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.
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