Signs that your cat is nearing the end of its life (2023)

Our cats are part of our family and we love their bossy looks and playful movements, not to mention their deep, guttural purrs. But sooner or later the moment will come when you will have to separate, and many times this moment can surprise us, since cats are good at hiding their pain.

Although it can be very difficult to see your cat suffering in any way, observing these symptoms can help you identify when your cat needs extra care and comfort and could help identify a problem early enough to improve her quality of life and prolong it a bit. further.

Signs that your cat might be dying

Cats are notoriously good at hiding injuries and illnesses. In the wild, this is a great survival instinct, as any sign of weakness makes a cat a potential target for predators and rivals. But with our house cats, this can present a challenge for us loving caregivers who want to help our kitties with illness or disease. We need to keep a close eye on our cats and look for subtle changes that indicate something is wrong.

Many of the signs that your cat is nearing the end of his life are also common symptoms of diseases, such as: Chronic Bnephropathy,hyperthyroidism,Krebs, Ydiabetes mellitus. The first step when he notices something is wrong with his cat is to get it checked out by his vet. Between the exam and any diagnosis made, your vet can tell you if your cat has a treatable condition or if the prognosis is bleaker.

extreme weight loss

weightlossit is very common in older cats. Part of this is due to normal muscle breakdown: as your cat ages, his body becomes less efficient at digesting and building protein, causing him to lose muscle mass. Your cat may be eating well but still losing weight.

Over time, the weight loss can become extreme. Some old or sick cats can become extremely thin, with the ribs, spine, and hip bones protruding under the skin.Kachexieis a particular form of extreme weight loss caused by cancer in which rapidly dividing cancer cells require so much energy that the body breaks down its stores of fat and muscle for fuel. Cats with hyperthyroidism and chronic kidney disease also often experience weight loss.

additional concealment

Hiding is the telltale sign of the disease in cats, but it can be hard to pin down. Many cats tend to hide a lot. Things to look out for include more hiding, hiding in new places, and a desire not to come out even at routine positive events like meals.

Gray cat hiding under the blanket

Signs that your cat is nearing the end of its life (1)

Photo credit: Lowpower/Adobe Stock

Do not eat

If your cat is feeling sick, it may not want to eat. Some medications can also affect your cat's sense of taste and smell, making her less interested in food. Try reheating his food or adding a small amount of tuna juice to enhance the smell and get him interested in food.


There are also medications that your vet can prescribe to encourage your cat to eat. An antiemetic like Cerenia can help control nausea, and appetite stimulants like mirtazapine can increase your cat's appetite.

If your cat is close to death, you may not be able to get him to eat anything.

No free

Sick cats are often not interested in drinking, which can quickly lead to dehydration. If your cat is still eating, you can increase her fluid intake by feeding her canned food and/or adding water. In some cases, you can give water from a syringe or spray bottle, but you must do so carefully. Point your cat's muzzle down and spray only a small amount of water into her mouth at a time. Forcing them to drink too much water at one time can cause water to flow down the windpipe and into the lungs.suffocationand even aspiration pneumonia.


As your cat approaches the end of its life, it is likely that it will become less active. He will sleep more and more and may feel weak when you are awake. Some cats can also appear depressed and listless.

decreased mobility

Older cats often have reduced mobility due to muscle wasting and pain.Arthritisor other health problems. The weakness is often progressive, starting small, such as not being able to jump on the kitchen counter, having difficulty climbing stairs, and even not being able to get in and out of a tall litter box.

You can help your cat by making sure all the things she needs are easily accessible. Provide him with ramps or steps so he can safely reach his favorite resting place or perch. If your cat has arthritis, your vet can prescribe cat-safe pain relievers to help him feel more comfortable.

behavior changes

Cats can exhibit a variety of behavioral changes when they die. The exact changes will vary from cat to cat, but what matters is that their behavior has actually changed.

Some cats become more withdrawn and may be more moody and irritable (this may be due to pain or cognitive dysfunction). Other cats will become more friendly and affectionate and will always want to be around you.

Some cats experiencecognitive dysfunction, similar to dementia in humans. These cats can roam the house at night and be louder than normal. They may also seem confused or lost in familiar surroundings.

Your cat may be absent for long periods of time, skipping meals or developing disturbed sleep patterns.

Poor response to treatments.

Many of the diseases that plague older cats can be controlled for a long time with medication and other treatments. Over time, your cat may need higher doses of medication or may not respond to treatment. This may be a sign that your body is breaking down and you can no longer use the medicines normally.

Poor temperature regulation.

Older cats have increasing difficulty regulating their body temperature and are more susceptible to heat and cold than healthy adult cats. Even if they have a warm bed and environment, cats near death often have a low body temperature. You may notice that your cat's limbs feel cool.

scruffy appearance

When cats aren't feeling well, they often stop grooming themselves. This results in a greasy, unkempt-looking coat. Long-haired cats can develop mats, especially on the rump, belly, and behind the ears. Your cat can also have excessshedand scaly skin.

If your cat tolerates it, brushing him gently with a soft brush can help him feel better.

abnormal smell

As your cat nears the end of her life, she may develop unusual body odor. This is due to the breakdown of tissues and the accumulation of toxins in the body. The exact odor may vary depending on the exact underlying condition. Cats with diabetic ketoacidosis may have a foul sweet odor, and cats with kidney failure may have breath that smells like ammonia.

abnormal breathing

Your cat's lungs are controlled by muscles and nerves, and these are not immune to breakdown as your cat ages. A dying cat may have an abnormal breathing pattern, with its respiratory rate speeding up and slowing down randomly. You can even stop breathing for a short time and then start again.

Signs of shortness of breath include open-mouth breathing, straightening of the head and neck away from the body, and excessive abdominal movements while breathing. If your cat has any of these symptoms, he is having trouble getting oxygen to his body. It's an emergency.


seizuresIt can be caused by a variety of things, including disease-related metabolic problems or problems with the brain itself. A seizure that lasts longer than 10 minutes or seizures that occur in groups in a row are emergencies. Depending on the cause, your vet can stabilize your cat and prevent seizures with medication, but other causes may not respond to treatment.

No interest in favorite things

As your cat's health deteriorates, he will lose interest in things he once enjoyed. They may no longer want to play with their toys, wrinkle their noses at their favorite treats, and even stop purring when petted. Disinterest in the world around them and a lack of enjoyment of the things they once loved are signs that your cat is ready to pass it on to you.

calm your cat

If your vet suggests that medical treatment and recovery are not an option, there are things you can do to keep your cat comfortable and make her final days as comfortable as possible.

  • Keep them warm with easy access to a cozy bed and/or a warm spot in the sun.
  • Help her get ready by brushing her hair and cleaning up the mess.
  • Offer strong-smelling foods to encourage eating. If your cat must follow a prescribed diet but hates it, now is the time to give him what he wants to eat.
  • Make sure he has easy access to food, water, litter box, and places to sleep.
  • Build ramps or give him a push so he can still access his favorite window seats or perches.
  • Keep those around you calm and at peace. Don't let other pets tease or put you down.
  • Ask your vet about medications to relieve his symptoms. These may include pain relievers, appetite stimulants, or steroids. Because you're thinking short-term, your cat's well-being is more important than worrying about side effects that can develop from long-term use of a particular medication.
  • Spend time with your cat on her terms. If she likes to be hugged and petted, then she loves her. If she prefers to be left alone, feel free to sit a bit away from her and let her initiate an interaction if she wants to.
  • Make an end-of-life plan for your cat. If you are considering euthanasia, talk to your vet to schedule an appointment (usually at the beginning or end of the day so you have more privacy) or a home visit. If your cat hates going to the vet or is stressed by strangers, do some research at home.euthanasia for petsOptions or ask your vet for an oral tranquilizer to give him at home ahead of time to make the experience less stressful for him.
  • Tell your cat it's okay to go. You love her very much, but she did her job and she can leave when she's ready.

You have options when it comes to caring for your pet at the end of its life.

Some cats die peacefully in their sleep, for others the last step is not so easy. Consider whether you want your cat to die a "natural" death or chooseEuthanasia. There is no right answer, and you should choose the option that you think is best for you and your cat. Feel free to discuss your cat's situation and prognosis with your veterinarian, and discuss your decision with your family and close friends.

If you choose to have your cat in hospice care until it dies on its own, follow the steps above to keep your cat comfortable.

Euthanasia can be a scary decision for a cat owner, but ending suffering is also the greatest gift we can give. Your vet will give you an overdose of a sedative, usually injectable pentobarbital, and your cat will pass quickly and painlessly.

If your cat has died, you can bury it (according to local laws) orincinerated. Your vet can help you with the options available in your area.

How do I know when it's time?

Most cat owners have a gut feeling when it's time for their cat to vomit, but it can be hard to acknowledge that feeling. There are a few questions you can ask to help you make the decision that's right for you.

  • Keep track of your cat's good and bad days. The occasional bad day is a normal part of life, but there will come a time when your cat experiences more pain and discomfort than happy, comfortable days.
  • Assess if your cat still enjoys the things he always has. Do you eat his favorite treats when offered? Does she purr when you pet her? Can he access his favorite bars or play with his toys?
  • Talk with friends and family about your feelings. Use your support system as a sounding board to figure out how you want to deal with the end of your cat's life.
  • talk to your cat It may sound silly, but it can help. Sit comfortably in your favorite spot and talk about it. She could tell you when it's time.

mourning the loss of your cat

crying to your catit's completely normal. She was an important part of your life and she provided you with companionship and love. Take that personal day off work if you want and talk to her friends and family. If you have other pets, let the routine of taking care of them provide you with some normalcy. No other pet will replace your cat, but they all bring different things to our lives and are special in their own way. In particular, look at old photos and videos to remember your cat and think of ways to honor her memory.

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Last Updated: 04/18/2023

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