Question: Do pets grieve?

I googled this question during the weekend and there were no really conclusive answers, though many people, vets and animal psychologists had their opinions.

So let me add my own personal answer to the question.

This is Pebbles (AKA Fluffystuff).

Fluffystuff Where is my sister

Outgoing, playful, enjoys her food, not a talker but leaves you in no doubt as to her feelings about anything.  Loves to be outside no matter the weather.  I adopted her and her sister Ebony (AKA Black Cat) together, sixteen or so years ago, from a backyard breeder.

Sadly Black Cat died of various ailments a few weeks ago, and if Fluffy isn’t grieving then I don’t really have an answer for the way she is behaving.  I left Black cat’s bed where it was for a few days after she passed, thinking it may be easier if everything didn’t change quite so fast for Fluffy.  However, the morning after there was no Black Cat in her bed, I woke to find that Fluffy had pulled out her bed and disrupted all of the bedding , clearly confused as to where her sister was.  I removed the bed and bedding at this point.

Meal times were always spent together.  Black cat, being the talker, would come and find me (Fluffy in tow, simply observing quietly), and make a hustle in whatever way she could to get my attention.  We would all three of us proceed to the kitchen where I would do my duty as cat mum, and provide tasty meals. They had designated places on the mat where the food bowls are kept.  Having all the space to herself has made no difference to Fluffy, she goes to her place and if the bowl is not where it should be, she is confused again.

Fluffy has become a talker, looking at me and miaowing, which wasn’t really a feature of her personality before.  She is staying inside the house most of the day, again not really like her old self at all.  She is more clingy than before, and sits almost on top of me in the evenings when we are watching tv.  She follows me around in the mornings for about half an hour before going to her daybed and staying there all day.  This is not how she was before Black cat’s passing.

Clearly my girl is missing her sister and so am I.  I have heeded some of the advice in the articles I read, spending more time with Fluffy, I am talking to her but trying not to indulge the behaviour so that it becomes habit.

Do I think pets/cats grieve?  Oh yes I do. In fact I know they do.  It’s quite heartbreaking because I can’t change the situation, I can’t explain.  I hope that time is a healer for cats too.

Barbara

 

20 thoughts on “Question: Do pets grieve?

  1. Oh yes! When my son died back in 1996 he was living in Ala. We had moved to Mississippi a year before. And when my other son, also in Ala. called to tell us about the accident our dog Barney knew something was wrong. He got very quite qnd yes tears were in his eyes too.
    Last year when my husband passed away our dog Babe kept running through the house looking for him. She also started digging up the flower bed. The bed has been fenced off so now she digs up the rest of the yard. I’m sure it is frustration.She has lost the one who played with her and corrected her.
    Yes animals are more than alot of humans.

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    1. That is so very sad bc. You have dealt with a lot of grief in your life, my heart breaks for you. I agree animals are the most wonderful gift, I wish they received better treatment in this World and yes they are better than a lot of people. They most certainly grieve, for they love very deeply the people who love them.

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  2. If pets can love, they can grieve 🙂 they show true simplicity much more than can be said for some humans in today’s world perhaps. I`m sure time will heal. thanks for sharing 🙂

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    1. I agree. Humans could certainly learn a lot from animals. I hope you are right about the passage of time healing the hurt. Thank you for taking the time to leave you lovely comment.

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  3. I too think animals grieve for the friends they have lost. When my British Bulldog passed over, our Jack Russell Terrier, Harry, was like a lost little boy for a few weeks. And when we bought him a new friend, He perked up and began to live his life again. However a couple of years ago when we lost Harry (to a massive heart attack) Belle alerted us to this because Harry was laying on the floor and we thought he was stretching. She, Belle, was jumping with her two front paws onto Harry’s chest area. As if she was trying to re-start his heart in the same way we would do or a paramedic would do.

    Sadly Harry didn’t survive. But this was late on the evening and I didn’t want to part with him to someone I didn’t know, so I kept him with us, in a bed, in the bedroom with us, and Belle had plenty of chances to visit him if she wished.

    After three or four days we felt it was kinder to Belle to take up Harrys bed and wash it, hang it on the line to dry and then put it down again, but in a different place.

    We had to give her extra attention for a while to just keep her busy and bring joy into her life. But she slowly moved forward. But …. it aged her. Since he passed over, she seems to have aged 6 or 7 years, and she off to the vet tomorrow, just so he can check her out as she’s worrying me at the moment.

    Would you consider getting a kitten for her to play with? Not an older cat, as that would come with it’s issues and your cat might not like a replacement older cat. But a kitten can be taught who’s the boss (cats seem to need to do that! tsk tsk) and once they know, they become a great playmate.

    Maybe a kitten would bring back the happiness and smiles your cat is missing at the moment.
    Sending love to you, and praying for something wonderful to happen which will lift the mood there. ~ Cobs. xxx

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  4. Thank you Cobs. It brought tears to my eyes imagining Belle trying to jump start Harry’s heart. It’s a great idea to be able to keep Harry and allow Belle to visit him whenever she wanted to. Poor Fluff didn’t have the opportunity to do that. It was a case of here today and then gone, so it makes no sense to her. I had ruled out getting more pets because the heartache of losing them is too much. I may get some toys for Fluff. Like Belle, I feel she has aged in the past few weeks, but it is the behaviour more than anything, she had a pattern that always included being outside several times a day. Now she sleeps. I hope time eases the loss. We have summer coming and she loves to play chasey which may brighten her spirits. Meanwhile she is getting lots of brushing which she loves and loads of attention. Thank you for your advice, I really appreciate it. XXX

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    1. It is incredibly sad when we lose a member of our family – that’s what our pets really are. They’re loyal and loving, each with their own unique character. The beautiful relationship we have with them is worth every moment and remembering the lovely characteristics and funny moments is important. However, in my experience, getting a new pet (not necessarily straight away… but in time… ) does help and then we can enjoy a whole host of new different and equally loving moments. Those times are precious and although it’s so hard when we have to let go, it would be a shame to deprive ourselves of the experience completely. Imagine all the moments you would have missed… and it can be the same again but with a new little character. Just a thought…I feel for you right now… xxx

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      1. I can’t imagine a house without the extra love our animals bring either.. I begged my mum over and over and over for a dog when I was 6 and eventually my dad caved and bought one as a surprise – my mum wasn’t happy but after a few weeks she recovered and was never without a dog for the rest of her life… Yes they truly make a home. xx

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  5. A beautiful post Barbara. I know that pets grieve their friends too just as humans do. I had a most lovely card delivered today Barbara. Thank you so very much. It will be kept among my treasure box. 🌼

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  6. Oh bless fluff.. I definitely think that they do grieve. I had 2 king Charles spaniels years ago and when one died, the other definitely looked lost – they were like an old married couple when they were both alive. It’s so sad to watch the one that’s left…. and so sad for cat mum too. Sending a big hug xx

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  7. I am certain that pets grieve and I saw it first hand many years ago while on holiday in the UK. The B&B owner lost one of her cats in a road accident and she laid her in the garden. The other cats all gathered around and sat with their lost friend for all of the day. It was very emotional to see.

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    1. Thanks Mary, I have no doubt that they grieve just as we do. In a way I wish we had had the opportunity to bring her home so that Fluffy could sit with her and have a better understanding of where her sister had gone so suddenly. As they say, Hindsight is twenty twenty.

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