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grieving feline

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
On 11/04/07 our 13 year old female cat (Orchid) died of cancer. Her surving "sibiling," a 17 year old female Siamese (Matilda) with chronic renal failure, has never been without a feline companion, and now finds herself alone. She has taken to yowling in the night. She has a heated cat bed, into which I have placed a large stuffed bear, plus her bed is near the woodstove. At one time we had four cats, and she is the only survivor. We have never encouraged the cats to sleep with us. Since Orchid died I've taken Matilda into bed with me a few times, but she always leaves. Does anybody have any ideas? I'm hopeful that time and lots of love will take care of this. So far she is eating and drinking well, and looks good. Thanks.
post #2 of 8
I'm very sorry for your loss. I think you're doing everything you can, but there's just no healing a broken heart that easy. Even another cat is not going to replace the old one, any more than a new baby would replace our family members who die. I hope one day you will give another cat a home, even if this is not the right time. Good luck and keep loving her.
post #3 of 8
I'm sorry for your loss. If Matilda's behavior continues after a week or so or if her appetite changes at all, please take her in for a check up. I've heard several stories of cats falling ill or being diagnosed with problems shortly after the passing of a housemate. Hopefully that's not the case for Matilda, but it's better to have her checked out and know for sure if the problems continue.
post #4 of 8
Our most newly adopted cat, Clyde, was adopted by us after the death of his buddy, an older Main Coon. Clyde was not only grieving about his buddy, he is deaf, and he was owned by a co-worker. After becoming the only cat in the household, he started exhibiting strange behavior, such as being afraid of the ceiling fan. Upon becoming assimilated into our household, you would never even know he is different. I really think that just having 4 other cats around makes him calmer, and they act as his "ears".

So anyway, I would say that cats grieve, and sometimes other cats can help!
post #5 of 8
Unless you are planning to give up cats entirely, I would consider finding her another companion.

I would suggest another senior cat, such as someone over ten. This way their energy levels will match, they will have the same experience level, and she won't be harassed by kitten antics.

She's obviously a social cat. While nothing can completely replace the cat you lost (James Bond still searches for Bubby when I mention his name, and it's been seven years!) you can recreate the social structure that means something to her.

The shelters have great trouble placing these senior cats. If only people knew the joys! They are usually mellow and wise, grateful to have affection in their lives again, and have committed no crimes to get there, except having their people pass away and no one in the family wanting the cat.

They are usually deferential to the other cats already there, and fit in with little trouble when properly introduced.

Ask at the shelters. Explain the situation. They have observed the cats over time and will be the best guides to the right cat for this circumstance.

Many people shy away from adopting the older cat because they feel they won't have much time with them. However, you know how long cats can live, and they live longer with good care. Siamese are very long lived, and even with health problems, she could have some good years left, especially if she's happy.

After all, it's not the quantity of love that matters. It's the quality.
post #6 of 8
Speaking as one who knows the cat in question, I don't think that another cat is the answer. She's social, yes, but also very shy. The cats in the household have been indoor/outdoor and every time a neighboring cat so much as comes within eyesight, Matilda comes scampering back in, clearly afraid and angry. Introducing two cats to one another can be stressful and tense even at the best of times, and I think in Matilda's case it would just be plain upsetting. I think what we are looking for is advice from folks who've had grieving cats on what may be comforting or good to do, other than getting another cat.

Plus, that's just a repeating cycle, isn't it. You get another elderly cat for the remaining singleton, then one dies, and you need another elderly cat. Bringing a kitten home to elderly cats is a terrible idea - the kittens/young cats pester the arthritic old ladies/men and make them very unhappy. So then you never again have the joy of having a feline companion from childhood to old age; you have a succession of elderly cats for only a few years each.

Mind you, if this cat did not have CRF (which is heavily influenced by stress), and were more like 10 - 13 instead of 17, another older cat might work. But that isn't the case, and I don't see it working out healthily.
post #7 of 8
In that case, do you have anything of the deceased cat's still around? A blanket or toy with her scent on it can be comforting.

The cat might already be seeking out places they shared. Join her there, and commiserate over the loss. Even if they don't know the words, they understand our tone and our feelings.

If there's anything the two of them liked to do together, try to recreate that. If she liked to look out the window with her companion, join her and make some small talk about what's out the window.

We can't be another cat, of course. But we can try and connect on the same level. Even if we are clumsy at it, they appreciate the effort.

Shy cats are particularly sensitive about routines. Try not to alter existing ones, but maybe come up with new ones that make her the center of attention. This will help her feel less alone.

My sympathy for your loss. It's never easy.
post #8 of 8
I'm sorry about your loss Cats grieve, just like people, and it can take anything from a few days to several months for them to get back to normal. When I lost Jaffa's brother a couple of years ago, Jaffa wandered around crying a lot and couldn't bear to be in a different room to me. It took him a couple of months to get past that stage but he eventually did. I think you just need to give Matilda time to come to terms with the loss of her sister. Give her lots of love and attention and hopefully she'll adapt and get used to being the only cat in the household. A new cat isn't always the answer, especially with older cats. I'm sure she'll be ok eventually, it will just take time.
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