Do Cats Grieve for Dogs?

by Naomi Millburn, Demand Media
    Surprisingly, cats and dogs can make great friends.

    Surprisingly, cats and dogs can make great friends.

    Although the thought of a cat and dog getting along is a funny notion to many, it is not a rare scenario. In fact, if a kitty loses her best doggie companion, she too will mourn his loss, big time. In some ways, cats grieve very similarly to people.

    Indications of Grief

    If you're worried that your sweet kitty is upset over the loss of her fluffy buddy, look out for several key indications of her emotional state. Perhaps she seems like she's lost all her sense of joy, from playing with her toy mouse to sitting on her window perch gazing at the birds outside. Maybe she's just not interested in eating. She may not be sleeping -- or on the other hand, she may be sleeping too much. Aggressive behavior may start to appear. She might start with persistent and nonstop yowling. All of these signs point to a cat who is grieving over the absence of her canine pal.

    Stoic Creatures

    Cats are known the world over for being stoic, tough and independent creatures who are extremely routine-oriented. Even if your cat adored her doggie friend very much, she may just continue on with her daily regimen exactly as before -- eating, sleeping and playing the same. In these types of situations, her unawareness may actually be a good thing! It can be very difficult to predict how a cat will behave in a loss situation.

    Help

    Instead of just watching your cat suffer in silence, you can help her deal with her grieving. Remember, the more stressed out you act in front of her, the more stressed out she will feel. Cats are sensitive beings and often respond to humans' emotions. Pay close attention to your cat's behavior in the days and weeks following the loss. Make sure she is eating enough. Give her love and TLC. Cuddle up with her. Play interactive games with her, such as chase or hide and seek. Try to get her focus off the change in routine and the absence of her best friend.

    Veterinary Attention

    If after a couple of weeks your cat has still not resumed eating, playing and overall behaving normally, schedule an appointment with her veterinarian for a checkup. The doctor may be able to help manage your dear pet's eating problems and help you figure out how to deal with her anxiety. Remember, it is not atypical for cats to mourn for dogs -- and anyone else -- for up to half a year. Let your melancholy feline take her time, but also do what you can to cheer her up and get her back on the track to optimal health.

    New Dog

    One mistake many pet owners often make is immediately replacing a lost companion, thinking it will lessen another pet's sadness. If you all of a sudden bring a new dog into your life, you may risk stressing your cat out even further. Cats aren't the best with change, and if you make your already stressed-out kitty have to get used to an entirely new dog, it may make the whole situation even worse. Cats are very territorial animals, and new additions aren't easy for them. Just take things slowly and see how your kitty adjusts. In time, she will be just fine.

    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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