Helping Your Cat Deal with the Loss of a Companion
written by Isabel Dalton
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Even in multi-cat households, the loss of a member can be quite traumatic. Even if the cats were not the best of friends, the balance of power (hierarchy) will change. Cats know when there has been a loss.
Cats are very much in tune with human emotions. They recognize stress and grief in humans. Some cats will go through a personality change when a loss occurs. They will become more loving and sometimes will misbehave. They do this to divert the human's attention, to get them away from the pain.
First, know that your cat is aware of what has occurred. Sit down with the cat or cats and tell them that their friend has crossed over the bridge. Spend quiet time with them. Hold them and caress them. Enhance your bond with them, allow them to grieve. Pick up anything that had the scent of the cat that has departed. When you feel up to it, play with them. A flying toy is a great distraction for both humans and felines.
Leave a radio or television on when you leave the house. Leave a couple of toys with catnip scent when you leave. Rotate the toys; this helps avoid boredom. Keep an eye on the remaining pets. If any of them start to sulk, lose weight, or start to over-clean themselves, take them to the vet. Use a different carrier than the one you used for the departed pet.
Over-cleaning indicates nervousness; weight loss and sulking are great indicators of depression. You might consider adding a hammock with a window view or even cat TV, also known as an aquarium. If the depression persists, consider adding a new pet. A kitten is easily accepted if the introductions are done correctly. Keep the kitten in a separate room with the food, toys and litter box. Bring him/her out only in your presence. Spritz with water if a fight should start. Hissing and growling are normal reactions. It will take time and the new addition will not take the place of the friend who crossed over the bridge.
Our feline angels understand and feel pain. Allow them and yourself to grieve. When and if you allow another cat into your life, do it in the name of the kitty that you lost. This brings about healing in both human and feline. Give it time, love and understanding. Remember, they are not gone, they have left their fur bodies and will continue on their journey across the bridge. They will live forever in our memories and in our hearts. Rejoice in the memories of happiness and remember that there is nothing more pure than the love of a cat!