5 Crucial Stages of Grief Over The Loss of a Cat

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Bringing home a cat is one of the best moments ever. Plus, you get the joy of watching him/her grow with your family. However, no matter how well-loved and taken care of your cat is, there is going to be the day we all dread most; the day when we have to say goodbye. Even in my 36 years, I have lost many beloved cats and each time, it breaks my heart.

No matter how hard I try, the pain of losing my cat never gets easier. However, I know I am not alone. We all grieve in our own ways during different periods in our lives. Yet, there are considered to be five stages of grieving {according to the Kubler-Ross model} and that doesn’t change. So to appreciate the joy and compassion a cat brings, we must also endure the grief that will one day come our way. These 5 crucial stages of grief over the loss of a cat will help you to cope and to one day hold only happy memories of your cat in your heart.

5 Crucial Stages of Grief Over The Loss of a Cat. There are ways to cope after goodbye.

5 Crucial Stages of Grief Over The Loss of a Cat

The moment we realize our pet has left our lives, we are usually in shock. We cannot even imagine our lives or routines without our pet. In our minds, we want to deny it even happened. We want to walk around the corner and see our cat sitting on her favorite bed as she always does, or near the favorite toy he always played with. Yet, this isn’t possible and because of that, we often want to numb away the sadness. We eventually start to come out of our self-induced reality and progress eventually to the healing stage of grief, but for each person the time within the denial stage varies. Give yourself the right to feel the sadness, but don’t let it overtake you. Keep remembering that your cat loved you and would not have wanted you to hurt for any reason.

You begin to feel anger over the situation itself, perhaps at your cat for leaving you, or even at the veterinarian for not being able to save her. You may feel angry at yourself for not having known he was sick, or even why God would take him away from you. I can tell you from experience that this stage can be a real tough one and one of the longest running. You want to be able to blame someone or something for why your cat left. However, in the end, no matter how angry you feel, you cannot change the ending. Keep in mind that we can’t choose when we die and neither could your cat. Illness happens. For outdoor cats, getting hit by a car is always a possibility. There are also those times where we may never know what ultimately took the life of our beloved pet, but this is a part of grieving.

This is one stage that I find myself going back and forth in quite often. The stage where you lock yourself in the past and try to make the ending different. However, no amount of “what if” or “if only” will change the tale. You can’t bargain with the past and you can’t bribe the future. I often find myself wondering what I could have done to make things different. What if I had realized my cat had a blockage? Would I have been able to save his life? What should I have done differently to save him? However, none of these matter. We are also prone to a lot of guilt during this stage and that too won’t change a thing.

Losing a beloved cat is a very sad and depressing situation. Once we realize that no amount of bargaining or guilt will save the cat, we feel depressed. Don’t be ashamed to feel the hurt of it. We can all relate to feeling depressed over many things in our lives and in due time, it will pass.

I wish I could tell you that acceptance means you are able to end the hurt and sadness of your loss. However, this isn’t the case. You simply learn to “live” with the loss. You learn to function and to be able to smile again. You learn to be able to wake up in the morning without crying the moment you realize your cat is not there. You will always miss your cat. You will pass by where her favorite bed used to be and feel a tingle of sadness creep in. You will decide on eating tuna fish for lunch and remember how much he loved to drink tuna juice. These moments are to be expected and are normal. The acceptance comes from knowing that your cat is gone and nothing you do or think will ever change that.

Keep in mind that these 5 stages are in no particular order and you may find yourself switching back and forth through them. Don’t set a limit on your grieving process. We are all different and need different things. However, always remember that your cat loved you and you loved her. Even death can’t take that away.

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  1. Girl, why you trying to make me cry today?!

  2. Our kitties are a part of our family and like losing anyone, it is really tough. They’re so innocent and bring so much joy to our lives! 😥

  3. A friend of mine just lost her cat a couple months ago and she has definitely gone through all of the stages. She misses that cat so much that she has gotten to the point of acceptance now.

  4. Animals are the sweetest when you need comfort. I couldn’t agree more.

  5. Gosh, this is hard to think about! I can only imagine how difficult it is for someone to go through each of these stages!

  6. Amy Desrosiers says:

    Aww, this is so sad to think about. I still remember when our beloved Lady was ran over on the highway…what a tragic thing for my mom to find! 🙁

  7. Claudia Krusch says:

    It can be so hard to say goodbye to a pet. I have two cats and I can not imagine having to say goodbye. I love the cat bath photo.

  8. Losing my animals is one of my scariest thoughts. This will help so much when the time comes.

  9. Losing a pet is just a horrible thing to go through. As much as it hurts it’s always nice when the stages are over and you can remember the happier times together.

  10. Brianne says:

    Aw this makes me so sad. I imagine these stages are the same for dogs too and ours are so up there on their age. I am trying to cherish every moment!

  11. Saying goodbye to a pet is so hard and these apply perfectly to any pet! We loss a puppy sometime ago and although she was only with us for a short time, it was one of the hardest things we had gone through at the time.

  12. Losing a beloved pet is difficult. They are a member of your family so it’s only natural to go through the stages of grieving.

  13. wen budro says:

    No……it never gets easier. These stages are spot on. I unexpectedly lost my dog on March 10th. It’s amazing the number of otherwise sensitive people who immediately want to put a limit on your grief. I lost count of the number of people who told me to just go to the shelter and get another dog. “It’ll make you feel better.” No. No, it won’t. Thank you for this post.

    • Kristen says:

      I am so sorry to hear this. And I know exactly what you are feeling. There is absolutely NO limit on grieving and honestly, it goes on for a lifetime. You loved your pup and love NEVER dies. You will snuggle again one day ….until then keep the happy memories close to your heart ..*smile

  14. This is so true! I think these stages apply to all pets. It’s never easy to lose a member of our family. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the hardest. We just lost one of our senior dogs and even though it’s been 6 months it feels like 6 minutes.

    • Kristen says:

      I am so sorry Erin. It never gets easier, we just learn to tolerate it more. Your pup is in Heaven. I have no doubt whatsoever about that. *smile

  15. Jennifer G says:

    This is true. I lost my cat when I was younger. I was 19 and had lived on my own for a long time and had my own little cat family. My one cat “bruiser” passed away from feline leukaemia and I was devastated. If that wasn’t bad enough my ex then stole my other cat and moved out and refused to give him back. I grieved a lot for both of them. It’s never easy to lose a family member, furry or not.

  16. kathy downey says:

    Since i lost my last poodle 5 years ago i could never bring myself to get another pet,miss him so much !

  17. I had bottle fed a 5 week old kitten and she had gotten distemper but survived it. Although, she had developed life long seizures on a daily basis. I tried all kinds of medication, spent countless amounts of money on her and put myself and my family in debt for a year. Until I couldn’t bare to watch her seize anymore. Most of her brain and herself wasn’t there anymore after so many seizures. I had to let her go and I still wonder if things would have been different if I didn’t choose the route I did.

    • Kristen says:

      I am so very sorry to hear this. You loved her and did the best you could. You will see her again…AT HER BEST …one day!

  18. Calvin F. says:

    Will always remember my 4 cats that I lost, most to old age, but I will never forget them. The first cat I lost devastated me, especially because she left suddenly.

  19. Debbie White Beattie says:

    I’m a real animal lover so when any of my animals have died it has sent me into a real depression. I wasn’t lucky enough to have my own children so my animals have become my surrogate children and I pour all my love into them.. I definitely go through the stages of grief and now as my cat and dog are getting older I sometimes find myself looking at them and I will start crying because I know what I’ll have to go through and how much I’ll miss them.
    Thanks for the great post and now I’m crying again!

    • I cried reading your comment. I do that very thing as well. I look at them now and know how hard saying goodbye is going to be …. How lucky we are to have loved something so dearly…Meowy Hugs.

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