How to cope with loosing a cat

It never gets easier.
It hurts, every time.
No matter how many cats I had to let go, no matter the circumstances.
Loosing a family member always hurts.
And they all, every single one have a special place in our home and hearts.
Forever.

loss cat

The most recent cat we had to let go was Flecki, our gorgeous grey and
white tom who adored children and unfortunately was also very nosy. He just
loved walking into neighbours houses and jumping into cars.
That’s how we lost him in February.
We desperately searched for him everywhere but with no success. At one
point he was thought to be seen roaming in town, but even with driving
around and constantly calling his name we were not able to find him.
And then the terrible news.
A cat with his unusual amazing markings was found just around the corner
of our house, hit by a car.
Flecki had almost made it home.

Even our cats live into their late teens or even their twenties, it is never
long enough. And the price we have to pay sooner or later is the pain of loss
which can be devastating. While others may not understand the depth of the
pain, for many of us our pet is not “just a cat” but a part of our family.
We form a strong bond with our cat and the feelings we experience when
we loose them can be compared to loosing a child but is not recognised by
society.
It is important to acknowledge that loosing a cat is difficult and feelings of
grief are a natural thing.
There are a few tools which may help you along the way and accompany
you in your grieving time, so you get through the process easier and are able
to move on in time.

    • 1) Don’t ignore your pain

      For real healing it is necessary to admit to the pain and face the emotion s
      arising. If you bottle up your feelings and try to ignore the grieving pain, it will
      catch up with you later. An aching heart for your pet is not a weakness but a
      very natural reaction for a compassionate human. Don’t try to hide it, but
      maybe find an outlet, helping you cope. Writing about it, talking to people who
      can empathise with your situation are only a few ideas. You will know best
      which approach suits you most but it is a great way to express your feelings.

    • 2) Don’t be afraid or ashamed to grieve

      Our cats are not only pets but part of the family. They entertain us, they
      comfort us, they make us laugh, they keep us warm, they annoy us… yup
      family member. So don’t let anybody tell you that it is “ridiculous” or “silly” to
      be heartbroken.
      To feel pain is normal, so it is the best to stay away from people who can
      not understand where you are standing right now. They would not tell you to
      “just get over it” if it would concern a child or partner.
      Allow yourself to give into this emotion of sadness and loss. It is natural,
      don’t judge yourself.

    • 3) Take your time

      Grieving doesn’t happen over night, it can’t be hurried or forced. It is an
      individual process, it can take days, weeks or even longer, there is no
      grieving timetable.
      When we lost our Hexi, in
      October 2014, we shed tears for
      weeks. The active grieving
      process took months and we still
      miss her terribly. She was the
      most loving and friendly cat, and
      the fact that she was taken from
      us and had to die a horrific death
      didn’t make it easier. Even today
      we still miss her badly.
      With our Flecki it took shorter, maybe as we lost quite a few cats over the
      years. But we still miss him very much. Especially my daughter, as they had a
      very special and close bond.
      So don’t rush yourself, let the natural process take as long as it needs so
      your heart can heal properly and you will be able to move on in time.

    • 4) Rituals can help the healing process

      Me personally I am a very sensitive person and my “family” is my
      everything. So whenever we lost one of
      our very dear cats, we always make
      sure to keep them alive in our memory.
      With Hexi for instance we put up a
      little ‘remembrance frame’ on the wall so
      she will never be forgotten.
      I even purchased a small silver
      pendant which I wore every day for a
      very long time. Even today in moments
      when I really miss her, I will wear it.
      Grieving is an individual experience
      and our fireplace is decorated with
      purrfect pictures of cats we have lost
      over the years.

    • 5) Reach out to others who lost their pet

      While grieving I was lucky to be introduced by a good friend to a Facebook
      site which turned out to be a great support for me in that difficult time.
      The Ralph Site.
      https://www.facebook.com/TheRalphSite
      This place is all about connecting people, who have lost their pets. When I
      joined the page about Hexi I felt comforted in so many ways and most
      importantly taken serious in my pain.
      Surrounding yourself with people who not only understand what you are
      going through but also offer you the compassion and empathy you need in
      that time, can do wonders to healing.
      The internet is full of wonderful sites like that. Why not give them a try.

    • 6) Helping kids to grieve

      With all our own pain it’s important not to forget that our kids are even more
      vulnerable and sensitive especially if it concerns their “own” pet.
      Hexi was a real affectionate cat and was also very close to my daughter.
      It was very painful for my girl. At that time she had an amazing teacher and
      (thankfully) also a cat lover which is NOT usual where we live.
      So the teacher took care of my daughter, talked with her about it and
      allowed her to grieve that day. After
      school my daughter returned home with
      a lovely picture which is still on our
      kitchen wall.

      When Flecksi died it was especially
      hard for her, him being HER cat.
      As before I told her that it is ok to be
      upset in school and to be sad about it
      and that no one has the right to tell her
      how to feel. Luckily her best friend
      comforted her the day and once again
      she drew a picture for Flecki and we took
      some time to cry and grieve together.

There are many other ways of coping with loss but then the most important
thing is to know that feeling sad, lonely and wanting to hide under a thick
blanket for a while is a natural reaction to the loss of a beloved pet. Exhibiting
these feeling do NOT make you weak, but a strong person, so don’t feel
ashamed.

Take the time to mourn your beloved pet and grieve the loss of your cat.
And after a while there is always ONE fantastic healing tool, which I always
recommend.

Giving another homeless cat a loving home. It may take a while and only
you will know when you feel emotionally open and ready for a new pet. With
Hexi it took quite a while to be able to adopt another cat but then Flecksi
appeared at our doorstep and we felt we we were ready to give another
lonely cat a new home. Especially as my daughter was missing the company
of a cat in her bed at night.
I personally feel very strong about cats especially in Ireland where these
magnificent creatures are not respected and are mostly considered as
vermin. And spaying/neutering is unfortunately not something most people
would consider, especially in the countryside where we live.
So I try to make space as much as we can for other love craving felines.
There is truth in the saying: The best remedy for a broken heart is a kitten/
cat.

Closing this topic close to my heart I just want to emphasise again that it is
a natural thing to feel pain for the loss of your cat. That grieving is a process
to be taken serious as cat lovers are the most sensitive and compassionate
people out there.
There is not such thing as “just” a cat, or “just a pet”, they are part of our
family and we do not love them less.
Christine Klein
Purrfect Cat Tales

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