You Can Help Your Grieving Cat
Do Cats Experience Grief?
Yes! Just as humans have the capability to experience grief and sorrow, cats grieve too. And if you have a feline companion in your life, you know when you have a grieving cat.
The good news is that, unlike humans, grieving cats don’t get stuck in their thoughts and emotions for long. Once the process is complete, your grieving cat will move on. And as their primary caregiver, there are simple things you can do on your own to support a grieving cat through this challenging phase.
What are the Causes of Grief in Cats?
The two primary causes of grief in cats are loss and change.
We all know how deeply loss affects us. And our cats feel the same feelings. Losing a family member – human or animal can be a heartbreaking experience for our cats. Not all cats react the same way, and just as humans do not always experience grief over the same situation, it is the same with cats. Not everyone will grieve, and not every grieving cat will show the same mannerisms. Grief is expected when they share a strong bond with another being – human or animal. From a cat’s perspective, having a human grow up and move away to college is also a loss.
There is also short-term loss, which often manifests as separation anxiety. When you travel without telling your cat that you will be back soon, they may not be clued into your travel itinerary. They will be anxious to have you back.
Cats are also attached to places and their territories. Moving to a new home can trigger a sense of loss as well. While we are busy figuring out the logistics and settling in, our cats may be grieving over the loss of what they knew as home before. Suddenly everything has changed – their old smells, old hideouts, old play areas, and old pigeon friends are gone, and our feline companions grieve that loss.
What are the Signs that your Cat is Grieving?
After Amadeus and I lost our beloved Artemis, her sibling cat, Amadeus was grieving just as much as I was and maybe more. He had lost interest in food and would often be more vocal. It was clear that he was a grieving cat. And as human companions of felines, we know it when we see our cats go through these challenging moments.
The signs will vary from cat to cat, depending on their personality. A cat who is ordinarily quiet may suddenly become more vocal. A cat who is usually quite playful may suddenly withdraw and become aloof. The key is to watch for behavior changes.
Some of the common signs grieving cats show are:
Change in eating habits: Suddenly, your cat may lose interest in her favorite food. Or you can see a sudden tendency to overeat to compensate for the grief they feel.
Change in playfulness and activity patterns – A playful cat can suddenly become withdrawn. Or you may also see sudden restlessness with a tendency to pace around the house.
Change in sleep patterns – A cat who sleeps for 20 hours is suddenly sitting straight and staring at the wall. Again as their human companions, you will know when you see this. You may reversely have a social cat withdrawing and sleeping through the day with no interest in any activity.
Lack of grooming: Your cat can stop cleaning and washing. She is no longer interested.
Vocalization – When a cat who normally maintains a quiet profile starts vocalizing or crying loud, it can also be an expression of their emotions
Inconsistent use of litter box: Most cats are fastidious about being prim and clean. When they stop using the litter box, it is a signal that there is something amiss that needs addressing.
Sometimes cats can display these symptoms even when they are not experiencing grief. Underlying health problems can cause them, or there could be some other emotional trigger. These symptoms are an alarm signal. If you see them, you are being asked to help your cat.
A cat peeing outside the litter box may signify an infection or some other condition, and it is essential to get medical help. Reaching out to a veterinary doctor is the first step. It is crucial to follow medical advice and get any prescribed tests done to diagnose and treat any physical ailments.
How can You Help your Grieving Cat?
Once you have sought medical opinion and you have determined that there are no underlying medical conditions that need treatment, there are some simple things you can do to make this easier for your grieving cat. You can help your grieving cat.
Remember, each cat is an individual being, and what works for one may not work for another. John may want to listen to Iron Maiden to help him cope with grief, Mary may want to sign up for cardio lessons, and Sally may wish to paint.
Respect your grieving cat’s choices – First and foremost, listen and ask your cat what support she needs from you. Your cat may want more cuddle time, or your cat may want to be given her space and privacy to process her feelings. Listen to that quiet inner voice without being weighed down by what you should and what you shouldn’t. And then gently tell them, “I know how you are feeling. I know you are grieving. I am there for you. Tell me what you need.”
Be Present: Most cats want their humans to be present with them without intruding. This is the simple act of being available fully in body and mind. Let go of external distractions. Let go of your devices, gadgets, and Netflix just for a while and be available. Sit with your cat and be there without trying to contrive a solution. Grieving is a process; the best support is to let it flow naturally to completion. Most cats, unlike humans, do not have a tendency to get stuck in a state of mind. They live in the present. Grieving for them is also about being in the present. Once the process is complete, she will be able to come out of it.
Self-care: My cats taught me that this is the most important of all. If you are also going through an emotional upheaval, your beloved furbaby will know it, and it will add to what they have to deal with. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself before taking care of your cat. Give yourself the time and healing you need too. A straightforward way to be present with your cat without your emotional burdens is to imagine that you are putting all your emotions – named and unnamed into a basket and locking the basket before you declare your availability to your cat. You can have all your stuff back, but just for now, you are suspending them.
When my cat was grieving over the loss of Duchess, he would start the most horrific meowing if I was not fully present. And for him, being fully present meant being fully grounded. If I was moping and all freaked out, he would let his disapproval be known very vocally. Cats can be our greatest self-care teachers.
Energy Healing for Grieving Cats: Energy healing is one of the most gentle, soothing, and non-intrusive ways to support your grieving cat through the stages of grief. If you are a practitioner, you already know this and have probably experienced this as well.
How can Energy Healing help Grieving Cats?
Let’s talk about energy healing for grieving cats. In energy healing, a practitioner works with the subtle energies to create a state of perfect balance. When our life-force energy, also known as Ki or Chi or prana, flows freely, our system is in a deep state of relaxation. And in that state, profound healing can happen across all layers – physical as well as emotional. And this is true for all living beings, including our cats. And cats simply love energy work. As an Animal Reiki practitioner, I have seen how my cats lean into the energy work. My kitten, all of 3-months of age, madly dashing around the house, becomes still and starts purring when I begin an energy healing session.
These are some vibrational healing techniques that I rely on to help grieving cats:
(i) Animal Reiki – Reiki, or “spiritual energy,” is an ancient healing system. The Usui lineage of Reiki was brought to human awareness by Buddhist practitioner Mikao Usui. During an Animal Reiki session, practitioners will tap into the universal life force energy and make that available. Healing happens across physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual layers. It brings about a state of deep relaxation that allows the system to heal—once dismissed as mystical nonsense. Reiki is now finding wide acceptance, even in veterinary clinics and shelters.
(ii) Bach Flower Remedy – Bach flower remedies are diluted natural flower essences. Each flower is associated with a specific vibrational frequency and an emotion. Bach flower practitioners recommend specific flower essences depending on the underlying emotion. Rescue Remedy works wonders when dealing with emotional trauma and will help your grieving cat too. I often use Rescue Remedy to help my cats cope with any upsetting shift.
(iii) Shamanic Healing – Shamanic Healers work with Nature-allies and Guides from non-ordinary reality to help shed emotional traumas, energy blocks, and physical illnesses. I find the shamanic energies I work with very earthy, and cats, like other earth-beings, love the energy of such healing ceremonies.
(iv) EFT Tapping – In the Chinese Medicinal system, there is a set of meridians that run through our body. These meridians are associated with physical organs and also our emotions. Some key points connect with the meridians, and by tapping on these points, we can free up blocked emotions, help shift emotions and, in this case, release grief in cats.
Healing from Grief at Way of Artemis
Asking for help can be the first step in the healing process for both you and your grieving cat. Even the best of us need help and will struggle at times. And that is when you know it is time to reach out.
We are so very closely bonded with our cats. We are as much part of their story as they are part of ours. And when the bond is so strong, it is also difficult to detach and get into that state of being centered. This is when someone else can help because they are not part of the story. My cats and I have been fortunate to have known and worked with some of the greatest animal healers. In a recent animal communication session, one of them was very specific about his demand for my teacher to do regular sessions with him.
At Way of Artemis, intuitive energy healing sessions are customized for what your grieving cat needs most. I use a signature blend of Animal Reiki, Animal Communication, Shamanic Healing, Scalar Wave Healing, EFT Tapping, and more.
If you feel it is all becoming too much, reach out and seek professional help. I am here for you and your feline companions just as much as you are there for them.