Can Cats Mourn?

As a cat lover, have you ever noticed how those charming, expectant cat eyes can warm your heart? But what happens when those eyes turn sad after losing a furry friend, fellow pet, or even an owner? Can cats truly experience sorrow?

In this post, let’s explore that question together. We’ll dive into the world of feline emotions, from heartwarming moments to moments of loss. Join me as we uncover the signs of mourning, learn how to help our feline friends during these times, and discover just how long their grief can last.

Exploring the Depth of Feline Emotions: Do Cats Mourn?

Whether cats experience mourning has long captivated the curiosity of pet owners and researchers alike. While substantial research remains scarce, we can unravel this mystery by observing our feline companions and delving into their behaviors.

In 1996, the ASPCA conducted a survey that shed some light on this topic. This survey aimed to uncover common signs linked to mourning behaviors in cats. It’s important to note that since cats cannot verbally express their feelings, our understanding is primarily based on their actions and reactions.

Throughout the survey, various behavioral patterns were carefully assessed. The results revealed a noteworthy finding: 65% of the surveyed cats exhibited four or more behavioral changes after losing a fellow pet or companion. These changes were interpreted as indicators of sadness, suggesting that many cats go through a mourning process when they experience loss.

However, just as with humans, every cat is unique. Some cats may not exhibit obvious mourning behaviors. Particularly, if the relationship between two animals was strained or uncomfortable, the surviving cat might not demonstrate signs of grief. Instead, it might experience relief or an improved sense of well-being after being freed from the strained relationship dynamics.

In rare cases, we may observe perplexing behaviors where a surviving cat searches for the departed companion, seemingly confused. While this might initially be attributed to mourning, experts suggest that such behavior is more likely a response to the stress and sudden change in the home environment rather than a direct expression of grief.

Unveiling the Signs of Feline Mourning

Interestingly, cat owners’ emotions and stress levels can also influence their feline friends. Cats are remarkably perceptive creatures, attuned to human behavior and emotions. As a cat owner, if you experience stress or behavioral changes, your cat is likely to pick up on these cues, reflecting the connection between human and feline emotions.

Studies have shown that cats are adept at recognizing and reacting to environmental changes. Whether it’s a shift in routine or a difference in the household’s emotional climate, cats often adapt their behaviors to align with these shifts. This adaptability adds another layer to the complex relationship between cats and their emotions.

In the next part of our exploration, we’ll delve deeper into recognizing the signs of mourning in cats, explore strategies for helping them cope during this emotional turmoil, and discover how long the mourning process may persist. Through a compassionate understanding of our feline companions, we can provide the support they need during these challenging times of loss and change.

grieving cat

Understanding Feline Mourning: Recognizing the Signs

Losing a furry or human companion can deeply affect our feline friends. Cats possess their unique ways of expressing grief, just like humans do. Let’s explore some telltale signs that might help us identify when a cat is going through a period of mourning.

Behavioral Changes: A Window into Feline Grief

When cats mourn, their behavior can shift noticeably, offering us insights into their emotional state. Here are some key behaviors to watch for:

  1. Depression and Listlessness: One of the most noticeable signs is when a cat becomes lethargic and withdrawn. They might seem less interested in their surroundings and less engaged with their usual activities.
  2. Play Avoidance and Reduced Appetite: Cats mourning may lose interest in playtime and exhibit a decreased appetite. These changes in behavior are reminiscent of the sadness people often experience during times of loss.
  3. Increased Sleep and Slower Movements: Mourning cats might sleep more than usual and move slower. Their energy levels may seem diminished, and they may be moving through the day with a sense of melancholy.
  4. Seeking Solitude: A grieving cat might seek out hiding spots, like under the bed or in secluded corners, more frequently than usual. They may prefer to be alone as they process their emotions.
  5. Heightened Dependence on the Owner: During mourning, a cat might become more reliant on their owner for comfort and reassurance. They might seek out physical contact, like sitting close or cuddling.
  6. Searching for the Missing Companion: Cats sometimes display behavior indicative of searching for a missing companion. They might explore areas where the companion used to spend time, hoping to find them.
  7. Unusual Behaviors: Mourning cats might exhibit uncharacteristic behaviors, such as spraying, staring fixedly at a particular spot, or losing interest in activities they once enjoyed.

Comparing Cat and Human Mourning Patterns

Interestingly, the changes in behavior seen in mourning cats closely mirror the symptoms often observed in mourning humans. Both animals and humans experience the profound impact of losing a central figure, be it an animal friend or a human family member. This commonality underlines the depth of the emotional bonds that can form between species.

By recognizing these signs, we can better understand our feline companions’ emotions during times of loss. Our sensitivity and responsiveness to their needs can provide them with the comfort and support they require to navigate the complexities of mourning.

Exploring Different Perspectives

It’s worth noting that various perspectives exist regarding feline mourning behaviors. Some experts posit that cats’ altered behavior may stem from disruptions to their routines rather than an expression of grief. For example, changes in feeding schedules and reduced interaction time might contribute to a cat’s distress.

Another perspective highlights how cats might not grasp death as a permanent concept. Instead, some cats might anticipate the return of their departed companion or human, patiently waiting for their reappearance.

Furthermore, cats’ sensitivity to human emotions can come into play. Some people suggest that cats react to the sadness exhibited by those around them, responding to the emotional atmosphere in their environment.

By acknowledging these varied viewpoints, we gain a more holistic understanding of the complex emotional landscape cats navigate when facing loss. This awareness equips us to provide the support and care our feline companions need during mourning.

Shedding Light on Feline Mourning: What Research Tells Us

Despite our deep connection with cats, comprehensive research remains scarce into their mourning behaviors. However, some insights have emerged, helping us understand how cats respond to loss.

Research conducted by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has provided valuable glimpses into the mourning tendencies of cats. While not extensive, this research offers noteworthy findings. Cats that experienced the loss of a companion showed distinct changes in behavior. They tended to sleep more, eat less, and become more vocal, reflecting the emotional upheaval they were experiencing.

In a study involving 160 households, all pets that had lost a companion exhibited normal behavior within six months. This observation underscores the resilience of our furry companions as they navigate the challenging terrain of mourning.

While more comprehensive research is needed to comprehend the intricacies of feline mourning fully, these preliminary findings contribute to our understanding of how cats cope with the loss of a companion. Acknowledging their emotional responses can better support and comfort them during these vulnerable periods.

grieving cat

Supporting Your Cat Through the Mourning Process

When your cat is mourning, your compassionate presence can make a difference. Here are some ways you can help your grieving feline friend:

  1. Offer Extra Attention: Your cat might seek more attention during this time. Spend quality time with them, engaging in activities they enjoy, like playing games or sitting together on the couch. Treating them to their favorite treats or toys can also provide a comforting boost.
  2. Express Affection: Shower your cat with extra affection. Pet them gently, make eye contact, and involve them in daily routines. Even talking to them about your activities can help them feel connected.
  3. Observe Behavior: Pay close attention to your cat’s behavior. If they avoid places that remind them of the departed companion, consider removing items from those areas. Conversely, if they find comfort in these spots, there’s no rush to change them.
  4. Introduce New Interactions: If your cat enjoys company, invite friends over who can engage and play with them. A variety of human interactions can pique their interest and alleviate stress or boredom.
  5. Entertainment While You’re Away: Ensure your cat has entertainment when you’re not around. Leave their favorite toys accessible and consider hiding treats in special toys or around the house to keep them engaged.
  6. Positive Reinforcement: Reinforce positive behaviors and ignore any negative behaviors that might arise during this time. If your cat meows excessively, try to divert their attention rather than rewarding the behavior with treats. Praise them when they’re calm and consider distractions like playtime.
  7. Professional Help: If your cat’s difficulty persists, medical therapy might be worth considering. Consult your veterinarian about behavior modification drugs that could complement your efforts. Your vet might also recommend blood and urine tests to rule out any underlying medical issues impacting their behavior.

Remember, each cat is unique, and their response to mourning can vary. Providing a supportive and understanding environment can help your cat navigate this challenging period with as much comfort as possible.


Our feline friends experience mourning; their changed behavior speaks to their feelings. While research is limited, our care matters.
Offering attention, affection, and tailored diversions can comfort them.

As their companions, we navigate their emotional journey, honoring their complexity. In their silent sorrow, we extend compassion, supporting them through the fragile terrain of loss.

By Marleen

Marleen is a truly madly deeply cat lover and founder of That Is for My Cat. She wants to share her knowledge about cats with other people who like to know more about cats.

1 comment

  1. Your pets’ veneration and resolve are captivating. Exactly when I recently visited your blog, I was restless to see what you brought to the table since they are mean a considerable amount to your family and give such delight.

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