How to Help Your Cat Deal with Grief

Learn about signs of grief in cats.

When humans experience a loss, they go through a complicated cycle of grief. There's evidence that cats can go through their own form of grief when another pet or human in the home dies or leaves. While we don't know whether they experience precisely the same feelings as we do, it's clear that they do go through something.

Signs of Grief in Cats

Recently, a research study was done in Australia and New Zealand in which people who had recently lost a pet were asked about the behaviors of their remaining cats and dogs (Jessica K. Walker, 2016). Some of the things many of them noticed their remaining pet doing which were out of character for them included:

Of course, cats are individuals, and there are as many ways to show grief as there are in humans. Watch for any changes in behavior that might indicate grief.

However, it's also important to remember that your cat might become ill with a medical condition coincidentally with the loss of another pet or family member. Don't misattribute signs of illness for those of grief. Visit your veterinarian right away if you're not sure.

How to Support a Grieving Cat

Try to give your cat what she seems to be asking for. If she wants more attention, do what you can to provide it. If she wants time to herself, let her be while remaining close and watching for signs of illness.

Try to encourage your cat to return to the things she used to enjoy, such as interactive play. Don't push too hard, but continue to offer those things. Over time, she should return to her previous levels of enjoyment.

Other ways to help your cat include: