Cat Behavior: Helping my cat cope with death of her brother

by Kate


I have a 1 year old female neutered Tiffany cat, Foxy. She and her brother were bred by a breeder and I picked them up when they were 3 months old. Tragically, Franz was killed yesterday on the (realatively quiet) road by our house. We are all absolutely devastated.

Foxy and Franz have never been apart before and she is extremely upset now, meowing and searching the house for him constantly. I am wondering the following:

1. Is there anything I can do for her in the short term (other than give her lots of cuddles and attention).

2. Should I get a new cat to keep her company? She and her brother slept cuddled up every night, played and hunted together in the day, and washed each other etc. I am not sure she will cope with the lonliness of being on her own.

3. If I get a new cat for her, how long should I wait and what aged cat should I get? Should I get another Tiffany, or could I get anything?

4. Is there any way I can train Foxy to be more road-wary? Neither she or Franz were ever scared of cars and although our neighbours knew to go slow, it obviously wasnt enough. I kept them in until they were neutered at 6 months but now worry that I kept them in too long and that is why they aren't very street wise. I am really scared of Foxy getting hit too now. I considered keeping them in as house cats but they loved going outside so much and always escaped that I decided it would be cruel to keep them in. Foxy loves being outside so I cant start keeping her in now.

Any advice would be much appreciated!


Dear Kate,

Your letter is heart-wrenching. I am so sorry for you and for Foxy. It takes me back to similar incidents in my own life and that of my friends and clients.

It is totally normal for Foxy to be looking for her brother. Giving her lots of attention and treats and anything she enjoys will help some.

Getting a new cat is the best thing you can do for her and doing it right away is best. To make sure it works out really well and right from the start, I suggest getting a kitten or very young cat (under a year). I also recommend that you get a male. I don't think the breed matters at all, but the sex does.

As far as the indoor/outdoor issue goes, I am a strong advocate of keeping cats indoors. Many years ago, I also let my cats outside and after several heartbreaking accidents and two missing cats (which is more painful I think than their dying), I couldn't take it anymore and started keeping all mine indoors.

You can start keeping any cat indoors even if they have spent months or years outside.

The decision is, of course, up to the individual owner, but what I can absolutely tell you is that as long as you have a cat that goes outdoors, there are no guarantees about his safety, regardless of how far away roads are or how sparse and slow the traffic. If a cat is allowed outdoors, he can die or get injured or get lost at any time or pick up parasites or diseases from other animals, some of which are fatal.

My deepest sympathies are with you. I hope both you and Foxy feel better soon. Let me know if I can be of any further help.

Dr. Neely

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