Do animals grieve?

I have to admit, this article made me tear up a little:

Monkey seen caring for dying mate then grieving after she dies

One of our cats died a few weeks ago. Marley and Biscuit were brothers, and Mama is their … well, mama. (Yes, Melissa was super-creative with her name there.)

Mama has always been more into hanging out with people, but Biscuit and Marley were tight. They shared a distrust of humans, and even though they liked to cuddle with Mama, she’s always seeking attention from us, so they often found solace in each other.

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It was only because of Biscuit that I even knew something had happened to Marley. I was working in my office, and out of the blue, I heard the most excruciating howling coming from the living room. I’ve known these cats for almost five years now, and I’ve never heard any of them make a noise like the one Biscuit was making.

At first, I thought Biscuit had seriously injured himself. I ran out into the living room, and that’s when I saw Marley lying on his side on the cat bed, twitching and gasping. And Biscuit was hovering right over him, making a sound I could only imagine must have been of terror. Meanwhile, Mama was crouched a few feet away, also watching Marley. But she was silent …

In the weeks since Marley’s death, Biscuit has been acting differently. Before, he would spend most of the day huddled quietly somewhere, but now, he paces around the house, meowing and meowing incessantly (oddly enough, just like Marley used to do). He’s much needier now, too, and actively seeks out affection from Melissa. He even rolls over on his back and lets her scratch him. This is something he never used to do.

Biscuit’s change in behavior has made us wonder if he’s sad or freaked out about Marley. Does he know what happened to him? Is that why he was howling when Marley died? When he wanders around the house now, is he looking for his brother?

There’s no way we can know, of course, and that’s why we can only wonder if he’s acting differently because he misses his brother.

I try not to anthropomorphize animals, but in light of the article above … I don’t know. Maybe Biscuit is sad.

4 thoughts on “Do animals grieve?

  1. While I haven’t experienced the situation directly myself, I absolutely believe animals grieve.

    O’Malley is nearly 7 years older than Harley Quinn. She ADORES him, no exaggeration. Logically I know Mals will pass way before Harley, and I’m fully expecting her to notice; however I try not to think about it for too long.

    Perhaps I’m wrong though, and because animals are emotional sponges they are merely latching onto the mourning us “hoomanz’ are going through.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmm, true. Maybe he is mirroring us. But then again, we’ve both kind of moved on and continued our lives at this point. But he’s still acting weird. Who knows … :-/

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  2. In the past he relied on Marley for companionship and feline comfort. Now he is reaching out to you. I’m sure he misses Marley, but at least he is reaching out for comfort. Probably part of feline grieving. Nothing like a belly rub to make you feel loved. 🙂

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