How Do You Heal After the Loss of a Cat?
Losing one of your furry kitty companions is one of the hardest things that you will ever go through. After all, they are a member of the family. And, without question, you have a strong heart connection with each one of your cats. Sometimes, your relationship with your cat is much closer than any you have with a human in your life. They rely on you to provide for them, and they are often your closest companion. In return, they provide you with unconditional love.
I have dealt with my fair share of loss, both from the cats and humans in my life. With each, the healing and grief process is very intense. Both hurt equally and both require time for the pain and sorrow to dissipate. There are no rules when it comes to the length of time you should grieve over your loss. It takes as long as it takes, and don’t let anyone try to tell you otherwise.
I have had two of my feline friends pass over the past year. Both Pumpkin and Angelica had a special place in my life and my heart. Though some time has passed, I still think of them often.
Through the years I’ve found various methods that have helped me heal after the loss of a furry friend. Here are some of my favorites:
1. Write about them
It doesn’t matter if you write professionally or for pleasure. It’s important to get your thoughts and memories about your cats who have passed down on paper. It provides you an outlet to remember, share, and honor them. You can also have each family member write a letter about what they loved best about the cat.
2. Create a scrapbook and photo album
You can place your favorite memories and photos inside the books or albums. You can label them and display them in an honorary spot in your house.
3. Make a shadow box
A shadow box will allow you to place their favorite toys, portions of their blanket, lockets of fur, and other items that remind you of them inside the box. You can then place the shadow box on a table or shelf in a special area or where your cat liked to spend time.
4. Post pictures
Place your favorite pictures near the television, your reading areas, and on the refrigerator. Because you visit these areas often, you will have a happy reminder of your cats and what they were doing when the picture was taken. You can change the pictures or move them around to keep another memory alive. If you like using the slideshow feature on your computer, you can have your favorite photos of your cat display randomly on the screen.
5. Talk to others
It’s important to have a family member or friend with whom you can openly talk about your loss. Share your happy stories with them and learn what they’ve done or are currently doing to assist in their own healing process. There are also support groups available. The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement offers the ability for you to search for a grief and loss counselor in your area. Another option is the Pet Loss Support Hotline offered through Tufts University.
6. Read about pet loss
I recommend three books to anyone trying to heal from the loss of their beloved animal companion. Each book offers a different perspective on pet loss and proved useful to me when I needed additional insight in order to heal. The first is Saying Goodbye to Your Angel Animals: Finding Comfort after Losing Your Pet by Allen and Linda Anderson. The second is Animals in Spirit: Our Faithful Companions' Transition to the Afterlife by Penelope Smith. Lastly, there’s There is Eternal Life for Animals by Niki Behrikis Shanahan.
Please remember that it’s healthy to talk about your loss and shed those tears. In the end, we all need to deal with loss on our own schedule and in our own way. Your kitties will feel honored that you’ll always carry them in your hearts. They also want you to remember the happy times, and for you to know that all is well.
Have you dealt with a loss of a cat? What are some of the ways that helped you to heal? Let us know in the comments!
Losing a cat hurts because they're such joys to have around. Here are other stories on Catster about losing -- and having -- cats: