Helping a Cat to Deal With Grief After the Death of Their Owner

Helping a Cat to Deal With Grief After the Death of Their Owner

21 November

There is a common misconception that cats are not as attached to their owners as other animals. However, most cats do feel a strong attachment to their owners and can go through a difficult period of adjustment after the death of an owner, particularly when this is also associated with needing to leave their home or alter their routine. Here are some tips that can help the cat to adjust to their new life. 

Bring along some familiar items

If the cat has had a favourite place to sleep, such as a cushion or pillow, it can be a good idea to bring this item with you. It can also be a nice idea to bring some items that their owner used to wear, such as a gym shirt or sweater. Cats communicate through smell, so having some items that smell comfortable can help you to make the cat feel more comfortable. If they are having trouble adjusting to you as a carer you can try wearing one of the items that smell like their old owner, or placing one of these items in their area that you want them to sleep. 

Keep to the old routines

If the cat has had an established routine, such as feeding at a certain time or being allowed to sit on the couch each night and get patted during favourite television shows it can be ideal to keep up the routine as much as possible. This can help them to feel comfortable. Cats retain some behaviour ‘plasticity’ (adaptability to change), but this decreases as they age so older cats may find it harder to adjust compared to kittens. 

See the vet

If you find that the cat is having significant issues adjusting, such as continual vocalisations, spraying or refusal to eat it can be a good idea to take the cat to the vet. It can be possible to put the cat on a light dosage of antidepressants which can often help to reset their mood. This can allow them to start eating and sleeping properly, and allow them to adjust to their new life. 

While it can be hard for a cat to adjust to their new life, they will usually become settled after a period of adjustment. It is a good idea to give them whatever support they need whilst they are grieving so that they can get used to you.