We all know someone who happened to lose their loved one, and the pain was unbearable. With pets, the scenario is no different. When pets lose their loved ones, the pain can become traumatic. You might find it obvious for a human being grieving for the loss of their dear pet, but even pets grieve on the loss of their pet friend. It is equally heartbreaking for them too.
Also, pets, especially cats, grieve a lot when they lose their human friend or pet parent. It becomes worst for cats when they are shifted to different shelters or re-homed. There are several ways to help your fur baby in their grieving period, but firstly, you must understand whether they are grieving or not. It might get confusing as sometimes your cat is not grieving and is suffering from other mental health conditions.
Ways to understand a grieving cat
All cats are known to have a manipulative nature and have good skills in hiding their true feelings. But grief is something you cannot hide; it comes straight out from your eyes. There are multiple ways in which your cat shows their hurt. While some cats grieve a lot on the loss of their beloved companion, others might not seem affected at all with the same.
Cats, in this case, behave a lot like humans. Some cats might miss their friend by going to their favorite spots of the house, while others howl for hours. A grieving cat does not feel like socializing much and wants others to keep them at a distance. This behavior becomes problematic when they start sleeping more than usual and lose their appetite in the process. That is not the end to it; some cats might refuse to play with others and love isolating them to different house corners.
But not all cats behave the same way. Some cats do not get affected at all, and that is normal too. Your cat doesn’t need to grieve. Also, there is no boundation until which they are expected to grieve. Some cats recover from the loss within a few days, and some cats take months. Like humans, it all depends upon the depth and time of their relationship with the lost one.
But it is not like you cannot do anything about it. You can help your cat in many ways. So let us quickly jump into ways in which you can help your grieving cat.
- Take your cat’s grief seriously: You cannot let your cat grieve alone. As mentioned above, your cat can grieve so intensely that it loses its appetite. If your cat refuses to eat beyond 24 hours, you cannot let that continue. With prolonged hours of an empty stomach, your cat is at the risk of having feline hepatic lipidosis. It is said as a severe condition. If that scenario occurs, you will have to run to your cat’s vet and get them examined thoroughly. Grieving is stressful and can adversely affect the immune system of your little fur baby. It will further expose them to other diseases. So it would be best if you took your cat’s grief seriously.
- Give your cat a sufficient amount of mental stimulation and enrichment: Change and enhance the surrounding environment of your feline friend. Bring them new toys; make them their delicious foods and everything else that will cheer their mood up, everything. You can place a cat tree high up, and it should do the trick. You can set the cat tree on a window and help them stay stimulated for most of the time with the beautiful views of the neighborhood. If your cat is grieving, they might respond well to various activities like playing a treasure hunt with them or a grooming session. And if you have rewards for them upon winning, that will act like cheery on the cake. Games based on rewards uplift their mood like nothing else and help you take the depressing feeling away from them soon. Please see that you do not force your cat into anything. You might do it for their betterment, but force can turn the results upside down. Your efforts should be nurturing, gentle and fun-loving.
- Do not bring in another companion: If you think that you can bring your grieving cat back to life by giving them another companion, you are going in the wrong direction. It will not solve anything; it will worsen the situation. How? Losing a companion is stressful itself, and on top of it, making friends with a new pet will only increase the stress level in your cat. You can wait until everyone in your family has also accepted the loss of their companion and settled back to their routine life. Once that happens, you can welcome another pet at home. There are two reasons for this; firstly, your cat needs time to recover from the hurt and pain. Everyone takes their own time to accept and move on with reality. Secondly, cats are very particular about their territory. Bringing a new pet at home will mean that there is an intruder to their territory. Think how your cat will take your next move and work accordingly.
- Do not rush with cleaning: If the pet that passed away was not sick, you could wait to clean their spot and other things. The scent of the deceased companion will fade away eventually, and your cat will accept their absence with time. However, if your cat feels more pain around the scent of the deceased and refuses to go around anything that smells like them, then you can do the cleaning. Along with that, you can come up with other ideas that will make them happy.
- Keep a check on your emotions: It is not that only your cat is affected by the loss of their feline companion, but even you can get traumatic. Every individual in the family feels the pain, and sometimes the way you grieve might hurt your cat. You can grieve, of course, but you also need to check how your feelings affect your fluffy and furry baby.
- Avoid changes: Cat is a creature that does not readily accept the changes around it. They hate changes. Especially after your feline friend has lost a companion, you need to make sure that you keep everything as usual and intact like the way it was before. It is good to go by the theory, “life must go on,” but it is not always easy for everyone, specifically cats, to move on. There are certain things you do not have control over, and you need to give them time. And here, the minimum you can do is, keep everything consistent for them. Try not to move to a different house at this time. Ensure that the timings of you feeding, grooming, brushing them is the same as every day. Also, it would cheer their mood more if you spend more time with them while doing these things. Notice what your cat is enjoying more and spend more quality time with them while doing the activities she loved.
How does your cat know that the other cat is dying?
Cats understand well the pain and suffering of the other cat and that they are about to die. When your cat realizes the condition of its companion that is when they both become distressed. If you have more than one cat, then you will notice that your notorious cat has turned more silent and will stick to one corner of the house doing its own thing. That is when it strikes most pet parents that one of the cats is not feeling well.
Before one of them passes away, they will suddenly become close regardless of their relationship’s history. At that time, it would not matter if they were rivals or competitors. All they would want is to spend as much time together as possible. In the last days, they become each others’ strong support system.
But one cannot say it with confirmation that one cat knows about the other cat’s death before they pass away. The pet parent has to take them to the vet and conclude it. But before that, you cannot say much about the situation.
Are kittens someone cats will grieve for?
Yes, your cat can feel when you are about to take its kittens away, and they might experience some level of separation anxiety. This is especially when the kittens are in their pre-mature stage.
- A cat and kitty relationship: Every newborn baby needs that love and affection that only their mothers can provide. The same is the case with kittens. The mother cat does everything for them from feeding, training her kitten for the toilet, and taking care of all other aspects of their life. This gets the cat and kitten to grow a stronger bond by socializing with them until they are mobile enough to bring their own experiences. After six weeks, the mother cat is all set for the weaning process, and that is the period when you should not separate the kittens from their mother at any cost. Even after that process is completed, separation can get stressful for both the mother cat and the kittens.
- Separation of kittens and mother cat: You can only think of separating the kitten from their mother cat once they reach the age of 10-12 weeks. Although the mother cats behave normally, they do get affected by the separation. On the other hand, Kittens do not get affected to such an extent, and hence you should focus all your efforts on the mother cat.
- Signs of grief that you should look for: The signs are pretty noticeable. They are yowling, changes in sleep and eating patterns, searching different corners of the house, etc. these are some of the expected signs. However, in some cases, they behave opposite their behavior, like the aloof cats start acting absurdly, like becoming clingy for more attention, and the cats that used to crave attention might ignore you and stick to their corners.
Do cats even grieve for dogs?
Cats and dogs are known enemies by many people. They know little about them that if you socialize them together appropriately, they might end up becoming best friends. And when that happens, it is like a never-ending bond. So if that is the case in your house, then your cat will crave for its companion and will grieve intensely for the dog.
- The loss: Your cat doesn’t need to become best friends with your dog to miss them. If they have lived for years together, then they might have developed the habit of living in each other’s company. And if suddenly your dog passes away, your cat will catch anxiety, and that is terrible.
- The healing: The way of grieving for every cat is different; some might keep looking for the pup in the house, while others might lose appetite while sleeping more. Their bond with you also changes. If they were distant, then they might come close; if your cat was close to you, then they might become closer to you.
- Consistency: As mentioned above, consistency is the key. Especially after your cat’s most dear companion has deceased. Getting your kitty a new pup companion might not be the solution to your kitty’s grief. A young pup will enter the house full of energy and enthusiasm. It might not understand how they should behave around your grieving cat. Please see that the absence of the old pup is a great deal of change for your cat; they do not need more.
The loss of a family member, be it human or animal, might affect the emotional status of all the family members, including your feline friend. While you need time to grieve too, but taking extra care of your fur baby should be your priority. The reason behind this is that your cat is unable to express its emotions verbally. Stay calm and humble with your cat, and try everything that will help your cat recover soon. And remember, with time and love, there is hardly anything that you cannot heal.