Cats are solitary creatures by nature. But that doesn’t mean they do not love and bond with their human, feline, and canine companions. Whether it’s sadness over the loss of a feline or human friend (or a former home), cats can and do grieve. Here’s how to help a grieving cat.
My brown tabby cat Monty is very nervous and needy. He was extremely attached to my tuxedo cat, Moo. Sadly, I lost Moo at only 3 years of age due to cardiac disease. Monty went into a deep depression. Loss of appetite, withdrawal, and an obvious overall sadness. I knew Monty needed another buddy. My Exotic cat, Mink, is a loner. He gets along with everyone, but sticks to himself, so he was no comfort to Monty. I rescued another tuxedo cat at 1 year old, Mojo. It was a match made in heaven. Mojo and Monty immediately became fast friends. They are always together and sleep wrapped around each other. Monty is himself once again. Grief in cats is very real, and there are a few ways to help a grieving cat.
A grieving cat mourning other cats
I was very lucky in matching up Mojo and Monty. Cats do not always take to each other as easily, if at all. You must make a decision as best you can based on your cat’s needs and desires. Offer the grieving cat love and companionship, and make time to comfort and support them during this difficult time.
Should you get another cat friend for your grieving cat? If your cat is grieving the loss of a cat friend, you may be tempted to bring home a new buddy for her. Eventually, this may be a good idea, but in the short run, it’s best to wait until your cat is back to herself before adding a new feline friend to the family.
A grieving cat mourning the loss of a human
Re-homing a cat who has lost their human can be very traumatic. There will, of course, be a period of adjustment. The cat must adapt on its own schedule and not yours. Respect their personal space and gradually make friends and build trust with your precious new addition.
If your grieving cat is saddened by the loss of a human, be consistent in the rest of the household and with your attention to her. If you are taking in a grieving cat who is mourning over her human, give her a calm, stable environment and plenty of time to adjust to her new life. In either case, love, patience and time will help your cat get back to the business of being a happy cat. How to help Cats do grieve the loss of their cat friends, their humans and sometimes the loss of their homes, too. You may see your cat hiding more, being more withdrawn or acting depressed. Sometimes, particularly with the loss of her human, your cat may decide to stick to you like glue, afraid that you may disappear as well. While cats don’t like change in general, losing a fellow cat or dog, their favorite human or their home is a change they often don’t adapt to without some support. But we can help get them through the process by following these guidelines for helping a grieving cat.
- Keep her routine the same as usual. Too many changes in the household, on top of the grief, can cause stress, fear and even illness to your already anxious grieving cat.
- Watch her actions closely. If your cat is avoiding places that may smell like the kitty or person they are grieving for, clean those places, or remove any items that may keep her feeling the loss. On the other hand, if she seems to be seeking comfort in those places, there is no hurry to clean up and dispose of those items.
- Spend quality time with her. Sit by her, talk in soothing tones, pet or brush her, and reassure your grieving cat that you are not going anywhere and neither is she. Offer treats, toys and other distractions to help her come out of mourning quicker.
- Try calming remedies. Adding herbal calming remedies to your cat’s diet may help ease her feelings of sorrow and loss.
- Check your emotions. Cats are very sensitive creatures, and they pick up on our emotions. If you are also grieving deeply, your cat is likely to grieve the loss harder. Our pets are so intuitive to our emotions, and we must be aware of the impact it has on them.
- Seek veterinary help. If your grieving cat seems to be stuck in grief for a long time, and/or is acting sick or refusing to eat, take her to your vet at once to prevent serious illness. Your vet can also prescribe medications to ease your cat’s feelings of sadness. Always remember to check with your veterinarian to rule out any medical issues when there is a change in your pet’s everyday behavior.
Resource: Rita Reimers, catster.com
Different but important topic for cat owners: It is important to get your cat comfortable with a traveling crate for those times when you must take them to the vet or groomer. Begin by leaving the crate in a room with the door open. Most likely the curious cat will explore. Begin feeding your cat in the crate for positive association. Then place the crated cat in your car, but do not start it. Then a short ride around the block. Take baby steps to avoid any stress and fear. Also, handle the cat’s paws, touch their ears, and look into their mouth to get them comfortable with being handled. Slow and easy, don’t get bitten or scratched!
Congratulations to our friend, Chase Mesick, who just graduated from Greater Nanticoke Area High School. Chase was an active member of our therapy dog group throughout his childhood, loved by us all. My friend, Barbara Lampman, forged a lifetime bond with Chase when he was just a baby, and she became his adoptive grandmother. Barb brought Chase to many of our therapy visits, demonstrations, and Chase was our “kid” in the many, many therapy dog tests that we conducted over the years. Chase came to our social gatherings and Christmas parties. We ladies taught that kid some good manners! We lost Barb two years ago, and I was so honored to be invited to Chase’s graduation ceremony to represent Barb. When Chase came out of the high school, saw me, and flashed me the biggest smile, my heart just melted. Congratulations, Chase. We are all so proud of you and love you! All the best in your future endeavors.
Judy Endo is the author of Paws-itive Pet Tales. A lifelong resident of the Wilkes-Barre area, she has been a professional dog trainer/competitor as well as a lifetime animal lover and strong supporter of animal rescue. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org