The death of a loved one is perhaps the hardest thing a person will ever have to endure. But losing a companion is a universally devastating experience.
The world has already been affected by footage of a parade of elephants mourning the loss of a dead calf and dogs trying to revive their fallen companions after tragic circumstances took their lives too soon. But the loyalty of cats to their loved ones is rarely acknowledged.
A video from the Songbei district of northern China might just change all that. In the upsetting footage, an onlooker quietly films a distressed cat holding on to the body of its dead friend. Unable to leave the body behind, the cat attempts to drag his companion out of the road and into safety.
The heart-wrenching clip shows the white-and-ginger stray attempting to get a firm grip on the scruff of his motionless friend’s neck. Tail wagging ferociously, a sign of agitation, the determined moggie drags his companion toward the sidewalk.
Hearts lurch as the cat drops his buddy numerous times; the deceased cat’s body is heavy and cumbersome, but his desperate, faithful friend is not prepared to give up. Seeking safety and privacy, the white-and-ginger street cat eventually drags the body of his friend under a white car.
Perhaps the stray is hoping that a safer place away from prying eyes will revive his friend, or perhaps the broken, battered street cat simply needs privacy to grieve the loss of his companion. This is where the heartbreaking video ends.
According to the Daily Mail, the video was filmed in the Songbei district of Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, in the summer of 2018. The cause of the cat’s death remains unknown. Onlookers, none the wiser, can be heard saying, “Its friend is dead, look at the cat,” in Chinese during the short clip.
Viewers were deeply affected by the moving footage. Some lamented the desperate situation for stray animals in the northern Chinese provinces; some were amazed at the heart-wrenching display of loyalty between one cat and another.
On YouTube, one viewer commented: “No one is in the cat’s mind to understand what goes on in his brain,” speaking for thousands.
And it’s true; we can never know the extent of another animal’s grief when a loved one dies, but this footage certainly proves that cats have deep feelings too, not to mention a deep sense of loyalty and a profound experience of grief when a companion passes away.
There is research that suggests that the white street cat’s behavior might have been beneficial to the poor, traumatized moggie’s experience of loss, however. Manhattan Cats explains that a cat that has lost its companion may wander far and wide and into dangerous, unfamiliar territory in search of a lost companion.
However, a cat that has the chance to interact with the body of a deceased companion has a better chance of understanding that they have passed, even if watching them do so is enough to break hearts.
And truly, it is.
Our understanding of grief is gradually expanding to include more and more extraordinary animals. Just like humans, dogs, elephants, and a plethora of other deeply feeling species, if a cat makes a bond with another creature, it’s a bond for life.
We don’t need any more convincing.