Ever since Butterscotch died Hiro, our only indoor/outdoor cat, has resisted being in the house. Over the past ten days we were lucky if we could get the guy to come in to eat, and even if we did, he wanted out again having barely touched his food. It looks ever so much like grief to me. Hiro has always loved his canine companions.

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Marley and I watched as Butterscotch deteriorated over the last few months, and we had time to adjust to the inevitable. We took Butterscotch to her final vet appointment and we know what happened. As far as Hiro knows Butterscotch simply disappeared, as Paris had done six weeks before. I don’t know for sure how this registers with him, but it looks like grief to me.

Hiro has always hung out with the dogs, eschewing the company of the other cats in the house. He would rub his scent all over the dogs, much to their distaste at times, but they never stopped him. The most they ever did was to look at me as if it really was time I did something about Hiro, but I left it to them to deal with the guy, and they always tolerated him. Maybe they even liked it…who knows.

One of Hiro’s favorite things was to walk Butterscotch, much to the amusement of the neighbors. I always had to carry an extra poop bag – one for Butterscotch and one for Hiro as well in case Butterscotch filled hers. I bet he misses those walks.

Hiro has a good set up on the porch. We have a dog house there, but he won’t use it. He loves his cat bed, sitting on a beat up dog crate, with a nice fleece blanket covering his bed, and his water dish nearby.

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In good weather Hiro is often outside, even overnight. But he always comes in for breakfast, and usually sleeps inside for awhile each morning before heading out to make sure all is well in the neighborhood. But since Butterscotch passed he refused to come inside. He was quiet as well, not as talkative as usual, but he didn’t seem at all sick. He was, I think, just blue. His dog was gone. No explanation. There are those who say that animals don’t feel grief when they lose a beloved companion. I’ve seen it too many times to deny it. It looks like grief to me.

We’re working on getting him some new dogs to hang with, but it may take some time to find just the right dog or dogs. But today, finally, Hiro came inside. He ate all of his breakfast in the upstairs bathroom, his usual spot. I went off to pet sitting clients and expected to see him in his bed on the porch when I got home. Not there. After a few hours I got worried and wondered where he could be, and was quite surprised to find him sleeping on the cat tree in the upstairs cat room. He’s back to his chatty self, with a good appetite today. I guess he is feeling a little better. I hope so. And I hope, most of all, we find a great dog for him sometime soon. This cat needs a dog or two. Paws crossed that we can find one he loves as much as he loved Paris, and especially Butterscotch.



19 thoughts on “It Looks Like Grief to Me

  1. I definitely believe animals feel grief and loss. Our Callie – a Golden who got her angel wings last August – and her “sister”, Shadow (also a Golden) were inseparable from Shadow’s first day with us. Shadow still looks for Callie from time to time and seems to find the most comfort in Callie’s favorite napping spots.

    1. My experience with pets and their losses too. Loss is hard for all of us, two legs and four.

  2. This is so sweet. Much as Parker and Kitty did not get along, I think Parker kept looking for Kitty, and actually missed Kitty, after she was gone. I agree with you–animals do feel grief. Even the cats, which kind of shocks me. I would love to have seen Hiro walking with Butterscotch.

    1. Hiro walking Butterscotch was always a surprise to those who hadn’t seen it before – lots of stares from folks! And love a companion or not, I think they do miss the presence when it is gone.

  3. I do think animals grieve. How could they not? At a minimum it’s change. Something they don’t like at all. If they are friends they miss them. I know how they greet me when I come back from being away for a few days. It’s always like “We thought you were never coming back!” (or course Hazel usually checks to see if it’s suppertime too). Glad you are going to add a canine or two. It will give Hiro a job training the new one. Mollie does that here and she takes her job seriously.

    1. Hadn’t thought of the opportunity for Hiro to train a new dog or two…love that image! And for Hazel, I think she is perpetually hopeful that dinnertime is close.

  4. I have seen animals grieve. My little Teddy dog grieved right along with me when his brother, Wu passed on. For a year. Poor little one.

  5. We have seen our animals grieve and have given them the space and time to do so. It is very natural and healthy for them to do so at their own pace and in their own time.

  6. Those who love will grieve – animal or human – even when it is a kind of love we don’t understand. I’m glad Hiro is coming to terms with the loss of Butterscotch.

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