Although grief in animals is not well understood currently, you may recognise changes in behaviour in your cats, which may be attributed to grief. While the question of ‘do animals grieve?’ has been widely debated, some animals show varying degrees of grief-attributed behaviour. Others may show no outward signs at all.
In a multiple cat household, the death of a cat can lead to surviving cats showing less inhibition and a new willingness to seek attention from their owner.
While it is important to remember that each cat will behave differently in their grief, there are some common behaviours that may be seen while a cat adjusts to the death of a housemate. These include:
If your cat has died, you’re likely to be worried about the cat that is left behind. Helping pets cope with death can be tricky – their grief is as individual as it would be for you, or any other family member. If you’re worried about how to help a grieving cat, you can try the following:
There is no evidence to suggest whether cats are aware that their feline friend is dying, and all cats are different in their behaviour.
In some cases, cats seem to understand that the other cat is experiencing pain. They may show this by either acting distressed on their behalf or by appearing sad or withdrawn. However, some cats can appear indifferent to their fellow cats who are ill.
If your cat has died from a cause that doesn’t pose a risk of infection to other cats, and you feel comfortable doing so, you can show your cat the body of your deceased cat. There is, however, no studies to suggest that this aids the grieving process in your cat.
You’ll need to be prepared that your cat’s body may smell differently to when your pet was alive, and this may upset your cat and cause them to react in a way that is not as respectful as you might anticipate. Cats don’t have the same awareness of respect for the dead as people.
Before you think about getting another cat as a companion for your current cat, it is important to think carefully. Grief is entirely personal to you – you might find that you want to adopt another cat almost immediately or wait until you have come to terms with your loss. Don’t rush the experience – do what is best for you.
It is also important to remember that while your cat might display behaviour changes and even appear to miss their feline friend, cats do not need companions to be happy. In fact, cats prefer mostly to live on their own due to their solitary nature.
For more information on getting another cat and how they can be introduced to your current pet, find out more in our guide.Getting another cat
If you're experiencing the loss of a pet or want to talk about telling your child about your pet's death, you can talk to us.
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