With these interpretations in mind, it is commonly acknowledged that cats do feel happiness, sadness, possessiveness and fear. Since they may not actually understand death as something permanent, sometimes a cat will wait patiently, believing that the deceased will return. When signs of grief become evident following the loss of an animal or human family member, concerned owners can help their cats deal with grief in the following ways: Establishing a new, comfortable social structure in the home following the loss of a human or animal family member is important for the entire family, but even more so for cats. Just like a toddler with a parent, cats can get separation anxiety when their human is away. Author Rita Reynolds devotes a chapter to the subject in her incredible book Blessing the Bridge: What Animals Teach Us About Death, Dying, and Beyond. The line is open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday - excluding Bank Holidays; If lines are busy, a call-back service is available Provide enrichment and mental stimulation. Pay attention and keep an eye-out for behavioral changes. But cats do exhibit behavioral changes after the loss of another cat and sometimes these can be difficult to understand. Cats Experience Grief Yes, cats do experience grief at the loss of a another household pet, especially if they had a close-knit bond. The study, Companion Animal Mourning Project, gathered data that shed new light on the feline grieving process. They may sleep more than usual and move more slowly, sulking around. Amy Davis, a 32-year-old from Bristol, TN, became sick with grief after losing Molly, a close 38-year-old family member, to cancer. Some cats show no signs of grief at all, and they may even appear happy to be the only cat in the home. Cats do grieve, and Circe was a lost soul without her Phoenix. Dr. Arnold Plotnick, DVM, ACVIM, still remembers a grief-stricken cat he met many years ago. They may hide under the bed, choosing to be alone even more than usual for cats. If you are distressed at the loss of a feline pet, your cat may pick up on your emotions of sadness. If your cat is acting out, the actual behavior will give you insight to what he/she needs. And despite the fact that cats are often aloof, they are social animals that form attachments to two and four-footed family members. As a veterinarian and advice columnist, I am often asked whether I think cats grieve or mourn the loss of a feline companion. “If one of their buddies is lying in the road, it makes sense they would pull them back.” Cats do have a lot of neat skills - they even pick up human emotions way better than even other humans do, because they don’t have to deal with their own petty human problems. Yes, some cats seem to be able to pick up on humans’ emotional states and to respond with apparent empathy and concern. Loneliness or … The results suggest two things: cats can read human facial expressions, and they learn this ability over time. Change in vocalization. Sadness can set in, manifesting as low motivation, crying, or sleep difficulties. With the loss of a companion cat, perhaps the surviving cat misses feline interaction and play time. It stands to reason that a … Although cats are thought of as being aloof and solitary, they are, in fact, social animals, and are as capable as dogs of forming deep attachments to people and other animals. "Early grief was intensely physical for me," Davis says. When a cat loses a companion, whether animal or human, she most certainly grieves and reacts to the changes in her life. The bond we have with our pet is unconditional and pure, and because of love when our pets pass, that grief can be unbearable. Dogs know when people are dying or grieving, through body language cues, smells only they can … In general, animals are better at moving forward and pushing through loss than humans. Skepticism aside, there are many animal behaviorists who believe that cats really do mourn. And the owners in the family may overlook behavior changes while … Many cats slept more than usual while some suffered insomnia. That emotion, however a cat’s experience is seen through our poor human lens, is one where accusations of anthropomorphizing can be just wrong. Jane Ehrlich on November 09, 2014. Who would still ask if cats grieve? Some cats will try to cheer their owners by purring or jumping in his/her lap for a petting session, while others will remain unaffected and wonder if dinner will be on time. If you can, surround yourself with people who understand the pain and grief of losing a beloved cat. Most people have this false belief that cats are aloof creatures and do not share any kind of emotional attachment with their owners. The cat had seen her littermate killed by a neighbor’s dog and was “huddled on the exam table, disinterested, inconsolable,” he … Loss will become easier to bear and fond memories will replace sorrow. If this behavior continues, you may have to take your cat … You may notice a grieving cat meowing more than usual, and some grieving cats lose interest in their surroundings. Help fill the void of the cat that passed away. When a member of that family unit is gone, there is a huge void in the cat’s life and they may need help in dealing with loss. And they do indeed mourn. They also get angry and nervous. Cats are individuals, and just like humans, their process for coping with loss will vary. The survey study focused on common signs associated with mourning and found that: The study, which assessed many different behavior patterns, concluded that 65% of cats experienced four or more behavioral changes after the loss of a family pet which indicated grief. Further, a dog is just as likely to grieve over the loss of the household cat as it is for the loss of a companion dog. Stick to their routine. Paws to Listen grief support service. We’re committed to keeping clients and staff safe during COVID-19 with NEW admittance and check-out processes. Give your cat extra attention and loving care. Little attention is paid to the subject of grieving in cats, largely because they are often seen as independent animals that retain much of their 'wild' nature. Still others suggest that the cat may just be reacting to the grief exhibited by humans in the house as they deal with the death of a family member. Cat lovers consider sweet, soulful, kitty eyes gazing at them to be heartwarming. Because of this, they show behaviors which can be interpreted as grief. The process of grieving a pet cat is no different than that of a human family member or any other pet. Pay attention and keep an eye-out for behavioral changes. When grieving, we may continue to feel sad while remembering our loss, but we typically regain a sense … It's an old assumption that cats and dogs don't get along, but if they're properly socialized together, they can. I certainly feel that they do, but cats cannot speak, and we can only guess at what their true emotions might be at any given time. Cats are even known to express grief at the death of a beloved owner. Another hint that cats can detect we’re sad is how upset they get when we’re away. Cats can also be creepy, but creepiness isn’t enough to feed the strong connection people feel between cats and death. However, by helping your grieving pet, you may also experience a greater sense of healing and comfort. They may have a decreased appetite and decline to play. With the loss of a human companion, perhaps the established and accepted feeding and play schedules are changed as the new care giver takes charge. It is difficult to assess what those mournful eyes mean since our feline friends cannot tell us what they are feeling. Cats can sense human emotions very well. Veterinarian approved Behavior Support products. And folks who don't identify as "cat people" may not understand that losing a cat can … It stands to reason that a severing of that attachment would lead to grieving. In other words, the cat gets “upset” because her schedule is off. Much was learned by a survey conducted in 1996 by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). But after the loss of a feline, canine, or human companion, could those mournful eyes indicate that the cat is actually mourning? Pet loss and grief can be difficult and heartbreaking for people, but it can be an even greater challenge to help the surviving pets deal with pet loss. View image of We think of cats as … Initiate play and make extra time for dedicated activity. They are, after all, independent creatures. As much as possible, help them stick to their regular activities, eating, and sleeping habits. They also get angry and nervous. Why Scent Marking Matters: The Ultimate Cat Confidence, Foods That Are Toxic to Cats: From Deadly to Upset Stomachs. Below, are tips that will help guide your cat through the mourning process. Skeptics suggest that cats don’t really grieve and attribute their behavioral changes to the alterations in daily routine resulting from the absence of an integral figure in the cat’s life. Learn more. Even if companion cats had a hostile relationship, the surviving cat may still grieve the loss. Grief occurs as a result of the abrupt or unexpected severing of attachment. The truth is that cats are highly emotional and sensitive and they do mourn the death of their owners. A kitty that has bonded with your dog will certainly miss him if he passes away. Other cats might act out or misbehave (pee outside litter box, knock things over, become more or less vocal). If possible, let your pet see and investigate the body of the deceased, which can be helpful to understanding what has occurred. Surviving cats were often more affectionate with their owners and became clingy. "Cats have a superb sense … People who don't share your love of pets may not understand your sense of loss. Again, the answer seems to be yes — sometimes, they do grieve. Their days are focused on a much smaller social periphery that may include only the other pets and people within the immediate family unit. Cats alter their behavior when they mourn much like people do: Pet owners recognize these changes in daily behavior as the same ones that grieving humans often exhibit. Like humans, your pets go through the grief process. In fact, that’s why he spent so long in a shelter because he wouldn’t let anyone hold him. 68 votes. Some cats appear utterly depressed and may lose their appetite. Those feline glances can melt some human hearts. Many people don't realize animals grieve the loss of companions and family members. ©Copyright VCA Hospitals all rights reserved. One of my ginger tabby cats, Tom, is your typical scaredy cat that is always on high alert. If you’re experiencing pet-related grief you can call our free and confidential phone line on 0800 024 94 94 to talk to one of our trained volunteer listeners. Cats aren’t able to express their grief the way people do, and the one way they can do it is to vocalize more than usual. Sometimes I think we get so caught up in our own grief, it’s easy to forget how deeply our companion animals can be hurting. A grieving cat will meow and yowl for hours in hopes of getting an answer from a dead cat. And the relationship between the survivors, feline and human, may evolve into something even more beautiful as a new way of life is established following a loss. It makes sense then, ... play with the cat, or head out to the pasture to provide hay for our horses. Exactly how much a cat may understand about a human’s inner life is not something we can know; that said, some cats … Try Jackson’s Loss Solution   (Click link to the left to purchase), The Ugly Truth About Cats and Christmas Trees Plus More Holiday Tips, 5 Essential Tips for Life with Senior Cats. With these interpretations in mind, it is commonly acknowledged that cats do feel happiness, sadness, possessiveness and fear. “But cancer might be different because it definitely puts out an odor that animals can sense.” But Dr. Morganti still believes that the caregiving or mothering instinct in cats is “probably more the rule than the exception.” Do Cats Grieve After Another Cat Dies in the House? 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