Our seven-year-old cat started licking his front paws. He has always been afraid of everything, but it has progressively gotten worse. He jumps at the slightest noise – a loud bang sends him running and hiding. We’ve always treated him with love and cuddling. Our other sixteen-year-old cat died a couple of months ago. The two of them were never close, but they got along. We thought he might be lonely because he has been lethargic lately. What do you think?
– William, South Elgin, Illinois
Most cats run and hide when they hear a “loud bang,” so I wouldn’t worry about that behavior. But some of the anxiousness, excessive licking, and lethargy you describe may be him grieving for his friend. Even if cats in the same household don’t appear close, they can still be comforted by each other’s presence in the home. The surviving cat may be feeling vulnerable without his friend.
Because of his age, make sure the lethargy is not related to any health problems. If his health is fine, then plug in a few feline pheromones around the house and turn on a white noise machine to reduce his jumpiness. Cats do grieve, so give him time to adjust to his new normal.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal