Do Animals Grieve? by John Cali

Angel of Grief

One of our readers recently asked if animals grieve at the death of their companions. Here’s her letter, followed by my reply.

Dear John,

You regularly write blogs which are about animals, especially pets. Just a few days ago I read one about the attitude of animals towards death. This made me wonder about something related to that.

How do animals feel about another animal dying?

My daughter has had two small rats as pets for a couple of years. They were siblings and had been together from birth. They lived in a large cage together, slept in a hammock or a wooden house inside it together, and also often played in our living room together. They were always grooming each other and sometimes stealing each other’s food! Over the years they became very affectionate and climbed onto our laps for some attention, or just as an easier way to go somewhere. Until a short time ago.

Suddenly they did not play so much anymore but went to sleep in each comfortable place they could find in the room. And they did not climb up to visit anymore but went to sit on someone’s foot, expecting to be taken up. Yea, we became elevators! Last week one of them, Noor, was making the rounds and came to each of us in turn. When she lay on my husband’s lap, suddenly her sister, Raya, came up as well and lay down beside her.

She started licking and grooming Noor and finally went away again to go to sleep somewhere. In the morning Noor had still been able to run around and play, if even for a short time, but in the afternoon suddenly she could not even walk anymore.

My daughter kept her on her lap and finally she died, while Raya was asleep. My daughter kept Noor on her lap and brought Raya to her when she had woken up. Again she started licking her dead sister for a while and then she went away.

We buried Noor the next day and give Raya as much attention as possible but of course we do not know what she feels right now. She has never been alone before. It was obvious that she already knew that something was up and it was good that she got the opportunity to say goodbye.

Is she still grieving?

My reply:

That’s a great question. I and my spirit guides believe animals do “grieve” for their human and animal family and companions, though not necessarily in the same way humans do. I know from my personal experience this is true.

Years ago we had three very young miniature schnauzers. One of them died when he was only two years old. Although the other two were not present at his death, they seemed to go into a “grieving period.” It didn’t last long, but they obviously missed him.

Do animals grieve? What are your thoughts? Please share with us below.

We welcome your comments and thoughtful opinions, whether you agree or disagree with us. Please keep your comments polite and relevant to the topic of this blog post. If needed, we’ll edit for clarity. Also, we’ll delete anything we consider inappropriate.

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14 Responses

  1. Seqkat

    Hello fellow animal lovers,

    I believe animals do grieve. I’ve had fellow ferret lovers tell me, they’ve lost ferrets due to the ferret grieving over another ferret’s death.

    Last year, my ferret died, and my son’s was grieving. She lost a grave amount of weight. I was given a baby ferret for Christmas, and she came back around, and regained her weight and is doing fine.

    Also, a cat of mine, who has now crossed over, would not eat, if I left home for overnight stays at my dad’s. I think to some degree she was grieving my absence?

    Love & Light,
    Seqkat >^..^<

  2. Sam

    Hi, John. I’m sure anyone who has had even moderate experience around animals knows that they grieve. They may not fear death as humans do but they do know what it is when it happens and they miss the presence/spirit of the one who died. Humans grieve, humans are animals, so why expect that “lesser” animals would not grieve? Just because they can’t “think” about death? How shallow.

    • John Cali

      Thank you very much, Sam. You said it beautifully. We humans still have this crazy notion that animals are somehow “lesser,” to use your word. And yet, in my opinion, they are equal in the eyes of God, Goddess — the divine energy of All That Is. And so too should they be equal in our eyes.

    • anny

      Hi Sam,

      Why do you read something negative in a question that is not there at all? When I asked this question I never expected Raya not to grieve, nor do I think that animals are lesser beings. They are just different and in some respect even wiser than we are. Should I maybe have asked ‘How do animals grieve?’ I just wanted to know how we can help Raya best.



      • Sam

        I’m sorry, anny, I didn’t read anything negative in your question and I wasn’t directing my response to you. It was just a general response because so many people do find animals lesser beings. I think anyone who responded to this question is hardly likely to be one of those types of people. I’m sorry you felt my response was somehow pointed at you but it was not. Please accept my apology for not stating my thoughts more clearly and acceptably.

        • anny

          Hi Sam,

          No need for an apology. It seems I am the one who read something negative where nothing of the kind was meant. Actually, I had already tumbled to the fact that that must have been the case. I could have known by the way John replied to your comment.

          I think that subconsciously I must have expected some kind of negative feedback. Interesting. It is all a matter of perspective and I think it is a good thing to become aware of that once more. How often do we see something negative that is not negative at all? And how often do people bear grudges for something that never even happened? This may not be the theme of this blog but it is good to be reminded of it again.

          And what you stated in your comment unfortunately is all too true.



          • Sam

            Hi again, Anny. It’s so easy to see things in any written communcation that may or may not be there, isn’t it? The written word is a wonderful thing but so ambiguous sometimes. Maybe we have expectations or experiences that prime us to see/feel things a certain way and those things color anything we read. I’m glad we got it all cleared up because I certainly don’t want any hard feelings over anything. Blissings!

  3. Lisa

    Hi John & Spirits

    What a great article!! I certainly believe all animals grieve when they lose a companion! The 1st thought came to mind when I read this was, a video I saw not long ago of a dog and homeless man,the man passed away and was buried,the dog went to his grave everyday and stayed,people would take the dog water and food,finally they were able to get him to come back to the villiage/city?? at night….This went on for weeks/months. Talk about about grieving!!! This poor dog lost his best friend. I sure hope someone took that dog in and gave him a home!!! The dog never left his side from the time he died to burial.

  4. Micki

    Hi John, I believe animals grieve, I had two beautiful cats Jack and Moo and although we got them at different times,Moo the female was 2 years older, took Jack under her “paw” so as to speak and became mother to him, they were together for nearly 15 years, when Moo suddenly died. Jack seemed very lost for about 2weeks and then picked up for a little while and he too, passed over. They were very close and I know in my heart they are together again.
    Animals are wondrous creatures and have special places in human hearts and we are very lucky to have them in our lifes.
    love and hugs to you John.

    • John Cali

      Thanks very much, Micki, for sharing your story. I agree with you — animals are surely wonderful blessings in our lives. As my spirit guides have said, they often come to us as our teachers and healers.

      Love & hugs,

  5. Madhulika Varma

    There is no doubt in my mind that animals grieve. I have seen, or heard of, innumerable instances of this happening, with dogs, birds, donkeys, cows / bulls, fish, elephants … in fact, I believe that ALL species of animals grieve for lost companions. A specific example I will never forget is our two dogs who were inseparable. When one died, at only 6 years of age, the other’s muzzle turned grey overnight, and she cuddled up to the dead dog and slept with her all night (she died late at night and we were only able to cremate her in the morning) – something I have never seen before or since.

    I would even go so far as to say that most animals experience every emotion we humans do – love, loyalty, joy, sadness, jealousy, insecurity … I have certainly seen all these, and more, in our own dogs ! – Madhulika Varma, Pune, India

    • John Cali

      Thank you very much, Madhulika. What a beautiful story! I appreciate you sharing it with us. We have much to learn from our animal family.

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