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When a Cat or Dog Dies






Caring for Cats & Dogs

Captive Companions

Preventing Overpopulation

Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinic

Pounds & Shelters


Allergies to Cats or Dogs

When a Cat or Dog Dies

Memorials, Tributes, & Honors



Unfortunately, animal companions do not live as long as their human companions. Whether you lose your cat or dog because of an illness, an accident, or old age, losing a beloved animal friend is a sad and difficult time. Sometimes, with the advice of your veterinarian, you might have to make the difficult decision to euthanize an extremely ill or severely wounded animal to spare him or her from suffering. It is understandable for you to experience feelings of sadness and confusion.


Like the death of any other member of your family, losing a companion animal is devastating, and mourning is necessary. The grieving process is different for every individual, lasting a week for one person, and years for the next. Some people may feel anger; others may feel guilty about what they did or did not do during the life of their companion. The sadness that occurs after the other feelings pass may result in temporary depression. Eventually, when you can acknowledge the loss, your emotional recovery will start and you will be able to remember the joyful times.


Although the process leading to acceptance is something personal, you do not need to deal with your loss alone. Besides family and friends, there are books, videos, magazine articles, and in some areas there are pet-loss hotlines and groups, all of which can help by offering support. Reach out to others; many people have experienced losing an animal companion and understand what you are going through.


The loss of a cat or dog may be a child's first encounter with death. Try to be honest and direct. Talking about the loss, and expressing your own grief, helps your child realize that the sadness he or she is experiencing is completely normal. Many children feel anger, guilt, or express strong denial and need your reassurance that they were not responsible for what is a universal occurrence. Frankness and patience are important in helping them cope and minimize what are sometimes strong fears and very complex reactions. If anyone in your family feels overwhelmed, consider professional grief counseling.


Writing about your feelings in a poem or a journal, or making a photo album of your cat or dog helps you experience the good times you had together. Having a memorial service can also bring closure. Family and friends can gather to remember special things about the deceased cat or dog. If you have a backyard, perhaps you can plant a tree or flowers in honor of your animal companion.


You can put a photo and story about your animal in the Memorials section of our website.


Surviving animal companions may also go through a grieving process and exhibit depression. Some might refuse to eat or drink. Be sure to give your other animal companions a lot of attention, and try to maintain a normal routine.


Do not rush into a decision to get a new animal companion. Since each animal is an individual, a new cat or dog will never replace the one you lost. Give yourself time to mourn and to understand your feelings.