Catster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

How to Help a Friend Who’s Grieving Over a Cat: 10 Tips

Written by: Chris Dinesen Rogers

Last Updated on March 15, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

man sitting at grave site

How to Help a Friend Who’s Grieving Over a Cat: 10 Tips

Some articles are difficult for us to write. This is one of those times. Sadly, most of us understand the devastating pain of losing a pet. Roughly 95% of pet owners consider their animal companions family members. Losing a cat is a devastating loss. It can be awkward when considering what to say or do to help a friend in this situation.

If you’ve had this experience, start by thinking about what would have made you feel better or at least comforted. Here are some tips to help your friends grieve and move past their loss.

3 cat face divider

The 10 Tips on How to Help a Friend Who’s Grieving Over a Cat

1. Start With Simply Acknowledging the Loss

Simply saying you’re so sorry is one of the best and most meaningful things you can do. Undoubtedly, your friend knew their cat better than you. You’ve certainly heard stories about their pet and seen pictures or videos. You get it. Sometimes, people back off from saying anything because they don’t want to upset them. However, they’re already sad, so be kind and acknowledge their grief.

woman supporting her friend
Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

2. Reassure Them of How They Made Their Pet’s Life Because of Their Love

Pet owners are a lot like George Bailey from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. They often don’t realize the positive impact they’ve had on their animal companions. Undoubtedly, they spoiled them and showered them with love. Reminding your friend how their cat won the lottery when they met will be a welcome gesture during their grief.

3. Just Listen

Pet owners react to loss differently. The person goes through some of the five stages of grief, whether it’s one or all of them. Some feel the pain acutely. Others take comfort in denial to keep it at bay until they’re ready to deal with it. Helping your friend as they process it can simply be a matter of listening. Be the shoulder they can cry on as they first experience life without their beloved pet.

man sharing thoughts to his friends
Image Credit: fizkes, Shutterstock

4. Acknowledge Their Care Toward Their Cat

Sadly, guilt sometimes accompanies grief. People may second-guess themselves about whether they did the right thing if they euthanized a pet or if they missed critical signs of an illness. It’s not like cats make it easy for their owners to discover something is wrong. It often becomes a matter of quick action when they do. A gentle reminder of what an attentive owner they were will help ease the pain and reassure them.

5. Have a Picture of the Pet Framed

The chances are your friend has plenty of pictures of their cat. However, they may not have many with them and their feline companion. If you have one, getting it framed is a loving gesture acknowledging your friend’s grief that harkens back to happy times they can recall and cherish once the initial heartbreak has eased.

cat photo on wooden frame
Image Credit: Agenturfotografin, Shutterstock

6. Offer to Help

Grief is sometimes an all-consuming emotion. One may forget appointments and things they must do while trying to rein in their feelings. You can provide much comfort to your friend by offering to help out with things. You can order some takeout for them so that they don’t have to cook. Volunteering to pack up the cat’s toys and other things can make a big difference.

7. Plant a Tree for Their Pet

We all wish our pets could live forever. It’s always too soon to say goodbye. You can comfort your friend by planting a tree in their cat’s memory so that they can live on figuratively. They may find it consoling if it’s somewhere they can visit whenever they need to feel close to their cat. A plaque at a favorite park can offer similar consolation.

man planting tree
Image Credit: MIND AND I, Shutterstock

8. Bring Up a Shared Memory of the Cat

Some pet owners find it comforting to talk about their cats. Bring up a shared memory in your conversation with your friend, particularly if it’s an amusing anecdote. You’ll make your loved one smile without the burden of grief, even if it’s just for a short time. It’ll help your friend to know someone else thought as highly of their kitty as they did.

9. Send a Sympathy Card or Flowers

You probably won’t think twice about sending a sympathy card or flowers for someone who lost a loved one. Even if you aren’t a pet person, your friend’s cat likely meant the same thing to them. Research has shown that cats form attachment bonds with their caregivers on a par with children and their parents. Their grief at the loss of a pet is real and worthy of acknowledgment.

flowers with sympathy card
Image Credit: Cora Mueller, Shutterstock

10. Offer a Hug

Sometimes, words aren’t enough. They can’t erase the loss or the grief it brings. Don’t worry if you don’t know what to say. A hug or a hand on their shoulder can speak a thousand words. Let the gesture do the talking for you. It will mean just as much, if not more.

3 cat face divider

Things to Avoid

The feelings while grieving are often raw and painful. Your friend is hurting. While it may seem natural to share similar experiences, it’s not the time, especially if it’s a recent loss. Your loved one needs your comfort and understanding. Avoid talking about a pet you’ve lost. Likewise, don’t say anything implying it’s better this way. Focus on the loss and its impact on your friend.

We also suggest taking your friend’s cue. Some people think of their pets as family members, whereas others don’t put them on that pedestal. Match your response and tone with their reaction. And don’t be afraid to share some tears. We’ve all known what loss feels like.

support group comforting a grieving young man
Image Credit: fizkes, Shutterstock

cat paw divider


The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory may not include the loss of a pet in its list of the most stressful life events, but it certainly belongs on it. The grief and pain can be just as acute as losing a close friend. After all, our cats are our feline companions. Helping someone through this process focuses on compassion and understanding. You may not be able to change things, but you can provide much-needed comfort.

Featured Image Credit: Cris Kelly, Shutterstock

Get Catster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Catster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.