Understanding the Signs of a Dying Cat: Behaviors and Care in the Last Moments of Life

2023-05-13 14:31:11

The death of a cat is an incredibly sad time for their entire family, often as difficult as losing a family member.

But if you take the time to observe your animal and if you notice the signs, it is possible to anticipate this difficult moment and understand that your cat only has a few hours / days left to live.

Are cats aware that their death is near?

Despite the many stories circulating on the web that somehow show that it is clear to the animal that it is going to die, most scientists agree that the cat does not understand death itself. , as is the case with humans.

What are the behaviors of a dying cat?

Weakness, pain, illness, changes in body chemistry, for example a different smell, are all things a cat can perceive better than a human.

The senses of felines are much better and more sensitive than those of humans. As a result, a feline notices changes in its body that were previously unknown to it, and comes to realize that they are not good. As several scientific studies have shown, although they do not know the very concept of death, most animals are afraid of these transformations.

The cat needs a safe haven

Animals of different species behave differently in times of weakness, such as illness, injury, childbirth, and caring for their young.

A cat – a small solitary predator that can also be preyed upon by larger animals – will seek a safe haven at such times. In case of illness, it is a way to wait for the worst in a place where he will gain strength and will not be exposed to attack.

This is why many cats that experience the changes that precede death or have severe pain shy away.

There is another reason why a cat may seek a hiding place to spend its last moments. If the feline feels weak and goes into a state of agony, it becomes very sensitive to environmental stimuli. For example, he perceives sounds louder, is inconvenienced by light, reacts excessively to touch… He therefore looks for a place to protect himself from these stimuli.

A cat in a wooden box ©Shutterstock prambuwesas

He doesn’t want to be alone anymore

However, cats, as animals linked to humans for centuries, can behave very differently in the face of impending death, or even chronic illness involving great pain.

Unlike a wild animal that would seek an inaccessible hiding place, many domestic cats especially need the attention and care of a caregiver at such times.

Contrary to what we too often hear, some cats prefer not to be left alone when they realize that something is wrong. They then seek the comforting presence of their humans.

What are the signs of a cat’s impending death?

Whether it’s a cat trying to hide its distress or seeking the support of a human, the behavior of the feline undergoes significant changes when it lives its last moments.

  • Changes in the personality of the cat: a cat in a lot of pain, an extremely sensitive cat, a cat that reacts more strongly to stimuli can become aggressive at unexpected times. Sometimes the animal reacts aggressively if someone touches it. A cat that was previously friendly and friendly may also become withdrawn and refuse contact because they associate it with pain.
  • Important sleep times: Like older cats who need more rest to replenish their strength, dying cats sleep a lot.
  • Lack of appetite, refusal to eat: if the cat has not eaten anything for 24 hours, there is cause for concern, especially if it is old.
  • It no longer washes and the hair is duller.
  • Low body temperature : A feline near death has a decreasing body temperature and seeks warm places to rest. The easiest way to recognize these changes is to check the cat’s ears, paws and tail. Low body heat is a sign of weakening of the heart. You can make your cat more comfortable in his last days by offering him a basket near a heater or a hot water bottle.
  • Weak pulse and reduced respiratory rate: the cat’s heart weakens and its lungs suck in air with increasing effort. For comparison, a healthy cat’s pulse is 150-200 beats per minute, and its respiratory rate is 20-30 per minute.
  • Convulsions : A few hours before death, the cat may have convulsions, interspersed with brief episodes of unconsciousness. Eventually, the feline may become insensitive during the periods between convulsions: it will slowly move away, lose consciousness, no longer recognize its environment and the people around it. This is a sign that the feline is probably living the last hours of its life.
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How to take care of a cat in the last moments of its life?

Show your departing pet as much affection as possible. ©Shutterstock/mojo cp

If it is obviously necessary to make sure that your animal does not suffer, and therefore consult a veterinarian, your role as master will be to be with your cat and to surround it with your love. And that even if it is difficult.

It will be important to continue to give him his treatment, if he has one, so that he remains as comfortable as possible.

If my cat is dying, how should I take care of it?

  • If he wants more attention and petting than usual, give it to him.
  • Prepare a comfortable bed in a warm place where he will gladly take a nap.
  • If he still has an appetite, give him his favorite treats.
  • If he has mobility issues, reduce the distance between his bed and water and food. Also plan for comfortable access to his favorite places.
  • Even if your cat isn’t an extrovert, stay close to him, even if it’s just in the same room.
  • Offer him a place as calm and serene as possible in order to avoid any source of stress.

Saying goodbye to a pet is not easy, no caregiver wants to go through this ordeal. No one wants to let a loved one go. But in times like these, you have to put selfishness aside and prioritize the well-being of the animal that has dedicated its life to making its masters happy. If your cat is in pain and there is no way to soothe her, consider the difficult but sometimes necessary decision to euthanize her.

Also read: Dying dog: what do dogs do a few days before they die, what are the signs?

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