How animals deal with grief

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Animal lover
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How animals deal with grief

Post by Animal lover » Mon Apr 06, 2015 10:51 pm

I think it is important to show your remaining animals the one who has passed away so they can see and understand what has happened to their beloved family member or friend, and they can get to spend some final time with them and say their own goodbyes. I have done this whenever one of my animals has passed away.
One thing I hate is when people say animals do not have emotions, feel grief, etc. Studies in many different animals show that they clearly do. And all us animal owners know they do as we can see it for ourselves. We all see how our animals look for each other when one goes to the vet. The thought of them wondering where their companion is, and waiting for their companion to come home, when that will never happen, is so sad.
One thing that I am always so worried about, and I do not know if anyone else has seen it, but some animals simply give up living when their companions pass. I have heard of it in many animals, and in some people I know and I have experienced it myself.
I had three rescued male rats, all Brothers from the same litter, after I had to say my last goodbye to the second one, I showed him to his Brother. The last remaining one of the three. I was so worried as when the first one passed, the remaining rats grief was the worst out of him and his remaining Brother. When his first Brother passed he took a long time to perk up and eat and play normally, etc. So I knew he would take it hard, especially as he was now on his own. I spent time with him that evening and he was not himself at all, not playful, would not eat, just laid in my arms or in his cage. I spent time with him during the night. When I woke in the morning, I was devastated. He was just lying there. No sign of distress, heart attack, etc. It was clear that he had just layed down and that he had just lost interest in living. No matter what I could have done, I could never have been the same as his beloved Brothers.
When any of my animals have passed, I was always so worried about how the remaining animals would be able to cope with their grief. Knowing how my girl cat loved her Brother so, I was so worried. Even when I would leave the living room, she would follow me and wait for me. We were always together. She lived for 2 years and 5 months after her Brother.
I also had a friend who had 2 dogs, Mother and Daughter. They had to say goodbye to the Mum due to tumours. The Daughter would lay on her Mums resting place in the garden and just cry. My friend and her family tried everything, even when they carried her indoors, she would just lay on her Mums side of the rug and cry. She refused to eat, etc. 5 days later, she passed away on top of her Mums resting place. It was extremely sad.
Whenever one of my animals had passed away, I had always kept things as normal as possible for my remaining animals. I always made a point of spending more time with them and giving them all extra fuss and attention. My only animal to have given up due to grief was my rat. Sometimes I wonder why? Why some animals can cope better with grief than others. Just like people.
Sometimes no matter what we do, our animals cannot be consoled and even though they are everything to us and we know they think we are everything to them, it just reminds us clearly that animals have the same feelings of emptiness that we do. People are not the only ones who feel they cannot live after a being has passed away. Even though, just like us, they love the ones who are still with them, they cannot bare the emptiness left by those who have passed.

I wonder if anyone else has had the same thing? Or has had animals become overwhelmed with their grief?

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Crewella
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Re: How animals deal with grief

Post by Crewella » Mon Apr 06, 2015 11:26 pm

They definitely do grieve. I always do let the rest of the gang see the one who has passed if I can, and I do believe that it helps them to make sense of what has happened.

My Daz lost his beloved Peaches last summer to an RTA, and he spent a good 5 minutes sniffing her all over when I showed him her body. He did call out for her still for a couple of weeks after that, but never for long and I did feel that he knew she wasn't coming.

The hardest hit, a few years ago, was my original cat Giddy (RIP) who was the matriarch of my original cat family. She did eventually rally after we lost her son Rottie at 17 to kidney failure, but she was listless for weeks after he passed. We had three other cats at the time, all related, but those two were especially close and it was so sad to see her missing him so much.

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Re: How animals deal with grief

Post by lilynmitz » Tue Apr 07, 2015 1:39 pm

What a lovely post, thank you for sharing this. I totally agree, animals do grieve, and each of them grieves differently depending on their character and their relationship with the animal who as passed away.

I've seen the same myself. Mo grieved terribly when Daisy died after being hit by a car. I didn't let him see her body - I wish I had, but the next morning he sniffed the floor for ages in the kitchen where we'd laid her when we brought her in, and I just dissolved in tears watching him. He was very listless for weeks and weeks after, kept looking for her, put on weight and was generally withdrawn and depressed. Then neighbours who Daisy used to visit (and Mo) got new kittens, as they were missing Daisy so much, and Mo made friends with one of them and was back to his old self again.

Lily wasn't particularly fond of Mitz, but they'd been together through thick and thin for 12 years. She was a complicated little cat but even she looked for him for a while after he'd gone. I came home one day and found she'd pulled his rug off the chair onto the floor. She never normally went on that chair, in fact she was so arthritic it was hard for her to get up there, so this was quite a big deal.

We have Sammy with us now, who is used to the company of other cats in the lovely rescue centre where they were able to roam free in the garden, but he's on his own at the moment. Now he's settled in and used to his home, I'm fairly certain he's missing the other cats, as he suddenly seems low in spirits, but I'm hoping he will find company, rather than conflict, in our ginger puss who will be joining us next week. (Let's hope she feels the same!).

We must never underestimate the sentience of all other living creatures, and their emotional needs. It's not anthropomorphising. Even science is recognising more and more what we animal lovers have been saying all along. Let's hope the message gets through to those who work with animals, particularly those cultures who see them only as a protein source and treat them little better than vegetables.

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Re: How animals deal with grief

Post by greenkitty » Tue Apr 07, 2015 3:23 pm

I lost my much loved Hector recently, my other 3 didn't have the opportunity to say goodbye as he passed away at the vets but the following few weeks didn't go quite as I had predicted. Hector was the boss and Pip adored him, we adopted him as a companion for her when she was 12 weeks old and it became apparent she needed feline company, as soon as he entered a room she would rush over to him and wash his head.

I thought she would miss him terribly, in his last few weeks at home he spent a lot of time under the bed, she went under there a couple of times (I assume to look for him) but apart from that I wouldn't say she grieved at all which was the opposite to what I was expecting. Pip and Noodle were fractious with each other about a week after he was PTS which I assume was them sorting their hierarchy out. But that was it!

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Re: How animals deal with grief

Post by hgale » Tue Apr 07, 2015 5:18 pm

I'm not surprised reading this thread - I've also had experience of this - but it was an animal grieving for a human!

My first cat was a wonderful ginger tabby named Biscuit. Although he loved everyone he had a very special bond with my mum - but I didn't realise just how deep that bond was until 2002. Mum was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer in February of that year and until 4 June when she died, she often had to spend time away from home in hospital for treatment (and in her final week in our amazing local Hospice, which is where she wanted to die). When Mum was away having her treatment, Biscuit was quite happy at home with me, eating well, still enjoying plenty of fuss and love - basically no change. But from 5 June, everything changed - he went off his food, started wandering around the neighbourhood, yowling as if his heart would break, searching everywhere - for Mum - which he had NEVER done while she was alive but away. I took him to the Vet less than 1 week after Mum died and the Vet took one look at him and said she had never seen a cat grieving so deeply before - it was as if he had just "switched himself off" when Mum died. He was now starting to get very thin and ill so there was only 1 kindest decision I could make for him and he was reunited with Mum that very evening.

Also when I had to have Kitten put to sleep Christmas 2012, Mischa also went very quiet and off her food for a few days - and you couldn't describe them as close friends either - they just tolerated each other. So animals do have feelings - and it makes me mad whenever I read comments to the contrary.

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Re: How animals deal with grief

Post by Animal lover » Wed Apr 08, 2015 7:18 pm

My thoughts are with all of you and my deepest sympathy for your loss, be it animal or person.

After I submitted the thread, I did think I should have mentioned about animals grieving for people.
There have been many amazing counts of how animals have grieved for people just after those people have passed, even though the person was not in the home with the animals.
I do believe that animals have a strong extra sense that we do not understand. There are a couple of accounts that I have been told that really stick in my mind.
One was an animal friendly old age people's home, which a friends partner worked at. They had a couple of onsite dogs and a few cats. One cat was very social and spent time with many different people during the days and nights. They called her Flitt, as she was always 'flittering' between people. Then on occasion they would spend a couple of days just with one person. The only time they would leave was to eat or go to the toilet. After some time, it was noted that the people who the cat would spend days at a time with, passed away on the third day. It was clear the cat could sense the person was near saying goodbye. My friend had to have the cat live with them for a while, as some people at the home started to try to keep the cat away from them. After a while, people in the home and their families asked for the cat to go back to the home as they felt it was good to know if it was their time, as they could say goodbye to loved ones.
Another was a boy I met at my GP's who had a dog with a yellow coat on. I fussed the dog, the breed was a complete mix, a total mongrel, and I spoke to the boy and his Mum. They got the dog as a rescue to just be a family pet. It turned out that the dog could sense when the boy was going to have an epileptic fit and would bark before the boy had the fit. So they ended up having the dog trained as a seizure alert dog. What a remarkable story for a rescue dog.

There are animals being trained to sniff cancer, a species of rat being trained to sniff land mines.... Absolutely amazing what animals can sense. For all our 'brains' I do believe we only use a small amount of our brains, and when you think a salmon can find it's way back to where it was born, a lizard hatches and instantly knows what to eat, etc. It really makes you think that actually, we are not as smart as we like to think we are.

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