For most cat owners, their moggy is a best friend and part of the family, so when they’re gone it can leave a massive hole in their life.
Whether their cat is missing, has passed away or they have had to give them up, it’s completely normal for them to grieve but it can be difficult for others to understand their feelings.
Sadly, the loss of a pet isn’t always seen in society as a significant loss and this can make people feel like they can’t express their emotions and cause them to feel alone.
If you have a loved one who is struggling with the loss of their feline friend, here are some ways that you can support them in their time of need…
1. Let them know that what they are feeling is normal
Grieving is a very personal process and everyone experiences it differently. They may feel sad or angry, blame themselves or others or even express guilt for the way they feel. They could also become more dependent on others, or withdraw and feel unable to relate. Whatever they are feeling, let them know that it is completely natural and give them the time and space to process their emotions.
2. Listen to them
The best way to provide support to someone who is grieving is to encourage them to talk to you and actively listen to what they have to say. Showing you understand will help them feel less isolated and let them know it’s ok to feel whatever they’re feeling. You could also recommend that they give Cats Protection’s Paws to Listen helpline a call. We have a team of trained volunteer listeners who can provide emotional and practical support for grieving cat owners. They are available Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm on 0800 024 94 94.
3. Put yourself in their shoes
Try to see the situation from their perspective to understand what they might be feeling. This can be difficult, particularly if you have never experienced the loss of a pet yourself, but having empathy will help you to be more compassionate and encourage them to share their feelings.
4. Don’t try to ‘fix’ it
When a loved one is in pain, it’s only natural to want to fix it but this isn’t always the best thing for them. They need to be able to fully experience their emotions so that they can move through them and deal with their grief. Avoid trying to suggest things that might ‘cheer them up’ or saying that they could get another cat. You might mean well, but it won’t be very helpful for them in that moment. Often just being there for them is enough, you don’t need to say a word.
5. Don’t show judgement
Try not to seem shocked or surprised by what they say or the feelings they show, and avoid implying what they should or should not be feeling. Everyone handles grief differently and they need to know that whatever they are feeling is normal and healthy.
6. Avoid using clichés
It might feel natural to say statements such as “I’m sure you’ll feel better soon” or “You’ll be ok” but even though you mean well, they’re not very helpful to hear. Just listen, acknowledge their feelings and be there to hand them a tissue or give them a hug if they need it.
For more advice and support for coping with the loss of a cat, visit the Cats Protection website.
If you are struggling with the loss of a cat, take a look at our tips for coping with your grief.