It's an old assumption that cats and dogs don't get along, but if they're properly socialized together, they can. And when they do, they're family. Like humans, your pets go through the grief process. A kitty that has bonded with your dog will certainly miss him if he passes away.
Even if your kitty wasn't all that close to your dog, pets that live together for a period of time get used to each other's presence. The loss of your pup changes your cat's world -- she will no longer see or smell your dog. Kitties are not fans of change, whether it be a change in routine or even the location of a piece of furniture. Thus, the loss of her canine companion is likely to be upsetting for your cat, causing her anxiety.
Your kitty will typically grieve for the loss of your dog in a variety of ways. Some cats may cry, calling for the pup or for your attention because of their upset. Others may become lethargic, eating less and sleeping more. She may become closer to you or possibly become more distant. You may find your kitty frequenting spots in your home where your pup liked to hang out. She's searching for her companion and doesn't understand where she's gone -- she may even stare out the window looking for the deceased pet outside. The grieving process can last longer for your kitty if she was particularly close to your pup.
Dealing With Grief
Your kitty's period of grief may last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months as she adjusts to the loss of your pup's presence in her life. If you notice serious changes in her behavior during this time, take her to a veterinarian for an exam. If she fails to eat for more than a few days due to her grief, your kitty could develop a potentially fatal liver disease known as hepatic lipidosis. Your vet may recommend an antidepressant for her to take to help her get over her grief, especially if it seems her reaction to the loss could threaten her own health.
Easing the Grief
Try to engage your kitty in some play with interactive cat toys to keep her active. Give her a cat perch placed by a window for her to observe the outdoors. Distracting her from her grief can help improve her outlook, and it allows the two of you to bond with each other in this time of mourning for you both. Spray some synthetic cat pheromones, which you'll find in pet supply stores, around your home to further comfort your kitty.
While it might be tempting to adopt a new dog soon after the passing of your old one, it may not be the best thing for your kitty. A young puppy has lots of energy and will not know how to behave around cats the way your deceased dog did. This can cause further stress for your grieving kitty. Remember, she's already dealing with one change, so you don't want to pile on more. If you have another cat or dog, they may bond over the loss, becoming closer during their grieving periods. Try to keep your routine the same as prior to your dog's passing, feeding your kitty at the same times and making as few changes to her environment as you can. With time, both you and your feline companion should adjust to the loss of your beloved pup.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- VetInfo: Why Is Your Cat Crying All the Time?
- PetPlace: Your Cat's Grief
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: End of Life Care FAQs
- North Florida Animal Hospital: Grief in Dogs and Cats
- vet STREET: Grief in Dogs and Cats
- 2ndchance.info: Grieving and Pet Loss -- Coping With The Death of a Loved Dog or Cat
- "When Your Pet Dies, Dealing With Your Grief and Helping Your Children Cope"; Christine Adame
- VetInfo: Hepatic Lipidosis
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.