cat who has lost both co owner & other cat in household both with in a month

by Linda Startzel
(Tampa Fl. Hillsborough co)

My 14 yr. old female calico cat has gone through the death of my older cat who was 19 yrs. old & then just over a month later the loss of her co owner & close companion. This loss of her human co owner has been just 3 days ago. My cat is acting so sad & it breaks my heart, What can I do? I am trying to act as normal as possible, however I am also grieving. I am gone to work only about 5 hrs. but she won't get out of my bed until I return.

Thank you for any ideas. Linda

RESPONSE:

Linda,
I can honestly say that I know the heartbreak you are feeling from the loss of your older cat and the helpless feeling in dealing with the grief of the surviving cat, however, my loss didn’t also include the additional loss of a beloved human. The fact that you have to go out to work, mourn your own loss, and still try to be supportive to your grieving feline must leave you feeling somewhat overwhelmed. I know that I would be devastated.

I did a page on “grieving cats” that covers a lot of information and rather than repeat it here, I will supply the link to it for you at the end of this response, but I have some additional comments pertaining to your situation that weren’t covered in that article (I can add to it later).

Each of us relate and play with our cats differently. For example, when one of our cats wants some “personal time” with me, it will sit beside me, look at me and purr until I pat my lap. This signals the cat that it is okay to sit on my lap and be petted. But with my husband, they will wait for him to place a towel on his lap…that signals they are welcome to sit on his lap. It started years ago when he would come in from work and not want cat fur on his good clothes but he was going to sit and relax for a while prior to changing into leisure clothing. When he had a battle with cancer a couple of years ago and was gone for long periods of time one of the cats was particularly miserable…almost stopped eating…slept all the time, etc.

My husband suggested that when he was absent, I should imitate his “towel routine”. Lo and behold…Max (the cat who was most bonded to him), perked up a bit, ate a little more and slept less. Max waited for me to get the towel each evening after dinner and along with hugs and lots of attention, he seemed more accepting that his human companion was gone. I suspect a sense of normalcy entered into Max’s daily activities and although I wasn’t a replacement, he accepted the substitution. It was my experience during this time that although I had my own concerns and fears for my husband’s recovery, the extra attention to Max and caring for the other cats helped me to focus on what I could control…not what I had no control over. Fortunately, with my husband’s recovery, our household returned to normal.

I know your situation isn’t temporary, but if you can think of a small routine your cat shared with her human companion that you can simulate…it might help. Another alternative is antidepressant drugs. There are some over the counter “calming chews” that are reasonably effective if you’re taking a cat on a trip etc. but I’d suggest talking to your vet about newer drug options. There are some newer minimally invasive calming drugs that may help.
It goes without saying that I wish you luck with resolving the sadness your cat is experiencing, but remember that you need to heal also.

Hopefully, having your furry little friend to care for will help you both get to a better place while sharing affection and bonding. Please read Grieving Cat

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