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What to Say to Someone That Has Lost Their Cat: Helping Through Grieving Process

Written by: Chris Dinesen Rogers

Last Updated on April 14, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Old Lady talking to a sad woman

What to Say to Someone That Has Lost Their Cat: Helping Through Grieving Process

Every pet owner understands the gut-wrenching pain and grief that threaten to overwhelm their emotions when they lose a cat. They are keenly aware of the ache that the absence of a beloved pet feels like and how much it hurts. It’s no wonder, given that 76% of cat owners consider their feline companions members of their families 1.

It’s hard to know what to say to someone who has experienced such a loss. Take heart in knowing that even a simple acknowledgment will be welcome. Some people think of pets as mere animals, but we know—and science tells us—that cats can form attachments with their owners 2. They tailor their behavior and vocalizations to their family members. That’s part of what makes the loss so devastating.

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Things to Say to a Grieving Pet Owner

When someone loses a loved one, they reach out to family and friends. They’re looking for the comfort others can provide. That often begins with a hug. Sometimes, words aren’t necessary. An embrace recognizes the raw pain another person is feeling. You’ve spoken volumes to the pet owner without saying a single word.

People process grief differently, and the so-called five stages of grief don’t necessarily apply 3. Some cat owners may want time to mourn privately, and you should respect their space. Others may want to talk about their feline companion. You know your loved one or friend best. Be what they need at the moment.

woman comforting her sad friend while sitting on the sofa at home
Image Credit: Josep Suria, Shutterstock

After a Sudden Loss

This loss can be devastating, especially if the cat was young. Discussing how it happened isn’t as important as reaching out and reassuring the pet owner. Tell your friend they made the kitty’s life better because of their love and care. Gently remind them how they improved their pet’s quality of life. It can provide some comfort knowing the positive impact people have on their cats’ lives.

Likewise, knowing you share in the pet owner’s grief can be reassuring. A tragic loss doesn’t seem fair, especially for a cat that may have had a rough start in life. It’s okay to express those feelings. A simple “I’m so sorry” is priceless. Offer to be the shoulder your friend can cry on and tell them you’re there if they need or want to talk.

After a Long Illness

Caring for a pet during a long illness is emotionally taxing, and the loss is just as painful. Your loved one may appreciate your acknowledgment of their efforts to care for their cat. Remind them of the selfless gift they gave their pet to make them as comfortable as possible despite their illness.

After a Euthanasia

Euthanizing an animal is never easy. It’s a tug-of-war of emotions of wanting to spare a pet the pain and stress of treatment versus your feelings. Sometimes, to end their suffering, we must accept our own. However, the choice belongs to the pet owner because they have to live with it. Reassuring your loved one that they did the right thing will help.

woman trying comforting another sad woman on a couch
Image Credit: Antonio Guillem_Shutterstock

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Things You Can Say

  • What a lucky cat [pet’s name] was to know you!
  • I was heartbroken to hear about [pet’s name]. I’m here for you.
  • [Pet’s name] loved you as much as you loved them.
  • How can I help?
  • I’m so sorry. I’m thinking of you.
  • You gave [pet’s name] a wonderful life.
  • We’re all going to miss [pet’s name]. They were the best cat ever.
  • It’s never easy. I’m here if you want to talk.
  • I’m sorry about [pet’s name]. They were one of a kind.
  • I’m so sorry. You made [pet’s name] such a happy cat.


Other Things You Can Do

Recognizing your loved one’s pet as a family member is comforting because it shows you understand their loss. We all want our pets to live forever. You can give this gift to your loved one with a tree or bush planted in the cat’s memory. A plaque with the kitty’s name is a fitting addition.

You can also donate in the pet’s memory to a rescue organization or your loved one’s favorite charity. Sending flowers or just a sympathy card shows you care. Any gesture is much appreciated.

Two people holding hands
Image credit: – Yuri A, Shutterstock

Things to Avoid Saying

There are some things you should avoid saying that may be inappropriate. The focus should be on your loved one’s loss. It’s not the time to bring up your experiences with losing a pet. Don’t tell them that it’s all for the better. That’s the last thing they need to hear when they’ve lost what they consider a family member.

Some people don’t view pets in the same way, but you can take a clue from your loved one’s reaction. If they’re grieving, don’t dismiss their pet as just a cat or ask when they will get another one. Sometimes, people want to talk about what happened, and other times, they do not. Let them decide.

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Final Thoughts

As Winnie the Pooh said, “Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” That’s what our pets mean to us, and we’re grateful they shower us with unconditional love! It’s always too soon when we have to say goodbye. However, it helps when you reach out to a grieving cat owner with your love and understanding. The best thing to say is something rather than nothing.

Featured Image Credit: Vibe Images, Shutterstock

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