say goodbye to your cat? It depends on you, your personality and perspective. Some people find prayers and the presence of God comforting. Other people need a practical role or focus that helps them walk through their dog’s death.
Believe that your cat’s spirit lives on in your heart and in Heaven
“As a psychotherapist, I investigate the origin of emotional difficulties,” says Barbara Stone, PhD, author of Invisible Roots: How Healing Past Life Trauma Can Liberate Your Present. “To my surprise, several times I have found that unresolved grief about a pet’s death keeps the spirit of the pet earthbound and present in the home of the owner. This drains the owner’s energy – and the larger the pet, the more energy its spirit will pull from the owner. Being earthbound also prevents the pet from moving on into the joy of the next world. Owners who really love their pets need to let them go after their death. They can ask the pet to be on their greeting committee when their own time comes to leave this physical body and enter the spirit world. I hear that every pet we have ever loved will be there to greet us!”
“If there is a Heaven, it’s certain our animals are to be there,” says Pam Brown. “Their lives become so interwoven with our own, it would take more than an archangel to detangle them.”
How are you doing? Please feel free to share your cat stories and memories here. Your cat may be gone from this world, but lives in heart and spirit.