Do Cats Get Sad When Their Siblings Died?

The loss of a pet is always difficult, but it can be especially hard on their surviving siblings. When cats have grown up together, they form strong bonds and attachments. So when one passes away, it inevitably leaves a void in the life of the other. As social creatures, cats do grieve the loss of bonded companions.

For caring cat owners, it’s natural to worry about how your surviving cat will cope with their grief. Will they fall into depression? Should you get another cat soon, or wait? Understanding feline grief and providing the right support during this difficult transition can help your remaining cat through the mourning process.

Normal Cat Grieving Behaviors

Cats exhibit common behaviors when grieving the loss of a feline companion or sibling. These include:

Changes in appetite – Cats who are grieving may eat less than usual or lose interest in food entirely for a period of time after the loss. This is likely due to depression affecting their appetites. Monitoring food intake and engaging the cat with stimulating toys or treats can help encourage eating (1).

Increased vocalization – Cats who are mourning may meow, cry, or howl more than usual. This vocalization expresses the cat’s distress and discomfort with the situation. Providing comfort and maintaining routines can help reassure the cat (2).

Searching for the lost sibling – A grieving cat may wander the house looking for the missing companion. They may wait by doors or windows expecting the other cat to return. This is a normal reaction as the cat tries to make sense of the absence (1).

Changes in sleep patterns – Some grieving cats may sleep more than usual due to depression, while others have difficulty sleeping and experience restlessness. Sticking to a normal routine for feeding, playtime, and sleep can help regulate the cat’s schedule (3).

These behaviors are all natural reactions as cats process loss. With time and support, most cats will adjust to the absence of a sibling or friend.

Signs of Depression in Cats

Cats who are grieving the loss of a sibling may exhibit signs of depression. Some common symptoms include:

Lethargy – Grieving cats often seem listless and uninterested in normal activities like playing or exploring. They may sleep more than usual or seem generally inactive.

Hiding – Cats experiencing depression will frequently hide away under beds or furniture. They want to avoid social interaction and retreat from their surroundings.

Aggression – The sadness of grief can cause some cats to act out with aggressive behaviors like hissing, growling, or scratching. This acting out reflects their inner turmoil.

Neglect of grooming – Depressed cats often stop their normal elaborate grooming routines. Their fur may become matted or dirty from disinterest in staying clean.

According to WebMD, these symptoms can persist for days or weeks after the loss of a feline companion. If the cat’s depression seems severe or does not improve over time, seeking veterinary help is advised.

Helping a Cat Grieve

There are several supportive steps you can take to help a grieving cat through the mourning process. Keeping to a normal routine is critical, according to the experts at VCA Hospitals. Try to feed your cat and play with her at the usual times. Maintaining consistency provides stability and security. The Blue Cross also advises sticking with familiar walking routes when taking your cat outside.

Giving your cat extra affection assists her in managing feelings of loneliness after a companion cat dies. Petting, brushing and simply sitting with your grieving cat helps fulfill her needs for comfort and closeness. The Blue Cross recommends speaking softly and positively to reassure her.

Using synthetic feline facial pheromones is another useful strategy, according to Hill’s Pet Nutrition. Diffusers and sprays containing these calming pheromones help relieve anxiety in mourning cats. Place diffusers in your cat’s favorite resting areas. Ask your veterinarian for pheromone product recommendations.

When to Seek Help

While it’s normal for cats to grieve the loss of a sibling, friend, or owner, prolonged grief can be unhealthy. If your cat’s sadness lasts more than a few weeks, it’s best to contact your veterinarian. According to the experts at VCA Hospitals, grief that persists over a month may indicate your cat is depressed.[1]

Signs that your cat may need medical intervention include:

  • Refusing to eat for more than 2-3 days
  • Significant weight loss
  • Lack of interest in toys or activities they once enjoyed
  • Excessive sleeping or lethargy
  • Aggression or irritability
  • Self-harming behaviors like excessive grooming or scratching

Your veterinarian can prescribe medication or recommend strategies to help lift your cat’s mood. Leaving grief to progress untreated can endanger your cat’s health. So don’t hesitate to call your vet if sadness persists beyond a few weeks according to pet experts.


Coping Strategies for Humans

Losing a pet can be extremely difficult, especially when other surviving pets are grieving too. As a pet owner, it’s important to be patient, take care of yourself, and focus on positive memories.

Have patience and understanding as your surviving cats adjust to the loss. Grief affects every cat differently. Don’t force interactions if your cat seems withdrawn. Over time, most cats will return to their normal routines and behaviors.

Focus on your own self-care during this sad time. Get plenty of rest, eat healthy foods, and lean on your social support system. Processing your emotions and talking to close friends can help you cope.

Cherish the good memories you shared with your departed pet. Look through old photos and think about the special moments you had together. Though grieving takes time, eventually the pain will subside.

With patience and care for yourself and your grieving cats, your household will adjust to the loss. Celebrate the joy your pet brought during their lifetime.

Preparing Surviving Siblings

When a cat loses a sibling, it’s important to help prepare and support any surviving siblings in the aftermath. Maintaining normal routines can provide stability and comfort during a difficult transition. As recommended by VCA Hospitals, try to keep regular feeding schedules, play times, and access to favorite sleeping spots the same (1). Surviving siblings may appreciate extra affection and reassurance from their human family. Give gentle pets, brushing, or treats to help them feel secure.

You can also utilize calming aids like Feliway or calming collars during this period of grief. These aids release soothing pheromones that can reduce stress for cats. Place these calming diffusers or collars near sleeping areas. Additionally, give access to solo hiding spots where they can retreat when overwhelmed. With time and support, surviving siblings can adjust to the loss, though they may always feel the absence of their departed cat companion.

Should You Get Another Cat?

There are pros and cons when deciding if and when to get another cat after one passes away. Some key considerations include:

Pros of getting a new cat:

  • Can provide companionship and comfort to a grieving, lonely cat
  • Introduces a new playmate and source of entertainment
  • Helps restore a sense of normalcy and routine for surviving cats

Cons of getting a new cat:

  • Could overwhelm a grieving cat who needs more time
  • Introduces stress of adjusting to a new cat in the home
  • Surviving cat may not accept or get along with new cat

The ideal timing varies for each cat, but generally waiting at least 2-3 months after the loss allows a cat to work through the grieving process. Rushing into getting a new cat could intensify sadness, anxiety, or undesirable behaviors in the surviving cat.

When deciding to add a new cat, go slowly with the introduction by keeping cats separated at first. Exchange blankets or toys so the cats get used to each other’s smells. Over several weeks, do supervised meetings until the cats appear comfortable together.

While a new cat may help fill the void left behind, the decision requires careful consideration of your surviving cat’s needs and temperament. With time and a proper introduction, a new feline friend can often provide comfort after the loss of a beloved companion.

Cats Can Grieve Deeply

Anecdotal stories from cat owners show that cats often grieve when they lose a sibling or littermate. According to one Reddit user, their household had two cats – one family cat and another cat that was bonded to their late brother. After their brother passed away, the cat that was bonded to him became reclusive and seemed depressed, no longer wanting to engage in play or interact with the family members. The user noted that it seemed like the cat was grieving the loss of the human sibling he was closest with (source).

Another Quora user asked how to help their remaining senior cat after the other passed away. They noted that the two cats were littermates that had been together since kittenhood. According to a veterinary technician who replied, it’s very common for the surviving cat to grieve the loss of their companion. Just like humans, cats can experience depression and mourn the absence of a sibling they’ve spent their entire lives with (source).


Grieving the loss of a sibling is a normal part of a cat’s emotional life. While each cat experiences grief differently, there are some common signs to look out for, including changes in appetite, sleep patterns, activity levels, and social behavior. With time, patience and loving support from their human companions, most cats are able to adapt to the loss.

The grief experience is unique for each individual cat. Some may withdraw and become depressed, while others may vocalize more or become clingy and attention-seeking. Knowing your cat’s normal personality and behavior will help you identify any concerning changes.

While grieving is a natural response to the death of a loved one, your cat will rely on your care and understanding during this difficult transition. Keep routines consistent, allow them to express their feelings, and provide plenty of affection and playtime. If signs of grief persist or you have ongoing concerns about your cat’s wellbeing, consult your veterinarian.

With your support and compassion, your beloved feline can navigate the grieving process and once again find contentment and joy.

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