CatPsychFilter: Should we get our cat a kitten? How soon?
November 29, 2006 8:00 AM   Subscribe

CatPsychFilter: Should we get our cat a kitten? How soon? We recently (just this week) lost our five month old kitten...

We recently (just this week) lost our five month old kitten to a congenital defect. The humans are quite sad about it, but her eleven month old sister/partner in crime wanders around the apartment crying and looking for her little buddy. They were quite close- played together, slept together, bathed together. How long should we wait before finding her another play partner? Do cats need a grieving period or are we just anthropomorphizing a bit too much?
posted by verytres to Pets & Animals (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm sorry for your loss. Cats definitely grieve in a way; I've had some in full-blown loss mode like yours and some that were just out of sorts and confused for awhile. The latter experience is most recent to me when my old cat died and her sworn enemy (they hated each other) was noticeably impacted for about 2 months. I guess she was in the habit of having someone to hate and missed that, or maybe they secretly liked each other, who knows. Anyway, I realized that the buddy thing is quite important to cats who are used to it, and I would think especially so to kittens or suddenly only-cats. So I would get her another play partner as soon as you (the sad humans) are ready. Just be prepared for the dynamic to be different and for their relationship to take a couple weeks to sort out.
posted by dness2 at 8:13 AM on November 29, 2006

I second the advice from dness2.

This page from the Messybeast Cat Resource Archive contains some very useful and sensible information about cats and grief, including advice on introducing a new cat to the grieving one.

You certainly aren't anthropromorphising too much, cats do grieve and despite some saying that they are not social animals, they often form strong emotional attachments to other cats within their environment.

Be aware that your remaining cat is certainly picking up on the smallest behaviours/signals from you. She will be seeing your stress and distress, even if you think you aren't consciously expressing it when she is around.

I'd wait a little while before you introduce a new kitten. Give your grieving cat a little time to adjust to life without her friend.

Good luck :)
posted by Arqa at 9:01 AM on November 29, 2006

I, too, am sorry for your loss.

One notion that I can never shake when this sort of question comes up is that there is always another cat in need of a home and caring owners like you. I realize it might sound callous ("well, that one's gone, time to get a replacement"), but really, so many 'overflow' cats at the pound get euthanized every single day it's heartbreaking, and adopting one means it gets to live.
posted by kimota at 9:24 AM on November 29, 2006

If you want another one, get another one. Some cats do seem to grieve, but they also get over things - some cats are social, some aren't. I wouldn't get another cat "for" your other cat, I'd get another cat because you want another cat.

I'm sorry you lost your kitten, get another cat when you feel ready, your cat will adapt whatever you do.

well, that one's gone, time to get a replacement

Yeah, but another way of looking at it is that you have all that energy and time and love and whatnot that you were planning to put into the now-deceased cat, you may as well put it somewhere useful, like into another cat who needs a home (as you say, there's always a cat in need of a home). Of course each cat is a unique and special snowflake (and I only use the phrase ironically, I think the sentiment is true), but the cat isn't going to be walking around having an emotional crisis thinking "I'm just a replacement for Dead Kitty, they don't really love me", the cat's going to be walking around thinking "can I eat that, can I play with that, should I shred this paper, where's the nearest lap?".
posted by biscotti at 10:33 AM on November 29, 2006

I just lost my oldest cat and his younger companion definitely grieved a great deal and I think she misses him a great deal.

They are much older than your kittens and if you're going to adopt I would say do it soonish. Many shelters dislike allowing people to adopt kittens to cats who are older or try to make you adopt two.

Sorry about your loss, losing a pet is never ever easy.
posted by heartquake at 10:33 AM on November 29, 2006

The proper answer here (other than dness2's which is excellent) is got get not one additional kitten, but three. Four cats is the correct amount. Two of them should be boys, and two of them should be girls. All of them should be neutered.

The four cat dynamic is awesome. They always pair off, but rarely do they maintain their alliances. They are sneaky in their attacks and cunning in their thefts. At the end of the day, they all sleep in a big pile.

And having a pack allows them to better keep the dogs at bay.

Wait till your ready and get another kitten. Your cat will thank you for it.
posted by quin at 10:37 AM on November 29, 2006 [3 favorites]

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