Do cats miss their owners when they die?

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Despite being one of the most affectionate pets, cats get a bad rap. Sadly the popular perception is that cats are cold and distant. They think cats don’t care about their owners or couldn’t care less when they die. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Those who have spent any length of time with cats know that they share an incredible bond with their owners. When they find out the painful truth that their favorite human buddy is no more, their world will come crumbling down.

Can cats sense when something is wrong?

Cats can notice right away that their human friend is missing. Since cats can sense the low energy in the household due to the demise of their owner, they realize that something is wrong. Unless it’s obvious, cats may not instantly realize that the owner isn’t coming back. Fearing the worst, the cat is likely to frantically search for their human companion around the house.

They start sniffing all the places where they usually see the human friend, such as their bedroom or office. Restless cats tend to go to other family members and try to communicate with them. They vocalize all over the house, apparently calling for the human and to find their whereabouts.

Do cats sense death?

It has been a matter of great speculation whether cats can sense the death of a person. Science recognizes that the physical body of a human being is enveloped by an electromagnetic field. Every healthy human body will have a normal field of energy. However, there is a significant drop in the energy field of people who are terminally ill and about to die. Besides having the ability to perceive energy (good or bad), cats have a heightened sense of smell which allows them to detect chemical changes in the body, that indicate imminent death. A similar theory is applied to illustrate how cats can sense cancer or other illness in their human companions.

Do cats grieve for their owners?

Cats do grieve, even though they can’t differentiate between losing their human through death or through the act of being abandoned. The grief depends on the level of the cat’s attachment to the deceased. If they’ve been with the person for a number of years, having created a bond, the cat will miss the human dearly when they’re gone.  The absence or the loss of a loved one will create a void in a cat’s life.

The cat may start sleeping where the human slept. They frequently look out of the window and search the house to see whether the human has returned. They may keep looking for an entire month or more before they finally ‘get it’. Depending on the level of support, most of them regain their spirits, while some cats die from a broken heart or get depressed. This is why long-term care of pets of deceased owners becomes important.

Can cats get depressed?

Depression in cats is real and is considered a tell-tale sign of a grieving cat. Like humans, they cannot always deal with the loss, which results in an emotional collapse. Having lost hope and enthusiasm, depressed cats usually have a reduced appetite and a dull coat. They may appear to lack interest in things that used to excite them before. Older cats suffering from Dementia may even show signs of confusion when a human friend passes on. 

How to help a grieving cat?

You can help a cat cope with grief by compassionate human interaction and distracting them with new toys. Other forms of support include playing or spending a lot of time, offering their favorite foods, an extra treat every now and then, playing uplifting instrumental music and generally keeping a high vibe.

The family members of the deceased owner can reduce the cat’s mourning period by continuation of the familiar routine. They should pay close attention to the cat’s eating, elimination habits and ensure they get enough physical activity. A vet may prescribe medication to stimulate the cat’s appetite, which may help in the quick recovery from depression. They should wait for a while before making any abrupt changes in the house, like remodeling the house. 

Who will take care of my cat when I die?

Adopting a cat whose owner died is not an easy decision since not many people are comfortable or know how to help a pet with grief. Therefore, cat owners who are aging or ailing should make arrangements to find a person both willing and able to take care of a cat. Particularly someone who knows how to help a grieving cat when the owner dies. Some charitable organizations help to find loving owners for your cat. There are also many cat shelters that will take care of your cat for its lifetime.

Alternatively, find a trust-worthy person who is willing to care for your cat when you’re gone by way of establishing a trust or will. The person you name will become the owner of your cat in exchange for a certain sum of money. Through this provision, they will also utilize the money you leave behind for your cat’s care. Though the person will not have any legal obligation to care for your cat or spend the money in any specific way. However, this should not be a concern provided you identify someone you trust. You can provide instructions for your cat’s care in a separate document.

Rehoming cats when owner dies

Unfortunately, most cats end up in homes, abandoned or forgotten when their owners die. It is vital to ensure you have a plan to keep your cat safe after you’re gone. The following are some of the tips you can use to secure a protection plan for your cat:

  • Choose two responsible relatives or friends to act as emergency or permanent pet sitters for your cat if something unexpected happens to you. Give them keys, medication instructions, feeding routines, and the name and contact of your vet. The pet sitters should also have a way to communicate with each other.
  • Always carry an alert card that lists your identified pet sitters’ names and contacts and the name and species of your cat.
  • Ensure your neighbors know how many cats you own and the names and contacts of your emergency pet sitters.
  • Stick removable “in case of emergency” notices on your windows or doors listing how many cats you own. List the names and contacts of your emergency pet sitters in a visible place like your refrigerator.
  • Choose a permanent pet sitter for your cat, and a few back up alternatives. Stay connected with the pet sitters as life situations and priorities change with time and adjust your plan as required.
  • Provide instructions for your permanent pet sitters, and authorize them to spend money from your estate for moving your cat to their new home and their temporary care.
  • Set-up a trust for the care of your cat. Unlike a will, which may take months or years to settle, funds from a trust will be accessible immediately.

In a Nutshell

Despite being considered aloof, cats are social creatures that form an emotional connect with their owners and other members of the house. The death of a human companion leaves a cat with a lot of grief to deal with, often requiring emotional support. This is because cats have limited social relationships that usually only involves the family members and other pets in the house.

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