When twelve year-old Sabrina of Backdoor Friends Cat Shoppe of Farmington Hills, MI began acting strangely weeks after her friend, Frankie, passed away last fall, her pet parent, Anne Klein, immediately took her to her veterinarian. Although health-wise, Sabrina was found to be physically well, it’s always better to err on the side of caution when the behavior and habits of cats of any age changes from the norm.
Sabrina became more clingy than usual, following Klein around. Klein’s veterinarian found that Sabrina was showing common signs of grief shown in many cats. Signs of grief may include:
- Changes in eating and drinking habits
- Changes in sleeping habits
- Changes in litter box habits
- Increased vocalization
- Avoiding contact with others
Although Dr. Cindy Houlihan, D.V.M., owner of The Cat Practice of Birmingham, MI didn’t treat Sabrina, she said that any changes in a senior cat’s demeanor or habits should be brought to the attention of their veterinarian. Houlihan says the grieving process depends upon a cat’s personality and their relationship with their people as well as the lost loved one. Some cats deal very well with losses if the relationship wasn’t close. Yet, if the cat depended upon their lost loved one for companionship and comfort, cats in those sorts of relationships may deeply grieve for their loss.
Other examples of grieving and loss in cats include:
- This writer’s late cat, Tereza, couldn’t deal with the exit from the home of her best young human friend. She grieved so hard that she died suddenly at the age of four from heart failure, leaving her one and one-half year old friend, Ateret heartbroken. Even though Ateret soon got another friend, Ateret’s personality remains permanently changed several years later from the experience.
- Moses, a clinic cat at Carousel Cat Clinic of Farmington Hills, MI, who was extremely traumatized by the death of his brother, Noah, so much so that he forged close friendships with another male clinic at – the two are rarely far from each other.
- This writer’s cat, Abbi, became quite confused when a family she knew well recently moved out of the country. Abbi looked out the window for several days, waiting for the children to arrive. She also became more vocal than usual. Abbi has two friends who comforted her, so she was distracted fairly quickly.
As for Sabrina, she’s since befriended Mitzi, a fellow senior cat, as well as Goldie, whose weight loss progress has been followed from time-to-time on the blog, The Musings Of A Crazy Cat Lady.
Dr. Houlihan suggests trying to distract a grieving cat by increasing their exercise using toys and taking them out for stroller rides for a change of scenery. She also says that no matter what a cat’s age, some cats might be accept a new, laid back friend after while. She says, ‘Cats move through grief quicker than people because people bring with them to the grieving process previously unresolved losses. Cats usually grieve and move on.’