We had two cats who were litter mates and adopted as kittens. One of the two cats disappeared and hasn’t returned. The other is still mourning his lost brother. Is there anything we can do to comfort him or help him get over missing his brother? Would a new kitten help?
– Mundy Rado, Lawrenceville, Georgia
I am glad you recognize your cat is experiencing grief over the loss of his companion. It could take days, weeks, sometimes even months before he adjusts to life without his best friend.
While getting a kitten to be his new friend is a good idea, don’t rush into adopting just yet. Sometimes, if a pet doesn’t have time to mourn, and another pet comes along too soon, they tolerate each other, but they don’t become good friends. Also, people tend to shower attention on the new pet and unintentionally ignore the grieving pet, which can make the grieving pet feel worse.
Instead, give your cat lots of attention for a few weeks to build a new relationship between the two of you and reassure him of his place in the home. When you finally bring a new kitten home, give your older cat more attention for the first few weeks. It’s sort of like making an older brother or sister feel special when a new baby comes home. Like a baby, your new kitten won’t have any expectations of you yet. So, love on your older cat more during the transition period to help him feel secure and motivated to accept the new kitten in the home. Before you know it, they will be best friends.
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