Help for Grieving Cats

CatChannel expert Jeanne Adlon, professional cat sitter, offers ideas for cats who go through grief.

By Jeanne Adlon

Printer Friendly
Q: My 10-year-old cat Spottie lost his littermate a few weeks ago and he has not been the same. Do cats grieve and can I help him through it?

A: It is my opinion, and that of many experts, that cats grieve — and I have seen it in my own home. I adopted two brothers, Roscoe and Bandit, who were inseparable. When Bandit passed away two years ago, Roscoe was visibly depressed. He didn’t want to eat much and just moped around. I tried to get him interested in some interactive play and he did make a small effort (I think to please me more than anything else).

I took a gamble and adopted a 1-year-old cat, Lester, from my local shelter. Thankfully they bonded and are now the best of buddies. I am not saying this is the answer for all cats who lose a pal. Some do not want to welcome a new cat into their territory, but Roscoe was his old self again and I believe secretly enjoys being looked up to by Lester who idolizes him.

Here are some suggestions that help might your cat grieve:

Your cat might want to be alone to go through the grieving process. This is normal when a cat has lost a friend, but don’t let your cat be alone too long.

Make your cat feel special with lots of extra attention. Entice him out with a calm reassuring voice and his favorite cat treats. Have some catnip on hand and try to get your cat to play a little.

Buy new litterboxes and food bowls. The new litterbox and food bowls will not have the other cat’s scent on them and will help the healing process.

Leave a radio on a station that you regularly listen to when you go to work. It will keep your cat company.

Make a big fuss when you come home. Get out the treats, toys and cat brush.

If your cat exhibits signs of grieving for an extended period of time, take him to the vet to make sure there isn’t a medical issue.

Good Luck with Spottie; I always say extra TLC goes a long way in helping our feline friends. As always, I welcome your comments and stories.

Cat Calls BookGood News! My new book, "Cat Calls: Wonderful Stories and Practical Advice from a Veteran Cat Sitter" with CAT FANCY editor Susan Logan is now available in stores and online. Please click here for more information.
Printer Friendly

 Give us your opinion on
Help for Grieving Cats

Submit a Comment   Join Club
Earn 1,000 points! What's this?
Reader Comments

Kaitlin    Kalamazoo, MI

1/17/2014 7:10:23 PM

I have been dealing with depression issues for a year now. My cat was my best friend helping me with my sadness and making me wake up and play. He was 5 years old when he died painfully and quite sudden. I was very sad and my fiancé could not stop crying. I have healed but his biological brother and his sister have been grieving. They both hated the other for the past 5 years. Now they cuddle each other. When I got home from the cat hospital I let the cats smell my hands as I petted their sibling right before he died. This actually seemed to help them understand. The brother searched for about an hour but then he stopped. They both avoid the litter box their brother used.

What I'm concerned about the female is the appetite change. She is eating twice as much than usual and she eats too quickly. She cries all day for food and it breaks my heart to see her literally eat her feelings. I hope this is temporary and I won't reinforce her crying w food. I am just worried about her health.

Marion    Ottawa, ON

4/11/2012 1:39:41 PM

I use Bach Flower Remedies with my cats. There is a very good all-purpose remedy called Rescue Remedy which helps with all kinds of stresses. There are also a number of other Flower Remedies which can be specifically targeted to the cat's moods and lifestyle.


4/10/2012 11:26:06 AM

When we adopted our second cat, she became best friends with my husband. He was fighting cancer and she never left his side. After he passed away she had a really hard time adjusting even though we had another cat. To this day, she sits in the front window waiting for him to return home. So I believe cats not only grieve their fellow playmates but their caretakers also

Sue    DeKalb, IL

4/7/2012 5:55:10 PM

For future reference, I always try to let my surviving cats smell the passed away kitty. If that is not possible, I would bring home a towel that held the poor kitty. My survivors always seem to understand what happened when I have done this. They sense more than we give them credit for.

View Current Comments

Top Products