Do cats mourn?
I am often asked, do cats mourn? It is difficult to assess what those mournful eyes mean, since our feline friends cannot tell us what they are feeling. However, astute pet parents can interpret their pets’ emotions based on their behavior. Despite cats often being aloof, they are social animals that form attachments to two- and four-legged family members. They do indeed mourn.
What are the signs of mourning?
When a cat loses a companion they most certainly grieve and react to the changes in their life. Cats alter their behavior when they mourn much like people do:
• They may become depressed or listless
• They may have decreased appetite and be less interested in playing
• They may sleep more than usual and move more slowly
• They may hide under the bed, choosing to be alone even more than usual for cats
How can I help my cat cope with grief?
When signs of grief become evident following the loss of an animal or human family member, concerned owners can help their cat deal with grief in the following ways:
• Spend extra time with your cat. Try to divert your cat’s attention by engaging in their favorite activities.
• Be more affectionate. Make an effort to pet your cat more often
• If your cat enjoys company, invite friends over who will interact with them.
• Provide entertainment while you are gone. This can be done by hiding their favorite treats throughout the house so that he/she has to search to find them. This is a great engaging activity.
• Reinforce good behavior and ignore inappropriate behavior. Some cats will vocalize or meow without provocation. While hard, try to ignore this behavior. Try to engage them in other ways to decrease the incidence of vocalization.
• Think carefully about replacing a lost pet. If your cat is grieving from the loss of a canine or feline companion, do not rush to find a replacement. Give your cat time to grieve and adjust to the loss. Introducing a new pet to the household can cause more stress to the situation.
Cats have a much narrower social structure with set boundaries that extend only as far as the inside of the house or the perimeter of the yard. Their days are focused on a much smaller social periphery that may include only the other pets and people within the immediate family unit.
Time will also contribute to the healing process of both pet and pet owner. Loss will become easier to bear and fond memories will replace sorrow.