As much as it hurts, loss is a part of life. Whether it’s a human family member or a pet, we can’t avoid the feelings of grief. And as we struggle with our own emotions, it’s important to remember that cats have emotions of their own. They form bonds with the people and animals they spend time with, and you can bet they notice when a member of that circle disappears. Recognizing a grieving cat usually isn’t hard, but helping your cat cope with loss isn’t always easy—especially when you’re fighting your own emotional battles. Here are a few simple things you can do to help your cat during this difficult time.
Provide a Stable Environment
Change is an inevitable consequence of loss. No matter who it was–a pet or a caregiver—their absence will create unavoidable ripples in your cat’s life. And because cats already hate change, coping with those shifts can exacerbate the negative emotions associated with grief and send your cat into a tailspin of stress, anxiety, and confusion.
One of the best things you can do to help your cat cope with loss is provide them with a reliable and stable environment. They need to know that while they’re missing an important part of their life, nothing else has changed. The other members of the family are still there for them, they still get predictable meals, and life will move forward.
Don’t Rush Into a New Relationship
While the days and weeks after a loss is not the time to go on vacation or try out a new daily routine, it’s also not the best time to add to the family. If you recently lost a beloved cat or dog and have always filled your home with as many furry friends as possible, there is no “right” time to welcome home a new pet. Some people want to wait, and others find comfort in adding a new face to the family. Only you know what is right for you, but consider your resident cat’s feelings and well-being before jumping in too soon.
Adding another pet to the family is exciting, but it’s also a transition. Your resident cat will be especially affected. It can be a lot for them to handle when they’re already coping with a loss. A new pet might help your cat in the long run, but it’s usually best to let them handle one change at a time. Wait until their behavior seems to stabilize before introducing someone new.
Spend Time Together
Spending time together is something that will help both you and your cat cope with a loss. Your presence will help reassure them that everything is going to be okay. If they’re big cuddle bugs, squeeze in a little extra couch time. If playing is their favorite thing to do, make sure you take time to play their favorite games. It will be a good distraction and bring them a little joy during a difficult time.
No matter what you do, give your cat your full attention. Cats know when you’re focused on them and when you’re only half there. Stay off your phone during those cuddle sessions and turn off the TV while you’re playing. You want your cat to know that they are an important part of your life.
Talk It Out
There are so many benefits that come from talking to your cat. They’re not going to understand every word you say, but that truly doesn’t matter. To them, your voice is both familiar and soothing. When you talk in a calming or positive tone, you can actually influence their mood. Cats are extremely perceptive, and they’ll adapt to whatever vibe you give off. You can use this to help them through their grief.
Talking to your cat has the added advantage of helping your own emotional well-being. You can say whatever you want without fear of judgement. Cats can be great sounding boards when you need to work through difficult emotions. It’s okay if you talk about feeling sad, it won’t make your cat feel worse. Simply stay calm and let the power of conservation bring you and your cat closer together.
Through it all, the best thing you can do to help your cat cope with loss is to be there for them. Don’t be alarmed if their behavior changes temporarily or they show signs of stress. It’s all part of the grieving process. And with your help, they’ll work through their emotions.