7 Things That Help Me Cope with Grief After Losing a Cat

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Losing a cat is excruciating. In fact, I’m going through it and grieving as I write this. I think the loss of a pet and the grief process that follows is one of the hardest, most intense experiences we have to get through.

It’s not easy to prepare for grief, as each end-of-life journey is different. That being said, I’ve been through this a few times and have discovered that I do certain things to help me cope with losing a cat. Hopefully, some of these suggestions can help you navigate the grief process after the loss of a pet.

1. I celebrate the cat’s (whole) life

At the end of life, whether it’s prolonged or sudden, it’s easy to get caught up in the sadness and intensity of that current moment. Sometimes, when I’ve found myself in this place, I realize I’m not honoring the rest of the cat’s life. What about the amazing years or months I had with the cat? What about the funny things my cat did? Or the loving bond we had? What about the wonderful memories and stories of the cat? I try to focus on the life I’ve shared with the cat, even though it’s very easy to want to focus totally on the end of life.

A cat dressed up and being silly in a basket.

2. I find people who understand what losing a cat is like

Whether your cat has passed on or is likely to pass on soon, obviously you’ll want to be around people who understand. Now is not the time to take comments like “it’s only a cat” to heart. If you do run across someone who says something like this, try to breathe and let it go. You need your energy to get through grieving, not to get mad about ill-placed comments.

Instead, find people who understand and are respectful of your loss of a pet and the grief process, whether they love cats or not. A compassionate person and friend will give you the space and respect your need to grieve.

Two older cats hanging out together.

3. I take time to be alone, if I need it

Some of us like to share; others are intensely vulnerable when going through grief. I’m a little of both. Know yourself. If you need to be alone, honor that. It’s OK.

4. I understand that loss of a pet and grief is a powerful process

Sometimes, grief reminds me of the waves of an ocean. You’re feeling fine and then WHAM, some piece of grief hits you and you’re down, or crying, or both. I’m not sure why it is, but just knowing that this happens has made me prepared for when it happens again. I try to flow with it. Everyone grieves differently. We all grieve in our own time, and in our own way. Let it happen the way it needs to happen for you.

An orange and white cat hangs out on the beach in the sun.

5. I breathe (deeply)

This is a yoga tool, but it’s also a relaxation technique, which anyone can do. When you’re exhausted from stress or grieving, breathing deeply through your nose can really help relax you and restore your mind and body to a state of calmness. Even a minute or two of this has great benefits. I do this all the time during periods of stress, or if I’m grieiving the loss of a pet. From a physiological standpoint, this activates your parasympathetic nervous system (which induces relaxation) rather than your sympathetic nervous system (which is all about fight or flight). Try breathing deeply in any stressful situation or any time you find yourself holding your breath.

6. I’m good to myself and my body

I’m no good to my cats if I’m a mess. So even though it’s hard (grief is exhausting), I try to remember to be good to my body. I try to remember to eat good stuff (not junk), get outside, exercise, breathe — all good things for me. Find the good things for you and remember to do them.

A cat on a pier.

7. I honor the immensity of grief

It’s a big deal, and we all get to go through it. The sadness in grief is huge, but strangely, so is the joy. Celebrate these wonderful creatures we love, whether we’re going through life with them or whether we’re letting them go.

Read more about losing a cat and handling grief:

461 thoughts on “7 Things That Help Me Cope with Grief After Losing a Cat”

  1. We lost our cat Louise on ten the 4 of may and we miss him so much we cry every day it’s so hard. You will no what to do when the time comes x

  2. Colson Anderson

    Hi I no how you fill we lost louies on the 4 may and it’s so hard with out him we miss home so much we cry every day it’s hard to no what to do you will do the right thing x colson

  3. I saw your post and can relate. I will be 71 in a couple of weeks. Today, I put down my Iris who we adopted almost 16 years ago. She was 3 when we got her, she was disabled, missing one eye; hence the name “the Eye” (Iris)!. I am not doing that great tonight and can relate to how empty your life can be when the pet is gone and you think, well, how long can an adopted pet really remain with me? We are looking at adopting a senior cat. A few years back we had to put down a Burmese we had adopted. She was a joy as was our Iris. And, as I have done research, I found that senior cats (probably like people) are hard to care for and place. So, we will not get a kitten, but will look at providing a senior cat with an end of life experience that is wonderful. Maybe that is what you can do too. The house is too empty without 4 paws padding about!

  4. I lost my little buddy Ricky on Tuesday, May 4. He was diagnosed with kidney disease back in January and I had been giving him subq fluids twice a week. He was 15 and 3 months and I got him at 3 months. He was my baby – slept with me, loved to be on my lap or near me, and it broke my heart to see him decline but I was going to make the last part of his life as good as I could. He never really regained his appetite, but did OK and loved to sleep out on a chair on the porch. Then the last few days he stopped drinking and eating much and the last day he had trouble standing up. I still can’t believe he is gone and it’s like one of my arms was cut off. It helped me to read other people’s stories but I just miss him.

  5. I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my sweet, gentle girl Minnie today at just 15. The vet convinced me there was no hope and I’m still angry I didn’t wait longer. Her gums and paw pads were white and her abdomen was filling with fluid so she was probably bleeding internally though she showed such courage and calm. She had been ill for a while but never complained, not a whimper and I’m in shock at the decision I had to make. I brought her home and buried her out back. It’s not the same without her. I have a young male cat who adopted us 6 months ago, but she never liked him much (haha) he’s a darling but he isn’t her. I feel absolutely broken.

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