Cat brings gifts to grave of deceased human companion

Why does a loyal cat bring “gifts” to the grave of his deceased human companion? This the story of a handsome three year old rescue cat, Toldo – a tabby and white – who has got into the habit of bringing leaves, twigs, sticks and bit of rubbish to the the grave of Lozzelli Renzo, who died last September, about four months ago. The place is the town of Montagnana, Italy.

Toldo a cat who brought gifts to grave of deceased human companion
Toldo a cat who brought gifts to grave of deceased human companion
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Lozzelli rescued Toldo. There was obviously a very close bond. Lozzelli loved cats and all animals. This is very touching story, which Marc, a regular contributor, picked out for me. Marc also mentions that his cat, Red, brought him leaves.

I suppose the thing to do with this beautiful but sad story is not to simply restated it but to try and figure out why Toldo is doing this.

It is unfair and wrong to interpret this behavior through the eyes of a human. We have to interpret it on the basis of pure cat behavior. That is common sense but more scientific and less sentimental.

The only time that a cat brings objects back to the den – the place where mother gives birth to and raises her young until they are independent – is when she brings prey back to feed her offspring and to teach them about prey and killing etc.

As for domestic cats we know that if the cat is a hunter he sometimes brings prey in to the home. This can be a repeat of what his mother taught him when he was a kitten. Cats do learn well by copying parents and relatives.

As for Toldo, my theory is that he is bringing “gifts” in a cat sense. These are gifts of prey, the nearest he can get to prey. It appears that Toldo has yet to accept that his human companion is dead. Toldo looks calm and settled in his endeavours judging by the pictures, which I presume were taken while he brought gifts to the grave.

Toldo apparently followed the funeral procession to the cemetery. That’s how he knows the place where his human companion is.

For me the behavior is about repeating what he was taught as a kitten and Toldo probably sees Lozzelli as his mother or father and is playing out what he was taught to do. The emotional bond is not yet broken due to the passage of time.

It does show another side to the close bond that can be formed between cat and human. I’d be interested if anyone has a better explanation.

8 thoughts on “Cat brings gifts to grave of deceased human companion”

  1. My only hope is that now someone is looking after him the way his dad used to 🙁 he does look well cared for so I do hope thats the case.

    Years ago my little cat Tasha had a lovely bond with my German Shepherd Monty she loved him so much. She would get in the bin in the kitchen and steal things for him. She would take used tea bags, meat wrappers etc anything she could carry. Monty would lie there and watch with his paws stretched out in front of him while she carried these morsels, put them between his paws and then sit there and gaze at him to judge his reaction. Sometimes he would eat it if it was edible or look at her as if to say ‘well thanks for that but isn’t there anything better?’

    I remember one time she found a walnut in its shell which she batted all down the lounge until it came to rest between his paws.

    I really think she loved him so much she perhaps thought he was her giant kitten and wanted to feed him 🙂

  2. its a lovely token on just how cats express there devotion to humans that they loved so much. i remeber how when my Tammy, i had to put down how heart broken i had felt so gulty. i also noticed my other cats missing her were looking for them in the house and meowing alot.

  3. When Red and I used to play outside I saw how he chased leaves and would single out specific ones so I used bring him one if I knew he’d like it and he’s bat it around and I would flick it across the grass.

    Also I would use twigs to sort of drag as if I was drawing on the ground with them and he just loved to chase the end of the stick – all cats just love that. Try dragging a ruler or some such thing one end on the ground and they love to chase and grab it.

    I think in the end we both shared a similar opinion about which were the good leaves and sticks and I for one would be excited to present him with a new thing that was a piece of nature that I thought he would like. I remember finding a piece of bamboo once and bringing it to him and we played with it for ages until it fell apart. I split it length ways and the strips were sort of long and thin and bendy so if you held it like a fishing rod the end would bounce down low and he would jump for it and so on.

    Playing outside everyday meant that nature was our playground and supplied our toys. I’d flick pebbles and all kinds of other little things for him to chase. So it made sense that he would also bring those similar objects of his choosing to me. It was reciprocal. I think he’d bring me things when I was in bed also because he wanted to play.

    Gigi is an indoor cat but she puts toys on me in the night and I wake up and get up and little mouses and scrumped balls of paper (they love those so much) roll off the bed. After we moved to a flat together Red and I would play more inside and I think that’s where he got the habit of bringing in some of the prize bits and bobs from his escapades.

    We’d then play with them inside together. I don’t have a direct route to the garden – I have a sort of ground floor balcony but its up off the ground and there’s no steps down – I must go around the front. Red was just bring me bits of his world. I am sad about that one thing actually – that we didn’t play as much in the garden after we moved in together. We did in spring when it got warm again but in the winter just Red would go out on adventures without me. I am sad that our lives grew apart in that little way but it had to be like that and its a small thing really.

    I think Toldo and his dad must have spent hours together outside and perhaps they even played with pebbles and twigs or maybe his dad showed him bits if nature who knows, but somehow these little objects became a familiar part of their relationship together.

    It is sad – Michael – I believe you are right in saying poor little Toldo has not come to terms with his dad not being around. And Ruth I totally agree with you about the fact that he cannot share his grief as we humans can. When Red died me and Lilly were both very sad and we lay together for hours on the couch not saying or doing anything – in that sense we grieved together whenever I wasn’t at work of course – we both felt the same about it and were both very depressed and empty and with nothing to say and no appetite for food or life. The poor kittens were confused by this. It was a strange period of a month broken by my trip the the UK for work.

    Poor little Toldo, I bet his dad really loved him. I bet his dad thought of him just before he died. I hope his mum takes good care of him. I’m sure he goes outside and sits in all the same places without his dad and feels very empty – like this huge thing is missing. Very sad, very sweet.

    • Just read this comment and it is excellent. I think you are right about Toldo recreating what he did when his human companion was alive. He wants it to continue. That is perhaps a factor rather bringing gifts to a grave. I don’t know.

  4. It’s like someone putting flowers on their loved one’s grave really, as a mark of love and respect for their late loved one and to show they haven’t been forgotten.
    This is beautiful but also sad because Toldo can’t talk about his grief and bereavement as we can talk to others who are sympathetic, about ours.

        • No, we are Brits. I think you may have misunderstood. Cats can’t discuss grief with us. If they are feeling upset most people won’t even be aware of it.

          Cats do feel emotions. No one is denying that. The point made is about the language barrier.

          Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts though.


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