Do Other Pets Grieve?


When one pet dies, you may notice a change in your other pet’s behaviour. Unlike the human family members, pets cannot tell us how they feel. As a result, they may exhibit a variety of behaviours including a lack of interest in their favourite activities, poor sleeping habits and reduced appetite.

Pets don’t just grieve for the loss of their fellow species. You may even notice a cat mourning the absence of a canine friend and vice versa.

If a pet dies at home, you can let other pets smell their friend’s body. This will help them understand what has happened. In fact, if they see their companion after they have died, it will be easier for them to under. If a pet is euthanised at the vet, the absence may confuse other pets in the household.

Signs your pet is grieving

Just like humans, all animals behave differently in the wake of loss. Here are some signs that our pet might be missing their friend.

Lack of appetite

As with humans, a pet may change their eating habits when there has been a big change in their life. You may have to sit with our pet while they eat, or even feed them treats by hand. Remember that they are experiencing a myriad of emotions that they are unable to express to you, so be patient and show them extra attention where you can.

In need of more attention

You may notice your surviving pet is particularly clinging. They may even experience separation anxiety, making it difficult for you to keep your usual routine. Try not to leave your pet alone in the home for too long in the first few days after the death of their companion. If you are unable to return home from work, you could ask a neighbour to check on them throughout the day. This will give them the comfort they crave during this confusing time.

Unusual sleeping habits

Another common symptom of grief in pets is a change in sleeping habits. You may hear your cat or dog crying in the night and they may even be reluctant to leave your side – even when you sleep! Be gentle and loving at this time. Keeping your surviving pet close by is not only great for them, but also a positive way to deal with your own grief.

Less interest in playing

Along with sleeping and eating, your pet may also lack enthusiasm for playtime. Cats might mope about the house or hide in their favourite small spaces, while dogs might not want to go for walks or play with their beloved toys. However your pet expresses their grief, always be sure to exhibit patience and love with them. Even when they might not follow the rules!



Grief factsheets

If you’re in need of some extra support in the days and weeks following your pet’s passing, take a look at these handy guides written by leading figure in grief and empathy education and author of "When Pets Die: It's Alright To Grieve,"  Doris Zagdanski. 


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