Signs Your Cat Is Dying

Small changes in your cat’s health and behavior can alert you to the fact that something is wrong, allowing you to assist your beloved cat in her dying days.

Our cats are members of our family, and we adore their haughty demeanor and playful paw bops, not to mention their deep throaty purrs. But, sooner or later, the time will come for you to part, and this moment can frequently catch us off guard because cats are skilled at masking their suffering.

Although it can be heartbreaking to see your cat suffer in any way, keeping an eye out for these symptoms can help you realize when your cat requires additional care and comfort, and it may help to discover an issue early enough to extend her quality of life.

Signs That Your Cat Is Dying

Cats are infamous at concealing injuries and diseases. This is an excellent survival trait in the wild, as revealing any evidence of weakness makes a cat a potential target for predators and competition.

However, when it comes to our pet cats, this might be a hardship for us loving caregivers who want to support our felines through any illness or discomfort. We must keep a close eye on our cats and pay attention to minor changes that indicate anything is wrong.

Many of the warning signals that your cat is reaching the end of her life are also symptoms of ailments such as chronic kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, cancer, and diabetes mellitus.

When you discover that something is amiss with your cat, the first thing you should do is have her inspected by a veterinarian. With the checkup and any tests, your vet will be able to tell you whether your cat has a treatable ailment or if the outlook is more bleak.

Excessive Weight Loss

Senior cats frequently lose weight. Some of this is due to natural muscle loss: as your cat gets older, her body becomes less efficient at digesting and synthesizing protein, resulting in muscle loss. Even if your cat eats well, he may still lose weight.

Weight loss may become excessive over time. Some elderly or sick cats can become incredibly thin, with their ribs, spine, and hip bones visible beneath their skin.

Cachexia is a type of excessive weight loss induced by cancer in which the rapidly proliferating cancer cells require so much energy that the body tears down fat and muscle for sustenance. Cats with hyperthyroidism and chronic renal disease frequently lose weight.

Extra Coverage

Hiding is a warning indicator of disease in cats, but it is difficult to describe. Normally, many cats hide a lot. Increased hiding, hiding in unfamiliar settings, and refusing to come out even for typical positive occasions like mealtimes are all red flags.

Not Eating

If your cat is ill, she may refuse to eat. Some drugs may also damage your cat’s senses of taste and smell, causing her to lose interest in eating. Warm her meal or add a small quantity of tuna juice to boost its odor and make her want to eat it.

Your veterinarian can also prescribe drugs to help urge your cat to eat. An anti-emetic like Cerenia can assist with nausea, while appetite stimulants like mirtazapine can make your cat want to eat more.

As your cat approaches the end of her life, she may refuse to eat at all.

Not Drinking

Sick cats are also less likely to drink, which can quickly lead to dehydration. If your cat is still eating, you can increase her liquid intake by giving her canned food or mixing water with her diet. In certain circumstances, you may be able to give her water with an oral syringe or a squirt bottle, but proceed with caution.

Squirt a small amount of water into your cat’s mouth at a time, aiming her muzzle downward. Forcing her to drink too much water at once might cause water to enter her trachea and lungs, resulting in choking and potentially aspiration pneumonia.


Your cat will likely become less active as she nears the end of her life. She will sleep more and more, and she may get weak when awake. Some cats may appear melancholy and listless as well.

Decreased Mobility

Senior cats frequently have limited mobility due to muscle loss and pain from arthritis or other health issues. Weakness is typically progressive, beginning with something as simple as being unable to jump up onto the kitchen counter and progressing to difficulties climbing stairs and even being unable to enter and exit a tall litter box.

You may assist your cat by ensuring that everything she requires is conveniently available. Make ramps or stepping stones available for her to safely access preferred perches or resting spots. If your cat has arthritis, your veterinarian can prescribe cat-safe pain relievers to make her more comfortable.

Behavioral Changes

When cats are dying, they can exhibit a wide range of behavioral changes. The specific alterations will differ from cat to cat, but what matters is that her behavior has altered.

Some cats may become more reclusive, grumpy, and irritated (this could be due to discomfort or cognitive problems). Other cats become more friendly and attached, wanting to be close to you at all times.

Some cats suffer from cognitive impairment, which is analogous to dementia in humans. These cats may be more loud and wander the house at night. They may sometimes appear puzzled or disoriented in familiar surroundings.

Your cat may go missing for extended periods of time, skip meals, or develop irregular sleeping patterns.

Poor Treatment Response

Many of the disorders that affect older cats can be managed for a long time with drugs and other treatments. Your cat may require higher doses of drugs or cease responding to treatment over time. This could indicate that her body is breaking down and she is no longer able to use drugs normally.

Poor Temperature Regulation

Senior cats are more vulnerable to heat and cold than healthy adult cats because they have difficulty regulating their body temperature. Even when given a warm bed and environment, cats on the verge of death frequently have a low body temperature. The limbs of your cat may feel chilly to the touch.

Unkempt Appearance

When cats are unhappy, they frequently stop grooming themselves. This results in an oily, unkempt coat. Mats can form on the hind end, abdomen, and behind the ears of long-haired cats. Your cat may also have flaky skin and severe dandruff.

Gentle grooming with a soft brush will help your cat feel better if she tolerates it.

Abnormal Odor

Your cat may develop an odd body odor as she nears the end of her life. This is related to tissue disintegration and toxin buildup in the body. The precise fragrance varies based on the underlying issue. Cats suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis may have a sickly sweet odor, whereas cats suffering from kidney failure may have ammonia-smelling breath.

Abnormal Breathing

The muscles and nerves that govern your cat’s lungs are susceptible to deterioration as your cat ages. A dying cat’s breathing pattern may be irregular, with her respiratory rate fluctuating at random. She may even stop breathing for brief periods of time and then resume.

Open-mouth breathing, straining her head and neck straight out from her body, and forceful abdomen motions as she breaths are all signs of trouble breathing. If your cat exhibits any of these signs, she is having difficulty getting oxygen into her body. This is an emergency situation.


Seizures can be triggered by a variety of factors, including metabolic abnormalities caused by disease or brain issues. Seizures that last more than 10 minutes or occur in clusters one after the other are both considered emergencies.

Your veterinarian may be able to stabilize your cat and prevent seizures with drugs depending on the cause, but other causes may not respond to therapy.

Not Interested in Favorite Things

Your cat’s interest in items she once enjoyed will wane as her health deteriorates. She may no longer want to play with her toys, turn down favorite foods, and even cease purring when handled. Disinterest in the world around her and a loss of enthusiasm for things she used to enjoy are signals that your cat is ready to go.

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