Will a New Cat Help My Grieving Cat?

CatChannel and CAT FANCY cat behaviorist Marilyn Krieger, CCBC, shares ways to help cats get over grief and what cat friends will help.

By Marilyn Krieger, CCBC

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Q: A month ago, my cat Rico suddenly passed away at the age of 12. I have had Rico and his sister Rosita since both cats were 8 weeks old. Since Rico’s death, Rosita sometimes still calls for him but is doing a lot better.

Would it be a good idea to get a kitten? Rosita has been around Rico all her life and I wondered whether her having another cat around again would be a good or bad idea. She sleeps a lot more then she used to and she used to play with Rico but I don't see her as "happy" anymore.

A: Give Rosita a little more time to get over the loss of her cat friend before you bring a new friend home for her. Grieving is a stressful process, as is introducing cats to each other. Help your cat through her grief by providing as much consistency in her life as possible. Feed her at the same times every day. If she enjoys grooming and likes to play, stick to a consistent schedule. Clicker training can also help her through this difficult time. Your cat will look forward to the interaction. Maintain household consistency, too. Now is not the time for remodeling or moving.  

Only after Rosita is over the loss of Rico, start the search for a new cat-friend. I do not recommend bringing home a kitten as a friend for your cat. Both cats have different activity needs. Kittens are little balls of high intensity energy, needing a rambunctious playmate to chase and wrestle. Older cats prefer to nap quietly by a window. Rosita will probably find a kitten annoying and stressful.

A male companion cat, who is closer to your cat’s age is a better choice. Search for a cat who has a history of successfully living with other female cats who are similar in age to Rosita. After you find a suitable companion, confine the newcomer to his own room and gradually introduce the cats to each other. Take your time introducing them, it may take a month or longer to introduce the two cats to each other. 
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