HomeCat Behaviorcat emotionsCats Feel Jealousy But Not Grief


Cats Feel Jealousy But Not Grief — 10 Comments

  1. Come on Dr Bradshaw, the 21st century is calling you!

    He produces some interesting work but seems beholden (like many) to the notion that non humans cannot have complex emotions.

    Was it 20 years ago now that a large group of notable scientists produced a statement that acknowledged not just that other animals have complex emotions, but how they manage to have them without having a neo cortex like wot hooomans have.

    *eye roll*

    We need real cat people as scientists, we really do. Maybe that way, there’d be less of the hidden agenda swaying the results, or maybe it might mean there’d be more of it?

  2. I believe that animals feel emotion, but they don’t have the complication of thoughts that we do, which can prolong our grief. Jealousy can be ongoing as long as the situation continues.

    I recently saw a video of a cow who mooed all night for the calf that had been taken from her. In the morning, the calf, who was nearly dead from lack of food, was welcomed by her mom with dripping teats.

  3. Michael: Does Dr. Bradshaw’s book elaborate on the source of his comment regarding ‘temporary anxiety’?

    I’m just wondering whether he’s taking into account multi-cat households where there may be an underlying tension amongst the cats. Charley certainly noticed when Sophie (the despot) was no longer around. He didn’t search for her, but he was cautious entering certain rooms in case she was waiting in ambush. Once he felt confident that she definitely wasn’t coming back, he became a lot more relaxed.

  4. Cats can develop very strong attachments to people or other animals and I believe they feel grief or emotional distress at the loss/absence of a close companion. I’m not sure I’d agree with Dr. Bradshaw’s theory about it being a temporary state of anxiety. Whilst I accept that may be true of some cats, there are numerous accounts of cats remaining depressed long after any residual scents of their friend have disappeared. Let’s not forget either that cats are known to have good long term memories.

    There’s no timetable for grief and that applies equally to animals and humans.

    • True, true, true Michele.
      Beautifully put.
      It holds true for those who just rip away a mom’s kits from her too. They know their babes and are distressed when they can’t find. Would any of us want to just have a baby ripped from our breast? It all takes time and work.
      Everything is a process when dealing with stress and sorrow.

      • Dee, I agree with you about the mother cat’s mental pain when her kittens are removed before she’s ready to let them go. Not to mention how distressed her poor kittens must feel 🙁 It’s depressing to think how many cats and kittens have suffered this horrible experience in shelters as well as family homes.

        None of us really know for certain what is going on inside their heads, but we do know cats can express a range of emotions. So why couldn’t grief be one of them? Cats are very stoic. Can we really be sure that they don’t hide emotional pain as well as they do physical pain or injury?

      • Dee: I instantly thought of your comment when I was reading the article about the dog killing all those cats and kittens in the shelter. I hope the surviving mother cat can overcome that kind of trauma.

  5. Years ago I had two beautiful kitties Simon, a flame point Siamese and Subee a Himalayan. Simon disappeared one day, I was heartbroken, he was beautiful and incredibly easy going. Subee was more attached to him than me and It was obvious she adored him. For weeks and it may be hard to believe, she never got over it. For about 10 days she brought mice in several times s day, she had never hunted in her life. She cried all the time. The most haunting thing to me was her voice changed permanently. She came to me for comfort over the years, she was different, more intense and hated every cat she ever met from that point on. She even tried to kill a stray kitten that found me, not just beat it up. Makes me sad to even think about it.

  6. I believe that cats grieve, as there are accounts to numerous to count.
    Domesticated or not, a mother cat is distressed when a kit or kits are missing.
    It took me a very long time to figure out how to adopt out kits without causing the mother much grief. It’s time consuming but so worth it.
    It involves removing each kit, one by one, for periods of time and, then returning them; taking each again for a longer time and returning; on and on with more extended periods of absence until the mother “forgets”. It takes up to 2-3 weeks at times.
    I believe that it’s too stressful for a mother cat to have her kits just taken away in one sweep.

  7. I agree with you and Jackson Galaxy, Michael. I believe that cats do grieve but that they are much better than humans in dealing with it and moving on. My boy Bandit seemed to know that my father had passed years ago. That cat would go into my Dad’s tv room and sit and stare at his empty chair. He became upset when we removed my Dad’s house slippers and changed the furniture around. It would not surprise me if Bandit was able to smell the cancer inside my father.

    Angel and Ruby searched for Rocky after he died. They didn’t eat much and they sat around staring into space more than usual. When Coyote passed and I brought his body home (before the cremation) Maya, his little sister, seemed startled when she saw him. Oddly enough, Coyote’s mom, Moo, didn’t seem to be affected. I got the impression she was thinking to herself, “Well, that’s his body but he’s not there anymore.” Maya moped around the apartment for a week. She and Coyote used to play a lot together.

    And I am certain that Samirah grieved for her first mistress. She totally ignored every potential adopter who came into the shelter for over a year: “You’re not my human. Go away.” I saw that about her when I came to see her. They grieve, but they get over it quicker.

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