Have you wondered how and if pets experience grief after there is a loss of another pet in the home?

Just like you and me, the pets in your household will recognize and miss the pet that is gone. They just can’t verbalize their feelings.

Signs Of How Pets Experience Grief:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of energy
  • Sudden signs of withdrawal
  • Depression

Grieving pets may lose their appetite and/or energy. They may withdraw or become anxious.

Your grieving pet may become depressed. They may seek more attention from you.

Your pet might pace your home in search of the missing pet and keep checking the places where that pet ordinarily slept or spent time.

Grieving dogs may whine or howl, while a cat might wail or meow/cry.

A survey by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals found that cats ate less, slept more, and became more vocal after the death of a companion cat.

Even if your pets didn’t seem to have a special bond, they will still react to the loss of another pet that lived in your home.

Ivy’s Reaction To The Loss Of Gracie:

Ivy didn’t seem to want Gracie around her. She hissed at her and growled, but at times they did play by chasing one another around the apartment.

After Gracie died, Ivy began to “talk” to me. She meows more often. And she seeks more of my attention and wants me to pet her.

If I go out and sit in a chair on the patio, she sits on the other side of the patio door and watches me. I slide the screen open but keep the patio door closed so she can smell the outdoor air and hear me talking to her.

She now spends most nights in my bedroom perched up on her cat tree looking outside. Whereas before she tended to stay in the living room at night.

I definitely do see changes in Ivy’s behavior since Gracie died.

I’m sad and Ivy sees that and reacts to it.

What To Watch For:

  • Change in grooming habits
  • Change in eating habits
  • New destructive behavior
  • Signs of separation anxiety

You might see a change in your pet’s personality.

Dogs in particular can have a hard time because they are pack-oriented by nature. When a member of the pack dies, your dog may be confused because he or she will no longer understand its role.

What Can You Do When Your Pet Is Grieving?

He or she may not want to be left alone. They may become upset and anxious when you leave the home to run an errand.

Your pet’s routine should remain the same. Any direct changes will only increase their stress level.

Check to see if there are changes in your pet’s eating and drinking habits.

While you are grieving the loss of a pet, it’s important to recognize that your pet is grieving as well.

If your pet’s grieving behavior does not improve with time, consult your vet.

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21 Comments

  1. Ivy does look sad in the photo, and although she seems to like having you all to herself, she is probably grieving, or confused, in some way.

  2. Brenda, I was struck when seeing the photos of Ivy you posted today at how very, very sad she looks. I mean is it really possible for the expression on her little cat face to register that much sadness? How is the expression different when she’s happy? I think it registers a lot in her eyes. Whatever it is, to me I definitely see sadness there. Animals are truly amazing creatures and capable of more emotional intelligence than we believe they are.

    I’m glad you and Ivy have each other during this time of grieving for Gracie. You will help each other get through it.

    Take care; hugs & pats.

  3. I don’t believe I’ve thought about pets grieving but then again why wouldn’t they? When I stop to think about it, it makes perfect sense. They’ve lost their ‘friend’ and don’t necessarily comprehend what’s happened. You and Ivy are buddies and now taking care of each other. That’s wonderful.

  4. It is certainly interesting how animals react to big events in their lives. We had a beagle, then another one came to us (had been abandoned) and they lived together many years. When the first (oldest) became ill and we took him for his final vet visit, the second one truly missed him. We live in the country, and not long after the first dog died the second one found himself totally alone as all humans had gone out. He ripped the screen and broke out through a pretty narrow area of a low casement window (while wearing a cone on his neck!) and went searching for his buddy and/or humans. We were able to get another dog, and they became good friends. Interestingly, as beagle #2 passed, the third dog did not seem to miss him at all and was happy being an “only” pet. They all have their own personalities for sure.

  5. Yes. It’s true.
    I believe in everything you wrote Brenda.
    We’ve experienced so much of all these variables.
    With countless pets over the past 35+ years, adopting & rescuing older pets (usually always pups) especially, we never know how their health might be.
    It can happen quickly.
    When a pet must be put to sleep, very soon, easy to see other pets grieving.
    Important to be there for them. To comfort and acknowledge their sadness. 😔
    Often difficult, but a lot of love ❤ and good care can surely help tremendously.

  6. I’ve watched some movies like that where the owner dies and the dog waits for them. In fact thinking back I think one movie was based on a true story and it was so sad! The other movie was too bc I cried til I was sobbing with both movies! My dog started getting upset bc he heard me crying so I had to go upstairs to watch the rest of the movie!
    I’m glad I didn’t watch those movies with a guy bc I would of been embarrassed crying like that! Doing the ugly cry! Lol

  7. As it’s impossible to know whether Ivy is grieving the loss of little Gracie or if she is simply relishing the fact that she once again is your “one and only”. Whatever the reason, and most likely it is a combination of the two, it appears daily life will be much calmer and less stressful for both of you You’re wise to not consider getting another cat, Ms. Ivy has made it abundantly clear that she prefers being an only child.

    1. Yes, she has made that clear. I do believe she is grieving because she seems sad. It has actually gotten worse as time moves on. She seemed okay the first couple of days, but now I can tell she is worried and needs me to be with her more.

  8. Poor Ivy. You know she’s grieving too. Although she never really warmed up to Gracie, I think she understands the loss, and is so sad for her mama’s grief. She’s trying to make you feel better. In every way she possibly can, she’s telling you she loves you.

      1. I know it’s hard grieving for a pet just as much as a human Brenda bc I still grieve for my golden and still miss her even though I have another dog!
        It will get easier as time goes by but u will always grieve for them, thinking about them!
        I’m glad u have Ivy so that u can help each other!

  9. Much awareness now that losing a pet can be like losing a human.
    There is a very interesting pet/vet group on Facebook. You can ask vets questions and get answered. Also a Grieving a Pet group, very helpful to some. Search on Facebook, Pet Vet Sites. A complete list will come up. I find some of them very interesting and informative.
    Gracie was a beautiful little girl. While grieving, give yourself a bit of comfort knowing you gave her a best life of love. A reason she came to you.

  10. I recently had to put my sons 15 year old husky to sleep. He just could do it. The sweet dog was miserable. She had hip problems and was completely blind but my son just couldn’t let her go. She lived with us for 6 months and the day before we were going to take her back home she started having breathing problems. It was a four hour drive to his house so my husband and I decided to let her go peacefully. I didn’t like having to make that decision on my own but I knew it was for the best. I cried all the way home and although it wasn’t my dog I miss her and pray We made the right decision. I was thinking about getting a little dog of my own but just can’t right now. I understand your grief. It’s so hard to let go.

  11. We had four dogs, when one of them passed away the other three went looking for her. These dogs never left the yard! My neighbor called me and said they were going down the road! I read later where they look for the missing sibling!

  12. I knew a couple where the wife died first at a hospital and the dog grieved so much for her waiting for her to return. Sadly the husband died at home a year later and the dog was found sitting next to him when another friend went in to check on him. So sad for me to know how much this dog went through losing his companions. All those emotions are in pets as much as humans.

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