The death of a beloved velvet paw is a painful experience and causes great grief for the owners. Nevertheless, there is often a desire to have a cat in the house again. How long should you wait to get a new cat? We asked a grief counselor.
Losing a beloved cat is painful. For many people, a pet is a family member – it’s hard to let that go. Cats often live to be 15 to 20 years old or even older. In this long time, you get so used to an animal, to its peculiarities and its character, that you can’t imagine ever having another pet. But you still don’t want to spend your future life without a cat. How long should you wait to get a new cat?
When Should You Get a New Cat?
Eric Richman, a social worker and grief counselor at the Tufts University of Veterinary Medicine, advises bereaved cat owners to be intentional about grieving. It’s normal to grieve and it’s a good thing too so that you can lock up and let your beloved cat go.
Only when this step has been taken can you get involved emotionally with a new animal. This is also what grief counselor Richman says: In general, he advises only getting a cat again when you have regained emotional stability after the loss.
Some people need longer for this, some get a new cat after just a few days or weeks. But that does not mean that these people grieve less. A new cat even helps many people to cope with the loss of their old one.
But keep in mind, “A new cat is an individual being, not a reincarnation of the old cat,” says grief counselor Richman. Every cat is unique, a new relationship has to be built up with every cat.
No matter how long you mourn your cat: Don’t let other people talk you into it. You should listen to your gut on this matter: if you are ready for a new cat, get one, whether it is a day or a year after your cat’s death.
No new animal can replace a deceased one. But it shouldn’t be! So don’t expect that life with the new cat will be the same as it was with the old one. It will be different, but not worse!
Am I Ready for a New Cat?
How do you know if you’re ready for a new cat? Usually, you can tell by just feeling it. Nevertheless, the following aspects can help:
- If you do not live alone: Talk to the other people in the household. How are you? Are you ready for a new cat?
- Think of your dead cat: does it still fill you with pure sadness or do you look back on the time together with a smile?
- Imagine having a new cat: Do you automatically think of your old cat?
- Ask yourself if you unwittingly have “expectations” about the new cat. How would you feel if the new cat was very different from the old one?
- Drive to an animal shelter and look at the cats there. Do you feel more melancholy or anticipation of a new animal?
- Think about your living conditions: has something changed there? Maybe you don’t have the time or space for a cat anymore?
Don’t Get a New Cat After a Cat Dies
After the death of their cat, many cat owners decide not to get a cat at all. There are various reasons for this. Some just don’t want to go through the loss again, others are afraid the new cat could never be like the beloved “old” cat.
Still, after years of being used to living with an animal, the sudden emptiness created by their death can be very painful and depressing.
If you don’t have the heart to get a new cat after your cat’s death, but would still like an animal company, consider getting another pet first.
You automatically compare another animal species less with the deceased cat than you would with a new cat. In addition, a new animal species brings with it new challenges and tasks that can be exciting and varied.
Find out thoroughly which pet might suit you and only get one if you meet the housing requirements!
What to Do if You Have a Second Cat?
If the deceased cat was not a single cat but lived with another cat, the needs of the second cat should also be taken into account. Because cats can also mourn and miss their fellow cats a lot.
For fear that the second cat could become lonely, buying a new cat straight away is not a good idea. The cat also needs its time and is not immediately ready for a new conspecific. In addition, socialization with a strange cat means a lot of stress. You should spare her that during the grieving phase.
How long the mourning phase lasts in cats varies greatly. Therefore, wait a few weeks or even months and observe your cat: Is it lonely or is it fine with the new situation? When everything has returned to normal, you can start thinking about a new second cat.