No one understands the complete extent of a cat’s grief; after all, they can’t tell us what they’re feeling Clearly, some pets do appear depressed after a companion passes away. These pets may go a few days without eating, generally act sad and/or develop behavior problems, such as housebreaking lapses, meowing or looking desperately out a window.
However, there is a contingent of scientists maintaining companion animals just don’t have the kinds of emotions that people do. They suggest these pets really aren’t truly grieving. Instead, they explain it’s merely the change in the household hierarchy that upsets the apple cart creating confusion, a lack of clarity and therefore what we mistake as depression.
No one questions that many cats pick up the emotions of their people. Maybe Fido or Fluffy is acting depressed because we’re depressed. Does the remaining pet really understand or care that we’re upset because Fluffy passed away or because the phone bill was twice as high as it should be?
Mysteriously, some pets that are best buddies in life, then for all appearances can care less when they lose their best friend. Does the pet really know its buddy has gone to pet heaven and is able to cope with grief in a way we don’t understand? Or is that pet totally oblivious? Who knows?
In any case, following the loss of a pet, you should attempt to maintain your usual schedule of activities with the surviving pet(s) as much as possible. Running and playing are great stress busters for dogs and cats, so take out the tennis ball or the fishing pole toy with feathers. Certainly, sympathize, love and snuggle as much as you want. However, there’s a fine line here – play too much into that disparity and it may wind up reinforcing your pining pet, complete with new behaviors, ranging from yowling to missing the litter box.