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Expert Q&A

One of my three cats recently died, and now one of my female cats seems to be very depressed. Could she be in mourning?

One of my three cats recently died, and now one of my female cats seems to be very depressed. Could she be in mourning?

BY: The Daily Cat experts

Cats, like humans, seem to exhibit different reactions after another pet dies. Some will appear to mope around and lack energy. Others may become more vocal and anxious, perhaps going from room to room seeking out the missing cat. Finally, some cats may even stop eating and hang around you or any other remaining animals more.

In 1996, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals conducted the Companion Animal Mourning Project to investigate this very issue. Unfortunately, this study focused on dogs alone, but pet experts suspect the findings could apply to cats as well. The study determined that 63 percent of dogs vocalized more after another dog died. Some 36 percent ate less than usual, with 11 percent stopping eating altogether for a time.

Monica Chretien, an animal behavior consultant, advises that if your cat is displaying these signs of mourning, you should try to spend more time with her. It can help to vary her routine in desired, stimulating ways, such as by inviting over her favorite other human friends (cats too, if she tolerates such company), bringing in a few new toys, and perhaps playing hide-and-seek with some of her favorite food treats. If your cat was always one of a pair, or you had even more cats in the home, you might consider adopting another to provide a companion for your existing pet.

If your cat seems particularly down and just can’t rally out of it, be sure to have her examined by a veterinarian. An underlying health issue could be behind some of the problems, possibly in addition to the depression. Your vet can prescribe antianxiety medication, but if the issue really is mourning, your cat should come out of the blues before long.


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