Help for Grieving Cats

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

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.

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Cats · Health and Care


  • A very close friend, Lenae, died suddenly in her home country of France while on vacation and is now buried there. She normally lived and worked in the U.S. and when she’d travel, her 3 year old Cat, Simone, would stay with one of 6 trusted friends. Simone is currently with one trusted friend who has watched Simone many times. The remaining close knit circle of 6 of us want Simone to have a home with one of us. Several of us have our own kitties and Simone is friendly with all of them from many play dates. She will have an excellent home, regardless of which person adopts her. We’re all concerned about Simone and the fact she’ll never see Lenae again. We all want the best for Simone, but we’re all a bit freaked out as to whether she’ll act out or be upset that her Mom isn’t here any longer and how to handle it, should it occur. Since she has many familiar environments, I see that as good since it won’t be a traditional re-homing. Thank you.

    L. Nickmann November 28, 2016 1:02 am Reply
  • over the weekend, my sweet 15 1/2 year old cat Jupiter passed away. as hard as it’s being on me (this was my favorite pet that I’d ever had) I’m really worried about how this is going to affect my 9 year old cat Tuptim. They were very close.

    What makes things worse, is in September my 16 year old, Chloe died. I think that Chloe dying had something to do with Jupiter. About a week after Chloe died, I adopted two wonderful new cats a 1 1/2 year old Sylvester and a 6 month old kitten Popsicle. Maybe this was a good thing, maybe not. Thankfully Tuptim bonded with the two newbies right away (she’s the most affectionate cat you ever saw) and they also got along pretty well with Jupiter. There was a day or two about a two weeks after I got the newbies that Tuptim seemed a bit listless…but she came out from it. Then suddenly Jupiter stopped showing any interest in food. After two days I took her to the vet, they did some tests on her and found that she had a mass in her abdomen and her blood work showed liver damage. The vet suggested “the E-word”. I could not do that. A couple of days later, Jupiter seemed to start to come around a bit, had some good days and some bad days, but then there started to be more bad than good then Saturday she took a real turn for the worse, and she died in my arms Sunday morning.

    Usually I leave some several “stations” of dry food all about the place, and food does seem to get eaten (Popsicle has a particularly healthy appetite) but I’m making sure that Tuptim is eating. This morning before I left for work I put some wet (Max cat for senior cats) right in front from her and she ate, by my watching over a third of a large can right there. But I want to head off any problems before we get there, so any advise you can give would be gratefully appreciated. I have been making a point of giving Tuptim a lot of attention and affection which she very much welcomes (Tuptim is THE sweetest most affectionate cat you’d ever meet)….her devotion to Jupiter during those last days was a thing of real beauty — and as much as she’s had my heart before, she’s really won my heart, so I’d love to keep her as long as can be.

    thank you in advance


    Chris November 28, 2016 7:03 am Reply

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