This excerpt is from Chapter 11 of:
When Your Pet Dies, Dealing with Your Grief and Helping Your Children
By: Christine Adame
Other Pets May Suffer Over The Loss
If you have other pets, they can be profoundly affected by the loss
of an animal they have known for years."Our surviving cat Alexis
grieved visibly for about nine months after his death," said David.
"She would pace and cry, especially at night. She didn't seem to
enjoy life and became extremely dependent on us—very watchful
and protective when before she was very aloof."
He continues, "Then we got another cat and she gradually went
back to her old self. Now, almost two years later, she seems to be happy
Claudia reported that after her cat Chessie died, her other two cats
stopped playing and clearly grieved for several months. In another case,
a pet owner's cat became so ill that she had to be hospitalized and
intravenously fed and medicated.
Donna said that after her cat Fluffy died, her two other cats would
not lie down in the deceased pet's basket.
Mark said that when his beagle Toby died, his other dogs sniffed the
body and watched as he held the dog before burial. They were fairly
subdued while we buried him, and didn't eat that day, but were okay
after that," he says.
Your other pets may cry out and search for the other animal. In one
case, a poodle, the daughter of the mother dog that died, howled all
night after her death.
In another case, an older ferret who had essentially "mothered"
a younger one, was very despondent after its death. She searched the
house for the missing ferret until she fell down in exhaustion. For
days afterward, the animal frantically searched the apartment. Afterward
she checked once or twice and finally gave up.
Other behaviors may also be exhibited. The pet may ignore you or act
like it doesn't like you anymore.
The pet may even behave in a hostile or aggressive manner when it had
always been friendly in the past. In one case, a woman said her cat
hissed at her after a much-loved ferret was euthanized. These are all
symptoms of grieving.
Kathy, whose cat Huntress died after eighteen years with her, said
that her other two cats were affected when the cat became very ill.
They spent a lot of time with her in the last few weeks she was with
us. After she died, they stayed very close to me and seemed to want
more attention and cuddling than usual.
What To Do
Your other pets will probably need some extra tender loving care for
awhile. On the other hand, if an animal clearly indicates that it wants
to be left alone, don't press yourself upon it.
You may also wish to leave the television or radio on when you go out,
to provide some comfort.
If your other pets seem to become ill or refuse to eat, take them to
the veterinarian. It may also help to "explain" to them what
happened. They won't understand the words, but the tone of your voice
may convey some comfort. But don't give your pets too much attention
you don't want to reward them inadvertently with food or attention or
both for acting depressed or unhappy.
Try to keep your other pets to their regular routine. This helps caretakers