When we lose our cat, our reactions will adapt, go through several phases and we will question ourselves on how to mourn our four-legged companion.
What we feel when our cat disappears obviously depends not only on our personality, but also on the animal’s personality, and especially on the bond that united us to him.
A cat that only made a few visits to the house to essentially find a different food than the one nature offered, may not have left enough imprints to deeply touch its master when it disappears.
The one who went out at will but who found the couch in the house very comfortable, very appreciative of the caresses and intentions of the human will have installed an emotional bond whose importance will lead to difficult reactions to his disappearance.
Worse still is the situation where the cat was an integral part of life, from morning to evening and from evening to morning, every day without exception. The pain and distress will be comparable to those experienced when a loved one is lost.
Predictable or Sudden Loss: Is It the Same?
Between the foreseeable loss and the sudden loss of your cat, do we have the same reactions?
Seeing one’s small feline withering away or suffering from an illness for days, months and possibly years, engenders terrible anguish and a permanent questioning.
Losing your cat suddenly and accidentally, for example, is just as upsetting.
The question remains whether the mourning of one’s cat is more bearable in one case or the other?
Does the fact that he no longer suffers make it easier to cope with his grief? Doesn’t losing him unexpectedly make his grief crueler?
We have to face these same cases with our loved ones and if we think about it carefully, we do not necessarily find the answer.
You Don’t Have to Feel Guilty
Faced with the death of his pet, the feeling of guilt is omnipresent for a more or less long period of time. We reproach ourselves for not having spent enough time with him, we question ourselves about the care we have given him that we sometimes judge insufficient, about the decision we have taken to shorten his suffering. Did I do the right thing? Could he have lived a little longer?
In the context of this procedure, the important thing is that it takes place peacefully, calmly, if possible at home so as not to disturb the little cat. This way of acting can help to accept his decision.
If this feeling of guilt is very strong and if it persists, it can become a heavy handicap to mourn his cat. But shouldn’t we review everything we’ve done for him?
Grieving: What Is It Exactly?
A rather banal expression according to me. It seems to me to be used without even thinking about what it means. For many people, the translation is often this: to forget, to move on, to resign oneself, to get used to the idea of never seeing him again.
Mourning your cat, is that really it?
If we can’t exclude this expression from our vocabulary, shouldn’t we associate it with other responses that call for our behavior?
To mourn your cat, it is not a matter of becoming aware that he is absent, of creating conditions to forget him, but on the contrary, it is a matter of creating conditions to live peacefully his physical absence.
To mourn your cat, it is not a matter of locking yourself in your cat’s grief but of trying to talk about it, of course with people who can understand your pain.
To grieve for your cat, you must accept that tears will flow, even several months or even years after his disappearance and it is not irrational.
To mourn your cat, you must accept that the people around you may have a different vision of the animal/human relationship and therefore admit their incomprehension of our reactions.
To mourn your cat, you must try to push away the anger that could invade us, anger born of a feeling of injustice, incomprehension or guilt.
To grieve for your cat, you must know how to allow yourself moments of isolation to relive the moments spent with your companion, and accept your own emotions.
There is not only one answer and among those that exist, it is up to each person to adapt it according to his or her convictions and expectations.
And… What’s Next?
Although tears mist up our eyes, we think we see our cat everywhere, behind us, on our favorite sofa, in front of the window…
The question of his small things, cat tree, toys, bowl, cat bed, kibble, litter box… everything is there in the rooms of the house: to keep them for a while or to make them disappear quickly? What is the best option to deal with the grief of your cat?
The fact that you put away or give away your things does not mean that you want to forget it, but more precisely that you want to ease your pain. On the other hand, giving away your belongings also means making another little kitty happy…
What Do Others Think?
One of the difficulties in mourning one’s cat is the look in other people’s eyes. Indeed, even if the pet occupies a more and more important place in our society, it is difficult for humans to admit that one can have an enormous amount of grief and intense emotions following the loss of one’s cat. “It’s only a cat, a tomcat” is the worst of the negative or disapproving comments that can be heard.
We therefore resolve either to keep silent about the disappearance of our cat or to adjust our reactions according to our interlocutors.
We can say loud and clear what we think, and I let you imagine all that this can lead to, and the different breakdowns you will have to face. But when you have had this courage, you must be able to assume the reactions that come from it.
You can close yourself off and keep your pain to yourself. But must we refuse to share it?
Should we really hide the relationship we had with our cat and the love we gave him? Wouldn’t it be somewhere, as if it didn’t exist? Talking about him, we owe him that much.
Whatever our reactions, the feelings we had with our animal do not change.
Even if those looks or reflections hurt, they teach you at least one thing that you can put to good use in one way or another: there are two categories of human beings, those who love animals and those who don’t even want to hear about them.
I’m probably being a little too categorical because there are always environments. There are also people who don’t necessarily love them but who admit that each of us has a unique character that makes our perception of the human/animal relationship different, or even recognize the benefits of the relationship.
What to Do with the Cat’s Body?
What do we decide to do with the body of the little cat we have loved so much?
Bury it in the garden in order to be able to collect ourselves by possibly looking at the small object that we will have put there.
Bury it in a cat cemetery, very similar to the one for humans. There are few of them. In addition, many tombs end up not being visited anymore and one finds there the same negligence as in human cemeteries.
Have him cremated and decide what to do with his ashes. Disperse them in the garden, put them in the place in the garden where your cat enjoyed playing or resting, keep them at home, put some in a teddy that the cat loved and that you take with you wherever you go.
Anything is possible and whatever the decision, it is yours and you don’t have to explain it to anyone.
Nothing prevents you from keeping the secret of your decision.
Adopt a New Cat or Not?
The recovery of a cat probably depends on the degree of suffering that affects us.
Taking a cat back immediately or waiting for the pain to subside so that we are able to take care of a newcomer?
Taking back a cat can make it easier to get over the disappearance of your loved one without forgetting him or her. Nevertheless, we must be careful not to make comparisons. Like humans, each cat has its own personality and we must accept the differences, it is less affectionate, it does not purr, etc..
If for most, if not the majority, the presence of a new companion is essential, for others, giving a new cat the place that the disappeared cat occupied is a form of disloyalty.
One should not be ashamed of this feeling. Why would it be more criticizable than this same feeling towards a human being?
Living with Photos and Memories
There is nothing ignominious about keeping your picture on a wall and walking past it every day and saying a little word to it. Neither is keeping a toy, a plush toy or any other object as a souvenir. Aren’t we doing it for a loved one who has disappeared?
Digital technology has made it possible to develop spaces that can meet certain expectations. To have a place of memory, of recollection, of exchanges, a place where friendships and even encounters can be created.
Although opinions diverge on these places of memory, sad and gloomy in the eyes of some or worthless for others, it seems that it is a comforting and even necessary refuge for animal owners who find there a way to express their pain.
It is indeed, quite surprising to see the number of people registered and especially the way these places live. Every day, photos and texts of all kinds and of different value are deposited there.
The feelings, the sentiments, the thanks blossom there with a lot of dignity, restraint and humility.
On closer inspection, many people find relative comfort and a remedy for loneliness.
Virtual cemeteries for animals offer steles with the name of the animal, associating photos, information about its life, a farewell note, texts, poems or music dedicated in its memory. These cemeteries live through the deposit of bouquets of flowers, exchanges of emails between owners, a possible forum allowing each member to find his place there either by sharing his sadness or by giving his support.
Sites and blogs dedicated to cats offer visitors a corner of paradise for their pet.
Here too, photos, texts, and good memories of the missing cat decorate the section on a daily basis.
The cat forums, which are designed to discuss advice, behavior, care and illness, are also an outlet when you experience the disappearance of your cat.
Here again, the exchange of experiences with the other owners can help to find comfort.