My Cat Died and I Can’t Stop Crying: How to Deal With Pet Loss

my cat died and I can't stop crying - crying woman wearing sweatpants in bed

If you’re here you probably lost a cat recently, and I’m so very sorry. I’m writing this because 4 days ago, my cat died and I can’t stop crying either, so I fully understand your pain and grief. 

The pain of losing a cat is like no other pain I have personally experienced, and I know that it’s the same for many. 

And it’s a pain that it seems like no one understands. But to us, it was never “just a cat”. 

Our cats are our family, our best friends, and the most pure beings on this earth. 

Losing a cat feels so unfair and brings up a lot of extremely uncomfortable emotions. And, you may feel like you will never feel better. 

If your cat passed away and you can’t stop crying, I hope this article helps bring you some comfort. Writing it has helped me, so I hope reading it can help you.

My Cat Died and I Can’t Stop Crying – What Do I Do? 

man crying - my cat passed away and I can't stop crying

The first thing you should know is that it’s okay to cry. It’s normal and it can even be healing, although it doesn’t feel like it at the moment. 

It’s normal and okay to cry for hours, days, even weeks after you lose your cat. And the amount of time will be different for every person. 

There is no timeline for grief, and unfortunately, there’s no real manual to help us get through it either. 

So what do you do if you can’t stop crying? 

1. Let it happen. 

Crying is healing – it’s scientifically proven to help your physical and mental health. 

Holding back your tears is a form of repressing your emotions, which can have deeper psychological and physical health repercussions later down the road of life. 

And this study published by Harvard says that when you cry, your body releases hormones and endorphins to help relieve pain and psychological stress. 

2. Set aside time to grieve. 

My wife and I were each only able to take one day off of work the day our sweet boy died, which meant we had to find a way to cope and get back to work the day after it happened. 

Although it’s not always easy, getting back into your routine can be a helpful distraction. 

Personally, the hardest parts of the grieving process for me have been the times that I’m home alone – which is 24/7, because I work remotely. 

But the undistracted times in the early morning or evening are the worst. And so, those are the times I have set aside to allow myself to fully dive into my grief. 

I do still try to distract myself with chores or TikTok, but there are plenty of moments where even those distractions are not enough. 

3. Know that it will get easier. 

If you’re anything like me, every minute feels like an hour right now. And when you’re so deep in the most devastating grief, these minutes and hours are literally unbearable. 

I want you to know that it won’t always feel like this. 

I know, that seems impossible. 

And the thought of being happy without your beloved cat may even bring up feelings of guilt – “how can I allow myself to be happy when they’re not here?!” – these are normal. 

Your grief will never fully go away, but your brain and heart will learn to make room for it. You will grow around your grief. 

I lost my first “soulmate cat” Rico 4 years ago, and there are still moments that I cry about him. I will always miss him. But I am at peace, and you will be too… eventually.

4. Allow space for “what ifs”, but don’t dwell on them.

I am not a psychologist and I do not pretend to be – but I do know what you’re going through because I am also going through it, and this is what helps me. 

When you find yourself in deep moments of heaving crying, the kind where it feels like you can’t catch a breath, you’re probably stuck in an incredibly sad thought process. 

You may be thinking of all the things you’ll never get to do with your cat again, all the things they’ll never experience, or focusing on the emptiness in your life. Or, you may be replaying the last moments over and over again in your head, feeling guilty, or thinking of all the “what-ifs”. 

These feelings and thoughts are totally normal. These thoughts are signs that your brain is trying to make sense out of what happened.

But, if you feel like you’re spiraling out of control, they can be detrimental. 

I have OCD which leads to spiraling thoughts and rumination and some of the hardest parts of this process has been from focusing on the tragedy, the emptiness, and the “what ifs”. Yesterday my wife snapped me out of it by telling me “There is no “what if”. It’s done. We can’t change it.” 

And it felt harsh… but she’s right. 

Whenever possible, our conversations have turned to our favorite memories of our sweet boy. I had my first real belly-laugh when we were talking about something he used to do that always made us laugh, and I actually felt good. 

For the first time since he died, I felt good. Because I know he was happy and I have such funny, sweet, loving memories of him. 

5. Focus on the happy memories.

Allow yourself to have your sad thoughts, but don’t dwell on them. 

Eventually, it can be helpful to re-route your thoughts. 

Talk about your cat and talk and think about your favorite memories with them. 

Allow yourself to laugh and smile at the funny, silly, and sweet things they did and the sweet moments you shared together. 

You can even tell me your favorite memories of your cat in the comments – I’d love to share those joyful memories with you!

You loved your cat and they loved you and that is the purest thing there is. 

The fact that you are hurting so much is PROOF of the existence of that love and joy, and it’s a privilege to have gotten to experience that. 

6. Distract yourself.

Again, I’m not a psychologist. 

But I have read the recommendations on distraction in grief, and there’s a fine line to walk here. Distraction can easily turn into avoidance.

Distraction can be healthy when it is practical. 

Such as: 

  • Going to work. 
  • Going to restaurants. 
  • Doing activities you’d normally enjoy. 
  • Spending time with friends and family. 

And this kind of distraction does help – it pulls you away from your despair for a little bit. And, in the case of spending time with friends and family, it can be very healing. 

Distraction only becomes unhealthy when you use it as a way of avoiding your grief altogether. 

For me personally, since I work from home, I am home 24-7 and work isn’t always as much of a distraction as I’d like it to be. 

So, I’ve done other things to help distract myself… But I still have (and make) plenty of time to face my grief head on.

7: Don’t forget Self-Care. 

I know, self care is probably the LAST thing you want to do right now. 

And to be honest with you, I haven’t even showered since our cat died 4 days ago. 

But I am doing the amount of self-care that I can – like feeding myself, brushing my teeth, changing my clothes, and most importantly when I can’t stop crying: taking pain relievers for my headache. 

Crying constantly gives me the worst headaches, my wife too. 

The first day the pain in my head was almost just as bad as the pain in my heart because I could not stop sobbing. 

Tylenol helps – and so does a cold, wet wash rag on your face. 

And I haven’t been able to cook or prepare food either, but my sister-in-law gave us some frozen meals like pre-prepped mac and cheese, pizzas, and uncrustables, and those have been helpful. 

If you can get to the store, get yourself some pre-prepped meals. 

Eat uncrustables. Eat chicken nuggets. Eat stuff you loved when you were a kid – it’s okay. 

8: Seek help and/or community.

The grief of pet loss is something that no one should ever have to do alone. 

If you have a therapist and regular therapy sessions, your therapist can help you navigate these emotions. 

If you don’t already have a therapist, finding one and giving it a try is so, so helpful. 

You can also find a pet loss or grief support group either online or in person. There are many organizations dedicated to helping people through pet loss, and even groups on Facebook you can join. 

My Cat Died and I Can’t Stop Crying – Why Does It Hurt So Bad? 

Losing a cat hurts so bad for many reasons – they were a source of unconditional love. They relied on you for everything. And have been there for you no matter what.

If your cat passed away and you can’t stop crying, you know how badly it hurts. Like there’s a weight on your chest and you can’t breathe, although physically your body IS taking breaths. 

Loving and caring for a cat is a special thing. Your cat relied on you for everything in it’s life: shelter, love, food, water, and care. 

In return, your cat graced you with it’s presence. Maybe they were a cuddly cat. Maybe they were an independent cat and those few cuddles you got were all the more special. But they were always THERE, and now they’re not. 

And if you’re like my wife and I, the last month of our cat’s life involved round-the-clock care for him as we tried to nurse him back to health. Our lives and routines revolve around our pets.

(You can learn more about our cat, Jack, and his illness here.)

It’s literally traumatic: when you lose your cat, you go through trauma, even if their death was peaceful. 

Losing a cat is like losing a part of yourself and a major part of your life. Your pain is valid and normal. 

How Long Will I Feel Like This? 

There is no timeline on the grieving process and it will be different for every single person. 

And I know from experience that some people in your life may make you feel like you should “be over it already”. If possible, stay away from those people during your grief. 

You should NEVER be made to feel guilty for feeling. 

You may start to feel better in a few days. For others, it can take weeks or even months to start to feel better. 

While you may experience grief over the loss of your cat even years down the road, the constant crying and heaviest part of your grief typically does not last that long.

Understanding the Stages of Grief

woman crying on floor in bathrobe and pajamas in the article about dealing with pet loss when your cat dies

Most people are familiar with the ‘5 stages of grief’: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. 

What you may not know is that these stages of grief are not linear. They don’t happen on a structured timeline like some charts might make you think. 

Personally, I cycle through all of these emotions multiple times a day. 

And ALL of these thoughts are normal and okay. 

For me, denial feels like “This is a bad dream. This is a nightmare and I’m going to wake up. This can’t be happening – this isn’t really happening.”

And my anger feels like: “This is SO f*cked up. This is so f*cking unfair. WTF. He did NOT deserve this. WE don’t deserve this.”

My bargaining feels like “What if I had just done this. What if I had noticed his illness earlier. If he’s okay in the afterlife, he’s going to give me a sign.” 

And depression… well we know what depression feels like. It’s a deep sadness and can cause hostility and irritability to those around you. 

My depression even causes me to feel irritable with my other pets, because they aren’t Jack and can’t even come close. And our dog seems way too happy, oblivious, and playful and that makes me feel annoyed and sad.

Acceptance – I’m not fully on board with this one yet. My cat died and I can’t stop crying – I still haven’t fully accepted it. But there are moments when we are talking about our favorite memories that I feel a hopeful peace with the fact that we were even able to share our lives with him at all, no matter how brief.

Normal Emotions That May Come Up When You Lose Your Cat

Just like in the stages of grief, you will experience a lot of emotions when you lose a cat or any pet. 

For me personally, one of the hardest things to cope with has been guilt. 

I didn’t do anything to cause the death of our cat, but I feel so guilty. I feel guilty that I’m still here and he’s not. I feel guilty that we couldn’t save him. I feel guilty for trying to save him during the last few days of his life because he was so miserable. We chose humane euthanasia and I have a myriad of feelings about that, but realistically I know we were preventing further, worse suffering. 

Guilt is natural and normal but don’t let yourself dwell on it. The reality is that you loved your cat deeply and did everything you could for them. If that wasn’t true, you wouldn’t be grieving so deeply. And you wouldn’t still be reading this. 

Your cat knows you had the best intentions and did everything you could for them. And they love you and appreciate you for that.

Other normal feelings include: 

  • Anger
  • Denial
  • Sadness
  • Resentment
  • Numbness
  • Bittneress
  • Hostility
  • Irritability
  • Emptiness
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety

How Do I Move On If My Cat Died and I Can’t Stop Crying?

The only way to move on from the grief and sadness of losing your cat is time. 

Time, and facing the grief head on. 

The more you allow yourself to feel your grief and allow it to move through you, the quicker you will be able to heal and move along the path to acceptance. 

That’s hard to hear because when you’re in the deepest grief, every minute feels like an hour. Every day feels like a week. 

Time feels SO LONG and unbearable. But you will make it. 

Seek out help and support. Focus on the happy memories. Try not to allow yourself to spiral, and make sure you’re looking after your own needs – and your other pets if you have them. 

You can even tell me all about your beloved cat in the comments – I’ll read and respond to each one. 

Carrie Wilder

Carrie Wilder is a long-time cat owner, rescue advocate, and she’ll be the first to tell you that she’s cat-obsessed. When she’s not at home writing for Cat Faqts and snuggling her own cats, you can find her trying to pet and hold the cats of friends, family, and any stray she meets.

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