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Pet Loss--A Survivor's Guide to Coping & Living Again

Updated May 24, 2018

Pet loss is profoundly difficult; the experience often leads to the intense pain of heartrending sorrow so deep it can sometimes become incapacitating.  

Be assured it is normal to experience such passionate grief whenever we lose someone we’ve been very close to . . . even our beloved cats.

As with any loss, there are people who do not understand what you are feeling, and they may not have patience with your grief process.  That’s okay, just let them go.

What you are feeling is natural and millions of cat owners who’ve gone before you empathize and understand. . . 

. . . you are not alone

During your grief journey it is important you share what you are going through with someone who genuinely cares.

If you know of someone who is suffering through a cat loss, tell them about this page; perhaps they will find some measure of healing.

Likewise, surviving members of your family require comfort while they mourn.  Children and surviving pets are prone to confusion and bewilderment, and will need extra support if they’ve never before experienced loosing someone close to them.

Bereavement can take a severe physical toll on those left behind. It is vital you take extra good care of yourself.  Fill your body with highly nutritious foods; take the time to get plenty of rest and sleep.

It’s okay to miss your special furry loved one, and to pull back from social and voluntary obligations. 

Healing a broken heart takes time . . . lots of time, and it takes the time it’s going to take.

Understanding the grief process can be reassuring

Sometimes we underestimate the impact grief has on every aspect of our lives.  Because we’re naturally afraid of what we don’t understand we shy away from dealing with it, put it off or remain in denial.  This only makes the emotions simmering under the surface worse in the long run.

Deal with the grief up-front; be gentle and nurturing with yourself and others. 

Understand, once the initial shock, numbness, denial, disbelief or unreality wears off, a personal crisis of some kind usually follows.  This is the natural progression of grief.

Release is healthy

As reality sinks in, emotions crash, washing over in suffocating waves.  One moment you are anguished, angry or despairing.  The next, terrible sadness, hopelessness and depression might set in. 

You might experience feelings of being lost, wondering how you are going to be able to live without your loved one.  Some people experience overwhelming exhaustion, especially after managing a prolonged health crisis prior to the death of their beloved.

Though the pain of your loss remains acute, like a gaping open wound, the strong emotions slowly dissipate over time as you pick up the little pieces of your life here and there, and learn how to live again.  What’s happening is you’re learning to live with the grief and it becomes more bearable.

Of course there will be triggers that set you off.  This too, is normal.  If you need to weep and wail . . . do it!  The only way to move on is to use these triggers to release the emotions that have been buried deep inside and are rising to the surface. 

Remember, each person, child and pet have their unique journey through grief.   Give them room to deal with it the best way they know how while offering the comfort and support they need.

Pet Loss Resources

There are many ways to help yourself, surviving family members and pets through bereavement.  For your convenience I've posted various resources below.  Choose one or more that best meet your needs.

Resources Directory

Click on a link below to jump to your topic of interest


Losing a loved one is overwhelming at best, but we need not be alone.  

Get help with end of life events.  Compassionate comfort and support is close at hand via cat loss hotlines.

Grief counseling is available; so is assistance with new pet relationships.

Find information about how to help yourself, surviving family members and pets cope with their loss.

  • California--University of California, School of Veterinary Medicine Pet Loss Support Hotline: Toll Free (800)-565-1526
  • Colorado State University (970) 491-1242
  • Florida--University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine:  (904) 392-4700, ext. 4080
  • Iams Pet Loss Support Center:  Toll Free (888) 332-7738
  • Iowa State University Pet-Loss Support Hotline:  Toll Free (888) 478-7574
  • Louisiana State University Best Friend Gone Project:  (225) 578-9547
  • Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine:  (517) 432-2696
  • National Cancer Support Group for Animals (508) 285-2525
  • Ohio--Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine Pet Loss and Human Bereavement Education Program:  (614) 292-1823
  • Tennessee-- University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine (865) 755-8839

Donate in your Cat's Name

Memorializing your special loved can be very consoling.  Consider contributing to your favorite feline organization in your cat’s name.

Don’t have a favorite?  

Then, click on one of the links below to find a cat care, cat rescue or cat welfare organization to choose from:

Vitual Cat Memorial

Honor and share the memory of your beloved kitty by creating your own FREE webpage dedicated to your cat only.

Include stories, poetry, epitaphs, photos, videos/slideshows, pedigree (feline ancestry) and other memories or reflections, etc. 

Guests can light candles and leave their condolences.

Click on Pet Memorial—In Loving Memory of Special Cats to create your virtual cat memorial to commemorate your dearest cat and wrap your sorrow in the comfort of treasured memories.


When you are ready to adopt a new kitty family member, whenever that is, using the PetFinder tool can help.

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