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One week ago today.

One week ago today, a normal Sunday morning. We both slept in late. I didn't know that would be our last morning together my baby girl. You were just here a week ago. Your little heart was still beating, you still breathed. You didn't have a care in the world. You were nestled sleeping next to mommy... 😭... I want to go back to that morning
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I keep looking out the windows and I keep roaming the yard and the outside the house just looking.

I'm not even sure what I'm looking for, what I think I will find knowing full well that Ginger is not here. Not being able to see her dead body has left me with a hole.
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When Your Cat Dies: Gentle Tips to Heal Your Grieving Heart

Updated on August 5, 2019

Sadie Holloway 


Sadie Holloway, a proud cat parent, is a strong advocate for adopting pets from animal shelters and rescue organizations.

Coping with the loss of a beloved cat can be truly devastating, but hopefully this article can help guide you through your grieving process. | Source

Coping With the Loss of a Cat Can Be Devastating

Coping with the pain of your cat dying can be one of the most difficult things you'll face. But with patience and gentle self-care, there are things that you and your family can do to ease the pain and grief of losing your cat.

Cats can be incredibly affectionate, loving, and loyal. They remind us to be playful and adventurous. They remind us to live in the moment and to love unconditionally. In many ways, our cat friends help us to be better human beings. That's why it can hurt so much when your cat dies, leaving you with an empty space in your life.

What to Do When Your Cat Dies

With a loss so massive, it can be extremely difficult to know what to do with your life now and how to even begin grieving such a wonderful animal. Hopefully, this guide will help light the way through your healing process.

Here are some of the things you can do to help grieve the loss of your cat:

Accept that your grief over losing your beloved cat is valid.

Surround yourself with people who understand.

Understand that feeling guilty is a natural response.

Accept that grieving is a gradual process, unique to every individual.

Make a list of all your favorite things about your cat.

Keep in mind that your other pets may be grieving too.

Rediscover your purpose in life (or find a new one).

Determine if, and when, getting a new cat is a good idea.

Recovering from the loss of a furry friend takes time.

Your Grief Over Losing Your Beloved Cat Is Valid

Grieving when a pet dies is real. Your feelings are not overly sentimental or silly. It’s OK to acknowledge your pain.

The pain of losing your cat can be devastating. It's important that you let yourself grieve. Let yourself express your sadness in whatever ways feel most comfortable and healing for you. Remember, pets are an important part of our lives. Losing their love, affection, and companionship can be beyond heartbreaking. Don't be afraid to cry openly or talk about how much you miss your cat.

Though grief can't be shared and is something that an individual goes through alone, there are luckily a few things you can do to help you carry that burden.

Surround Yourself With People Who Understand

If you can, surround yourself with people who understand the pain and grief of losing a beloved cat. People who don't share your love of pets may not understand your sense of loss. And folks who don't identify as "cat people" may not understand that losing a cat can be just as painful as losing a dog. Part of your healing process involves acknowledging and accepting that your pain and sadness is real and valid. Having a friend or family member at your side who can appreciate the significance of your loss will help you slowly recover and heal.

Although you may feel as though no one can possibly understand the intense feelings that arise when your cat dies, take comfort in knowing that there are many more books and resources available to you than ever before. Many crisis line workers, counsellors, psychologists, and health professionals recognize the pain and grief that can be triggered by the loss of pet. Don't be afraid to ask your doctor for support or a referral if you feel like your grief is becoming unmanageable.

Note: If you're also looking for some guidance on how to help your children through this difficult time, then check out my article on How to Talk to Your Children About the Death of a Pet.

Talking to an understanding friend about all the cute things your cat did may help ease your pain.

Feeling Guilty Is a Natural Response

Are you feeling guilty about the death of your pet? That’s OK, too. And a normal response to the loss of a pet. Try to accept that you made the best decision you could for your pet at the time.

If your cat died suddenly in an accident, succumbed to a fatal illness, or had to be euthanized when her pain was intolerable and her quality of life was fading, it's normal to struggle with feelings of guilt and shame.

"Why couldn't I protect her?"

"If I had only kept her inside that day."

"If only I had noticed sooner that she was looking tired and worn out."

These are all common questions and feelings when a beloved feline dies. Sometimes when we grieve, we replay situations in our heads. We second-guess the decisions that we made. Maybe you didn't try (or couldn't afford) every medication, treatment, or special diet that was available, but you did the best you could with all the love you had in you and all the resources at your disposal. Take a deep breath and try to forgive yourself.

I had to make the decision to euthanize my cat. While I was devastated to let her go, I knew it was the most humane, compassionate thing I could do for her. For those who have to make the difficult decision to put an aging and sick cat to sleep, try to remember that you gave your cat the ultimate gift of a peaceful and pain-free end—a painless death that may not have been possible had your cat had to wait for a natural death.

In his book, Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die, Jon Katz offers solace to those of us who may be second-guessing the choices we made at the end of our pet's life. He writes:

"Focus instead on the things you gave your pet and the many things he or she gave you. The walks. The affection. The connection to other people. The shared experience journeying through parts of life together. That, not guilt or regret, is the legacy of your pet."

No Heaven will not ever Heaven be. Unless my cats are there to welcome me.

— Anonymous

Grieving Is a Gradual Process, Unique to Every Individual

Coping with your loss can only happen one day at a time. Be gentle with yourself.

A pet's death will affect the rhythm of your daily life. Old habits like going for a walk with the dog each morning or serving the cat her evening meal can jolt you back to the reality that your pet is no longer with you. It will take time to let go of some of these old, unconscious habits.

As a writer who works from home, the days and weeks after my cat died felt long and lonely. I missed the rituals we had carved out for ourselves—the afternoon cuddle, the sly way she'd steal my warm seat whenever I got up for coffee, the loud meow from the living room calling out to me, "Where are you?" (As my cat got older and started to lose her eyesight, she needed more and more reassurance of where she was.)

After my cat passed away, I had a hard time sitting in her favorite blue chair. I felt guilty, as if I was edging her out by sitting in her seat. How could I even think of reclaiming her regal blue throne as a piece of common people furniture?

For people who were caring for sick pets, the loss of a daily care routine can be doubly heartbreaking.

It may be tempting to dismiss these feelings as just being overly sentimental, but it is important to honor your feelings for what they are. Your cat was a significant part of your life.

Note: For a more detailed breakdown of the common stages of grief and how they can relate to the death of a beloved animal, take a look at this gentle guide on The Stages of Grief When Losing a Dog.

Make a List of All Your Favorite Things About Your Cat

Though this might be incredibly difficult, consider writing down a list of all your favorite things about your beloved feline. Funny things they liked to do, little personality quirks that were unique to them, the little acts they did that made you feel like you were the only other one in the world.

Writing down all of these little bits and pieces that made up who your cat was and what they meant to you can both help with the grieving process and also aid your memory in years to come whenever you want to fondly remember your loved one. Author Michael Zadoorian talked about doing this very act as part of his process for grieving his sweet cat, Bongo: "I just wanted to write about the gifts that this small furry creature had given me. Even then, by using the past tense, I was trying to get used to the idea of him being gone."

Cherish Their Memory

Honor your beloved companion by making a list of all of your favorite things about your cat.

If you have more than one pet in your family, some of the other animals may also show signs of grief and sadness over the loss of an animal friend.

Your Other Pets May Be Grieving Too

When a family pet passes away, it's not just humans who feel the loss; other family pets may also show signs of sadness and depression as well.

In the mid-1990s, the ASPCA conducted research on the behavioral changes in cats who lost a close cat friend. Researchers found that 46% of cats ate less than usual following the death of a fellow pet friend. And almost 70% of the cats studied showed vocal signs of grief, either meowing more than usual or becoming markedly less talkative. Many of the grieving cats slept more than usual. Many cats also became much clingier to their human companions. So, while you're coping with your grief over the loss of a pet, be mindful of other family pets who may also be going through their own grief process.

Watch for signs that your pets' health might be changing, and don't be afraid to talk to your vet if the other household animals show signs of prolonged grief and depression.

Do you believe that pets are capable of experiencing grief when an animal friend dies?

Yes! Of course other pets would be affected by the loss of a furry friend.

No. I think pets who are depressed are reacting to our own sadness at losing an animal family member.

See results

How Do You Move Forward?

Though the popular saying goes that "time heals all wounds," many of those with terribly deep wounds and other forms of trauma know that this isn't always the case. In fact, one could make the case that time heals very few wounds and is often powerless against the most painful of them. Sometimes, you never really stop grieving so much as you learn to live with it. But that doesn't mean that we are helpless in the face of our grief.

Once again, everyone grieves and heals in their own ways. And to be honest, not all wounds can ever be truly repaired. Some holes just can't be filled again by anything—or anyone—once they are created by the parting of a loved one.

Rediscovering Your Purpose in Life

But among the most common and powerful ways to move forward in the face of massive grief is to rediscover your purpose in life (or find a new one). According to Dr. Robert Neimeyer, a psychology professor at the University of Memphis in Tennessee, grieving can be understood as a "process of trying to reconstruct a world of meaning that has been challenged by loss." He also added that healing is less about waiting for the passage of time than it is about "what the bereaved person does with that time that matters."

Naturally, this can mean a variety of different things. Maybe it means focusing on sharing all the love you still have to give with the people—and animals—who mean the most to you in your life. Perhaps you eventually begin volunteering at a local animal shelter to help spread the joy of loving a wonderful animal to as many people as possible.

There are so many ways to find new meaning and purpose in this world—or to rediscover the ones we already have but have perhaps temporarily forgotten—if only we are able to look for them. Of course, you may not yet be in a place where your grief will let you do much of anything outside of mourning your lost friend. But when the time comes where you feel like you might be up to finding and fostering that new meaning, you might just be surprised at how big of a difference it can make in your life—not to mention the lives of others.

Should You Get a New Cat to 'Replace' a Lost One?

This is a very difficult question to ask and rarely has an easy answer.

In many cases, this can actually be a terrible idea that could potentially backfire and prolong your grieving. After all, a new cat is not your old cat that you loved for years and years and formed a unique bond with. They will not do all the same things you loved about your previous cat. You will not feel that same deep, unspoken emotional connection when you look into their eyes. And they cannot repair all of the broken parts inside of you left in the wake of your beloved's death.

Simply "replacing" your cat with a new one will not change the fact that you need to feel your feelings of grief. And that takes time.

When Is the Right Time to Get a New Cat?

This is yet another aspect that comes down to the individual level and can't be easily covered with a blanket statement that applies to everyone.

In general, however, a good method of determining whether or not you are ready for a new cat involves assessing your own emotions about your departed friend and how raw those feelings still might be.

If it feels like you are simply trying to replace your friend—rather than bring a new buddy into your life—then you might want to hold off for a bit.

But if you feel like you have reached a point where your grief is less ever-present in your daily life and you are ready to love a new friend, then you might be OK to start looking for your next feline companion.

Eric Richman, a licensed independent clinical social worker for Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine hotline, put it this way:

“I’d pay attention to what you’re saying to yourself. Is it, ‘I want another cat like Fluffy around,’ as opposed to, ‘It would be wonderful to have another cat in my life I can love again.’”

Thank you for being here and supporting others who are feeling sad about the loss of their cat.


Gormly, Kellie B. (2017, September 28). How Long After Your Cat Dies Should You Wait Before Getting a New Cat? Retrieved April 8, 2019.

Pawlik-Kienlen, Laurie. Healing Your Heart When You Miss Your Cat. The Adventurous Writer. Retrieved April 2, 2019.

Zadoorian, Michael. (2016, May 18). There Is Nothing 'Inappropriate' About Grieving the Death of Your Cat. Huffington Post. Retrieved April 2, 2019.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
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Ginger's Mommy,
Thank you for this 'article". It has helped me and I am sure it will help others. 💛
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Dear Gingers Mom
I am so sorry to read about your cat and how she passed. I can only imagine how awful you are still feeling. We love them so much that a loss like this is hard to get over. I, too, write letters to my cat Olliebaba on here and its cathartic to me. Maybe that would help your heart feel a bit better too. I also made him a memorial and speak to him everyday. This forum is so great and we are all here to support each other. I am so sorry for your loss

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Thank you Lauri, I do talk to her. Abt the memorial I'm considering a shadow box (a deep frame that holds both pics and items). I've read your letters to Olliebaba. My heart grieves for your loss too. I don't always post bcs it's all so deep sometimes and I have to stop to sort of breath I guess, if that makes sense. Thank you for reaching out to me. This forum has been a life line.
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Ginger's Mommy,

I just read about Ginger. I'm sorry. So sorry.  You must be devastated.   This was a shocking thing for you to experience.  How are you holding up?  Nothing like this has ever happened to me, so when you said "the dead had been picked up Monday" does that mean she's gone forever?  They took away and you can't see her again?  I feel for you. I am so sorry.  

It was you and her and now you are alone and must feel the loss.  I'm sorry for your loss.  We, here at this forum, understand and care.  You have friends here. 

Wishing you peace and comfort.

~ Parker's Mom
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Parker's Mom,

Thank you for your words of sympathy. I went back and read a lot of your story. I'm sorry you lost Parker and at the indifference of that vet.

In my first post I meant her dead body had been picked up by the municipality. I never got to see her body again.

Today it makes 2 weeks.

I have accepted the reality of her death. My heart still aches for my baby girl. I am doing better though. That first week I was on auto pilot. Just going through the motions, the days were all the same. The waves of grief felt like Tsunami after Tsunami of tears. Now the waves still come but they are not Tsunamis anymore and they come less frequently.

In the beginning stages of grief our focus is in all the bad, in the death, in their last moments and the role we played in it. I still miss her. I still feel her absence. I still cry for her. But I can "breath" now.

This isn't my first "rodeo" though. About 16 years ago I lost my toy poodle. My first daughter. That experience helped me deal with Ginger's passing now. I guess in the way that a martial artist is more equipped to handle a fight depending on their belt/level.

We all grieve differently. We all go at our own pace. But know that it does get better in time. I've also read on other posts that there is a time when they were better and then a trigger like a holiday or date made them go back a phase in grieve. That's still a possibility for me of course. Time will tell.

Thank you for reaching out to me. It means a lot. I hope this gives you some hope for your own grief. For your own heart. Please know that we are here for each other. 💛💛💛💛
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Ginger's Mommy,
Just stopping by to give you a hug. I can't imagine the pain that you are going through with not having a body as you said. Just know in your heart that you gave Ginger the best life with all the love that you offered her. You have such strength and courage! I really do admire you. Thank you for all you are doing to help others here and the other furbabies when you volunteered. Big hugs xx
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Thank you for sympathies and sentiment. Yes not seeing her body at first really tripped me up and made it harder to accept her death. Now I wonder if perhaps I was spared the visual so I would only have her living memories.

The strength has been purchased with a lot of tears over many different losses in life. From pets to relationships to hopes and dreams. But that strength helps you stand and keep going. Helping others during their grief does help too. It puts me in their shoes and helps me step out of mine. I've also continued to volunteer on the weekends. My heart wants to bring them all home. I've always been an animal lover. Helping them is helping me. It's a beautiful circle of goodness.

Much love your way 💛💛
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I can totally relate to your feelings. Have been through the same feelings 5 yrs ago when I lost my first pet and also yesterday when I lost one of my stray cats who i have been feeding for the past 4 yrs. Its the most terrible feeling. I am going on crying in between my work. and unable to sleep at night.
Only time will heal the pain and it can never go away completely.
This is the ultimate truth.
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@ Tapati, I'm sorry for both of your losses. Yes only time can help lessen the pain. My heart goes out to you I. This time of need.
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I am so sorry for your loss. I know it never gets easy when we lose our own or the kitties that we feed as strays. I loss my 19 yr old cat a little over 6 wks now and it still hurts badly. Yes he lived a long happy life but I miss him being right beside me everyday. My deepest condolences to you. 💛
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