My cat died. How do I help my other cat cope?
December 20, 2017 10:36 AM   Subscribe

My beloved cat died suddenly yesterday due to a very short illness. My other cat is upset. She keeps crying and looking for him. How can I best help her while dealing with my own grief?

She saw he was ill (she picked it up before me) so I think in a way she knows something was wrong.

I've never known two cats who were that bonded. They weren't related, but they were like brother and sister. They groomed each other, slept together, played together, and fought. I adopted him before her, so she's never been without him.

I've had my cat cremated and am waiting for the ashes to be returned to me.

I've been trying to give her a lot of pats and attention. How can I best help her?
posted by daybeforetheday to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm so sorry for your loss.

I think the best thing you can do for your cat is to stick to your normal routine with her, to the greatest extent possible. Stick to her normal feeding and play times (if you are normally strict about those things) so that she can enjoy some stability. It's hard for me at least to do those things when I'm upset, but it's helpful to remind myself that they really do help my animal.

Unfortunately, feeling better after something like this just takes time - for cats and humans alike.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 10:44 AM on December 20, 2017 [10 favorites]

I am sorry for your loss. I was in this exact situation several years ago. What I ended up doing, on top of all the extra pats and attention, was adopting another cat (female) 2 or 3 months later. I like to think it helped both me and the grieving cat -- distraction from that loss and companionship. Their bond wasn't as strong but they got along fine.
posted by lost_lettuce at 10:48 AM on December 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

You could try a Feliway plug-in. We have successfully used it several times (for about a month at a time) when we've had high-stress moments for our cats.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:10 AM on December 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sorry for your loss. I've never tried this for your specific scenario, but several cats of mine have enjoyed heating pads and I wonder if that might be a somewhat soothing replacement for your cat's old buddy. I've always just used the human type (monitored carefully, obviously, and usually with a towel in between the pad and the cat) but they make cat heating pads now too.

But yeah.. ultimately, new cat (results may vary) and/or time.
posted by acidic at 12:24 PM on December 20, 2017 [5 favorites]

I am so sorry for your loss.

I came in to also say Feliway for the stressful time you're in right now, and lots of love and affection for your cat.
posted by Medieval Maven at 12:36 PM on December 20, 2017

So sorry you lost your kitty. Here is a question I asked a while back when one of my cats went missing and we were trying to console the other.
posted by greta simone at 1:05 PM on December 20, 2017

My cat Smidge had never known life without other cats either, and earlier this year her “brother” died very suddenly. For a while she seemed confused and upset, and she wouldn’t eat, and she yelled at me a lot (well, more than normal). But then she just got used to it and I think now she enjoys being Only Cat. So just wait it out is my advice I guess. Cats are tenacious. Hugs.
posted by oomny at 3:18 PM on December 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh my. I'm so sorry. Hugs.
posted by mightshould at 4:44 PM on December 20, 2017

Feliway. Lots of cuddles. Maybe some treats.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 5:10 PM on December 20, 2017

My wife suggests that removing all scent clues of the other cat - litter box, toys, bed, etc - will reduce the pining. I don’t quite follow the logic but she is very very good with all animals so I suspect it is correct.

My thoughts are with you, this is never easy but you will come out the other side.
posted by ftm at 6:07 PM on December 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm so sorry for your loss. Went through this myself earlier this year. Feliway helped my kitteh. Also, he seemed comforted when I gently combed the top of his head and around his ears, places he can't reach himself but that our other cat used to groom for him. I consistently gave him a bit more attention, especially with the grooming help.

We're about six months in, and he seems fine now.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 6:55 PM on December 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

I'm so sorry for your loss and I'm sorry to hear that your other cat is taking is hard, too. You're so kind and considerate of your cat! <3 I went through a similar experience 1.5 years ago when my cat lost his littermate. The good news is that cat is doing well. The silver lining is that he and I now share a special cat-caretaker bond that likely wasn't possible before since the two cats were so close. That bond developed over a few months but he certainly started feeling better after a few days (even if it took me much longer!) I also agree with trying Feliway. Additionally, letting my cat explore outside occasionally on his own also helped in improving his quality of life and letting him interact with other critters albeit from a safe distance. I recognize that the latter may not be possible or ideal but is something to consider.
posted by smorgasbord at 8:12 PM on December 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Let her smell the ashes and be as close to you as she wants. Growing up I had two garage cats, a sister and brother, very tight. The brother was killed by a possum and we buried him in the backyard. The sister, who was normally quiet and even-tempered, looked for him everywhere crying and pawing. Finally she sat on his grave for a whole afternoon. As stiff and silent as the mice they used to hunt. That night when we went to bed she started howling at the door to be let in the house. She'd never asked before and I'd never heard her vocalize like that. My parents wouldn't let her in, we were all terribly allergic. But I wish they had. She scratched and begged at that door every night until she passed many years later.

So, give her all the <3 it's yr bond that matters.
posted by fritillary at 9:59 PM on December 20, 2017

Thank you to everyone for your kind words and excellent advice.

I wanted to post a happyish update. My other cat (who was previously very skittish and aloof) has turned incredibly smoochy and cuddly. It's wonderful. We've had more pats, hugs, and snuggles in the past five weeks than in the entire time I've owned her.

Getting new cat stuff (bowls, litter tray, toys) seemed to help, although whether that was partly psychological on my part I'm not sure.

I will get her a feline or canine friend, but not yet.
posted by daybeforetheday at 1:32 AM on January 31, 2018

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