15 Tips to Cope with the Sudden Loss of your Cat

Discover effective ways to cope with the sudden loss of your cat. Learn what makes beloved pet cat loss unique and find valuable tips for cat lovers dealing with grief.


Katie Abendroth

5/8/20247 min read

15 tips to cope with sudden cat loss15 tips to cope with sudden cat loss

Why Cat Loss Grief is Unique

1. Acknowledge your Grief.

The loss of a companion cat, especially sudden loss can take a toll on your mental health if you don't acknowledge it. Learning to identify your grief and find a supportive community is an essential starting point.

I found people online who better understood my own pet grief and started @hope_after_pet_loss on Instagram to support others.

If you are seeking connection and want a private community, consider joining my Hope After Pet Loss Support Group. We meet twice per month (live over zoom, but recorded if you can't make it), have a private Facebook group, and you will get a pet post on our Pet Memorial Wall.

2. Press the Pause Button.

Right now, you are vulnerable. You are grieving. You may be in shock or experiencing symptoms of PTSD if you witnessed your cat's sudden passing. All of this takes a heavy toll on your brain and energy.

Don't make big decisions, like quitting your job, or getting a new cat just yet. I recommend waiting 6 months before making a big decision or committing to another pet to give your mind and body time to heal.

3. Ask for Pet Bereavement Leave.

While you should not quit your job, you may feel hopeless or unable to work if the trauma of losing your cat suddenly is impacting your daily life. If you need time off of work, it is okay to ask human resources for pet bereavement leave.

Progressive business owners are increasingly offering this to employees, in recognition of the close bond we develop with pets. However, if not you should still be able to take paid time off (PTO) or even sick leave, if you truly feel that your mental health is preventing you from doing your job.

4. Get Outside.

Fresh air is truly healing. Getting outside allows you to connect with nature, freshen your perspective, and see wildlife. It is important to unplug from electronics and spend 10-30 minutes outdoors each day. Don't worry about the weather, just dress for it.

5. Don't Isolate.

I know my tendency is to retreat and isolate when I am depressed or grieving. I also know this is the worst thing to do! Since we are using so much physical and emotional energy when grieving, we need the support of others.

If you are a natural introvert, or highly sensitive person, spending time in big groups may drain your battery. But find a way to connect with other humans.

6. Preserve your pet's ashes.

One thing I regret about pets I have loved, is that I did not preserve their ashes. If your pet didn't live a long time, pet cremation is the best way to keep you cat at home. Or have the ashes turned into a beautiful piece of jewelry to wear close to your heart.

7. Create a memorial.

There are great ideas for creating a memorial, but usually a picture or poem is a perfect way to start. A living memorial can be a potted plant or outdoor garden that keeps growing and represents the cycle of season while honoring your pet's memory.

8. Do a random act of kindness in your pet's honor.

I loved this idea from @honoringouranimals that you do something kind, like buy a coffee for someone behind you in line, in your pet's name.

Or you could donate to an animal rescue group in your pet's name. Take the joy of your cat's life and share it with the world in some small way.

9. Maintain routines.

for your own mental health, preserved your own daily routines. Shower, get dressed, eat meals, exercise, and comb your hair, even if you don't want to.

Even if you feel like you're just going through the motions, routines keep you moving and take less cognitive energy because they are familiar.

10. Get a massage.

there is a healing power in touch, and massage can release toxins and tension you may be holding during the experience of loss.

Massage is a wonderful investment in your own self-care that is well worth it after the death of an animal companion.

11. Try yoga.

Yoga does not require an expensive membership or name brand leggings. Yoga with Adriene has a wide variety of short yoga videos that are free.

Try this "yoga for grief" as an example. Yoga also decreases anxiety, which is common during grief.

12. Chose your own adventure.

Do something you have never done before. It can be a road trip to a new town, paddle boarding, or joining a book club. Getting outside your comfort zone is one of the best ways to discover new things you may really enjoy.

13. Set a timer.

One challenge with unexpected grief is how relentless it can feel, especially if this your first experience with grief. As days go by, it may be helpful to set a time limit (30 minutes) to remember the good times, cry over the loss of a best friend, and process your own journey of grief.

When sadness threatens to overwhelm you, just remind yourself that you will have your set time later to focus on the pain, but try to compartmentalize your pain to some extent, so you can get through your daily routines.

14. Limit caffeine & alcohol.

As adults, we have to learn healthy coping strategies, and model these for the children in our lives. This may be your child's first experience with grief and they will watch you closely for how to cope.

Drinking too much caffeine or alcohol may numb the pain, but it will only deplete your reserves, not recharge your emotional or mental battery. Both caffeine and alcohol also interfere with quality sleep, which you absolutely need when coping with the death of your beloved cat.

15. Consider professional help.

Depending on the cause of death or your coping toolbox, professional grief counseling may be a game changer for you. A licensed psychologist can identify if your deep is so grief that it qualifies as prolonged grief disorder, and whether you may need to join support groups.

If your grief is causing you and your spouse or family members to have conflict, an impartial counselor can also help you process the death of your pet in a safe, confidential space.

Finally if your alcohol use is excessive or you are tempted to use illicit drugs to cope with your loss, please seek professional counseling to find healthier strategies.

Feel like you need more support? Check out my private pet loss support group.

coping with sudden cat loss
coping with sudden cat loss

15 Tips to Cope Unexpected Cat Loss

A pet's death is never an easy journey, and one that nearly every pet parent has to experience. However the loss of a cat, who has passed suddenly, can cause even more stress.

Here is why sudden loss of a cat may be a uniquely challenging experience, and 15 tips to find hope again.

One reason that loss of a pet cat may be hard on pet owners is that cat grief may be underestimated or misunderstood. Since cats typically don't get the crowd love that dogs do, it may be hard for people who don't own a cat to understand the special bond they create.

This type of grief is called disenfranchised grief. You can read more about different types of grief here. However, cats tend to form very deep bonds with a few people, and that is likely you, if you are reading this.

Another subtle reason cat grief is challenging for owners, is that "cat people" tend to be more reserved, introverted, and solitary. This is of course a generalization and doesn't apply to ALL feline owners, but it is one of the reasons some people prefer cats.

Cats are known for being independent, quiet, and solitary so they bring deep companionship to owners who have similar temperaments. Sometimes, this makes it hard to connect with others when processing the big feelings associated grief.

Cat grief can also be a very difficult time if you kitty passed away young or suddenly. The trauma associated with an unexpected death means you had no time to mentally prepare for this experience, or to brace yourself for the pain. They were living their best life, and you may be filled with guilt or remorse about what happened.

Whenever we lose a beloved pet it is natural to feel some guilt, or try to understand the reason behind a sudden death. But I am here to give you some unconditional love, just as you did for your cat.

The very fact that you are going through the grieving process is a good indicator that you did the best you could to give you pet a good life. Below are 15 tips from pet grief experts about how to cope with the sudden death of your cat.

I am so sympathetic towards anyone experience the unexpected loss of their cat. Feline friends offer a truly unique relationship and may absolutely be your best friend.

Take comfort in knowing you provided your sweet cat a loving home and a joyful life. I hope that with time, the happy times will overshadow this loss.

You are not alone and I am sending you light and love as you navigate this difficult journey.

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