Cat’s brother passed away yesterday and he is emotionally lost and sad

Percy’s brother passed away yesterday. He’s been looking all day and then jumped up and just looked at me like this…

Sad cat because his brother passed away yesterday

Sad cat because his brother passed away yesterday. Photo: Reddit.

Do you think domestic cats feel sad, as this cat gives us the impression that he does, when they lose a close relatively with whom they have been friends all their lives? I do and I am sure most of my internet colleagues do to. Cats have enigmatic faces because their facial expressions are subtle, barely visible. And yet in this picture I see sadness. Am I projecting my sadness onto Percy? It is something that cat owners can do. It causes confusion. People do it more with their dogs. Dog’s reflect their owner’s emotions. Cats have emotions and have close friendships with people, other species of animal and other cats. It is hard therefore to argue that cats don’t feel sad when a close friend passes away. I believe it and most cat lovers do as well.

In addition to people projecting their emotions onto their companion animals there is another complication which is that some individual cats have a facial anatomy which gives the impression that they are smiling or frowning. But they have a fixed expression. One emotion that is visible and which is not fixed is the outward sign of distress through pain. Like humans, cats show that they are in pain through an altered facial expression which is tighter and pinched compared to their usual relaxed face. This is has been proved in scientific testing. I am sure that observant cat guardians have seen it. It is important to be able to as it can help with diagnosis and importantly assessing when it is time to euthanise a very old cat who is chronically ill.

Percy is sad and shows it. The opposite emotion is harder to show in a facial expression for a cat I believe. However, they show it in their body language, vocalisations and behavior. It is more contentment than out and out happiness but it is visible.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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3 Responses

  1. Gail / USA says:

    I absolutely agree that cats (and other animals) show emotion, especially sadness. Personal experience have shown this to be true. My brother had an Alsatian dog and adopted a small, scrappy, unruly cat to be his buddy. His reasoning is that the cat had to be tough enough to deal with a large dog, yet be his friend. Fast forward several years, they were best buds but sadly, the dog passed. The cat smelled the dead dog, then walked away like it was no big deal.

    About an hour later (after the dog was brought to the vet for cremation), the cat began walking room-to-room, wailing like his heart was breaking, looking in all their favorite haunts for his buddy. He was inconsolable. For a time he refused to eat, was lethargic and just seemed to give up on life. Within six months, the cat also passed. Granted, he did have a renal condition we found about later, but it seems that once the dog was gone his will to live ended.

  2. Warren says:

    What a beautiful kitty, he sure looks sad to me!I have heard of cases where one of a bonded pair of kitties dies and the other cat goes into such depression that in quits eating, and in extreme cases actually dies. Give your boy lots of loving at this very sad time for both of you. My sincere sympathy to your both.

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