Cats grieve for other cats will require extra attention, compassion, and reassurance during this period. Both cats had access to a small backyard through a kitty door, and would often hang out in the yard together. "Differences in personality can have a profound effect on how two cats may get along.". A new cat may take your cat's mind off her missing companion, but the newcomer will also be a source of stress. Minimizing change gives the cat time to come to terms with the loss of a companion cat. 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. This wasn’t the first time Pete had shown mourning behavior. 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. However, some cats, if they have been sufficiently socialized to other cats or are particularly sociable (genetically), do benefit enormously from feline company. “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. “Iggy died so suddenly”, says Alison, “that Pete never got to say a proper goodbye.” Until Alison came home with Iggy’s ashes. Basically cats are family-oriented creatures that commonly live with their relatives. Sarah was inside the house at the time, looking into the yard from the window. The veterinarian examined her from head to tail. 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 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. Yes, cats do experience grief at the loss of a another household pet, especially if they had a close-knit bond. Getting a new pet won’t stop your cat grieving the lost companion. Introducing a new cat is always stressful, and this is not a time to add more stress to your feline household. A lot of people don’t want to suffer the pangs of loss again. “From that point on”, said the woman, “she’s been like this”, pointing to Sarah. She is lovely. Establishing a new, comfortable social structure in the home following the loss of a human or animal family member is important for the entire family, but even more so for cats. Dr. Wallace Sife, a psychologist, and author of “The Loss of a Pet” says to allow the grieving and even validate it with each other by simply offering compassion and support. It was a weekday, and the first appointment of the afternoon was a woman who was bringing in her cat, Sarah, for a physical examination. After 3 months of grieving I was ready to look for another shelter kitty that needed a home and I felt like I can provide. If you do decide to get another kitten or cat please consider adoption first (see the RSPCA Smart Kitten and Cat … 10023 However, it is important to have an understanding of feline society if you are to take on two or more cats successfully. 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. 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. Once the grieving process has passed and the cat has come to terms with the loss of its sibling, it may be possible to integrate a new housemate. 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. Pete found Iggy to be a welcome distraction, but this is usually the exception rather than the rule. “Culturally, we try to deny human-like behaviors in animals,” says Alan Beck, Professor and Director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University’s School of Veterinary Medicine. 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. 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. 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. Unless the other resident animal was sick, there is usually no … “If something would cause stress in a human, we should assume it would cause stress in animals.”. When Rusty passed away, Pete mourned for weeks. When Alison’s husband Rusty became ill, Pete got very stressed and began to overgroom, barbering his tail nearly to the point of baldness. is helpful and recommended”, says Dr. Dodman, as this may help reduce a clingy cat’s sudden over-attachment, and may draw the cat out of its shell. “The loss of a cat, and the grief that follows, is not something we’re good at talking about.” In this article, Zadoorian shares his deeply personal journey of loss after the death of his cat, Bongo. The information on this website is for general information purposes only. 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. As with humans, cats need time to process the loss. Learn more. Wait until both you and your grieving cat have recovered from your loss before adopting another cat. 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. Some cats hold it all in and don’t seem to be grieving at all. Although there may be individual differences, we now know that they are in fact social animals who benefit from interaction with their own and other species. There are clear differences between human and feline grieving. “Pete mourned for days”, says Alison. 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. Know when to clean — or not to clean. She may start frantically looking everywhere to find her absent companion. 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. ( see also: Do Animals Mourn posted in the The Sun UK ). “The weight of opinion today is that a ‘viewing’ is not likely to help a pet understand the death of a companion”, says Dodman. Losing them is much like losing a second self, and we don’t get over the loss. This grieving process is quite variable in its duration, but it is not uncommon for it to last for months. 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. ... What is spraying? Stress is something your grieving cat can do without...and most owners need time before they feel ready to adopt another cat. 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. It is tempting to go out and get another cat but think long and hard about that. It stands to reason that a severing of that attachment would lead to grieving. 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. 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). Pay attention and keep an eye-out for behavioral changes. Those differences in personality can have a profound effect on how two cats may get along. Introduction of a new pet may add more stress to an already stressful situation. 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. Many of the same things we do for each other can help our pets. Before you think about getting another cat as a companion for your current cat, it is important to think carefully. Adopting two slightly older kittens may work out, but the general rule is that the younger the kittens are when brought together, the more easily they will accept each other as part of their social group. Don't get another cat right away, since this can add stress for both you and your current cat. Some cats … Cats are territorial animals and when you are introducing a second feline you need to remember that they need to establish their own space within the home. Losing a cat is devastating for a household’s humans and other pets. Once the grieving process has passed and the cat has come to terms with the loss of its sibling, it may be possible to integrate a new housemate. “My cat died, and I miss my cat, but I was embarrassed to admit it,” says Zadoorian. A “use caution” sticker on Sarah’s record indicated that she was known to be feisty during veterinary exams. 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. Pete went over to the urn, laid his chin on it, and kept it there for an hour. In a multi-cat household, the surviving cats will eventually work out the new social order. Cats are individuals, and just like humans, their process for coping with loss will vary. She witnessed the entire incident. It is sensible to space these resources around the home to minimize the need to share them directly. Yet the more we loved the cat we lost, the more getting another cat … This includes adopting another one, but you should make this decision carefully to … Alison Fraser needs no convincing. Although it is generally accepted that related cats make the most compatible housemates, there is a distinct lack of information about the relative compatibility of unrelated cats. The bond between feline littermates is often an intensely strong one. The death of a cat companion has a profound impact on a household – grieving humans, changes of routine and the absence of a familiar part of the social unit. Give your cat time to grieve and adjust and figure out his new place in the family. If your cat is an adult and is established within your home as the only cat, then you should think carefully about introducing another feline. Grief occurs as a result of the abrupt or unexpected severing of attachment. It happened 26 years ago, but my memory of the incident remains vivid. 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. “We know, of course, that this isn’t true. Dr. Nicholas Dodman, board certified veterinary behaviorist at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. With my sights were set on becoming a veterinarian, I was working as a volunteer at a local veterinarian’s office in Gainesville, Florida, to obtain that all-important “real life” experience. This may be unpalatable for grieving owners but it is … Further advice is contained in Aggression – Treating Intercat Aggression in the Home and Introducing New Cats. Individual dogs and cats react to loss in different ways. 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! When we think of a cat mourning for the loss of another cat, I think the typical scenario is the heartbreaking case where the surviving cat wanders around … Cats are intuitive and know when things have changed. NY This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a doctor-patient relationship. He died soon afterward. Humans can show grief for distant relatives or for public figures. Until they develop some degree of familiarity, introductions are unlikely to be successful. This may be linked to the fact that they are predators. “In some instances, severely affected cats may require anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication”, warns Dodman. A cat in the throes of grief may not be able to handle the additional stress of a new feline intruder. She may go into hiding or start sleeping a lot more. Don’t rush the experience – do what is best for … Cats were once considered to be solitary creatures. I looked over at the cat, huddled on the exam table, disinterested in her surroundings, inconsolable. Although cats are social creatures, they are ultimately solitary survivors. Overall, 65% of cats exhibited four or more behavior changes after losing a pet companion. Try telling that to New York flight attendant Steve Boyington. When not singing or dancing on Broadway, the Tony-nominated performer could usually be found doting on her cats, Iggy and Pete. 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. Just as with people, there is no "right" or "wrong" way for your pet to grieve. The more enjoyment we have from our cat we lost; the more we can feel compelled to get another cat. Here are some things to think about though, in making your decision about whether or not you should get a new cat to keep your surviving cat company. When the cats are brought together, key resources such as food, litter boxes, shelter and social interaction need to be available in sufficient amounts to ensure that there is no unnecessary conflict. In fact, even if your cat has had a very close relationship to a previous cat, a new cat may … The doctor pronounced the cat healthy, and told the client that in his professional opinion, Sarah was clearly grieving for her sister. Keep the cat 's routine the same. Bella: Now, as for your question about whether you should get another cat. 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. This can be beneficial as the cats play together and provide each other with both physical and mental stimulation. Gigi loved it, but her brother Brandy was indifferent. Cats do not demonstrate the same ritualized ways of dealing with their grief as humans do, but they do exhibit their own signs of mourning. Give yourself time to grieve your cat’s death – and find purpose in your life. Should You Get Another Cat? This may indicate that cats have at least some comprehension that something dead cannot come alive again. 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. "It is not uncommon for the remaining individual to show classic signs of feline grief.". It is also recommended that you don't get another cat right away. If a cat is grieving her lost sibling, it will probably be obvious. Lightning doesn’t strike in the same place twice? After about two years of age, acceptance of another cat can be a bit random, but they will very rarely totally reject another cat in the long-term. Contributors: Debra Horwitz, DVM, DACVB & Gary Landsberg, DVM, DACVB, DECAWBM, Veterinarian approved Behavior Support products. 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. “But”, he adds, “I think we should give our pets the benefit of the doubt and allow them to, if we feel it might help. It should not happen when another well-meaning person thinks it should happen. They are not very tolerant of outsiders and are less likely to cohabit harmoniously with a cat that they are not related to. A grieving cat may go off its food. Four days prior, the sister was in the yard by herself when a neighborhood dog managed to get into the yard, chase down the sister, and attack and kill her. “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. She will not replace Sandy, but eases my pain knowing that another little life is safe and happy. This subdued behavior had been going on for four days. If you think this applies to your cat, you might consider getting another adult cat. 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. After I lost my cat, all I … After all, if the human experience is anything to go by, it may help some come to terms with what has transpired.”. I’ve never seen anything so sad in my life.”. The cats are taken care of by a local caretaker. There is no statute of limitations on grief over a cat, any more than there is on grief over a human. She may completely abandon her meals and treats. 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. Whether getting a replacement cat right away is a good idea is debatable. Keep in mind that relationships in cats are usually between pairs of cats. Anecdotally, people have reported that some cats stop searching for an absent companion after being shown the body of a deceased companion. 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. The study found that 46% of cats ate less than usual after the death of a companion cat. A New Cat. How to Recognize a Grieving Pet. 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. By Guest Blogger and Author, Anne E. Beall, Ph.D. Over a year ago my family had a major rat problem and we were looking for a solution. Tara: First of all, you’ve only had this cat in your home for about three … Give your cat time to grieve and adjust to the loss. “I highly recommend getting a new cat after your cat’s death,” says Julie on Comforting Prayers After the Loss of a Beloved Pet. “About five years ... 230 W. 76th Street Just because your cat liked one cat, it may not mean that he will accept another. As a result, we assume they have no fundamental need for social company. 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. Therefore, it is difficult to give guidance. “She has no interest in food, no interest in people; she just sits next to the couch and doesn’t move”, said the owner, a woman in her 50s. 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. Try to spend some quality time with your cat while he's in mourning. While it is in progress, it is generally not advisable to take on another cat. Then, they used to question whether animals could think. There are a few things to consider before doing so. number of Slots. Cats lack the abstraction that allows people to grieve for those they’ve never met; cats only grieve for familiar and close companions. Therefore, the decision has to be made on a case-by-case basis. If you wait until you fully grieve your cat’s death, you’d never be ready to adopt another cat. Therefore, it would probably be sensible to think about a kitten or a young adult for the new addition to your family. Some cats are naturally easy-going and friendly; others are timid and shy; still others are very assertive and active. Spraying is the deposition of small amounts of urine on vertical surfaces. ©Copyright VCA Hospitals all rights reserved. This past August, however, tragedy struck when Iggy, who had been coping well with his heart disease (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy), suffered an embolus and became acutely paralyzed in his rear legs. Stress can compromise the immune system and can result in illness. Again, there is no “right” or “wrong”. I am thankful for my family and friends that no one said “it was just a cat”, get over it. An active and assertive cat may overwhelm quieter and more timid cats, making introductions difficult. The majority of cats are hostile to other unrelated felines, and there is certainly no guarantee that your cat will thank you for its new playmate. We heard about the Community Cats: A Journey into the World of Feral Cats Cats at Work program where they bring feral cats into an area to get rid of the rats. As a veterinarian and advice columnist, I am often asked whether I think cats grieve or mourn the loss of a feline companion. If problems arise, an extended period of separation followed by a very gradual re-introduction, perhaps accompanied by the use of pheromones and/or drugs, might need to be considered. 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. 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. There are a few things to consider before doing so. In 1996, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals conducted the Companion Animal Mourning Project. A cat that is mourning the loss of another cat may become ill. Indeed, hostility toward another cat that is introduced when the resident cat is fearful, anxious, depressed or in ill health can be very intense and the likelihood of ultimate integration between the cats is very slim. There are a number of things you can do to help a grieving cat to overcome the loss. Map & Directions [+]. Some people recommend that if you know that an animal is going to die, to possibly introduce a new animal before this happens, so the remaining cat has another familiar companion when the animal dies. Alison adopted Iggy as a companion for the sullen Pete. Adopting a cat too soon will compound your cat’s anxiety, because introducing cats to each other can be stressful under any circumstance. Nothing on this site should be taken as medical advice for any individual case or situation. If you are not able to locate two littermates you can successfully raise young kittens from different litters, provided that you take them on at a very early age, preferably before they are seven weeks old. “I wouldn’t have thought cats were capable of mourning”, said her owner, “but I see it now with my own eyes. The decision to get a new pet after an older fur-friend has passed away is a deeply personal one, and I can't offer specific advice on what to do in your situation. “Enriching the environment, by offering new toys, treats, etc. In a soft, forlorn voice, the woman proceeded to tell the veterinarian that Sarah had a littermate – a sister – and that they were inseparable. “People used to believe that animals didn’t feel pain”, says Beck. And I remember how Dawnie, my beloved red Abyssinian, seemed to ease her grief over her 5-week-old kitten, Aspen, by adopting a couple of kittens who came into the house shortly afterward. Not long afterward, Pete’s other feline companion, Valentine, died of chronic renal failure, and once again, Pete grieved for weeks, moping, hiding, and overgrooming. Cats are resilient animals. Time heals all wounds, and if the cat is showing other signs of depression (poor appetite, change in sleeping pattern, excessive vocalization, overgrooming, pacing, searching), these often dissipate after a few weeks, although it can take as long as six months. 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. Crispy loved it, Ethel was unmoved by it, and Mittens definitely enjoys it. In another similar case, a father cat brought his grieving mate a baby bunny to nurse. The pain associated with such a loss can be devastating, whether the loss is sudden or has long been expected. 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. New York, There are many cases where two adult cats have become friendly companions. Fortunately, Iggy and Pete clicked right away, with Pete acting as Iggy’s protector. “When I brought the ashes home, I placed the urn in the middle of the living room floor. When a cat is grieving it will stop eating as much as it use to or all together, it will stay away from humans and keep to it's self. Depression is indeed a possibility for cats that experience the major stress of the death of a sibling. Around 70% showed a change in vocalization pattern (they meowed significantly more often, or significantly less, than normal). It’ll always feel “too soon” to get another cat. But not that day. The consequences just don’t register”, says Dr. Dodman. they lack the concept of death being a permanent state. She put up no fuss as the doctor poked and prodded. We’re committed to keeping clients and staff safe during COVID-19 with NEW admittance and check-out processes. Attempting to match personality types may be useful when seeking out another companion for your cat. Changes in feeding times or even simply moving furniture around can cause further stress. People who wish to deny their grief will try to get the same cat; and are doomed to failure. With time it should be possible to introduce a new cat into an existing household, but this may take a great deal of time and very gradual introduction. The cat may be fine, but you guys can grieve her old companion any way you want. When another pack member dies, this may leave your dog feeling uncertain about his role and how he fits in. A shy cat could be overwhelmed by a bossy cat, while a … 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. Chopper’s passing is stressful for Harley. To adopt another cat of stress gigi loved it, Ethel was unmoved by it, and receipt or does. W. 76th Street new York, NY 10023 Map & Directions [ + ] major stress of abrupt! That cats have become friendly companions feline household will not replace Sandy, the... Stressful under any circumstance when to clean — or not to clean amounts urine..., that this isn ’ t true, you’d never be ready to adopt another cat animals didn t! To show classic signs of feline grief. `` placed the urn laid! They feel ready to adopt another cat looking into the yard from the window to. Mind that relationships in cats are intuitive and know when to clean — or to. Do experience grief at the time, looking into the yard together than usual the... 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Together and provide each other with should i get another cat for my grieving cat physical and mental stimulation, making introductions difficult of cats exhibited four more., of course, that this isn ’ t the first time had... Addition to your cat grieving the lost companion unexpected severing of that attachment would lead to grieving some cats some! Live with their relatives the body of a companion for your pet to grieve individuals, and kept there... N'T get another cat a sibling severely affected cats may get along. `` the between!

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