A pet cat’s death is generally accompanied by not only feelings of grief but also of guilt. Many pet parents think that had they known their cat is dying they would have done things differently in the last days of their pet’s life. But, how do you know that a cat’s time is coming closer? How to tell when a cat is dying?
Read on to find out the various dying cat indicators that can help a pet parent make the life of its pet more comfortable in its last days.
Signs a Cat is Dying
Warning: Many signs of a dying cat are similar to sick cat symptoms. Hence, before you assume anything, consult a vet. You may not know, but your cat might just be going through some illness which can be completely cured.
So, how do you know when a cat is dying?
Cats like any other pet can die due to old age, some serious prolonged illness or due to a trauma like an accident. In almost all cases excepting an accident one, cats generally show somewhat similar signs before they die.
Dying Cat Stages
Dying cat stages are accompanied by various behavioral and physical changes in a cat. They are:
When a cat is sick or dying, it tends to seek solitude. It is actually a quite obvious sign. Even in humans when someone is not feeling well, they like to just lie down and do not like to talk or socialize.
This symptom might differ from cat to cat.
Some cats might do the opposite and become clingier. Like children, who prefer their parents to remain close to them when they are sick, similarly cats might also like to stay close to their pet parents when they are not well.
One of the unique signs of a dying cat is that it will try to hide itself. By hiding, the cat is just trying to protect itself from harm when it knows that it is not in a fit and fighting condition. This is a very primal nature of animals.
In the wild, when an animal is sick it hides to save itself from predators. It is an animal’s self-preservation instinct. This nature is observed even in animals that have been domesticated.
A cat dying at home will try to hide under the sofa or bed or any such place where it will be difficult for you to get it.
#3. Stops Eating and Drinking
One of the signs your cat is dying is its disinterest in food. It will either reduce the amount of food and water or will stop eating and drinking entirely.
#4. Decreased Activity Level
Decreased interest in play, inability to climb up to the litter box, a steep decline in activity level, are all signs your cat will pass soon.
A cat that is near death becomes very weak in its last days. Because it stops eating and drinking it does not have much energy to carry out day to day activities. You will observe that its’ waking time decreases and that it will prefer to sleep more or simply lie on its bed.
#5. Confusion and Decreased Alertness
Though cats are known to sleep a lot, even the healthy ones, they are quite alert and attentive. A sick cat will show decreased level of alertness.
Cats that suffer from a neurological disease can even show signs of confusion and head butting. Some cats may even suffer seizures in their last days.
#6. Urinary Incontinence
Involuntary passing of urine and stools are signs a cat is dying of old age. With age the muscles become weak and a point comes when the cat loses control over its bladder.
A cat might also pass stool and urine in its bed because it does not have enough energy to move to its litter box.
Tip: When you observe that your cat is wetting its bed frequently you can help it by keeping its litter box as close to its bed as possible. You can also line its bedding with puppy pads. This will help keep your cat’s bedding dry and hygienic.
Urinary incontinence can also be a sign of diseases in older cats such as urinary tract infection or an overactive bladder.
#7. Purring and Meowing
A cat that is sick will meow loudly when you try to pick it up. Since the “meow” is the cats’ only way to talk to you, a dying cat meowing will mean distress, anxiety or pain.
Another familiar sound you will hear often when your cat is dying is purring. Research suggests that cats purr to heal themselves. It provides them relief from pain.
#8. Changes in Body Parameters
Apart from the above behavioral signs, many physical signs indicate a cat is near death. Some of these signs are:
- Decline in Body Temperature: Generally, a cat’s body temperature is in the range of 100-102.5 degree F. A temperature reading of less than 100 is a sign of certain cat illnesses indicating that your cat is not well.
- Unkempt Hair: A healthy cat likes to take care of itself by constant licking and cleaning itself. A dying cat will neither have the energy nor the inclination to do so. Hence, its hair will look unclean and tangled.
- Low Heart Beat: Normal heart beat rate of a cat is between140 to 220 bpm. A sick cat will either have too low or too high heart beat rate.
- Irregular Breathing: Another sign that indicates that a cat is dying is its difficulty in breathing. It might even make a dying cat sound called the death rattle. This sound comes when saliva gets stuck in the cat’s throat thereby creating a sound whenever the cat breathes.
- Body Odor: A dying cat will develop a smelly body odor. This can be due to various reasons. Since a cat is not self-grooming at this stage, its body becomes unclean and smelly. Urinary incontinence can also be one of the reasons for the bad body odor.
- Gum Color: The color of the gums of a sick cat will look a little greyish. A healthy cat’s gum looks pink.
- Weight Loss: Due to reduced appetite the cat will also start losing weight.
Whether it is losing a cat to some disease when it is still young orelderly cats dying, the experience can be overwhelming and hard. Still, you need to remain as calm and practical as possible during the whole process for the sake of your pet. You will have to find out ways to help your dying cat.
How Can You Help a Dying Cat?
Once you realize that your cat is dying, you will need to make certain decisions. These decisions should be aimed at making your cats’ dying process as comfortable and painless as possible.
Here are few things that you can take care of:
- Ensure that your cat’s bedding is soft and comfortable: This is important because, your cat will be spending most of its last days sleeping, or lying in its bed.
- Keep the litter box close or line the bedding with puppy pads.
- Feed your cat its favorite things. Depending upon your dying cat behavior you can feed it with your hands too. If your cat likes to stay near you, it will like the closeness and warmth as you sit beside it to feed.
- Talk to your cat as your voice will comfort him.
Remember: Hearing is generally believed to be the last senses to go before someone dies. Though your cat might not be able to show any response, it will definitely feel comforted by hearing your reassuring voice.
- Keep the home environment quiet and peaceful. Loud noises, shouting or changes in the home setup can upset a cat and make him anxious. It can increase the stress level in a dying cat. Try to keep the TV/speakers volume low and avoid any major changes in the house.
- Consult your vet for painkillers. Serious cat health problems like arthritis or cancer will require some kind of pain medication to help relieve your cat of discomfort.
- Check out options for cat euthanasia if required. Old cat dying process can become prolonged and painful for the cat. You will have to decide whether you want nature to take its course or you want to intervene.
Coping up with the loss of a cat can be difficult. It is okay to feel depressed or guilty after the passing of your cat. Just remember that you did whatever was humanely possible to make your cats life comfortable.
You will now have to decide whether you want to cremate or bury your cat’s body. Talk to the vet about the various options available. Find out about the laws regarding the same.
Bottom Line: Dying Cat Indicators
Losing a pet cat is an emotionally stressing experience that eventually every pet cat owner has to go through. But, by knowing that you were at the side of your pet when it needed you the most elevates the pain somewhat.
Just be aware of the various signs and symptoms so that you can help a dying cat pass away in peace and comfort.