Sunday, February 01, 2009

Do cats mourn?

Is it better to live a free, but dangerous life? Or to be unhappy, yet safe?

Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?

The Mister found part of Grey Cat in our yard this morning. Coyotes i suppose, although i have only seen one here in 10 years.

We got Grey Cat and Brown Cat (they are brothers) from a cat rescue place. They were almost two years old, and had been indoor/outdoor cats with their previous owners.

So i let them continue to be indoor/outdoor cats, believing that they would be miserable if confined. The few times i have had to keep one or the other inside, they have been vocal about their displeasure and then become destructive.

I try to keep them in at night, but being cats, sometimes they are not to be found.

Brown Cat woke me up this morning at 4 am. He hasn't done that in a long time. He must have heard something. He has been uneasy and skitterish all day, asking to go out, asking to come in, asking to visit the basement, wanting out on the balcony to peer over the yard. He never asked to be fed tonight either, when usually he comes and sits his whole 15 pound self on my chest at 4:30, trying to look skinny.

So i am sad. I just don't know what i would have done differently.

Feel free to comfort or chastise me. Both are appropriate.


Princess in Galoshes said...

Aw, crap, Meno. I am so sorry. I think you did the right thing, to let them continue to live the life they loved outside. It doesn't make it any easier, though. My heart's really going out to you right now. I don't know what I will do if/when I lose my cats.

Mrs. Chili said...

First of all, I think that cats DO mourn, and that they pick up on OUR mourning.

I'm sorry. I know how awful it is to lose a pet, and I never make little of it for anyone. You have my deepest condolences.

I don't think you did anything wrong. Nature is what it is, and sometimes we see it as cruel. The cats wanted to go out - Brown Cat will want to continue to go out, too - and I think it's wrong to keep them confined despite the obvious risks. We just have to bear up and take it.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm so sorry. This is not your fault.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry Meno. I think cats like being outside, even with the risks involved. Sending a hug.

Marshamlow said...

Sending condolences to you and brown cat. I let mine go out too. We kept her in the 6 years we were overseas. She is so happy with her freedom. But, I worry.

caro said...

I am very sorry for your loss Meno. I'm with Chili as far as the mourning goes. Cats, I have found, keep things very, very real. Feline Zen masters. So in that respect, being someone who likes things real and abhors anything tainted with denial, I'd say, it's better to be free than to be safe. I let my girl-cat Spicy out every night because that's how she likes it. The other day, I saw a dead suieerel in the middle of our street and bloody well had heart attack, thinking it was her...
I still let her out. But now I pick her up and say goodbye. Silly.

crazymumma said...

no chastisement here.

it sucks, just totally sucks when an animal dies.

And i think animals need to go outside. There are risks everywhere.

caro said...

That is dead squirrel BTW. I type as well as I deny.

Bob said...

I'm sorry for your (and brown cat's) loss. There's no way you could've known nor prevented it.

We've had to say goodbye to several much loved cats lately. It sucks.

jaded said...

Allowing a cat to be a cat is unworthy of chastisement. I've watched cats pine before, and dogs. I suspect one would be unable to attach to another without an understanding of grief.

I'll hold a wake in Zola's honor tonight.

Magpie said...

absolutely they do. we had a pair of brother cats, and one died suddenly - and the other mourned, and because more clingy, more attached to his humans.

i'm sorry about your cat.

QT said...

ugh - I am so sorry, meno. the same thing has happened to me, there is nothing you could have done to prevent it. I've also put animals to sleep and wished that some chance would have taken them rather than having to be the one to decide.

It doesn't make you any less sad, i know. Again, my condolences.

Candy said...

Oh Meno, how sad. Poor kitties. I'm sure he misses his brother.

As for what to do different, I dunno. We have 2 cats, one is indoor/outdoor because my husband opened the door one day and let him out. The other I won't allow out unless it's in my arms. I don't think I'll ever let another cat we own be an outdoor cat, but it's tough when you get one that way and then have to break them of it. I think it's just a sad circumstance of the way cats are. Not your fault, darlin.

Tink said...

We had a fox get one of our cats once... It's a hard thing, death. But you did right by letting the cats decide where they wanted to live. They were (are) happy. Not everyone or thing can claim so much. I'm sorry for your loss though. ((HUG))

The Real Mother Hen said...

Oh this is sad.

Grey Cat has had a wonderful life and that is all matters, I suppose. Who knows, maybe he will come back as a Coyote in his next life?

Clowncar said...

Bird's gotta fly. Fish gotta swim.

Outdoor cats need to go outside.


Mignon said...

Aw damn. I'm sorry. Lots of my friends are losing pets to coyotes this season, and they're all asking themselves the same thing. I don't think you really need to be told you were being a good pet owner (because you clearly are), it's just a very sad consequence of living in the animal world.

Scott from Oregon said...

Awwww... Sorry Meno.

Prolly a couple of dogs out at night getting in trouble.

Some dogs, like Malmutes and Huskies, retain their wild side and just keep it hidden from their owners...

Cats gotta live, even when it is a scary place outside.

Imagine, never once chasing a butterfly and ripping it to shreds...

meno said...

princess, thank you. You keep yours inside right?

mrs. chili, thank you. He doesn't want to go out right now, but he'll probably start to go stir crazy in a few days.

de, thank you. I needed to hear that.

deb, thank you. They do like to be outside. Sleeping in the sun, killing rodents. The circle of life.

caro, thank you. I made that judgement for mine obviously. And not silly, you never know.

crazymumma, i can't imagine being confined to a house all my life either.

bob, thank you. It does suck. I feel like we are supposed to keep them safe, but it is not always possible.

patches, thank you. Hoist one for Zola, he'd have liked that.

magpie, thank you. Brown Cat has not strayed far from me since he saw what was left of Grey Cat.

qt, thank you. The one i put to sleep felt even sadder to me. So, you just can't win with death.

candy, if i even get cats again, i think i will raise them as indoor kitties. But then, i love to see them lolling in the grass, so we'll see.

tink, thank you. A fox? I never though of that. It could have been a fox here too.

mother hen, he did live a pretty great life for 8 years. I'm trying to concentrate on that.

clowncar, thanks. Cats will be cats. At least he got to participate in the food chain.

mignon, thank you. There just is no way to keep them completely safe outdoors. Sad.

scott, thank you. There aren't many dogs around here. But who knows? I couldn't stand never going outside, what with all the butterflies.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

I am really sorry about your kitty.

We do let our cats roam - I would rather their lives be happier, even if it means shorter.

Unknown said...

I'd never chastise you. My cat came to us as a stray and we couldn't break him of his need to go outside. I try to keep him in as much as possible, but like you, I can't have him go all apeshit and destroy things. I'm sorry this happened.

Lynnea said...

I cannot find anywhere in this post a reason for chastisement.

I feel bad for Brown Cat. Give him extra loves.

Extra loves from me to you. Losing a cat sucks. No matter how it happens. Oh man, I think I'm going to cry. Excuse me.

lu said...

Damn it. I let my cats roam free for the same reasons. I think it's a shame to limit them to a house. I try to let my dog run around a bit too (off the leash in the park).

hand to hear Meno, it's nothing but sad and life.

egan said...

Ugh, the coyotes are really out there getting cats. This has been rumored in our neighborhood as well. One of our neighbor's has been looking for his dearest Hoonah for a month now. I'm afraid she met Grey Cat's demise. Sorry to hear about this.

Liv said...

having had my own mixed feelings about the whereabouts and the why's of how a cat has been lost, i cannot say anything but that i support you. i might have been told to have done things differently...the cat lesson: the ins and outs is honestly a classic question that transcends all things in this life.

no, i swear i have not been drinking.

Brad said...

Aw, Meno - I'm so sorry. I struggle with this one too. We know we have Coyotes and 'Coons in the woods around our place. Miss Lilly's indoor/outdoor too. I've tried keeping her in but it just doesn't work and she'd be miserable if she was in all the time. You did your best, the rest was out of your hands. Don't blame yourself. -HUGS-

meno said...

cagey, thank you. They are animals, and as such, i think they need to go outside too.

gina, i'm not sure any of us could be broken of our need to go outside. I know i'd go apeshit too.

maggie, thank you sweetie. It does suck. It was easier yesterday when i was busy. Today, it's very quiet here.

lu, yep, nothing unusual happened, but it still hurts.

egan, i think Hoonah is probably toast too. You have coyotes in the wilds of B****** H***?

liv, well hi there! It's a little early to have been drinking, so i didn't think you were! :) Yeah, it is a classic dilemna.

brad, thank you. We have raccoons here too, but i don't think they eat cats. (do they?) They tangle with them though, and the cat usually loses.

egan said...

Yes, we have them in our parts. I don't live on B***** H*** though. I live in M**** B****. All good?

Anonymous said...

meno, I'm so sorry. I think there's always a certain amount of self blame in a situation such as this, even when, as in this case, it is totally not your fault.

sending kitty hugs and thoughts your way.

meno said...

egan, B*****, B****. i was never good at geography. :)

holly, thank you. I guess it's our nature to think about what we could have done to prevent this.

Schmoopie said...

Lots of coyotes around here in WS too. Many, many cats have been lost (a few small dogs too.)

Poor Brown Cat. Give him a few scratches behind the ears for us.

The people who chastise cat owners for letting them outside have either never owned a cat, or don't understand a cat's true nature.

Willy Sue said...

I'm so sorry Meno. The way you delivered the news to your readers was nearly as blunt but not nearly as painful as it must have been when you received it yourself.

How could you expect chastisement? You couldn't keep them locked inside; they hated it. You did the right by that cat.

(it's me, by the way)

flutter said...

Oh, meno honey...

Cheesy said...

dammit... but the kitty loved being outside so that is where he left the world.

Diane Mandy said...

I'm sad, too, and so very sorry! It's not your fault, you know.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I'm so sorry, Meno. And I do believe animals mourn. I have seen my wolf, cats, dogs and horses unmistakably mourn their lost friends, animal and human.

It's not your fault. You did what seemed best for your cats with respect for their preferred quality of life. I lost a beloved cat, Moonshine, in exactly the same way many years ago and still feel terrible, so I can relate.

At this point, though, I would keep Brown Cat inside and tough it out until he adjusts, which I hope he will. Now that you know what's out there, it changes everything.

It's always better to have loved because without love, we are dead inside. But still, it's a stiff price to pay. Sending hugs and whatever comfort there is in knowing that Gray Cat had a happy life with you.

TTQ said...

OMG! I would be a fucking mess, try telling the other kids that one is gone as they roam the house looking for the missing one while whimpering and yowling.

Plus when they pass it's so sad, I had the same cat from the time I was 12 till I was 27 or 28. She curled up to me and when I woke up she was cold and rigor was seting in. I swore I would never get another pet.

Our oldest baby the Beagle is going rapidly. We spent 4,000 on his last surgery and he hasn't been the same, he has to sleep on pee pads has to have a stool to get on the bed and has to be lifted onto the couch. And he has harder and harder time eating his dinner.

I'm gonna miss that ornery pup! Whose going to plop into my arms to cradle like a baby at bed time. My funny little valentine.

So yes I am very sad for you and hope you have a better view of the circle of life than I do.

luckyzmom said...

That is just too sad to think about. Do not blame yourself. Losing a pet is sad enough without adding blame. I am so sorry for your loss.

Girlplustwo said...

maybe, just maybe there was an adventure out there to be had.

meno said...

schmoopie, i saw a coyote at Discovery Park once. He was skinny. Brown Cat has been getting much attention.

Willy Sue, Hi me. Thank you. Blunt huh? I guess it was. I'm kind of a blunt person.

flutter, i know, not the end of the world, but it's sad for me.

cheesy, he did love being outside, killing small rodents. Paybacks are a bitch.

diane, i know, but if i'd just have gotten him in.......

hearts, thank you. You had a wolf? Cool! Grey Cat did have a pretty boffo cat life.

ttq, everytime i lose a pet i SWEAR i'm not getting another. Then, in a while, i find a pet who needs me and......

luckyzmom, thank you. I just wish it could have been different.

jen, there were many fine adventures that were had out there.

stinkypaw said...

Sorry to read about Grey cat. That's why when I adopted my cat I made the decision he would be an indoor cat. Didn't want to take the chance of him not coming home and me wondering what happened.

I do think cats (and dogs) mourn in their own special way...

If you want to pay tribute to Grey Cat, I'll gladly do so on my other blog "Love is a Four-Legged Word" (

Sorry again for your loss.

ETK said...

Poor Meno. I am so so sorry for you. :( I am sorry for you, Brown Cat & Grey Cat.

I hope you have room to rescue another one day. Those poor kitties out there need people like you with big hearts and warm laps.

Robin said...

i'm going for comfort because i see no reason for chastising. i'm sorry about grey cat.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry. I haven't read the other comments but I'm sure I echo them in my condolences, because cats, as aloof as they are, wriggle right under your skin and nestle close to your heart.

Mels Place in Big Bear said...

I echo everyone else. I am very very sorry.

Unknown said...

Poor Gray Cat.

It's better he lived free. It's ALWAYS better.

Our cat is an indoor/outdoor too. She was abysmal for a year before we let her go outside. She literally lived under a desk in the basement, coming out only when I fed her, and at night. We have coyotes in the area, but I will not pen her up in the house again.

Of course Brown is sad. People who think animals don't have emotions are freaks.

sari said...

I'll just send comfort. The "shoulda-woulda-couldas" can go on forever and never help.

I'm sorry.

Antonia Cornwell said...

Oh God, sorry to hear this.

I think cats mourn, and that they adjust. We lost Clive in November and after a period of getting extra playtime and fuss, I think Derek is used to being the only cat now. She is helping to write this comment and keeps summoning the Help menu with her nose.

I would have let the cats out too. Everything has a lifespan: it's better that that lifespan is fun and full of real adventure.

Give Brown Cat a cuddle from me.

fiwa said...

I'm glad no one chastised you. You were letting the cat be a cat, and 99% of them are not happy being cooped up inside.

Hugs to you and brown kitty.

Antonia Cornwell said...

I'm back, to reassure you again about the indoor/outdoor cat thing. Our upstairs neighbours have just bought a Bengal kitten that they don't plan to let outdoors, ever.

I hate knowing he's upstairs. Imagine NEVER KNOWING OUTSIDE. Behind our house is a triangle of beautiful gardens that's a massive adventure-playground for the handful of cats in the neighbourhood. I said if they liked, we could put up netting around our garden so Alfie could use it, but they said no, if he sees outside he'll just miaow to go out there again and again, so it's better he doesn't know what he's missing.

He miaows a lot, and it drives them bonkers, and when it drives them bonkers they just shut him in the living room. They also shut him in there at night. They're nice people, but I'm worried they bought a designer cat just to look good in their flat, and it's so wrong. He's a baby animal and no one even plays with him enough.

You were right to let your cats out, and don't you ever think otherwise.

Unknown said...

Yes, they mourn. I had two kittens, in the UK and one died when he was 8 years. Willow, his brother, started obsessively washing a patch of his fur, over and over again, for weeks. The vet said it was some kind of skin rash that was making Willow wash, but it was behaviour that had never occurred before. It staretd straight after Lucy died and ended after a few weeks. He was stressed, distressed. It broke my heart to see this.

I brought another cat into the household for Willow, then another two. Since that day I have never lived with only 1 cat, or only 2 cats. If one dies the other is distraught and as for me - my life collapses with the pain of it.

So for the last 15 years I keep cats in tandem. I always take pairs of cats or even more. As soon as the youngest cats are 4 or 5, I take on another couple of rescued cats. Then when the older ones die, the remaining cats are still part of their own cat family.

So I will always have at least 3 or 4 cats at a time. Some old, some young.

I feel your pain. I'm so sorry. For the time being, give a lot of reassurance to your other cat. I'm sure you do.

Then consider getting a pair of sibling unwanted kittens or young cats, or take on an older unwanted cat. Give your remaining cat a companion.

It is so easy to introduce one cat to another. I've done it 20 or 30 times and never had a problem. People who say it's not possible are wrong.

Give your dear cat a companion, one of its own kind.

Good luck.