Getting a new pet won’t stop your cat grieving the lost companion. I looked over at the cat, huddled on the exam table, disinterested in her surroundings, inconsolable. Cats have a stoic and tough public image, but that doesn't mean that the furry creatures aren't at all vulnerable to the grieving process. Whether getting a replacement cat right away is a good idea is debatable. There is no statute of limitations on grief over a cat, any more than there is on grief over a human. There are clear differences between human and feline grieving. Therefore, the decision has to be made on a case-by-case basis. When another pack member dies, this may leave your dog feeling uncertain about his role and how he fits in. In a multi-cat household, the surviving cats will eventually work out the new social order. Learn more. Alison Fraser needs no convincing. Increasing the amount of available space within the home can be achieved by making use of three-dimensional features of the house by adding furniture, shelving, and aerobic centers that allow cats to make use of vertical as well as horizontal space. Map & Directions [+]. She is lovely. Give your cat time to grieve and adjust to the loss. For this reason, the best combination of cats is actually littermates and if you are taking on more than one kitten it is certainly better to consider taking on two from the same litter. Introduction of a new pet may add more stress to an already stressful situation. Some cats … Losing them is much like losing a second self, and we don’t get over the loss. Although, at first the existing housecat(s) may have a problem with the new addition to the household, in some homes the existing cat may try to initiate play while the new cat is the one that exhibits the most aggression. If your cat has been seen in the company of other cats without excessive fear or aggression, it may be possible to integrate a new cat into the household. The doctor asked the woman about the days preceding Sarah’s lethargy and loss of appetite, and whether anything in the cat’s environment had changed. Introducing a new cat is always stressful, and this is not a time to add more stress to your feline household. Overall, 65% of cats exhibited four or more behavior changes after losing a pet companion. The consequences just don’t register”, says Dr. Dodman. Should You Get Another Cat? She may completely abandon her meals and treats. Although cats are thought of as being aloof and solitary, they are, in fact, social animals, and are as capable as dogs of forming deep attachments to people and other animals. Dr. Nicholas Dodman, board certified veterinary behaviorist at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. Fortunately, Iggy and Pete clicked right away, with Pete acting as Iggy’s protector. Losing a cat is devastating for a household’s humans and other pets. Grieving the Loss of Your Cat Losing a cat can be a life-changing event, one that can be as difficult as the loss of a human companion. As a veterinarian and advice columnist, I am often asked whether I think cats grieve or mourn the loss of a feline companion. The bond between feline littermates is very special and when one of a pair dies before the other it is not uncommon for the remaining individual to show classic signs of feline grief. There are many cases where two adult cats have become friendly companions. If you wait until you fully grieve your cat’s death, you’d never be ready to adopt another cat. She may start frantically looking everywhere to find her absent companion. Cats are individuals, and just like humans, their process for coping with loss will vary. But, you need to realize that any bond that is established between your cat and a newcomer will never be as strong as the one that existed between the original littermates. I believe this was Pete’s way of saying his final goodbye.”, The question often arises as to whether it is a good idea to allow surviving cats to see the body of the deceased cat. She put up no fuss as the doctor poked and prodded. Cats are resilient animals. “Whether this is helpful or not is the subject of debate”, says Dr. Nicholas Dodman, board certified veterinary behaviorist at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, and author of The Cat Who Cried for Help, “and there is little evidence to support either view.” Some researchers believe that a cat perceives death the way a young child might perceive it, i.e. However, if your cat shows hostility to other cats, or hisses, growls, or marks territory if they enter your yard or garden, then obtaining another cat would not be advisable! “My cat died, and I miss my cat, but I was embarrassed to admit it,” says Zadoorian. Contributors: Debra Horwitz, DVM, DACVB & Gary Landsberg, DVM, DACVB, DECAWBM, Veterinarian approved Behavior Support products. If that’s true, then showing them the body “would be like letting a 2 year-old see a deceased family member at a funeral. Chopper’s passing is stressful for Harley. A grieving cat may go off its food. If the surviving cat had access to the outdoors, this should be restricted, as the cat may stray off into unfamiliar territory and get into dangerous situations as it searches for the lost companion. “If something would cause stress in a human, we should assume it would cause stress in animals.”. Lightning doesn’t strike in the same place twice? But, you need to realize that any bond that is established between your cat and a newcomer will never be as strong as the one that existed between the original littermates. Many of the same things we do for each other can help our pets. Grief occurs as a result of the abrupt or unexpected severing of attachment. “When I brought the ashes home, I placed the urn in the middle of the living room floor. Some cats are naturally easy-going and friendly; others are timid and shy; still others are very assertive and active. If you do need to take on an adult cat, the same research suggested that an adult of the opposite sex was more likely to be accepted and that, in cases of same-sex pairs, two males were slightly more likely to be compatible than two females. One piece of research carried out in Switzerland showed that adult cats are more likely to accept the introduction of a younger individual than one of the same age or older. Cats lack the abstraction that allows people to grieve for those they’ve never met; cats only grieve for familiar and close companions. The doctor pronounced the cat healthy, and told the client that in his professional opinion, Sarah was clearly grieving for her sister. Then, they used to question whether animals could think. You may feel ready soon after you lose your cat – this may be the case if your cat had a long illness and your grieving started long before the death. Stress is something your grieving cat can do without...and most owners need time before they feel ready to adopt another cat. “We can’t be certain if they mourn in the human sense of the word, but we should give them the benefit of the doubt”, says Beck. This means that cats can live alone perfectly happily, provided that they have sufficient supply of safe territory, food, shelter and affection from their owners. In fact, even if your cat has had a very close relationship to a previous cat, a new cat may not be welcomed into the household. He died soon afterward. The veterinarian examined her from head to tail. Humans can show grief for distant relatives or for public figures. This does not mean that they would not benefit from the presence of another cat, especially a littermate or other relative, but it does mean that cats who are used to living alone are not likely to be suffering as a result. “From that point on”, said the woman, “she’s been like this”, pointing to Sarah. She witnessed the entire incident. While he believes that cats probably don’t perceive death the same way as people do, for pet cats experiencing a drastic change in their environment, it seems reasonable to think that they do grieve. Those differences in personality can have a profound effect on how two cats may get along. Tara: First of all, you’ve only had this cat in your home for about three … After a time even those cats that do not become great friends can still learn to tolerate and live with each other by keeping to their own territory. “The weight of opinion today is that a ‘viewing’ is not likely to help a pet understand the death of a companion”, says Dodman. It happened 26 years ago, but my memory of the incident remains vivid. The bond between feline littermates is often an intensely strong one. Minimizing change gives the cat time to come to terms with the loss of a companion cat. An easy-going cat may accept most other cats, while a timid and shy cat may be reluctant to accept another cat, depending on the new cat’s personality. Until they develop some degree of familiarity, introductions are unlikely to be successful. More than half of the cats became more affectionate and “clingy” with their owners, and many of the cats slept more, and changed the location of where they usually slept. Clearly, they can.” Beck adds, “I suppose that denying animal’s human-like behaviors allows us to be more comfortable eating them and using them.” But attitudes toward animals have changed over the years. I certainly feel that they do, but cats cannot speak, and we can only guess at what their true emotions might be at any given time. “Pete mourned for days”, says Alison. Nothing on this site should be taken as medical advice for any individual case or situation. The study found that 46% of cats ate less than usual after the death of a companion cat. She may go into hiding or start sleeping a lot more. If the surviving cat had access to the outdoors, this should be restricted, as the cat may stray off into unfamiliar territory and get into dangerous situations as it searches for the lost companion. Again, there is no “right” or “wrong”. When Alison’s husband Rusty became ill, Pete got very stressed and began to overgroom, barbering his tail nearly to the point of baldness. In 1996, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals conducted the Companion Animal Mourning Project. There are a few things to consider before doing so. I’ve never seen anything so sad in my life.”. This grieving process is quite variable in its duration, but it is not uncommon for it to last for months. On the other hand, if dogs and cats do comprehend death more than we give them credit for, viewing a deceased companion may help to explain why that companion cat won’t be around in the future. It’ll always feel “too soon” to get another cat. How to Recognize a Grieving Pet. As a result of this knowledge there has been a move to promote ownership of more than one cat, and in particular to encourage owners to take on two cats at the same time. Some cats hold it all in and don’t seem to be grieving at all. I am thankful for my family and friends that no one said “it was just a cat”, get over it. In anecdotal reports, positive and negative responses are seen in cats that lose a companion and an equally significant number of owners report no response whatsoever from the surviving cat. A New Cat. It might be best therefore to provide the new cat with a separate housing area and slowly integrate the cats during times when they are likely to be occupied, distracted or enjoying themselves (such as feeding, play, or treat times). If given time to grieve, they will return to some of their old rituals, develop new rituals, and once again regain the contentment that they previously enjoyed. The cat may be fine, but you guys can grieve her old companion any way you want. These include behaviors such as vocalization and searching for the missing sibling, as well as changes in basic behaviors such as feeding and seeking social interaction with owners. In fact, even if your cat has had a very close relationship to a previous cat, a new cat may … Basically cats are family-oriented creatures that commonly live with their relatives. A young or middle-aged cat may be more receptive than an elderly cat to the presence of a kitten or even another adult cat — but it’s important to consider your original cat’s purr-sonality when choosing a new cat of any age. Sitting with your cat, brushing him, and playing with him (if he's willing to play) can help create a more positive environment for your cat. “We know, of course, that this isn’t true. 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