As distressing as this topic is for owners, it’s normal for our feline friends to eventually grow old, sick, and pass away. When your pet is too ill to recuperate from illnesses, it may be an indication that they are entering the final phase of life. Although specific signs will depend on your cat’s condition, there are common symptoms all cats display when their frail bodies start to shut down.
Signs Your Cat Might Be Dying
It’s helpful for responsible owners to become familiar with these abnormalities, so you can help ease your cat’s suffering and take care of them properly. To learn more, continue reading this article and find out the seven signs of a dying cat.
Low Body Temperature
Remember that the average temperature for a healthy cat is roughly 37°C to 38°C. One symptom your feline friend may exhibit when they are nearing the end of life is a low body temperature. When their health declines, their temperature starts to fall below 37°C.
You can check your cat’s temperature by using a digital rectal or ear thermometer, or if you don’t have one to hand, you can hold your feline’s paws to feel if they’re cold. If the feet are cool to the touch, it can be an indication their health is declining.
Substantial Weight Loss
Aside from a lowered body temperature, a cat nearing the end of its life may display substantial weight loss. If they’re experiencing pain and their body organs start to fail, they may not want to take in food. Due to a lack of appetite, their bodies simply aren’t digesting the nutrients they need.
Some felines can lose weight for other, more innocuous, reasons. However, if your cat is elderly or has a life-limiting condition, this can be an indication their weak body is declining. If your ordinarily active and healthy cat losses weight all of a sudden, it’s a good idea to schedule a visit to the vet, just in case.
Shifts in Smell and Look
Felines are very popular for their grooming skills. However, when they’re at their end of life, they lose the vigour to clean their bodies, and without your help, they might end up looking filthy and untidy. Additionally, cats may acquire a noticeable odour. As your pet’s condition worsens, the stronger the scent becomes.
Slow Respiration & Heart Rhythm
Dying cats will often display a slower than normal respiration and heart rate. Keep in mind a healthy cat takes about 20 to 30 breaths within a minute. Their heart rhythm ranges from around 150 to 200 beats every minute.
If you assess your sick cat’s status and discover it’s below the normal range, you should consult your veterinarian about these signs.
When your furry friend is nearing the end of their life, their muscles can start to loosen up, and they may experience incontinence. You might notice that your cat doesn’t make it to the litter tray in time, and their usual rest areas are frequently soiled.
It can be helpful to place kitten training pads around your home and check their favorite spots frequently to ensure that any accidents are quickly cleaned up.
Prefers to Hide
One of the visceral response of felines, when they’re feeling unwell or reaching the end of life, is to isolate themselves. In the wild, this act protects them from prey that hunts weak animals. You’ll notice your cat periodically hiding for a long time towards the remainder of their lives.
Finally, one of the signs your cat may be dying is displaying an unusual lack of energy. You’ll notice your pet doesn’t have an interest in their typical daily activities. They’ll prefer sleeping, and it’ll be challenging to groom them, call their attention, or get them to eat.
While some cats tend to nap frequently – especially elder felines – if you notice they’re weak and sleeping more than usual, this shift can be a significant warning sign.
Is Your Cat Dealing with Pain?
Unlike humans, cats may not wail or cry when they’re suffering in pain. Some may even go on drinking and eating despite their disorientation and discomfort.
A few behaviors and physiological indications that your feline is in pain include a refusal to move, heavy panting, and disinterest in food.
How to Soothe Your Dying Cat
Pets are an integral part of the family, and wondering ‘is your cat dying?’ can be very distressing. As your cat’s owner and lifelong friend, it’s important not to pass that distress on to them. Instead, make them feel snug, relaxed, and loved during their last days. Below are a few ways you can comfort your dying pet:
Give Your Pet a Peaceful Place to Rest
Soothing your pet is one way to help ease their pain. If your feline prefers sleeping in a cat bed, you can place more blankets on it to make the area super comfy. Remember only to regularly change them if your pet is having a problem reaching the litter box.
You can also place a heating pad under your cat’s bed to help them stay warm. Remember to put extra sheets on top to prevent the heating pad from making your furry friend overly hot.
Try to keep your environment as quiet as possible, so your pet can sleep comfortably. You might want to play relaxing music in the background to suppress other noise that can increase your cat’s stress.
Always Be Nearby
Cats may prefer isolation when they feel they’re reaching the end of their lifetime. They might want to be close to you, at least some of the time. While you can provide them space, you can still show your love and support by doing quiet activities near their bed.
As mentioned earlier, pets may not show signs they’re in pain. However, you can consult your veterinarian to assess whether painkillers are suitable to lessen their suffering.
Mix the medicine in your pet’s food, use a pill device, or offer it using your hand. These medications can aid your cat feel more comfortable in their final days.
Witnessing your beloved feline friend dying can be very distressing. Even so, coming to terms with this heart-breaking process will make it easier for you to determine what’s the best intervention for your pet.
It’s normal for you to feel a deep sense of loss after your pet passes away; take time to mourn, and remind yourself of all the happy memories you’ve shared.
Cleo Fuentes is a full-time blogger who regularly publishes articles and videos on parenting, dating, and pet care. Cleo also submits content to other websites and blogs to expand her reach.