ways to help your cat through a grieving period

Ways to Help Your Cat Through a Grieving Period

The loss of a loved one is very traumatic. And when it comes to pets, sometimes it could be unbearable. Not only do humans suffer from the pain of a lost pet, but other animals also grieve when they lose their friend. It is absolutely heartbreaking!

Grieving is not just limited to the loss of another animal, cats also grieve over the death of their human companions. Cats mostly grieve when they are surrendered to shelters or rehomed.

If you have a grieving cat, there are quite a few ways you can help it. But before we jump into that topic, let us first tell you how you can identify whether your cat is grieving or not because it is very important that you do not confuse grief with other mental conditions.

CPA cat looking out through a window

How to Understand a Grieving Cat

As you already know that felines are an expert at hiding their feelings, but grief is something that can’t escape your eyes. There are certain ways cats show sadness. Some cats grieve to a great extent, whereas others do not seem affected when their companion is lost.

Some cats would show their feelings by standing or sitting in their companion’s favorite corner and howl for hours. They might not even want to socialize much with other people or animals. The worst is when they sleep more than usual and lose their appetite. In addition to that, some cats may even refuse to play and isolate themselves in different corners.

On the other hand, some cats do not grieve at all, and it’s completely normal. There is no time limit for grief. It would be a few months long process or even take days for the cat to recover. It’s about the time and depth of the relationship they had with their absent partners.

The good news is, you can help your grieving cat in a number of ways. So, let’s take a look at how you can improve the mental condition of your grieving cat:

1. Take Grief Seriously

Pay attention to your cats when they grieve. As we mentioned, some cats grieve greatly for which they lose their appetite or may even stop eating. If your grieving cat refuses to eat for more than 24 hours, they are at the risk of developing feline hepatic lipidosis. This is quite serious and a potentially fatal condition.

In that case, you will need to see your vet and get him or her examined thoroughly. Grieving is hugely stressful for a little creature like a cat. It adversely affects the immune system, exposing the cat to other diseases. So, take grief seriously.

2. Provide Plenty of Mental Stimulation and Enrichment

Upgrade the environment around your grieving cat. Bring a new cat scratcher, provide your cat with toys or catnip toys, favor them into a lump of flavorful meat or fish broth. Do everything that makes your cat happy; don’t leave any stone unturned.

For more options head over to our guide on the Best Cat Scratching Tower and Best Cat Scratching Pads.

Placing a cat tree high up on a surface usually does the trick. Place those structure next to a window with excellent views of your neighborhood, and they will stay stimulated most of the time.

Grieving cats respond well to activities like a pleasant grooming session or a treasure hunt. Reward-based training could do wonders as it helps in elevating their mood and bring them out of depression faster than usual.

Bear it in mind that all your efforts should be gentle, nurturing, fun and force-free.

3. Don’t Depend on a New Companion

Don’t rush to adopt a new pet for your grieving cat; it doesn’t solve anything. Grieving is stressful, and a new pet may increase both your and your grieving cat’s stress level. Why should you intensify the anxiety levels too? Wait until everyone in your family has settled through the grievances and resolved to their regular routine before adopting another pet.

Everyone processes through the grief according to their clock. Your cat may need more than a month to adjust through the grief. Many cat parents wait for years until they feel that they are ready to adopt another new cat. Remember that bringing a new cat would mean bringing an intruder to the existing cat’s territory. You need to work accordingly.

Two cats lying on window sill with blanket at home

4. Know When it’s Time to Clean

Unless the missing pet was sick, there’s no need for you to rush into washing their beddings other kinds of stuff. The scent of the deceased pet will eventually fade away, and your cat will accept the loss of their companion as time passes.

Now, there could be exceptions. If your fluffy friend refuses to go near the places or items that belonged to the deceased cat, then cleaning might be a better option. And of course, you can always help ease your cat’s stress levels by doing activities that will make them happy.

Read here our guide on the Best Cat Beds.

5. Check Your Own Emotions

The loss of a furry companion is very traumatic for every member of the family. In tune to that, sensitive creatures like cats sometimes cannot cope up with these emotions and feelings. The way you grieve could have an impact on your little one’s emotions. Do grieve, but do keep an eye on how your feelings affect your fluffy friend.

6. Be Consistent

Cats hate change. They cannot adjust to change readily, and it’s essential for you to keep everything as normal as possible. Perhaps, this not may be a good time to move to a new house. Of course, life must go on as it’s on pace, but there are times when you do not have control over certain things.

In case of your grieving cat, keeping consistent is one of them. Try to keep everything as healthy as possible. Feed your grieving cat at the same times every day, groom them, brush them and possibly spend a little extra time with them. If your cat loves cuddling or taking naps with you, do that.

Arrange to spend quality time with your grieving cat on a regular basis and engage her in activities that she loved.

How do Cats Know Another Cat is Dying?

Cat do understand if the other cat is dying or suffering from some illness. They get to realize the pain that their housemate may be going through very well. And that’s when both of them become distressed.

In you have multi-cats, many a time, you will see that your notorious feline creatures may have turned out to become very quiet and silent, hiding in one corner of your house and minding their own business. That’s when it should start to worry you.

Before any of them passes away, all they would want to do is spend as much as time together, no matter if they had been rivals or competitors all this while. At their last age, they become each other’s support.

But that’s not it. We should conclude the fact that if your cats suddenly become very quiet, it means any of them are in their last stages. The concept of whether one of your cats realizes that the other is dying has still not been researched yet.

Cat lying

Do Cats Grieve for Their Kittens?

When you are about to give up the kittens for adoption, the mother cat is very well aware of it. The mother cat knows that it’s time to venture off her babies into the big, bad world. Therefore, chances are she can experience separation anxiety, notably if her kittens are taken away prematurely.

  • The Cat-Kitty Relationship

Newborn kitties need constant love and affection from their mothers. The mother cat grooms, feeds, toilet train her kittens and takes care of each and every aspect of their lives. They continue to build a strong bond by socializing until they become mobile.

About six weeks later, the mother cat begins the weaning process. Note that it’s not at all a good idea to separate the kittens from their mother until they have adequately weaned, but even then, removing them could be extremely stressful for both the mother and her offspring.

  • Separating Mother and Kittens

You should only remove the kittens from the household once they have completely weaned and are at least 10 – 12 weeks of age. Mommy cats act normal when their kittens have been separated from her. Although there has not been much research into the kitten’s grievances when they are separated from their mother, it’s mostly the mother that’s affected the most of the time. So, the mother cat needs more attention when her kittens are taken away.

  • Signs of Grief

Usually, it’s mostly behavioral changes that occur in cats. Yowling, searching around the house and changes in their sleeping and eating patterns are common signs of a cat mourning for her kittens. However, some cats may experience unusual behavioral changes. For example, an aloof cat may suddenly become very clingy and ask for attention. Whereas, a cat who used to sprawl for care may hide in corners and ignore your presence.

Do Cats Grieve the Loss of a Dog?

Although we assume that cats and dogs can never get along well with each other, in actuality, if they are appropriately socialized together, they can indeed become friends. And when they do, it’s like a never-ending bond; it’s like family. So, if your kitty has bonded well with your canine, he or she will gravely miss the dog when they pass away.

  • The Loss

Even if your cat was not really close to your dog, if they have lived together for a long time, they will get used to each other’s company. The loss of your canine will change your cat’s world – causing her anxiety. And anxiety is terrible!

Read here our article on Calming Aids for Cats.

  • The Healing Process

Your cat will grieve the loss of your canine in different ways. Some cats may keep calling for the pup by seeking your attention. Others may lose appetite, sleep more and become lethargic. The cat may also grow closer to you than they formerly were or perhaps distant themselves.

You will find that your cat loves spending time in the spots where your canine would hang out. Your cat will continuously keep searching for her canine companion, unable to comprehend where he had gone. Sometimes, she might even look through the window, hoping to find the deceased pet outside.

The grieving process could last a long time if they were exceptionally close to each other.

  • Considerations

Again, it might be tempting for you to get another new dog as soon as the old one has deceased, but this may not be the ideal solution for your kitty. A young puppy is full of energy and will not know how to behave around your cat just the way your deceased dog did. In turn, this may cause further stress for your cat, rather than easing her.

Keep it in mind that your cat is already dealing with a significant change in her life, so don’t go on piling one more. If your neighbor has a pet dog or cat, this could be a chance for them to become friends and bond over. Try to keep the routine the same it was before your dog passed away. Make a few changes in the surroundings to help them overcome the pain. With time and each other’s company, both of you will adjust to the pain of the deceased dog.

Sad cat

Bottom Line

The loss of a family member affects your kitty cat just as much as it does to your other family members. While you may be grieving too, it is important that you pay extra attention to your cat because unlike others they cannot express their grief verbally.

Try to remain calm, stay stable and provide plenty of time to help your cat adjust to their new life. Time, love and patience will heal everything and help your kitty cat return to its former happy self again

Have you noticed your cat being depressed or grieving anyone? What did you do to help your kitty? Let us know how in the comments below so we can help our little mourning buddies be cheerful once again!


  1. Do Cats Mourn the Loss of a Dog?, The Nest
  2. Signs and Symptoms of a Mourning Mother Cat, The Nest
  3. How to Help a Grieving Cat, Catster
  1. Geena
    Apr 16, 2021

    My cats, Tupac & Buffy, were pretty inseparable. They were siblings and I’ve had them since they were old enough to leave mom. They constantly play and groom and both follow me around everywhere. Tupac was hit by a car two nights ago. I brought his body up to my apartment to let Buffy see. She tried to wake him by biting him. She groomed him. Then she lay in the box with him for a second. Then she went to go eat, then to play with a toy. I was a mess, not able to keep it together. Buffy has not shown any real signs of grief, and was surprisingly quick to accept. I do believe showing her Tupac helped her, so she wasn’t searching for him.
    I got her a bird toy that chirps, because she tries to chase birds. I’m restricting her from being an outdoor cat after this incident. She can go out as long as I’m with her. I also built a little garden on my buildings roof for her, so she can play and lay in the sun with me, with no cars around.
    I am trying my best to not cry around her or look to her with sadness. I do think that that is helping.

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