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Pet Columnist

How can a kitty cope with bereavement?

Dear Fisher,

My name is Lil' Girl. I'm a small female 5-year-old bob-tailed cat. My best friend, Buoy, was about 12, and passed away a few months ago. Well, my human went and brought in a rescued female named Blue who is about 1 year old. She is bigger than me. At first it was all good, but now she is always attacking, and I get really scared she is going to hurt me. I have been hiding in the sofa and under the bed a lot. Now my human has taken to locking me in the bedroom with my own litter box, food and water, because every time I see that other cat, I can't stop freaking out. I didn't used to be like this. Will I ever be the same?

Lil' Girl

It sounds like you are experiencing some pretty major life changes. The loss of Buoy has surely been very difficult for your humans and you. Blue's kitten energy has not been seen in your household for several years. You have very different issues, but you may both suffer from a dose of separation anxiety just now.

There are very few studies on bereavement issues in cats. (As we all know, cats are just born with an element of "coolness." That is the one trait that makes us so intriguing.) Visit fabcats.org/owners to learn more about different cat reactions to the loss of a loved one. And search animal rescue sites for insight into Blue's behavior.

The fact that the two of you got along fine at first is a great indication that you will come to terms with your individual issues, and learn how to get along with each other again. A few things your humans can try:

• Each of you should have a turn in the bedroom while the other is out romping and playing. Start with 4- to 8-hour intervals, then shorter and shorter, eventually leaving the door ajar to see if you are making progress.

• Food, water bowls and litter boxes should be separated, then slowly moved closer together.

• New toys! You should each have time to play alone with the same toys before learning the great lesson of sharing.

Try to let your inner kitten come out to play. The holidays are coming up, and you and Blue can have great adventures hissing at Trick-or-Treaters, stealing turkey off the Thanksgiving table and climbing the Christmas tree!

How can a kitty cope with bereavement? 10/16/08 [Last modified: Friday, October 28, 2011 1:22pm]

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