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How Do Cats Grieve? The 7 Ways They Show Mourning

Written by: Rachel Giordano

Last Updated on June 21, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat_pasja1000, Pixabay

How Do Cats Grieve? The 7 Ways They Show Mourning

Any cat owner knows that cats are interesting and peculiar creatures. Most march to the beat of their own drum, and sometimes, it’s hard to decipher a cat’s feelings and emotions.

Cats are masters of hiding when they’re sick, but what about when they grieve? Can you tell when your cat is sad and in mourning? Interestingly, even though cats hide when they’re sick, they do not hide when they’re grieving, as studies prove they will show signs alerting you to their grief.

In this article, we’ll discuss the signs to watch for that will tell you if your cat is grieving. Cats will most definitely mourn and grieve the loss of a human or animal companion, so let’s look more into the surprising details.

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The 7 Ways Cats Grieve & Show They Are Mourning

1. Decreased Appetite

One sign your cat is grieving is if he has a loss of appetite. Some cats may be picky eaters, making this sign not so obvious depending on your cat’s normal eating habits. However, if your cat is usually a good eater and is not eating much, it’s probably due to grief, as 46% of mourning cats experience a decreased appetite.

We should note that if your cat is not eating, it’s vital to consult your veterinarian. Not eating can cause a fatal condition called hepatic lipidosis, also known as fatty liver syndrome.


2. A Change in Energy Level

A grieving cat can display a decreased interest in play and become lethargic. On the other hand, your cat may become overactive or hyper. The way to gauge this change in behavior is to compare your cat’s normal energy level to the energy level after losing a close companion. If you notice a change in activity levels, it’s probably due to grief.

sad looking cat lying on a table
Image Credit: avi_acl, Pixabay

3. Increased Vocalization

A grieving cat may start vocalizing much more than usual. In fact, 70% of cats in mourning will either have an increase in vocalization or become quieter as a result of grief. A grieving cat may also be vocal at unusual or odd times of the night.

There are many reasons why your cat may have increased vocalization, such as physical pain, a territorial issue, or your cat’s specific breed. However, if your cat has recently lost a companion, the increased vocalization is probably due to the grieving process.


4. Searching for Lost Companion

A cat may wander the home and surrounding areas for their lost companion. You may notice your cat investigating areas they have never shown interest in before, or your cat may constantly stare out the window, hoping the lost companion returns home.

On the contrary, your cat may hide in unusual places to hide the grief, such as under your bed or hiding in a room they never frequent.

cat sitting near window
Image Credit: OlegDoroshin, Shutterstock

5. Increased Neediness

Your cat may become clingy during the grieving process, which could lead to separation anxiety. Separation anxiety can be problematic if it goes on for an extended period. Your cat may demand to sleep with you or constantly desire the company of your lap; your cat may also cry out when you leave home, which can be heartbreaking.

Separation anxiety can lead to unwanted behaviors, such as urinating or defecating outside the litter box, being destructive, or excessive grooming. Your veterinarian can help construct a plan to decrease the behaviors with medications or explain behavior modifications.


6. Stress-Induced Health-Related Issues

Stress-related health issues can cause a whole slew of problems ranging from excessive grooming, aggression towards people or other pets, going potty outside the litter box, diarrhea, constipation, decreased appetite, excessive scratching, and hiding. Your cat may also sleep more than usual.

If your cat displays any of these signs, it’s important to have your cat checked by your veterinarian to rule out possible health-related issues.


7. Depression

A grieving cat will more than likely be depressed, which can involve many changes in behavior, many of which we’ve listed in this article. A cat suffering from depression could experience a loss of appetite, lethargy, loss of interest in play, increased vocalization, hiding, excessive grooming, not using the litter box, an increase in sleep, and an increase in urination frequency.

If your cat is displaying any of these signs, a trip to your veterinarian is warranted to rule out a possible medical issue.

sad lonely cat lying on bed
Image Credit: medveda, Shutterstock

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How Can I Help My Cat Cope with Grief?

No cat parent wants to see their cat grieving, but how can you help your grieving cat? Luckily, there are many ways.

They are as follows:
  • Spend more quality time with your cat. Try to engage your cat to play with you or allow your cat to snuggle with you if that’s something he desires. You can also keep your cat’s favorite treats handy; just take care not to overfeed your cat.
  • Make sure your cat has entertainment when you’re gone, such as leaving out a favorite toy or supplying him with a new scratching post.
  • Reinforce good behavior and ignore negative behavior. A mourning cat will probably vocalize more, and you should resist giving a treat to show this behavior is not acceptable.
  • Be more affectionate with your cat and shower them with lots of love.
  • Invite a favorite person of your cat (if he has one) to spend quality time with. If your cat has a four-legged companion, by all means, have that companion over to spend time with your grieving cat.
  • Give it ample time before you replace your lost furry companion. Doing it too soon may produce negative results for your grieving cat.

Tips for Keeping Your Cat Safe

We all want to keep our kitties safe, and one way to do this is by feeding them the appropriate diet. Cats tend to get obese if fed too much, and ensuring your cat has the right amount of food per day is detrimental to keeping obesity at bay.

Always ensure your cat has drinking water available at all times, keep vet checkups and vaccines up-to-date, and keep toxic plants out of reach from your cat’s curious paws.

A young teen girl naps on the couch, hugging her cat
Image Credit: Simone Hogan, Shutterstock

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Conclusion

As you can see, cats are capable of grieving, but there are ways to help your cat during the grieving process. Watch for signs of mourning, and if any behavior becomes unhealthy, take your cat to your veterinarian for an assessment.

Eventually, your cat will cope and become accustomed to the loss of the companion, but it takes time. Be patient, and give your kitty lots of love during the process.


Featured Image Credit: pasja1000, Pixabay

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