Do Pets Grieve The Passing of Another Pet?
Do pets grieve the passing of another pet?
If so, what are the symptoms and what would a grieving pet look like?
Would a grieving pet display changes in sleep patterns or food intake?
Will a pet become vocal – a cat meowing more, or a dog barking and whining?
Would the loss of a pet cause a dog or cat to withdraw, become quieter, or begin to seek out additional comfort and constant companionship?
The idea of a pet grieving and mourning the loss of another pet is not a topic I’ve ever given much thought about. That is, until the passing of our cat Lily. It was after Lily’s passing that I believed my cat Lloyd was showing signs of grief over her loss.
After a Pet Passes
The Silence is Deafening
The Grief is Real
The silence in a home after a pet passes is deafening, and for those left behind, people and pets included, the grief is very real. Since the passing of our cat Lily, all I can say is, for the quietest pet in our household, the silence without her after 17 years is deafening.
The Grief of Losing a Pet is Very Real
No matter what anyone says, the grief of losing a pet is very real – is “losing” even the right word? How can one not grieve and mourn after sharing a life and home with a pet, a part of the family, in our case, a part of our family for 17 years!
Do Pets Grieve?
My vet asked, “are any of your other pets close to Lily?”
The question took me off guard. I had to stop and think for a moment.
Our cat Lloyd never really bonded with Lily. To be honest, Lily tolerated Lloyd at best. And although Lily LOVED dogs, she put up with our youngest dog Edna and her shenanigans.
However, my dog Edie’s relationship with Lily was different. Perhaps it was because Lily and Edie shared the past 9 years together. Maybe it was because Edie was always gentle and calm with Lily. It was not uncommon for Edie and Lily to share a bed, sit beside one another, gently sniff each others noses, or sit together staring out a window.
So in answer to my vet’s question, “are any of your other pets close to Lily?”, I answered, “Edie”.
Pets Mourn Too
So what was the reason for this question from my vet?
Why is so important to remember and watch the pets that are left behind?
I was soon to find out.
Grieving and mourning the loss and absence of our cat Lily had not only affected the humans, but it affected the other pets she left behind
The Pet I Thought Would Be Most Affected
Was Not The One I Thought
The pet I thought would be most affected by the loss of our cat Lily was not the one I thought. Yes, I believe Edie and Edna feel the change and loss of no longer having Lily included in their daily lives. But it was our cat Lloyd that showed signs of loss and confusion without Lily.
I assumed – wrongly, that because Lily and Lloyd were not close, Lloyd wouldn’t be as affected. Now that I’ve had time to think about it, it makes total sense that Lloyd would grieve Lily.
Lily had been there to greet Lloyd, a straggly, frighted little kitten, on the very first day we welcomed him into our home. From that day on, Lloyd never knew a time when Lily wasn’t part of his daily life and routine.
Lily and Lloyd may not have been what I call “best of friends”, you would never find them grooming one another, but they weren’t enemies either.
What Does A Grieving Cat Look Like?
What does a grieving cat even look like? And what was it that made me believe Lloyd was mourning our cat Lily?
I can’t say for sure how pets look, how their personalities may change, or what symptoms they may exhibit, but I can tell you what grief looked like for our cat Lloyd.
But first, a little bit about Lloyd.
Lloyd has a big personality! He LOVES to be petted, cuddled and talked too. All you have to do is look at Lloyd to get him to purr.
Lloyd loves food. Why is this important to know? Because if you’re not sure where to find Lloyd, and he’s not to be found cuddled up on a bed, or looking out a window, then check the chair by his auto feeder, you will be sure to find him laying there waiting for his next meal to be dispensed.
However, after Lily,’s passing, Lloyd’s routine changed.
Is My Cat Depressed?
I was actually beginning to worry and wonder if my cat could be depressed!
Lloyd knows Lily is no longer here with us, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t understand why or where she has gone?
Lloyd began seeking constant companionship with us. He’s even sought out comfort by laying next to, and sleeping with the dogs.
Our vet suggested keeping the dogs on their regular routine of walks, going outside and playing. But what about Lloyd? He doesn’t go outside to play, nor does he go for walks.
So I began encouraging Lloyd to join us and the dogs, even if it was just to sit and watch a tv show. I’d pet him, brush him more often, and I always talk to him – Lloyd LOVES to be spoken to. It’s not unusual for Lloyd to meow back. I joke that Lloyd and I can have complete conversations.
I may have been fulfilling our cat’s need for physical comfort, but what about his mind? I believed what Lloyd needed was mental stimulation as well. So I made a special effort to play with Lloyd more, and used interactive toys to keep him occupied and challenged.
It has taken time for all of us to adjust to life without Lily, and I’m thankful to say Lloyd is returning to his usual self and routine. But I think is important to remember that although saying goodbye to a pet is one of the most difficult and emotional times , we must remember that the pets left behind grieve as well, and require just as much support and comfort to get them through the loss.